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What is Augmented Reality and How Can it Help with Marketing?

Futuristic smart glasses

You may have heard of augmented reality. You may even know that it was supposed to be a revolution in communications. You may also have read that it was a revolution that failed to happen. You may think that this is a failed technology and be wondering why I’m writing a blog about it. I’m writing about it because everything I just wrote is wrong. Augmented reality is not a failed revolution. Augmented reality is coming and it will revolutionise everything.

I’m going to recap what augmented reality (AR) is and then I’m going to talk about how you can use it to enhance your business, even if you think your business is just too small.

What Is Augmented Reality?

Imagine walking down a street and as you do an image pops up in front of you that tells you which of your friends are nearby. As you turn, you notice text boxes floating in the air outside shops. There are also videos playing. As you stop to watch one of the videos the sound automatically comes on and you can hear it too. This was the vision of AR and many people thought that devices such as Google Glass would herald this revolution. When Google didn’t follow up on their initial release of Google Glass many people thought that AR had gone away. But it hasn’t. It’s actually all around you and in a much more subtle form. AR is in your phone and your tablet.

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Image of sofa and smart phone
Thinking about changing your sofa?

Ikea has an app that allows you to place furniture within your room and see what it looks like. Dulux has one that allows you to look at your room and change the wall colours. Both of these are available for download now and are helping those companies to get ahead of their competitors.

The Three Main Uses Of Augmented Reality For Business

  1. Attracting new customers. Both of the examples I listed above are designed to attract customers to make a purchase. They do this by solving basic problems associated with those products. How do you visualise changes you are going to make to your home? How often do we buy something and imagine how it will look only to find out later how wrong we were. This applies to clothes as well as decor but could it also apply to landscape gardening? Buying a new kitchen? Having your house extended or remodeled? Where visualisation plays an important role in purchasing decisions AR can be a real game changer in the way you communicate with your customers. At this point you may be asking what any of this has to do with marketing videos?
  2. Augmented reality
    Mobile phone scanning a tridimensional barcode

    Enhancing the shopping experience. This is where we can begin to talk about your marketing videos. Have you ever seen a QR code next to a product in a shop? Its something that you will probably already have seen but just not noticed. Next time you see it try scanning the code with your phone. The code will tell your phone to access information about the product. For your business you may be able to access videos and information from the manufacturer of whatever you are selling but you may be a producing rather than a retailer. This is where you can utilise your marketing videos for additional value. If you already have an online video about your product use the QR code to link to it. Alternatively you can utilise the near field communications ability of current smart phones to send push notifications to link to content about products they may be about to walk past.

  3. Enhancing customers relationship with the product. Lot’s of products have QR codes on the packaging now. Usually it’s linked to some kind of cross promotion with a new movie release. You scan the code and your phone takes you to some exclusive content or even better your phone displays an animated interaction with the product, live on your screen. That sounds pretty cool but what is the point of this? The point is to get your customers to spend more time with the product and to build a relationship with it. Making a product a part of a customer’s life reinforces their desire to become a regular customer.

Where does all this leave the small or medium size business owner? Mostly it leaves them lagging well behind big business, but it doesn’t have to be that way. For the small business QR Codes are still the most cost effective way of accessing AR. There are online apps that will create codes for you that will link to whatever on-line content you want to make available. At this point I’ll remind you that video is by far the most powerful way to engage with potential clients and that you should, therefore, link to your marketing videos. You can place QR codes in widows, on your vans, on flyers or even on your invoices. It will cost you almost nothing to do this and can generate extra traffic to your marketing videos which will in turn generate extra interest in your business.

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You can also place them on your products, and while producing 3-D interactive videos may be out of your price range now that won’t always be the case. In the meantime utilise your marketing video or commission something special that reaches out to your customers to tell them how valued they are.

Finally one of my favourite ideas for small business to attract customers through AR is to place mystery QR codes in places where your customers go. I worked with a specialist car body shop and one of the ways we leveraged extra value from their marketing videos was to place posters with just a QR code at a car modification rally.

However you choose to make use of AR remember it doesn’t have to be expensive – just useful, and as with everything, that all depends upon how much creativity you invest.

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