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Deliverability VS Creativity: Don’t Disappoint Your Audience

Content Marketing DeliverabilityWhen it comes to marketing, creativity is pretty important. But it should not come at the expense of deliverability – especially in the world of content marketing.

If you are creating content and need people to see it, you have to make sure that they can see it.

And as the lines between the online and offline worlds become blurred, deliverability becomes a bigger issue.

This is especially prevalent in the realm of marketing. QR codes are the latest, hottest way to deliver ideas. These are codes that combine your offline and online world by using the capability of your mobile device.

You can have mobile online content delivered to you wherever you may be walking around – like a subway station. Instant delivery of information is very powerful – especially in a world obsessed with instant gratification. Except it’s not so powerful when the delivery fails. Rather, it is disappointing.

Creative Disappointment

The other day I was walking in the Upper West Side of Manhattan when something caught my attention. It was a banner hanging from a building with a huge QR code.

Judging by the label on the banner, it was created by the Rutgers Presbyterian Church.

Talk about creative!

I was across the street. I quickly crossed the street and pulled out my iPhone to try and scan the QR code on the banner.

Even though I don’t have much interest in a Presbyterian Church, they caught my attention. This was marvelous marketing.

…Until they didn’t deliver.

Creativity Trumping Deliverability 

The banner showed up too small within the confines of my QR Code scanner. I tried several of them (I like to have options so I have a few apps that do the exact same thing…weird?).

I walked up closer to the banner to try again. Still too small.

So I walked a little closer. Now the banner was at a weird angle and couldn’t be scanned.

The end result? I was the idiot walking up and down the crowded street trying to scan a banner that couldn’t be scanned.

Maybe it wasn’t their fault. Maybe it was a problem with my phone, or the apps I was using. But there is no shortage of people in NYC with iPhones. And given that I tried out a few different scanners, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a problem with the app I was using.

This is the perfect case of being creative at the expense of actually delivering the content.

A Solution?

I think that they would have been better off sacrificing a bit of the creativity in order to actual deliver on the inherent promise of content that comes with a QR code.

Putting the code right on the banner was a novel idea, but it just didn’t work.

They could have easily used that same colorful banner with a sign that said something like “Scan QR Code Here” with an arrow pointing at the wall under the banner. Then provide a regular-sized code on the wall that people could scan.

Yes, the number of people that would actually walk up to the wall to scan the code might have been lower than the number of people trying to scan the banner from the street. But all of those people would have actually seen the content on the other side. The conversions would be much better (and isn’t that what it’s all about?).

Plus, that would have a built-in call to action. And people respond well to those.


So what do you think? Was this creative marketing or just a bad attempt at it? Have you ever been disappointed because of a deliverability issue? Let me know below.

But first, I would really appreciate you sharing this post on your favorite networks. There are plenty of sharing buttons provided for your convenience :).

To get some content marketing lessons from the best of the best, check out my 87 Ways to Dominate Your Content Strategy series. And make sure to subscribe to updates below.

Deliverability VS Creativity: Don't Disappoint Your Audience by


  1. Test, people! Test!

    I’m always amazed at how often folks send stuff out to the world without checking to see if it works first.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • It was a good reminder to myself as well. I left my girlfriend waiting on the corner as I walked back and forth trying to scan the darn thing. At least she doesn’t get annoyed by my curiosity :).

  2. I had the same sort of experience with a COLOR QR code, and those customized QR codes sometimes have issues as well.

    QR codes almost never work when smaller than 1″x1″ on an LCD screen, either.

    Testing is huge.

    Of course, I’m also guilty of this in less technical ways. To be more personable, I included customizable fields on my business card, but they’re way too small to write in, which they weren’t when the card was on screen at 1200×500, right? Yuck.

    Great post!

    • I know exactly what you’re talking about with the fields in business cards! The dimensions on the screen when your’e designing them are very misleading.

      I would think that someone would test it out before hanging the thing up. Or at least test it out WHEN they hung it up. Go figure.

  3. It did not work but they get the attention and a blog post too! One of these days I am going to make time and really learn about the QR codes…just one more item to think about. Thanks Eugene…I just love your blog!

    • Haha, you’re right Michelle! Maybe they are just evil geniuses. But how many bloggers are going to be walking by that banner and then decide to write about it?

      I need to make an effort to get into QR codes a bit more as well. I’d like to think it’s just the latest trend, but it seems like they’re popping up everywhere more and more. Looks like they might be here to stay.

      And thank you for the compliment! I really appreciate it!

  4. A great article and example of usability.
    It reminds me of websites that have all the fancy bells and whistles, flashing text only you are not really sure what its all really for.

    • I know what you’re talking about. It’s like have a Ferrari exterior on a run down Yugo. Why put in the effort to make something fancy when it doesn’t even deliver the message?

  5. “If you are creating content and need people to see it, you have to make sure that they can see it.”

    It’s amazing how many [large] companies forget that simple principle.

    As for your final question, “creative marketing or just a bad attempt at it?”
    I’d have to say yes, it was creative marketing… it wasn’t the idea that failed (that’s the creative part), but the way it was implemented — that’s more of an operational issue than anything else, I believe.

    • I think a lot of stuff gets “lost in the mix” at large companies. They start on one thing and forget about it or don’t take it all the way through. I’m just one person and it happens to me sometimes :).

  6. I see this problem around a lot. I admit it was something my old company used to do, being excessively creative at the expenses of making really “cryptic” things that few people ended up using. Sure, everyone was like “ohhh” but that doesn’t help much in the end.
    Nowadays we have enough creative means to make things which can be also effective and powerful to use, of course it’s harder than making just creative OR useful things.

    • Being creative is actually very easy. Throw any two words together and you get something creative…like “spaceship pen” – that would be creative :). Creating one and making it usable…a bit of a different story :).

  7. Hey Eugene,

    That was actually creative marketing. At least they tried, but they didn’t try hard enough. The problem is most people is that they aren’t really interested in being creative – or in trying to be creative, and even if they try, they don’t try hard enough.

    This experience fits perfectly with many bloggers – including me. Bloggers – including myself – put our best efforts to gain traffic(just like the Church did by putting up the QR code) and we do gain traffic (just like the Church managed to convince you to scan the code), but a lot of times, we are unable to convert the traffic (that’s where the Church failed too).

    Thanks for the post, Eugene. I especially liked how you connected what you saw to content marketing.

    Jeevan Jacob John

    • Thanks for the comment as always Jeevan!

      Conversions are definitely the side of the coing that many people ignore, and just focus on Traffic. But I’d rather have less traffic and a higher conversion rate – that means I’m attracting the right audience.

      But it’s something very difficult to accomplish.


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