Can we get all pompous on you for a second?

Well, we’re going to, so you might as well accept it.

Here goes…

Today’s marketers are trapped in a nightmare of their own making.

For the longest time, they have assumed the worst about consumers:

  • That they have no attention span – and manipulation is the only way to make them pay attention to anything…
  • That they are capricious – and the second you do or say something your customers don’t want to hear, they will leave…
  • That they are overwhelmed and crunched for time. Your customers can’t pause for long enough to consume in-depth, long-form content… so why bother?

Well, guess what:

It turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. After decades of being treated like senile goldfish, people got used to being pandered to. Lo and behold, marketers helped create the exact problem they tried to solve – distractible, fickle, frantic customers.

The question is, how do you captivate someone like that?

Engagement is the name of the game

In the fight for people’s attention, video emerged as the superior format – according to some sources, it proved 600% more effective than print and direct mail combined.

So that’s it, then! There’s your perfect way to engage customers. Now you just need to invest in video marketing, and your business growth will explode… right?

It’s more complicated than that, unfortunately.

The thing about video content is this:

It’s everywhere. Even if you use video marketing to promote your product or service, the deck is still stacked against you. Here’s why…

You aren’t competing with other businesses in your industry who use video content. No, you are competing with 500 hours of video being uploaded on YouTube every minute. You are competing with Netflix. You are competing with clips of cute animals on social media.

In this landscape, in order to have even a snowball’s chance in a well-preheated oven, you need to:

  • Stick out like a sore thumb even among thousands of delightful distractions.
  • Attract and retain undivided attention from potential customers.
  • Compel them to take action stronger than ever before.

And that’s where Virtual Reality (VR) comes in. We believe it’s exactly the tool that will help you achieve all three of these goals, even if your product or service lack the “wow effect” to be noticed immediately. And we’ll tell you about all its advantages in this article.

Note: Here’s why we’re talking about Virtual Reality today: as of this month, The Draw Shop can make you a VR video to promote your brand. We don’t want to offer your something just because it’s new and shiny – so we want to show you the awesome benefits of Virtual Reality first. But just in case you’ve heard enough, you can learn more about our new VR videos here.

And now – for those of us who doesn’t follow tech news, play video games, or lives and breathes marketing – what is Virtual Reality, exactly?

The many types of Virtual Reality

The formal definition of Virtual Reality is this: “An artificial environment created with software and presented to the user in a way that makes them suspend disbelief and accept it as a real environment.” (source)

(That last part is important, and we’ll come back to it.)

In practice, Virtual Reality can take several forms:

  • 360-degree videos / 3D images – these are simply images and videos captured in a special way, where you can rotate the came and get a full 360-degree view of what is around you. This technology has been around for a while now. It has become a lot more common on video though. It looks cool, but it’s not “real” VR, because users don’t experience it as a real environment.
  • “Phony” Virtual Reality – did you know that your smartphone can be mounted on a special headset and function as a basic VR device? Well, now you do! That’s how Google Cardboard and similar headsets work. They give users a taste of what Virtual Reality is like, but it’s still not an earth-shattering experience, by a long shot.

(By the way, we are fiercely proud and ashamed of this pun at the same time.)

  • “True” VR – when you have a specialized Virtual Reality headset like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, plus some powerful hardware, that’s when things get really interesting. Then you can have an experience that will feel completely real to you (for reasons we will discuss shortly). You could walk with dinosaurs, fly through space, inhabit a cartoony world… and no matter how outrageous or fantastic, it’s going to feel as if you genuinely lived it.

And that’s why Virtual Reality and video marketing are a match made in heaven. Video has changed marketing forever and raised the bar on engagement. VR is doing the same thing, only in a much more powerful way.

So, how does Virtual Reality for video marketing work, exactly? And more importantly, what can you do with it in practical terms? We’re glad you asked – let’s see!

It cuts through the noise (Attraction and Novelty)

If you were given a choice: to watch someone else do something you love, or to enjoy the experience yourself – which would you prefer?

Obviously, most people would choose the latter. Why would you be a passive observer, when you can be an active participant?

