Let’s continue our investigation on the most innovative marketing transformation strategies for real estate companies. A couple of weeks ago we defined with one our content writers, Elizabeth, which type of expertise is needed in content strategy for real estate. This week we continue our exploration of the Bekudo network of independent professionals with Gina, Technology Marketing Consultant.
With Gina we explored why companies need a technology marketing consultant, and in particular how to use Augmented Reality for Real Estate and Interior Design. In this post you will find examples, analysis of the different stages of the sales and marketing funnels, and the key KPIs that you need to take into consideration.
- What is a Technology Marketing Consultant
- What does it make marketing for technologies different
- Augmented Reality for Architecture and Interior Design
- Which Marketing challenges can you solve with augmented reality
- Which are the main KPIs for an Augmented Reality project?
- Lessons learned working as a technology marketing consultant
You defined yourself as a technology marketing consultant. Can you help us define what is the scope of this marketing role?
Whether you are:
- A tech company that uses and develops tech or
- A non-tech company that uses tech to get your product or service out there or
- A non-tech company that uses very little to no tech but has a need for tech
I help you build a solid marketing foundation and discover the power of linking your business with technology, so that you can serve your clients better and market better.
I do this by focusing on the following areas:
I create clever strategies with smarter goals for companies that want to grow so that they are confident they have the best ways to make it to their destination and are marketing intelligently, with clarity and structure.
Planning & Organization
Freedom comes from order and I use method and organization to develop a solid working structure introducing technologies and automated systems and processes so that companies have a strong foundation to work and grow from and a path to follow to reach their goals efficiently and effectively.
Product / Service Development
I develop and improve products and services from conception to launch so that they perform optimally, deliver the best value and gain maximum adoption by solving user’s needs and communicating benefits to them in a way that they understand.
Digital/ Integrated Marketing
I study why and how people buy and use this understanding to explore and provide simple marketing ideas that gain traction. By then selecting and using the right marketing structure, systems, channels and campaigns, I help companies build their brand, effectively reach and communicate with their target audience and increase their online presence.
Website Creation & Management
I free up client’s time by project managing websites for them. I identify the site’s goals, create initial specifications and messages so the site attracts, engages and retains visitors and then work with designers and developers to make them appealing, technically robust and easily found online.
Client Coaching / Mentoring
I take some of the burden off clients’ shoulders by guiding them in the right direction and helping them with their decision making process. I ask intelligent questions and through listening, reflection and curiosity, I take the time to understand their needs, wants, fears and obstacles and challenge them to get out of their comfort zone so they can work with clarity, focus and confidence.
Collaborative Relationship Management
I collaborate and coordinate closely with clients, team members, outsourcers, partners and other stakeholders establishing a supportive community. Each has varying familiarity of tech and marketing solutions and I communicate with them in a way so that everybody can better understand the solutions proposed and how they benefit the company and its customers.
Throughout your career as a technology marketing consultant, you worked with numerous tech companies as well as companies that were launching technical projects, for example, the launch and promotion of two flagship online services of the European Commission.
What is something that makes marketing strategies for technological products different from the marketing of other services and products?
Basic marketing fundamentals apply to all companies whether tech or non-tech. However, there are certain factors that you have to take into particular consideration when marketing for tech companies and their products and services which include: the intrinsic nature of the technology market, whether you are creating demand for the product or service or responding to specific market needs, its evolution in the market and customer adoption.
The technology market is very fast-paced and competitive. It’s not a matter of a new or updated product or service coming out in a year, but rather months. Your marketing strategy therefore has to be agile, responding and adapting to these rapid changes. You also have to be knowledgeable in tech and keep yourself constantly updated, staying on top of developments. You need to understand what’s coming out next and how it impacts your marketing activities, the product or service you’re marketing and your prospective customers.
High tech markets can be divided into supply-side or demand-side markets.
On the supply side, you are creating demand for an innovation driven product where technological progress is creating the market. R&D is the driving force here – the main strategic and marketing objective is to achieve profitable commercial applications from the outcome of R&D. First you develop it and then see how a potential customer can make best use of it.
Often, a new innovative tech product or service can disrupt existing markets and change the way business is done in the industry. Think Google driverless cars, 3D printing to build a house, augmented and virtual reality to educate, train, entertain and shop. The iPhone changed how we use phones, Kindle, how we read.
