Virtual Reality (VR) was once the type of thing you’d see in the movies or hear about occurring in the very distant future but many of us have already experienced forms of this. There’s a huge debate raging in the tech industry about virtual reality vs augmented reality and which will be viable for small businesses to take advantage of.
Augmented reality is a view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. An example of this would be a smartphone app where you view a street corner through the camera and additional business information appears on the building.
Virtual Reality For Small Business
Virtual reality is an artificial environment created with computer hardware and software and presented to the user in such a way that it appears and feels like a real environment. Virtual reality is a completely immersive experience where the user feels like they are transported to another world.
Augmented reality has been integrated into our lives for as long as smartphones have been around. Virtual reality is just now starting to emerge as a viable business tool to connect with consumers in entirely new ways. As a marketer, you’d be wise to consider the best ways to leverage virtual reality for small business.
How about attending the opera or a live football game by viewing the event from the absolute best seat in the house? Virtual reality makes this a possibility and the best part is, anyone, anywhere in the world can experience this view. Speaking of events, as a marketer wouldn’t it be impressive to present your audience with a VR experience sponsored by your brand? Connecting your business with an event via sponsorship is something many companies already do (think brand names on t-shirts and race cars). Take this a step further and immerse the customer in a VR experience alongside an event to really set yourself apart. At the Red Bull Air Race, spectators have the chance to see what it’s really like to be a pilot by using virtual reality to simulate the flight.
As a marketer, you know that research and data are key to honing in on what’s successful and what isn’t. Sure, you could conduct surveys and questionnaires to determine your audiences’ preferences, but how about designing a storefront and picking the brain of your target market before you even begin the building process?
You could save an awful lot of money by designing a new product or store layout and present it via VR for consumer review and feedback prior to execution. Everything from décor to ambience could be specifically honed in on based on reviews of the virtual reality experience you’ve presented to your test subjects.
As Chris Marentis explains, different small business applications in “What’s the Reality of Virtual Reality for Small Business“, “If you are in the roofing business, show your customers how your roof replacement process works on a virtual roof, creating effects of weathering on the roof and showcasing new roofing products.” Likewise, searching for a job, and recruiting for various positions may become a whole lot easier with the use of VR. You can actually experience what it is like to work in various fields by following a current employee throughout a typical day via VR.
Products and Services
A direct mailer, website or TV commercial gets your name and business in front of the masses but what if you could actually provide the consumer with a tangible way to actually experience what you have to offer. Imagine your audience being transported to a destination such as a hotel, restaurant or casino to experience the location first hand.
Recently, 888Casino.com wrote a blog post titled “Gambling on Virtual Reality: Welcome to the Future of Casinos” explaining how players in a virtual casino would “be able to saunter into one of the casinos like James Bond, and play baccarat at a live dealer table surrounded by other “world-traveling virtual visitors.” With immersive experiences like this there’s no doubt the future of many businesses, like online casinos, is bound to change forever.
Allowing the consumer to experience these places themselves is far and away the best way to sell. Consider if you were in the market for a new home, yet online pictures and even video of the available options weren’t cutting it. Virtual reality could transport the buyer to every home that meets their criteria for a bird’s eye view and really showcase the features of each selection.
The same holds true for a physical product.
To be able to test drive a vehicle without the hassle and time wasted in a dealership may be all that’s needed to finalize a sale. Not only can VR display how a product works but also how it was developed and manufactured. This approach appeals to consumers who are interested in the backstory and origin of the products they purchase. Experiences such as these completely transform how the consumer interacts with brands and how marketers will reach their audience.
Just as online gaming has morphed into a collaborative community of like-minded individuals, relationship building can be influenced through virtual reality as well. Brands have the chance to uniquely interact with consumers and instill a sense of mutual loyalty. On top of that connection, VR allows businesses the opportunity to develop their own products and experiences that reach their audience the most.
What once was a thing of science fiction is now a viable marketing option. Consider becoming an early adopter and increase the scope of your business through the use of VR marketing strategies.
Virtual Reality Photo via Shutterstock