Small to medium-sized enterprises breaking into the market aren’t only in competition with big businesses. They are also battling between themselves for the attention of customers, funding, and good press. Markets dominated by the big players with big marketing budgets and economies of scale might seem impenetrable by small and growing businesses.
Whilst there are a few things SMEs should be doing to stay competitive, such as own a unique product or service, patent their ideas, and grow their customer reach; one thing, in particular, is set to determine their survival – the importance of their Mixed Reality strategy.
As the speed of technology moves faster than ever, the past 12 months have catalyzed the quality of output and equipment in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR); driving down prices and bringing the strategy well into the SME budget. There are now fewer reasons not to adopt mixed reality into business operations. Rather, only the necessary reasons for survival.
Markets adopting MR
Forecast distribution for the augmented and mixed reality market 2022: (Statista)
What do SMEs need to survive?
- High customer
- Satisfaction low return rate
- Returning customers
- Strong brand image
Survival in the SME game is all about growth, pushing boundaries, keeping up with and overtaking competitors in order to build a successful venture.
As more industries turn to technology for automating marketing, manufacturing, customer services, and even sales; the future of the entire economy is looking more technologically driven. The only way to stay in the game is to turn to the emerging and transformational technologies of digital realities.
What’s Mixed Reality?
Mixed reality (MR) is the merging of real and virtual worlds that result in new environments and visualizations. These spaces are immersive computer-generated environments in which elements of a physical and virtual environment are combined.
Both physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real-time. Because MR doesn’t necessarily exist in either the physical or digital worlds – it’s considered a hybrid of virtual reality and augmented reality.
The VR/AR market was expected to grow by nearly 80% in 2020. The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has not debunked this since Goldman Sachs estimates the size of the MR market to reach $128bn by 2025. That’s another 5 years of continued innovation and growth.
Mixed reality for SMEs
Throw it into the marketing mix
Long gone are the days of traditional door-to-door salesmanship, pushy ads, and unwanted email spam. Today, more than ever, marketing revolves around the wants and needs of consumers. And as new technologies emerge, customers want brands to deliver experiences to use them.
Failing to utilize AR, VR, and MR in SME marketing strategies could see you lagging behind competitors.
Virtual reality allows SMEs to close the gap between experience and action. Since VR offers a digital experience, with the capacity to transport a user into a new virtual world, businesses can promote products and services to customers wherever they are. Consider the effects of a small travel consultancy being able to showcase their destinations to passengers during the decision-making process.
Touring virtual places
As well as promoting existing products and services, SMEs should consider the scope behind showcasing what they have in development. Invite key stakeholders along on the construction site of buildings and towns under development to show them what you’re creating and why they should be excited participants. Whatever your business provides, this is also a great way to get feedback from your customers.
Enhance your brand image
Most importantly, mixed reality has reshaped the dynamic between brands and their target audience. No longer will customers be using ad blockers and avoiding your email campaigns, but will be actively seeking out what VR experiences your brand has to offer. You’ll gain time to curate how you will engage with your customers as they come looking for you.
Brands that explore digital realities now are more likely to be at the forefront of the field. It’s the best time to try and test new innovative MR strategies before this space really explodes. Whilst we can’t affirmatively conclude the future; marketing is guaranteed to revolve around mixed reality.
Save costs and improve efficiencies
Most startups are established with the primary goal of generating money. Once they’re on track, expansion follows. In order to protect and maximize profits as a means of survival and expansion, saving costs and maximizing efficiencies become key to all SMEs.
Employee recruitment and training can be costly. As an SME, the importance of sourcing, training and retaining the best talent out there cannot be understated. Businesses are deploying mixed reality strategies into their recruitment processes.
The technology can help filter through the skills available without having to scour through hundreds of CVs and applications. The use of gamification here can be incredibly efficient. By asking candidates to engage in a gamified recruitment process, they’re more likely to demonstrate their true-self and reveal all the information you need to know in an interactive way. From here, the scores, levels-reached, or performances of the candidates can be measured to inform your recruitment process.
Training your employees can either be:
- Cost-effective but ineffective
- Effective but not cost-effective
Rather than falling into either category – abandon the books and cancel that one-on-one mentor session with employees. Rather, make use of the digital and virtual worlds mixed reality has to offer. Generate your training room using VR and let employees practice in digital scenarios. Alternatively, utilize augmented reality to enhance the visual representation of your training session through the trainees’ camera lens.
Mixed reality for SMEs in a nutshell
These digital realities offer a way for you to expand your customer reach, generate buzz around your brand and train your employees more effectively – all from great distances. The costs saved, both in terms of monetary and time resources will situate any SME in a solid position to embrace the new technological wave, compete in their market and ultimately survive.