Virtual Reality (VR) – one of the talks of the town for us marketers. But is VR for B2B Marketers? Has anyone used it yet? Does it work?
If VR is something you are exploring then the below may be of value – our experience from using VR for various B2B client campaigns in the past eighteen months.
As you will see, there are many considerations. Happily, the barriers to entry are low and we think more B2B brands could harness VR to help with brand engagement and demand generation.
Branded or not
Although the brand names in the consumer market (Samsung, Oculus etc.) are the obvious starting point, these headsets offer little by way of branding. If you want your headsets to stand out (and you want a cost-effective way to offer handouts/freebies at your events) then look at Google Cardboard. At a unit cost of about £5 upwards, you can have a fully branded headset to use and give out.
They are surprisingly durable, although there is a spectrum of finishes, so be careful on ones that aren’t glossed as they won’t last long.
Our suggestion is a bit of both – invest in some more expensive headsets for use at the event (and brand with stickers?) and offer the Google Cardboard designs as handouts – there is no better brand/photo opportunity than a crowd of people wearing your branded headsets!
Experience vs Competition
You have your VR headsets, but what to do with them?
There are number of decisions to make here. Firstly, what do you want the wearers to do? Do you want a passive experience? Or do you want to encourage gamification and competition?
The former is more inclusive and is an excellent way-in to VR for people, but the competition element means you can encourage healthy competition and with leader boards and high scores, can offer prizes and incentives for performance – this is a good way to encourage data capture at third party events, as users will quickly register before playing, in case they do hit a high score and win a prize.
Happily, there are a lot of free or low-cost apps already out there that you can harness – see below for more.
Apps – build, reskin or use
In terms of the VR content/apps you use, you broadly speaking have three options; build, reskin or use-as-is.
The suggested starting route is to use some of the free or low-cost apps that are available, this is a good toe-in-the-water.
If you want to use such an app but make it feel/look like it is for your brand, then reskinning is an option. The app developer can often create a branded version of their app for you. This has a cost associated, but will give you a walled-garden, where your users benefit from a solid, enjoyable game or experience, but with your branding.
The best option from an experience ownership stand point, is to build your own. Building your own app gives you complete control, but will cost. The cost can vary depending on how extensive you wish the app to be, but budget between £10 and £30k as a starting point.
A lateral option we have used (for a client’s keynote session at a trade event) is to record in 360 degree. You can create a video that has a VR element (think 2 or 3 presenters around the virtual room you are in) and not only can you get your presentation to a larger audience than can attend your physical session, you benefit from brand exposure as they wander around the exhibition with your name plastered before their eyes.
If you are planning to hand out headsets at yours or a trade event, think now about size and storage. Boxed VR headsets such as the Samsung Gear not only cost (circa £100 per headset) but pre-build headsets when boxed take up a lot of space – on stand and in transit to your event.
The lower price-point Google cardboard designs are Ikea-style DIY – they are pre-folded and perforated but the user assembles the unit themselves. This is a great solution if space is a premium, as you can see from the examples, they have a small footprint (and look great with bespoke design and branding applied to both the headset and box)
Happily, one doesn’t need a degree in Origami to use these headsets, they are easy to fold-out and use and equally easy to break down again – this means users can also easily take them back to the office or home, transporting your brand with them.
Example Experience Apps
Although we have run some VR projects for clients where they have created bespoke experience and video, most b2b clients have started by harnessing the multitude of free apps available to give their audience a fun and engaging VR experience at events.
If VR is new to you, then here are a few starter apps that not only showcase what it can do, but can be used to align your brand to fun/engaging content with minimal cost.
Experience the underwater world as a scuba diver (without getting wet or eaten by a shark!)
Find yourself in a seemingly empty room and quickly learn you are not alone!
Probably our fave of the lot – a great way to experience VR; on a roller coaster!
Classic shoot em ‘up – great for competition and engagement (and shooting baddies!)