As the landscape stands today, I tend to be more bullish on augmented reality (AR) than virtual reality (VR) in B2B marketing.
Why? In virtual reality, you have to stop someone and get them to put on a headset, goggles, or some other device. If you are successful in this somewhere other than just a tradeshow booth, the next problem is there is now a physical barrier between the virtual world and the real one.
It’s hard enough to have a conversation with someone who has their head buried in their phone – let alone one who is immersed in a virtual world. Conversations are still an important, if not underrated, an aspect of sales and marketing.
AR, by contrast, does what it says it does — makes something better. It augments reality in a way similar to how R2D2 made Princess Leia’s plea for help to Obi-Wan Kenobi all the more emphatic.
The Princess was selling a revolutionary idea to a Jedi and used AR to help convey the urgency. That fits more readily into the modern marketing and sales dynamic — trust and relationships built through conversations.
This week’s Unscripted Marketing links [UML] reviews three case studies of AR in B2B organizations. As it is on the occasional Saturday, I offer three links around a theme that I’ve vetted and recommended for your perusal.
1) Networking device maker’s product catalog.
The first example comes from a white paper by the website B2B Marketing called 6 great examples of VR and AR in B2B marketing. The asset is gated, but I download it and found it to be an interesting read with a solid B2B example from Cisco, which is better known for its routers and networking gear.
The case study says, “Cisco worked with Kaon Interactive to develop a visually engaging 3D interactive product catalogue…to give buyers an even more immersive and detailed experience.” (sic)
As screenshot nearby shows, (photo credit: Kaon blog), it creates “a magical pop-up AR appearance at trade shows that people can activate and walk around.” It is easy to see how this could be used as a visual tool in sales or marketing meetings anywhere rather than just a trade show booth.
This is also an important point because marketing technology is only useful if people actually use it. The case study says the Cisco AR catalog has more than 2,500 weekly users. I wonder if the CMO at Cisco wishes there are that many salespeople using their CRM each week.
The full paper has examples from various vertical markets including healthcare, energy and travel among others.
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2) Public relations and complex value propositions.
“Many marketers struggle with communicating complex value propositions simply and clearly,” wrote Mr. Sandau. “Traditional methods like white papers, technical presentations and animations all have their place, but still something is missing to make the complex story simple and clear to understand.”
AR and VR provide a way to see and interact in a way that wasn’t previously possible and points to several examples including this one:
“Hexagon is a global IT provider for geospatial and industrial enterprise applications. They used AR to communicate their complex design, measurement and visualization technologies in their annual report to investors. A page within the printed report document triggered the experience for investors.”
As if to underscore the point, the text here doesn’t quite convey the benefits. The screenshot nearby does a much better job (photo credit: screenshot of the app from the Apple App Store).
This example is particularly interesting to me because investor relations has a lot in common with PR and corporate communications. There are obvious use cases for media relations, analyst relations (think: MQ briefings), and internal communications.
There are three other examples in Optera piece worth considering.
3) AR for publishers (and content marketing).
Take a further look inside the book with the free Supersaurs app….watch the magic happen pic.twitter.com/wBf3aJQPXl
— supersaurs (@supersaurs) November 1, 2017
The third and final example comes from Nikki Gilliland who wrote How publishers are using augmented reality to bring stories to life for Econsultancy. While she has three examples in her story, two are from children’s books. Let me introduce the idea and then explain why I think it’s relevant to B2B marketing.
From the article:
“Aimed at eight to 10-year-olds, Supersaurs is the first book in a six-part series, set in a world where dinosaurs never died out. The app uses AR to make the dinosaurs roar and roam around, but more than this, it enables young users to actively participate in a 50-mission game that requires lateral thinking. In this sense, the AR elements enhance learning, adding value to the overall story and what readers can gain from it.”
Why is this relevant to B2B marketing?
Content marketers are essentially using the web to borrow a proven approach taken by publishers since the invention of the Gutenberg. Content marketers aim to provide content that is ‘valuable’ and ‘useful’ to ‘educate’ prospects and customers in order to earn trust.
That is exactly what the publisher of this children’s book is doing. Further, Ms. Gilliland points out the app asks for email address, which is critical to building subscribers and one of four key content marketing engines any B2B marketing shop needs to be successful with that initiative.
* * *
Businesses are often worried about investing in futuristic strategies that relatively unproven. What stood out for me in these three examples is that these are practical applications within the reach of many organizations today.
To borrow another concept from publishing – marketing has the chance to choose its own adventure.
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