That right there is one of the biggest advantages of VR for video marketing. There’s so much “regular” video content that it’s become hard to stand out. Customers find it hard to choose between two pieces of content… but Virtual Reality is not content. It’s an experience! So it becomes an inherently preferable option for your target customer.

Here’s what it means for your business – if your incorporate Virtual Reality into your video marketing, you will instantly cut through the noise.

It’s by far the best way to compete with hundreds of hours of video being published online every minute – by offering something better than video. By being in a category of your own.

Real-life example: Let’s say that you want to buy a home. Would you prefer to look at dozens of listings, make a shortlist, and then spend an entire day touring a couple of your top choices…

…or just put on a VR headset at the real estate office, and “walk” through a dozen properties in under an hour? We thought so! And wouldn’t you know it, real estate agents already offer experiences like these.

Note: We aren’t futurists, and can’t make predictions, but this novelty could be a temporary benefit. Right now, Virtual Reality is a cutting-edge experience, much like cinema was when it started.

And the thing about novelty is, it eventually gets old. While it’s hard to imagine that one day the world will get sick of this amazing technology, past examples are all around us: the miracle of human flight, movies, gaming… everything gets old after a while.

That said, we believe that once VR becomes a bit more mainstream, it will always have an inherent advantage compared to a “static” experience like reading, or watching a regular video. All the more reason to use it in your marketing!

It feels real… even when you know it isn’t (Immersion & Memorability)

Some time ago, we came across a curious stat: most consumers remember a video ad for up to 30 days after they have seen it.

You will probably agree that it’s quite impressive in a world full of distractions and information overload.

Well, VR blows this stat out of the water! That’s because consumers experience Virtual Reality from a first-person perspective. They don’t watch it so much as live it. And this key difference matters.

A first-person perspective helps us remember something better. For example, masters of mnemonics (the art and science of memorization) rely on “anchoring” specific facts and figures to certain places and events in their memories.

Virtual Reality works in a similar way – thanks to the effect of immersion, the feeling of being physically present in a non-physical world. By making you a first-person participant, it guarantees you will remember the experience for much longer. After all, it happened to you, so it must be important, right?

Real-life example: The United Nations recently launched a VR initiative where people could see the world from the perspective of Syrian refugees, thanks to Virtual Reality. Now, whether or not it was an ethical thing to do is a matter of ongoing, and very important, debate. But to the participants who tried it, it was a genuinely transformative experience.

It’s not just engaging – it’s transformative (Lasting Impact)

Finally, the first two effects combine to create something truly rare and special: make a lasting impact on your customer and compel them to take action.

While we’ve known for a while that video is more effective at making people take action, Virtual Reality is even more powerful when it comes to persuading people to do something. For example, according to this study, having a VR experience increased people’s emotional attachment to a brand by 27% compared to a “2D” experience.

And it makes perfect sense: if something drew your attention, and you had an experience that felt 100% real, even if you knew it wasn’t… wouldn’t it affect you emotionally? And wouldn’t you take action afterwards?

Real-life example: Lowe’s is using Virtual Reality to great effect to sell its home improvement merchandise. In almost 19 Lowe’s stores, customers can visit special “Holorooms” and play with various options like lighting fixtures, tiles, plumbing, and more.

In an especially clever move, Lowe’s gives people a cheap Google Cardboard headset to take home and show off their dream design to friends and family. With this kind of emotional investment, it must be tough to resist a purchase!

Want to try Virtual Reality in your video marketing? Here’s how…

Now that you know how Virtual Reality can take your video marketing to the next level, we have a question: would you like to give it a try?

As we mentioned at the start of this post, we are officially rolling out a brand-new service – whiteboard Virtual Reality animation videos, made with Google’s Tiltbrush technology. And we wanted you to be the first to know!

If you want to learn more about Virtual Reality, and how it fits into your business goals, please visit this page – we would love to show you what kind of magic we can work for you in VR!

There you will find more information, some example videos of how things look from inside a Virtual Reality headset – and you’ll be able to book a no-cost, risk-free pow wow to discuss your idea!

So head over there and send us a note if you’re interested!