Augmented and virtual reality can unlock the potential of hard-to-market products or services, but you’ll have to get leadership on board first
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are not just for gaming. You’ve heard of Snapchat filters and “Pokemon Go,” but you may not know that AR and VR have the potential to transform your business operations if adopted for sales and marketing.
AR allows users to insert a digital object into the real world via AR-enabled devices, such as smartphones. VR differs in that it instantly fully immerses users in a digital or virtual 360-degree space, using a headset, such as Oculus Rift. Beyond games, these technologies are reshaping how Fortune 500 companies conduct their marketing efforts.
For example, IKEA created an AR application in 2013 so that customers could visualize what a piece of furniture would look like in their homes before buying. The Swedish home furnishings chain recently announced its IKEA Place app, which is now available via Apple’s ARKit on iOS 11. These AR solutions help bridge the gap between virtual, on-demand shopping and the emotional connections made when one sees a product in person—and they’re only going to get more widespread.
In the world of B-to-B, the opportunities are ripe for the taking. B-to-B products and services are typically complex and hard to define, especially for global sales and marketing teams trying to communicate a consistent message. Mixed reality (a term for both AR and VR) allows marketers to simplify their company’s unique value story while keeping customers engaged throughout the buying journey. It allows users to take prospects into environments they would otherwise be unable to enter (an oil rig, data center or laboratory) and demonstrate how their solutions can aid a business. Using AR and VR requires convincing the C-suite. There are five steps you should take to make the best pitch for implementing AR and/or VR in your business.
1. Define the Problem
Before you recommend that your CMO let you build an awesome AR/VR app, clarify the problem you’re trying to solve. Is your product too big to ship to trade shows? Are your product lines too complex to communicate in a two-dimensional way? Whatever the problem may be, you need to define it and ask yourself if AR or VR will help you solve it. If your goal is to tell a story in a visually engaging way, then the answer is probably, “Yes.”
2. Get Input from Users
Once you’ve determined that AR or VR is right for your company’s needs, get input from the people who will be putting it to use. Folks working the trade show floor or the sales and marketing team responsible for selling need a more effective way to market your products. Your case can only be strengthened by truly understanding their needs.
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3. Analyze Cost
Who’s going to build this AR/VR application? Any good argument must be backed up by research. Many people have tried to build their own AR/VR applications in-house, but few have been successful.
More digital agencies are now offering AR/VR capabilities, but it’s often not their sole focus. Find a company that specializes in mixed reality and in your specific industry.
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4. Demonstrate the Potential Results
No one, especially not a CMO, is going to buy into your mixed reality dream unless you demonstrate that it can work. Companies that adopt interactive applications, for example, see about an 85% reduction in trade-show shipping costs and increased product win rates by up to 33%. Come prepared with statistics and case studies. Case studies are a great way to show your CMO that similar companies—competitors, even—have adopted AR/VR and seen tremendous results.
5. Schedule a Meeting
Once you’ve prepared with the steps above, schedule a meeting with your CMO to talk through your findings. Review your presentation beforehand so you can come prepared to answer questions and counter any skepticism.
AR and VR are already penetrating the B-to-C and B-to-B markets, becoming a significant component of marketing strategy. But it’s more than just a trend—it can lead to serious ROI. As long as you know what problem you’re trying to solve, how your team will implement the technology, what resources will be needed and the results you hope to see, your CMO might warm to the idea of embracing AR/VR as a marketing tool.
Written by: Dana Drissel
Dana Drissel is vice president of Kaon Interactive, a leader in interactive 3-D sales and marketing applications.
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