When you are creating something entirely new in this way, you need to generate demand and create a market for it. Therefore, when you develop a marketing strategy on the supply-side of the tech market, you have little existing market information to draw from as the market is new. You have to basically start from zero, get your entrepreneurial hat on and surge forward on your own, relying on your intuition, skills, past relevant experience and a healthy mindset.
On the demand side, R&D is responding to specific market needs and developing innovative products or services that solve market problems and challenges. Instead of R&D being the driving force, you first spot a need or challenge in the marketplace, then you develop a solution – it’s market driven. In this scenario, as the high-tech market is more mature, you have market information and a foundation to draw from and the marketing strategy can include tried and tested actions that are more traditional.
It’s also worth mentioning, that the marketing strategy has to take into consideration that the tech product or service will eventually evolve from the supply side to the demand side of the market. This means that the marketing strategy has to evolve and adapt as the product or service evolves and adapts.
Lastly, we move to customer adoption. To keep it simple, we can divide customers of high-tech products and services into two groups, according to their perception, behaviour and acceptance: the early adopters and the mainstream market.
As early adopters tend to be technology enthusiasts and visionaries, they are easier to market to – they are already in the tech mindset. The mainstream market can be sceptical, not as interested, not tech minded or more cost conscious. They might not initially appreciate a new and innovative tech product or service and since technology solutions can be complex, they may not fully comprehend it and what it can do for them. You therefore have to further nurture and educate the mainstream market through informative content that speaks to their interests, obstacles and concerns, often resulting in a longer buying process. However, if your marketing strategy incorporates these customer characteristics and takes actions to build on-going relationships that establish trust, it can reach your marketing objectives much more easily.
You have shared with us a case study about the use of augmented reality for architecture and interior design. Can you tell us a bit more about the project and the results the client got thanks to augmented reality?
Our client, a 3D imagery company, did not have the tech know how or capacity in-house to solve a problem they had.
One of their main target audiences included architects, planners and property developers. The 3D imagery company needed to show them what a 3D property would look like at the actual location, yet they only had the technical means to demonstrate this using 2D drawings and had to rely on verbal explanations and their clients’ imagination. If their clients couldn’t visualize it, it was a huge setback for both parties.
By developing an augmented reality app, the property came to life, on location. They didn’t have to imagine it, they could actually see it. Their AR app gave clarity to their clients and the confidence they needed to proceed with the actual build.
Our client saw a need in their marketplace and came to us to fill that need. By doing so, they benefited greatly and gained a huge competitive edge. They also gave added value to their clients and helped them with one of their challenges in getting planning permission.
You played a valuable role in the development and promotion of the augmented reality app. Which activities did you do to market this augmented reality product?
As this was a new product, most marketing activities concentrated on market research and the initial concept was tested on a select audience to help in forecasting its success.
Once a prototype was ready, a formal focus group was put together to determine if the functionalities and user interface of the AR app met the needs of the end users. Enhancements and reiterations of the app were made and presented to the focus group until the app was fully validated, both from a tech point of view and the end user point of view. During this process, marketing text such as the language used in the user interface, the product description and marketing messages were also tested and validated by the focus group to ensure the product would attract the right audiences.
Being an augmented reality app, a visual product, it made sense to promote it via video. Video is a very effective marketing channel and its use has increased immensely in recent years.
Which are the biggest marketing challenges that can be solved with augmented reality solutions?
Augmented Reality enhances your current environment by allowing you to see virtual objects or information while looking at real things, usually via an AR app on your smart phone or tablet.
The impact of using this technology in your marketing can be huge, if used in the right way. Various approaches are still being explored to apply this effectively and it has the potential to touch all senses, triggering emotions that play a role in initially gaining interest in your offering and later, in the buying cycle.
With this being said, three marketing challenges immediately come to mind where using augmented reality can really help: how to make your brand stand out, how to increase audience engagement and how to improve the buyer’s experience and positively impact their buying decisions.
