IDEA SEX - Virtual reality and capital equipment marketing & sales

Ed Marsh | Jul 19, 2016


Trust | B2B Marketing | Complex Sales

Capital equipment manufacturers have an increasingly tough job. Buyers research and decide virtually. Team buying makes the sales process increasingly complicated. And personal inclination away from ownership and toward sharing economy models are likely to dramatically change the process of capital equipment marketing and sales over the next decade.

The good news is that tools are available.

The bad news is that those tools aren't packaged as "capital equipment marketing" solutions - instead they're developing in other industries and applications.

Virtual reality is a great example - as it evolves for entertainment, savvy capital equipment manufacturers will be experimenting with it as a sales tool.

B2B marketers in categories where trust is vital are exploring the use of virtual reality as a way to tell their stories and provide reassurance to buyers. Warc Editors

Finding great ideas at the intersections

Have you seen the "Idea Sex" Ted talk? Matt Ridley posits that progress results from the intersection of ideas. He refers to "the collective brain."


He highlights a great point - that some of the most creative and disruptive innovations aren't actually new, they're simply new to the industry/field/discipline where they are applied. Further, it's unlikely that they would ever emerge had a single team been responsible for developing them.

The collective brain is the killer app upon which successful capital equipment marketing will rely over the next years. It's manifest not only in creative approaches to trade shows for capital equipment manufacturers, and in leveraging used machine programs to expand globally and increase domestic sales, but also in really cool applications of technology to help buyers experience the operational impact of capital investments.

What does that mean for capital equipment marketing?

It's actually more than just marketing - it has implications for the manufacturing revenue model and target customer.

Here are three common capital equipment situations where the complex sales process could benefit from the clarity and experience of virtual reality:

  1. A simple sounding feature that has a huge impact - Most machines offer some cool feature that is too simple sounding to fully convey the value that it represents. Quick thread, in-line XXX, tool less changeover and remote repair for instance all sound cool but are often hard for buyers to fully visualize the potential impact on their business. That is until they watch it in action compared to the alternative. Virtual reality can make those situations intensely personal and real rather than abstract descriptions of costly options.
  2. Aggressive users considering upgrade - Every company has a few users that constantly experiment to figure out how to get even more from their machine. They're often ready to explore upgrades earlier in their capacity utilization than others. They recognize that new machines may not only be faster, but would offer other capabilities which they could build on in their own processes. But these same folks are often working 80 hours a week, and getting them to your facility for a demo just isn't going to happen. Take the demo to them - in an engaging way to which they'll respond.
  3. Average users that don't realize competitive advantage - You've got some users who you know never fully unlock the potential of their machine. Wouldn't you love a way to help them do so before they discard it as mediocre? And to illustrate your potential (vs. the vanilla you they know) when they're making competitive comparisons for additional capacity?

Virtual reality is not fantasy anymore. It's proven, readily available technology that any company can leverage. However, it's not cheap. Imagine the last corporate video that you worked on - now add more video, programming and other elements and you get a sense of the work, cost and time involved in creating virtual reality tools.

That's not intended to discourage - rather to help you be realistic.

Here's another way to think about it - what if you dropped one trade show from your schedule, or scaled one back a bit. That would free up approximately $50K that you could put into a very credible virtual reality presentation on one or two compelling aspects of your offering.

Then for very small incremental cost you could create an "offer" which someone requests access to your VR app, and registers for you to send Google Cardboard to them. That means effective tools AND incremental new leads. Cool!

Foundry 45 even suggests ways to supplement trade shows with virtual reality. That could be a way to cut your booth and related expenses (drayage, utilities, etc.) even further - and deliver a more memorable competitive experience for visitors.

Not just what you make....but how you sell it

The bottom line for capital equipment manufacturers is this - you're going to obsess over product improvements. That's just who you are.

It's time to start to obsess over how you market and sell your products too.

You make great machines - but too often the people who would benefit don't even know about them or can't understand all the great business value they'd realize.

Digital marketing, enhanced trade shows, evolving business models and even really sexy tools like virtual reality offer huge opportunities.

Want to step back and understand the basics of a strong internet marketing program for industrial manufacturers? Download this step-by-step guide.

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