Not everything is solved with more technology



  • This less a WTF than a "why didn't I think of that" moment, but them's the breaks.

    This morning, the head of another department was working on a direct-mail marketing campaign and he found out that one of the features available was including URL QR codes in the material. So he figured it would be neat to have a QR code that goes to our website.  Then he wanted to offer a special coupon for these people, so had the bright idea of making the link go to a page that lets user print one out.  But he wanted the coupon to be limited to just those who received the mailing, so he emailed me for some ideas on trying to prevent excessive coupon duplication.

    I spent a bit of time thinking about this, as did my boss and a coworker, and I replied with a range of ideas, with their good and bad points.  Ideas like generating a set of URLs that, once visited, would show the coupon and invalidate a unique code in the URL, or just one simple "hard-to-guess" URL, and even a "wrong" way: require account creation or user validation to get the coupon.

    The dept head seemed pleased and said he'd forward our ideas to the marketing rep and see what they thought.  The rep came back with a brilliant idea that none of us had even considered: "Put the coupon in the direct mailing."



  •  



  • For some reason, I read direct-mail as e-mail and thought TRWTF was putting QR codes in an e-mail.



  • @Nook Schreier said:

    I spent a bit of time thinking about this, as did my boss and a coworker, and I replied with a range of ideas, with their good and bad points. Ideas like generating a set of URLs that, once visited, would show the coupon and invalidate a unique code in the URL, or just one simple "hard-to-guess" URL, and even a "wrong" way: require account creation or user validation to get the coupon.

    Cookie the user, so that if they've seen the page before they get the same coupon code as before.

    @Nook Schreier said:

    The dept head seemed pleased and said he'd forward our ideas to the marketing rep and see what they thought.  The rep came back with a brilliant idea that none of us had even considered: "Put the coupon in the direct mailing."

    That's a lot more expensive than the QR codes for two reasons:

    1) Additional printing costs

    2) It's more likely to actually be used

    So there. Nyah.



  • @RHuckster said:

     

     

    I... don't get this one at all.

     



  •  It's a reference to The Complicator's Gloves, a TDWTF story from a few years ago.



  • @Nook Schreier said:

    The rep came back with a brilliant idea that none of us had even considered: "Put the coupon in the direct mailing."

    In your defense, you're a technology person. The marketing guy isn't. So it makes sense that the non-technical person would come up with the non-technical solution.



  • @too_many_usernames said:

    I... don't get this one at all.
     

    It's from an old TDWTF article, "The Complicator's Gloves." In a nutshell, engineers are discussing the possibility of keeping one's hands warm while bike riding in cold winter by heating the handlebars. The discussion evolves into ideas like using a small dynamo in the wheel itself that generates the heat, thus making it run only on the human power that's moving the bike. Someone on the email thread finally reminds them that the reason nobody has done this before and why it's inherently unmarketable is because bike riders have long just put on a pair of gloves if they want their hands to remain toasty while riding in the cold.



  • Recently one of my users was complaining about having to walk around gathering (small amounts of) data using a laptop, angling for an iPad or similar fondleslab. He was quite put-out when his laptop was withdrawn and he was handed a pen and clipboard. As he had quite rightly pointed-out, though, he didn't need the full functionality of a laptop.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @Nook Schreier said:
    The rep came back with a brilliant idea that none of us had even considered: "Put the coupon in the direct mailing."

    That's a lot more expensive than the QR codes for two reasons:

    1) Additional printing costs

    [...]

    That is true, but they'd already paid for a couple runs of snail mail marketing, so the printing costs are already sunk, if the coupon is a cut-out part of what's already going to be sent (rather than an additional piece of paper).

     



  • @Someone You Know said:

     It's a reference to The Complicator's Gloves, a TDWTF story from a few years ago.

     

    Yikes, I didn't think I was old enough to be losing (that much of) my memory... I remember that article now.

     



  •  @Nook Schreier said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    @Nook Schreier said:
    The rep came back with a brilliant idea that none of us had even considered: "Put the coupon in the direct mailing."

    That's a lot more expensive than the QR codes for two reasons:

    1) Additional printing costs

    [...]

    That is true, but they'd already paid for a couple runs of snail mail marketing, so the printing costs are already sunk, if the coupon is a cut-out part of what's already going to be sent (rather than an additional piece of paper).

     

    So what was the point of the QR code in the first place?  Was it going to do anything besides give people a coupon?  Or was this just a case of the marketing head saying "OH HAY SMARTPHONES"?



  • @Justice said:

    So what was the point of the QR code in the first place?

    What they normally do, I'd guess. Allow smartphone owners to make a photo and be redirected to the website instead of having to type the whole address on their barely usable tiny (touchscreen or real) keyboard.



  • @Nook Schreier said:

    I spent a bit of time thinking about this, as did my boss and a coworker, and I replied with a range of ideas, with their good and bad points.  Ideas like generating a set of URLs that, once visited, would show the coupon and invalidate a unique code in the URL, or just one simple "hard-to-guess" URL, and even a "wrong" way: require account creation or user validation to get the coupon.

