I have seen the future of B2B marketing…and it’s virtual reality

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For the past three weeks, B2B NN has been testing the Samsung Gear VR headset and I am confident virtual reality will soon change all levels of marketing and advertising, including in B2B.

What amazed us in VR land? One of the biggest hits in the videos we tested was a video game trailer for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Jack the Ripper DLC. It was a big dose of WOW when we careened through a fight scene in a kitchen, knives and shards of glass passing by our head. The clip felt so realistic I couldn’t help but flinch as I got absorbed in this 360-degree trailer.

Another jaw-dropper has you surfing and swimming with athletes on some unnamed beach, where the camera zips you across waves or shuttles you deep underwater. Such realism is not something I have truly experienced before, as the technology has matured incredibly since I last tested VR in early 2015.

What does VR have to do with B2B? Applications abound, so much so my main concern is slow adoption of this innovation that is new, untested but bursting with potential:

  • Trade shows that take the virtual leap will attract more attention and deeper engagement. Imagine if a B2B marketing conference could post a video to, say, Samsung Milk VR and allow prospective attendees to zip around on the trade room floor? For trade shows looking to impress speakers, a VR video could position the speaker on a virtual stage, packed with people, giving them a sneak peek at what this conference’s energy and atmosphere will resemble.
  • At those trade shows, a very handy VR application could be offering your potential customers a deep look into your service or product. VR is incredibly adept at giving you a full view of something like a city or scenario, so your product could be easily introduced to someone by creating an immersive tour of your company, whether in live-action or animated form. Marketing your software, for instance, can get a powerful visual bump when you shuttle the VR viewer through the various levels of your service, leaving them breathless after a rollercoaster video they’ll want to see again and again
  • Once communication technology strengthen in sthe virtual reality space, expect to see virtual meetings take off, much like we’ve seen with some augmented reality tools. Being able to show your meeting participants a presentation in VR, for example, can be a valuable tool for workshifting companies or B2B firms reliant on mobile communication. Just wait until haptic technology matures and you’re able to touch what someone is showing you in a meeting, or engage meaningfully with a product set in front of you.
  • Training your team won’t all have to be done in person thanks to virtual reality, especially for remote workers. VR can be so engaging you feel like you’re right there, listening to someone talk or walk you through a scenario. It’s been known to help health care workers rehearse life-or-death situations, or assist military personnel, and it can be just as effective in a softer environment where staff need to be in a particular setting to be effectively trained. Managers can practice leadership skills with virtual office workers, to help them recognize the best course of action when hard decisions need to be made.
Lt. Jeff Kee explores the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Battlespace Exploitation of Mixed Reality (BEMR) lab located at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific
Lt. Jeff Kee explores the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Battlespace Exploitation of Mixed Reality (BEMR) lab located at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific
  • Customer service can take the next high-tech step forward by allowing customers to talk to a “live” person using VR. That way, the customer can identify the problem with the product/service and the B2B firm gets marketing/promotional love for being so attentive to a client’s needs. How useful would it be to solve a pain point by walking through a client through a step-by-step process of a specific solution, all in VR?
  • VR can power real estate modelling and design to an eye-boggling level of engagement. When a B2B design firm wants to tease a new concept to clients, a VR video can showcase a 360-degree view of a near-finished model or blueprint. Being right there near the model can give a tangible feel to a prototype that truly has never been before…and it gives off that “wow” factor few other firms may be offering.

We all know the rise of Oculus and Samsung Gear VR will mean early adopters will reap the nascent rewards of enjoying VR and its applications. But it’s time for B2B marketing teams to look beyond their usual technologies to see the value in VR, even at this toddler stage.

“Like everything else, this would start as a competitive advantage for those early adopters,” said Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst. “Then, over time, it will become the way we do things. At that time, companies who don’t do it this new way will be behind the eight ball.”

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David Silverberg
David Silverberg is the former editor-in-chief of Digital Journal Inc. He helped pioneer Digital Journal's proprietary technology to leverage content from writers from across the world. He was the host of Digital Journal's annual Future of Media event. David has been published in various publications, writing on everything from technology trends to celebrity profiles.