How an Engineering Firm Uses Virtual Reality

As a proponent of print-to-digital applications, such as Quick Response (QR) codes, digital watermarks and virtual reality, I am always interested when I find a company that effectively uses these types of applications to engage and interact with existing/prospective customers, elevate brand awareness and or generate interest and demand for their products or services.

Recently, I spoke with a marketing manager at BuroHappold, a UK-based integrated engineering consultancy firm, and I was surprised to learn that the firm’s marketing group created and makes use of its own virtual reality app. Why surprised? Because as a marketer, I have yet to come across a firm within the architecture, engineering and construction industry that readily makes use of virtual reality technology, or any other print-to-digital application, let alone one that has developed its own app.

In speaking with BuroHappold’s marketing manager, she said the firm uses the virtual reality app, which can be downloaded from the App Store, primarily for business development and talent recruiting purposes. For business development, the app enables a prospective client to interact with and learn about a project in a way that static images or video cannot (see images below). When a prospect triggers the app, they see a 3-D image of the project and on the image are plus (+) signs which, when touched, provide the viewer with additional information about the project (see second image below). For talent recruitment, the app helps to sell the firm to younger engineers and designers, because it shows how the firm is in tune with technology and thinks and works differently than most others.

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To access the virtual reality images, a trigger image is posted throughout the firm’s website and on its marketing collateral (see image below). In briefly testing the app, it seems to work well.

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While some engineering firms, as well as other professional services firms, may question the usefulness and costs that are associated with print-to-digital applications, my thought or response is that it’s not intended to be a silver bullet towards establishing new relationships and winning new business, but a way by which a firm can spark a conversation, engage with clients/prospects and present itself as being different, unique and innovative in a field that is commoditized, crowded and competitive.

When I asked BuroHappold’s marketing manager about marketing as a whole, it’s easy to see how their virtual reality app and its use fits within the greater scheme of things, and how this tactic works to support the firm’s overall marketing strategy and goals.

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