How to create immersive B2B customer – brand experiences

B2B purchasing decision making processes are far from being completely rational or purely fact driven. In fact, various studies confirm that even the most critical B2B decision making processes rely on personal value attribution or emotional value components. Some studies find that up to 70% of B2B decision making processes are emotionally influenced, even in commodity type pricing situations.  
With up to 50% or more of the decision making process being completed before the average B2B buyer engages with you sales representative (= wake up call to revise your content marketing strategy), it seems invaluable for B2B brands to create highly personal and or emotionally powered customer experiences.
Apart from many great examples of emotional branding, such as GE’s Ecomagination or even Maersk’s entire social media presence humanizing the brand, one widely under-deployed method is to excite your customers. That’s right, don’t put them to sleep with endless whitepapers or an automated triggered email for every click they do on your website but excite your customer base with either highly engaging content or even experiences that leave a mark and position you clearly in the mind of your customer base.

Some of the later are Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications. With the earlier I have been playing around since 2010 / 2011 augmenting various products or otherwise hidden processes for customers. With both enhancement on the hardware and also software (creative) side of things, it is now possible to create stunning and life-like augmented reality applications that allow the visualization of your product in completely new ways. There are by now almost infinite examples from the B2C, lead by the IKEA augmented reality catalogue or Lego’s augmented toy boxes. In the B2B world, you will however also find examples of industry giants like Bosch employing AR to their automotive product palette. For ingredient branding type products, AR concepts can help to showcase product on a system and functional level, thus greatly enhancing your sales argumentation by visualizing complex product features. This does not only allow your sales team and customer to engage on a completely different level, it also engages your customers’ inner curiosity to explore more.

The heart of engaging technology today is however, in my opinion, Virtual Reality. VR concepts allow a new level of customer immersion that has seldom been the case for B2B companies with somewhat limited budgets compared to their B2C colleagues. VR enables to transport distance (e.g. our latest example: a factory tour), experiences (e.g. product demonstrations or walk throughs) or size (well, how would you want to exhibit your newest excavation digger in expo hall 2?) with relative ease. More importantly however, it can almost be guaranteed that your customers will experience your products or services in a completely new and innovative light, often combined with a big smile on their face (yes, your initial success measure and great customer generated content if you ask for a few testimonials right after the VR experience).

The experience I have made with both technologies has been outstanding and very positive. Production costs for both are steadily decreasing with more knowhow on the agency side and an increasing number of providers for both technologies. Thus your MROI will also not be penalized (if you are among the 25% of B2B’s measuring your MROI at all). Both applications can be greatly developed within your live event budget but instead of being one off stunts, costs can be activated for continuous use over multiple quarters, thus creating a sustainable, up-dateable and very exciting customer facing application.

If you have any good, exciting B2B examples of this sort, please share below.

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