I once spent a night in Paris in 1899.
Don’t worry; you read that correctly. It was for an event called “Secret Cinema”, which takes place in London every year and celebrates a cult film by bringing its setting and characters to life, using actors, before a screening of the film. In 2017 the film was Moulin Rouge, so I was dressed in a top hat and period clothes, surrounded by absinthe-swigging bohemians, earnest artisans and a chorus line of cancan dancers.
It was a completely immersive experience — as close as you can get in 2017 to experiencing Montmartre in 1899 — and genuinely one of the most entertaining nights out I’ve ever had.
Later that year I was able to recreate that experience, this time using virtual reality. The Tate Modern hosted a blockbuster exhibition of the paintings of Modigliani, who worked in early twentieth-century Paris alongside the likes of Picasso. The gallery wanted to “revolutionise the way people create and experience art”, by allowing art lovers to step inside Modigliani’s paintings, using the magic of a virtual reality headset.
It’s one thing to look at a painting, or a film, it’s quite another to be immersed in it and live it. That’s a far more powerful experience for the brain than simply reading or watching.
It can do the same for your business. Here’s how.
Virtual reality for B2B: Show them their showroom
In 2016 I was in Las Vegas, working as a journalist and editor for a client’s brand newsroom. (And I mean I was literally there, this wasn’t virtual.) It was a huge auto industry convention where hundreds of millions of dollars of business is done. While visiting one of the stalls in the convention centre I was able to try virtual reality for the first time.
The subject wasn’t particularly exciting. The booth belonged to an engineering company servicing the tire industry. They were trying to convince auto shops to fit out their entire centre using their equipment. To help customers visualise what their workshops could look like using their equipment — and how they could set up their shop for maximum efficiency — the company was using virtual reality.
By donning a headset and clicking a button, a 2D floor plan suddenly turned into a 3D scene that potential customers could walk through. It was alarmingly realistic. But it was also no toy. It’s an incredibly effective business-to-business sales tool. The guy I interviewed told me the feedback from potential customers had been overwhelmingly positive, because these auto shop owners could see — sometimes before so much as a brick has been laid — precisely how much equipment they could fit into their new workshop. But it also pays other dividends.
“Having this type of material, it’s easier to get bank loans, get investors on board, get building permits, and so on, because there’s a lot of information here,” he told me. “A lot of people even use the fly-throughs and so on in their TV commercials.”
FURTHER READING: Why your business needs virtual reality
Transport your customer with virtual reality
Some companies are using virtual reality for education and training. Some are using it for product design. Others are using it for gamification strategies or to simply create a deeper connection with their customers to improve customer retention.
Whatever application you might have for the technology, virtual reality can transport your customer. If you’ve never considered it as part of your marketing mix, now’s the time. The potential is limitless — well beyond the usual web that video production companies often use.
If you’d like to work with a content team that has the capability to provide virtual reality experiences for your clients, get in touch with Lush – The Content Agency. Our video production house has all the technology and experience you require.
FURTHER LISTENING: Brand Newsroom: How virtual reality will revolutionise your business