For most people, the term virtual reality (VR) is most often used in the context of consumer-oriented fun such as video games. However, VR offers businesses an entirely new way of communicating and interacting with customers. In the next few years, VR will grow from a niche industry of shooting virtual zombies to a commonly-used businesses tool enabling product showcases in virtual space. If you want to get in on the trend now, here are some relatively inexpensive ways that your business can leverage VR and similar technologies in your marketing today.
Virtual Reality in the office
Almost every mention of VR in the past five years has cited Oculus Rift, the most popular VR headset. Created in 2010 by then-teenager Palmer Luckey in his California garage, the tiny company was sold to Facebook for $2 billion in 2014. Thanks to Facebook's advertising prowess and software tools for anyone to quickly create VR experiences, the Oculus Rift has become synonymous with VR. But the Oculus Rift system is not cheap: The headset and handheld controllers cost $400 and require they be tethered to a VR-ready PC costing at least $1,000. As such, the Oculus Rift is impractical for a company selling cybersecurity services to ship just so prospective customers could tour their operations center in VR.
But the Oculus Rift can be a justifiable cost for companies like commercial real estate developers and architects who want prospects to experience walkthroughs of a million-dollar building well before the foundation is laid. Even if you aren't in real estate, the Oculus VR system can be adapted for marketing use in any industry where:
- Your product or service lends itself to an immersive experience (i.e. operating a training facility for repairing underwater oil drilling platform, renting server space in a data center, selling high-end automobiles, boats, and planes.
- You maintain static locations where electricity and space is available for VR usage.
- Prospects come to your locations to learn about your service or product.
Augmented Reality on the go
While related to VR, Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that uses commodity devices to insert virtual objects into the user's real-world environment. The AR craze hit the mainstream last year with the "Pokemon GO" game where players could look through a special camera app on their smartphones to see animated Pokemon-branded characters transposed onto real-world sidewalks and parks.
The Pokemon GO app is the perfect use case for how a company can use AR to market their brand. Unlike VR that requires relatively bulky and expensive equipment, AR can be experienced on almost any smartphone—a device that most people can easily access. For businesses, AR is best used for experiences where the user can be sold on seeing how a product should look. For example, imagine your business manufactures and sells shirt pressing machines to dry cleaners. Why send a product sheet with the machine's physical dimensions when you could send prospects a photorealistic representation of your latest model? With AR, it would be possible for the dry cleaner to look through his smartphone and see exactly what the new shirt presser will look like on his shop floor.
Choosing between AR and VR for your marketing
Both AR and VR marketing solutions require knowledge of software development coupled with marketing savvy. At Amaxra, we have a proven track record of developing forward-thinking marketing solutions for businesses. If you'd like to know how your business can add AR or VR to your marketing.
Feedback and comments are always welcome. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also connect with me via LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/patrick-viernes.