    Most of the time I see such a "coupon code", it's just one that is the same code for everyone it's sent to. It pretends like being unique but isn't. Saves a lot of development cost. Every person can only use it once, of course, but it's not really restricted to the people who receive the letter. Have you thought about going that way?



  •  @derula said:

    Every person can only use it once, of course, but it's not really restricted to the people who receive the letter. Have you thought about going that way?

    That kind of sounds like the "obscure URL" option coupled with blakeyrat's cookie idea.  That was one of the caveats I pointed out in my email to him: anyone who happened across, was given, or managed to guess the address could get their own "personal" copy. He didn't think it was a big deal, I guess because if they did get an "unauthorized" copy, they still had to come into the store and buy the item to redeem it.  I then wondered why we didn't just put a link on the web site front page to get even more people in...  maybe that's just too many.

    Ultimately, I think his initial thought was just to get more people to go to the web site: he's one of the biggest proponents of technology we have here and likes to help push it forward.



  • @derula said:

    @Justice said:
    So what was the point of the QR code in the first place?

    What they normally do, I'd guess. Allow smartphone owners to make a photo and be redirected to the website instead of having to type the whole address on their barely usable tiny (touchscreen or real) keyboard.

     

    Except that they'd need to print the things out (or turn up to your store brandishing a letter and demanding a discount or else). As most printers aren't especially portable, they tend to be found around computers with larger keyboards.

    I can understand involving a web link in an on-line promotion, or a 'phone one, but it seems a bit weird if most people buy things on your premises.

    [quote user="Nook Schreier"]I then wondered why we didn't just put a link on the web site front
    page to get even more people in...  maybe that's just too many.[/quote]

    Maybe it's not exclusive enough to make people feel they have to go shopping right now. Especially when they repeat it in a couple of weeks with a different batch of recipients.



  • @__moz said:

    Except that they'd need to print the things out (or turn up to your store brandishing a letter and demanding a discount or else).
     

    Many stores now accept coupons that are displayed in smartphones. You can simply show the coupon code to the cashier, and the cashier can type it in.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @RHuckster said:

    You can simply show the coupon code to the cashier, and the cashier can type it in.
    Have they not got round to getting their scanners to scan the codes directly off the phone? They've been able to do that in airports for boarding cards for a while now.



  • @PJH said:

    @RHuckster said:
    You can simply show the coupon code to the cashier, and the cashier can type it in.
    Have they not got round to getting their scanners to scan the codes directly off the phone? They've been able to do that in airports for boarding cards for a while now.
     

    It depends on how new the store's scanner is AFAIK.



  •  Maybe the smartphone can display a QR or barcode and the scanner can read that.

    Ed.
    Wait, I think that's what PJH meant, but maybe he also meant wireless transmission between the phone and some unit or something so hence my post.



  •  I remember walkers crisps doing something like this recently - if you sent them your email for spamming purposes, they would reply with a link that gave you a voucher code that you could print and then take to a shop to claim a free packet of crisps. To prevent you printing multiple copies the website never displayed the voucher itself - just "Print voucher (NOTE: You can do this only once so ensure you printer is turned on and has paper!)". I believe it was all based around flash. Not having a working printer at the time I printed it to PDF and printed it out at work. Others noticed and asked for a copy, so I emailed them the PDF.

    The vouchers had the wording "Individually coded, will only be accepted once." and a barcode. However, nobody complained. 

    A few days later I thought how I had accidentally bypassed all the protection walkers had implemented into there unique vouchers. 



  • @Mole said:

    To prevent you printing multiple copies the website never displayed the voucher itself - just "Print voucher (NOTE: You can do this only once so ensure you printer is turned on and has paper!)". I believe it was all based around flash. Not having a working printer at the time I printed it to PDF and printed it out at work. Others noticed and asked for a copy, so I emailed them the PDF.

    In addition to that method - had they not heard of photocopiers?



  • They thought of that, on the voucher along the bottom it said "Photocopies of this voucher will not be accepted". 

    Another strange wording was "No responsibility will be accepted for lost or stolen vouchers" (hold on a minute, didn't I just print this out? So I only know that if I've actually got it.. )

    I suppose it's just standard legal mumbo. 



  • @Mole said:

    They thought of that, on the voucher along the bottom it said "Photocopies of this voucher will not be accepted". 

     

    I've seen coupon wording that makes me sigh. Things like PDF coupons that say "Copies, faxsimilies, scans or prints not accepted". Or emails that contain a link to a Javascript site than generates a PDF download which includes a link to a jpg coupon.

     I almost always just do a screen-capture of any "printable" coupon, crop out all the ink-eating extras that aren't the barcode or the fine print, and print it out in black and white on a laser. I've only seen one place that accepts bar codes on smartphones-- the local amusement park.  Any other entertainment venue I've ever been insists on you printing out the entire 6-page document that contains one bar code and five pages of crap. Oh, and they'll tack on a $2 "convenience fee" for the privilege.

     I need coffee.



  •  Wait, they charge you for using a coupon? I hope that coupon is worth more than $2...


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