How will you avoid being swept under?
In Part 1 of Augmented & Virtual Reality Is Set to Disrupt Real Estate, we looked at the impending technology wave of virtual and augmented reality that’s heading right at the real estate market. We looked at the potential it has to shake up the way real estate is marketed and sold, how early adopters of augmented reality tech are already putting it to work for them, and the factors driving the interest in and demand for VR/AR in real estate. In Part 2, we’ll look at what it will take to ride the VR/AR wave and the five things businesses can start doing now to get ready.
What It Will Take for You to Ride This Wave
You’ll need to make a quantum leap in your thinking about your investment in marketing.
I can guarantee you that you are under-investing in marketing. And I don’t mean TV or radio or newspaper advertising, or even Google Adwords and SEO (although you may well be under-investing in those too). I mean investing in creating the kind of virtual experiences of your buildings and homes/neighborhoods that will give your 30-year-old customer base an emotional experience of your offering.
Instead of choking on a $20,000 price tag to have a single VR tour of one of your new homes professionally produced, think about how much it costs to build a full model home for each plan elevation. By using VR for the additional plan elevations you can save a lot of money.
Instead of balking at spending $4000 on a state-of-the-art Matterport camera, maybe you have enough properties that you should buy one and hire a full-time photographer to create hi-res 3D walkthroughs of all of your buildings or quick move-in homes.
Consider the Jeff Bezos/Amazon approach. For years, Bezos invested in his long-term vision. The market thought he was crazy to keep re-investing in his vision year after year with no immediate payoff. That took courage and conviction. But it’s sure paying off now! Amazon is on its way to becoming a $3-trillion company in the next decade. Now that’s a quantum leap in thinking.
What You Need to Do Now to Get Ready
There are five things you need to do now to ensure that your company will ride this wave instead of being swept away by it:
Dramatically Increase Your Marketing Budget
Rather than trying to find ways to stretch or reduce your current marketing budget, you should be doubling or tripling down. That doesn’t mean doing more of exactly what you’re doing now. It means doing the things you should be doing now but aren’t (like usability testing your mobile experience) and spending on net new experiential marketing like augmented reality.
Get the Basics Right
Use some of that budget to understand your customers and what would be most helpful to them. Rather than doing a traditional focus group, why not have an innovation team facilitate a Design Thinking workshop with a group of prospective home buyers and your executive team?
Spend some time and budget to truly understand your customers’ journey and hire a digital marketing company to redesign your website/mobile app to be a truly customer-driven experience. Many companies say they’re customer-driven, but very few actually walk the talk.
Develop a Strategy for Implementing VR/AR at Scale
This needs to be an immediate focus for your executive team. Not just how you’ll implement VR/AR on a few of your properties, but on all of them. This won’t happen unless your executive team develops a solid strategy to ensure that it happens. What would that take in the context of your business?
Start a Pilot Project
You don’t need to wait until you have a strategy in place to get your feet wet. There’s likely enough discretionary budget somewhere in your company to be able to hire a professional photographer to create a Matterport experience and/or a drone video for one of your properties. You can then use those tests to discuss with your customers how and where they would be most likely to interact with them. Convincing your investors to give you the latitude to be able to take the kind of strategic quantum leap you’ll need to take will be a lot easier if they see and feel the experience of your offering in this new way.
Learn and Refine
Now that you’ve spent the time and budget to truly understand your customer needs and done a pilot VR/AR project, you need to apply your learning and iterate on your website/mobile app and virtual experiences to reap the rewards and dominate your competition.
Why This Will Be Damn Hard to Do
Just like Jeff Bezos encountered skeptics, there may well be more than a few naysayers in your organization. Some of the challenges you may face include:
- Short-term thinking by board members / investors
- Executive compensation tied to short-term profit goals
- Competing priorities
- The prevailing thought that you’re already spending too much money on marketing and that you can’t afford to double-down (let alone triple-down)
The Little Bird
Remember the story of Andrew and Lionel and the bird that warned them of the coming storm? I am that talking bird, and you now have to decide whether to raise your house up on stilts or shoo me away. Will you make the decision to do what’s necessary? Because if you wait until you see the crest of this tsunami to change your strategic thinking, your competitors could wash you away.