Virtual and augmented reality may not have caught on as rapidly as some expected in the world of entertainment. But in business, they’re beginning to become quite useful. We covered ‘The Application of Virtual Reality in the Corporate World’ last year, mentioning the technology’s potential uses in training, communications, and marketing. In this piece we’re going to follow up on that last idea — VR (and AR) in marketing — with specific consideration of B2B needs.
The general idea of mixed reality technologies in marketing is actually one many people are growing to understand. Basically, as more consumers make use of VR and AR technology, the thinking is that businesses can find ways to advertise or demonstrate their products through the same technology.
This is something we’re going to be seeing more of, and it will likely lead to some very innovative marketing campaigns. But there are also some more specific ways in which AR and VR marketing can be effective in B2B relations, before consumers come into play at all. Use Without Cost Barriers As mentioned, the idea of mixed reality being used to market to consumers is one that’s beginning to take root. At the same time however, it’s largely a concept at this point, rather than an active practice. As Digiday’s take on VR marketing put it, companies involved “grumble about cost and consumer awareness.” Basically, VR production can be costly, and there aren’t necessarily enough consumers who are aware of VR (and actually possess headsets) to make the cost worthwhile. In theory, B2B marketing can occur with less of a cost barrier. Businesses are becoming acutely aware of the potential benefits of VR, and may thus be more willing to invest in it. Furthermore, VR headsets and AR applications, while pricey for the average consumer, may not be as burdensome for businesses to buy into. Thus, it can be easier to justify the costs associated with this kind of marketing on a B2B level. This may well lead some businesses to take the leap, with the incentive being that of getting in early on a potential tech trend.
With traditional B2B marketing, it’s all too common for companies to put together general approaches that they use in all of their efforts. That is to say, a company might market its products to several different businesses with the same presentation, whether it’s something packaged and sent in digital form or something delivered in person. Even before considering VR or AR however, modern marketing is trending toward a far more personalized approach.
Ayima’s insights on digital marketing approaches goes over this kind of effort as a tech-driven means of providing a “boutique” experience even for large businesses. Essentially, a proper marketing effort today involves in-depth consideration of data and an informed strategy that is meant to present a business in an ideal way, either to its consumers or to business partners. And in VR, it may in fact be easier to deliver the end result of this approach. A personalized marketing pitch by traditional means is largely more effective than a generic one — but it can still come across like a general advertisement that has perhaps been lightly tailored for a specific purpose. If a business puts together a whole, VR-based demonstration, however, it has the chance to speak directly to the audience throughout the project. In theory, a business can convey through VR exactly why its product or service is useful for each specific company it’s marketing to.
Easy Demos of Larger Products The real appeal of VR marketing is that it gives a business an opportunity to tell a story about its product in a very direct manner. A VR approach isn’t just an advertisement, nor is it a vague explanation of why a product or service might be useful. Rather, it’s an interactive experience that can show a product’s utility to a specific audience, offering not a suggestion or hypothesis, but something closer to proof. A Marketing Dive look at VR-driven campaigns included some similar descriptions as to their benefits. It also went further, however, pointing out that VR could help with the demonstration of larger, “big-ticket” items that might be more difficult to pitch or explain by other means. Essentially, manufacturing or engineering businesses looking to showcase new product designs to commercial buyers can do so in a wholly immersive fashion, not just telling a story, but giving buyers the chance to interact with and examine the products at hand. Ultimately it may still be a while before we see VR and AR widely deployed in B2B marketing. For the reasons outlined above though, it could be an interesting and valuable approach for businesses to begin looking into. So, as you consider Modest Tree's VR training uses, you may want to give some thought to how the technology could apply to a new B2B marketing approach.
Post written by Barrie Jenton
exclusively for Modest Tree