In order for companies to survive and grow, they need to get more customers and keep current ones. Where it gets interesting, is how do they do this? At the top level of the marketing and sales funnel is awareness, knowing that you exist, increasing your visibility and creating a lasting impression. To gain positive awareness of your brand and attract new customers while continuously captivating existing customers, you need to differentiate yourself from the rest and send out messages about your company that your ideal audience can relate to. If let’s say, you want to show that you provide something meaningful that adds value or solves a real problem, then using augmented reality can be a creative way to come up with unique but functional ideas that really focus on this and set you apart.
Moving down the marketing and sales funnel, we come to audience engagement. The inherently immersive nature of augmented reality not only instantly gets users’ attention, it also can attract them to specific locations and keep them engaged for longer periods of time.
Take England’s Historic Cities AR app for example. While only using basic AR capabilities, it still has the capacity to attract new audiences and give return visitors a new kind of experience by bringing history to life using a virtual guide that tells captivating tales of 12 of England’s most historic towns and cities.
If you’ve ever visited ruins, then you know it can be difficult to visualize what the site looked like when still intact. The Empúries Archaeological Site AR app gives you that ability, to see reconstructions of buildings and areas in the site’s glory days, realistically transporting you back in time.
Both of these apps focus on storytelling that depends on the location, offer value added services, personalize and improve your experience therefore keeping you engaged longer and in doing so, gain a significant advantage in the competitive tourism industry.
Another thing I wanted to mention is that augmented reality can be very effective when you want to emotionally connect with your audience. A perfect illustration of this is the Walking Dead Scary Shelter. It instantly changes your behaviour and directly brings you the emotions of the show. It’s a powerful sort of engagement, especially when you’re not expecting it, that creates an impactful impression you will definitely remember.
Now that we’ve gained awareness and interest, attracted and engaged, we can continue to use augmented reality to strategically move target audiences even further down the marketing and sales funnel to the convert phase. Here’s where we positively impact their buying decisions while improving the buyer’s experience.
To see something in the context of how it’ll be used, to virtually try before you buy, is much more powerful than attempting to visualize it on your own. Using augmented reality here makes buying more personalized, convenient, interactive, interesting and even fun. It makes buying easier because users are more confident in their decision – they can see how a piece of furniture would look like in their home or which renovation idea is best for their property. Uncertain buying, returns and regrets are considerably reduced and buyers receive significant value from the experience.
To see how this works in action, let’s take a brief look at three AR apps.
With the IKEA Place App, you can walk around and virtually place furniture and objects in your home so that you can see what they would actually look like, effectively testing it out before you buy.
If you want to physically see so that you can decide which new front door is the right one for your home, the Home Depot AR App can help you with that.
And, if you can’t decide which colour to paint your walls, the Dulux Visualizer AR app allows you to try a myriad of colours before you buy.
All in all, using augmented reality the right way in your marketing has tremendous benefits for both companies and their target audiences.
Based on your experience, what is the most important metric or KPI to validate the success of an augmented reality investment?
Looking at this logically, I would break metrics down by each marketing campaign to see how effective a campaign is. Therefore, I would treat using augmented reality in your marketing as the augmented reality marketing campaign.
An important umbrella metric of the AR marketing campaign that encompasses both leads and sales growth is the cost of customer acquisition (COCA). COCA reveals the cost of convincing a potential customer to buy your product or service. More specifically, it tells you how much it’s costing you to acquire each lead, the number of high quality leads generated, the value of those leads, the number of customers converted and the revenue made.
With this KPI, you can then decide if investment in the AR marketing campaign is worthwhile.
Which lessons did you learn as a freelance technology marketing consultant that you apply to all the projects you work on?
A lot of my work is done remotely and it’s important that I plan and organize my work in a way that fits my clients’ hours as well as my own as we’re often in different time zones. I’ve found that online tools are helpful in collaborating and coordinating with others.
Often enough, clients don’t always know what they want or how to get what they want and shy away from tech they don’t understand – you need to guide them along. I find that it’s best to assume nothing and keep asking questions until all parties have clarity.
I’ve also learned to surround myself with people who can contribute differently than I can – it opens up your mind and creativity even more and the mixture of skills complements the work to be done.
Gina is a technology marketing consultant and she is part of the Bekudo network of independent professionals. If you are interested in working with a marketing consultant like Gina, or with a team of freelancers managed by Bekudo, you can contact Bekudo today.