In case you haven’t noticed it, the Immersive Experience is already a thing at trade shows.
As you walk through the show hall, you see people with goggles on, acting as if they’re about to step off a cliff or return a tennis ball over the make-believe net. It’s fun, it’s exciting; and usually, in this situation, it’s free. Your only payment is the scan of your badge and answers to a few short questions that may or may not qualify you as a key demographic for that exhibitor.
As an exhibitor though, competing for the business of so many show attendees, what is it about this experience that can actually provide a return on your investment? Of course, people will take the goggles off and proclaim, ‘Wow that was awesome” or something to that effect; but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a sale.
Here are some suggestions for making your VR or AR station in your exhibit a cost-effective one:
- First of all, keep the budget for this experience separate from your trade show budget. There’s nothing worse than having to decide if you want the coat closet in your exhibit design or the ability to receive data from your AR experience. If your show is in Calgary in February, you’re going to need that coat closet. But should it be at the expense of good reporting tools on the virtual fly-through of your warehouse in Germany? If you can’t afford to create a separate budget that doesn’t impact your exhibit requirements, then plan to have it in next year’s design and come up with another idea for this year’s shows. Trade shows are an expensive investment, splitting a budget between your exhibit and your immersive experiences will cause you to fall short on both fronts.
- Many exhibitors have a short-sighted view of how digital experiences can impact their clients and prospects. They see it as an enhancement to their event, and then it gets packed up and put away until the next show. Instead, consider it a tool for the long term. Do your sales reps travel to see clients? Do they meet locally, but in the client’s office? Do you have impressive facilities that are located in places other than the one you work in every day? Why not create a VR tour of your assembly line, with all of your state-of-the-art equipment that your competition doesn’t offer? Show it off at the trade shows, make it an app that can be sent to your qualified leads, and let them walk away with the goggles – the ones that have your company’s branding on them. Arm your sales force with the goggles and load the app on their phones. When they visit with clients, they can show a client in NJ how the product is made in your sister facility in Kentucky. Bring the immersive experience on your sales calls so your prospect can walk through your facility from the comfort of their own desk.
- Make sure you are purchasing a tool, not just a game. Of course, whatever you do, you want it to entertain your guests; but if you’re investing in this technology, it must pay you back somehow. Say you are in the charter airline business. Maybe you have 2 different size planes to offer for individual and business use. Maybe you can provide trans-continental flights on charters that are more equipped for red-eye travel. You can’t really bring one of each plane to the show floor and, as much as you’d like to travel in one of those planes to your client meetings, I don’t think you can T&E it. So, what is a highly successful sales rep to do?
How about a virtual tour of the planes? In these immersive environments, your clients can open the overhead bins, browse the restrooms, see how the seats recline to beds and even look out the windows. They can browse the cockpit and, as they walk up the steps from the tarmac, be greeted by their flight attendant. Every action can be reported on. How much time did they spend on each plane? Maybe they’re leaning toward the smaller ones for individual travel. Gear your inquiries/sales pitch in that direction. Maybe they travel more at night because their flights are long, but they’re not sure of the price tag for a charter. Give them the goggles; take them on a tour of the transcontinental model, all while watching every step on your tablet or laptop. Explain the aerodynamics of comfortable seats that convert to flat beds, while they watch them recline and move back to a seated position in the goggle tour. Guide them toward the business suite that provides the ability to plug in and get work done while reclining and having dinner.
Telling prospects about all of the benefits of your product is one thing, showing them is a whole other ball game, and data that proves their interest in one product over another can cut down on how much time your sales reps spend spinning their wheels on the items the client doesn’t want.
Yes, Immersive Technology comes with a price tag. It’s important to work with a company that asks the right questions when planning how you will use it, so every dollar is spent wisely. You will want a platform that can provide the best return on your investment. It may not be the example above, but your company requirements will dictate in some way what the best plan is. A good discovery meeting will hash that all out. Don’t be afraid to ask for things though. Maybe you want users to sign in with an email address and phone number. Reporting can be as simple as that.
Maybe you want to know how many times a person backtracked to a portion of the experience and how much time they spent there overall. What did they touch? Where did they look? What kinds of questions did they ask while inside this experience?
Have orders increased since introducing this technology on your sales calls?
Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Immersive Experiences of all kinds can foster positive emotions about a company’s key offerings. Seeing the green initiatives that an organization has implemented in their production line might be the deciding factor in whether a prospect chooses to work with you or someone else. It is a value-add to your sales and prospecting initiatives, and, when used right, the payoff can be quite rewarding.