As a commercial furniture dealership, Price Modern is heavily tied to the interior design community. Their business has long relied on building relationships and inspiring customers with fresh furniture ideas to support their organization’s productivity and cultural needs. To achieve these two things, Price Modern’s marketing strategy has relied heavily on furniture-based events, and most importantly, tours of their showrooms.
Unlike a residential furniture showroom, the commercial showroom tour is carefully curated with workplace strategy information and the products that support those strategies. Presentations of custom renderings or other visual examples of the potential customer’s space are also a key element of the face-to-face interaction. This customer interaction is so important to the selling process that the Price Modern marketing team would often be heard saying, “We would rather have 100 people in our facility than 1,000 likes on any social media post.” The team certainly understands the importance of digital marketing, but this mantra helped to prioritize their focus on the tried-and-true customer showroom tours. On March 16th of 2020, their ability to hold events and tours was completely squelched in one 60-minute press conference. It was time to pivot dramatically or lose touch with the market completely.
The importance of digital marketing leapt to the top of the priority list. With no ability to physically meet with people and a dramatic decrease in budget, the team turned to existing technologies for which the company already had licenses. The goal was to recreate the important visual experience for a customer and maintain the custom feel and close engagement. A virtual showroom tour was now the top priority, but Price Modern did not want to settle for the standard experience of self-guided tours and generic 360-degree photography.
Price Modern partnered closely with Yulio Technologies, a Canada based VR technology firm, and AMA Baltimore sponsor Coyle Studios, a local professional photography studio. Price Modern was already using Yulio to develop renderings in their design process but had not tapped into the power of the VR side of the software. After a conversation with Rob Kendal, the Managing Director at Yulio, they had a plan to create something unique in the market. Rob and his team joined in the excitement and helped push out new features, including the use of 360-degree video, easily customizable content, and downloadable documents. John Coyle and Brynn Devereaux, with Coyle Studios, joined the team as well. They instantly joined in on the enthusiasm to push the boundaries. John and Brynn used an 11k 360-degree photo/video camera and created the true texture of the virtual space with a blend of regular photography, 360-degree photography, and the unique use of 360-degree video with motion. In less than eight weeks, the team had created the foundation of what will be an ever-evolving, unique, digital customer experience.
Price Modern conducted more than 50 custom virtual tours for customers and potential customers during the socially distanced pandemic. They continued to win new business in arguably the toughest business environment. The team has continued to evolve the tool and is even planning to incorporate key features into their physical tours once we can all get back to a sense of normalcy. The success of this marketing pivot relied heavily on quick action, strong partnerships, and the team’s belief that they could push through budget and technology constraints to get the project right. The result is a tool that has been nationally recognized and, most importantly, has allowed their company to maintain a strong engagement in a distanced market.
Learn about AR and VR in our post, “AR and VR: How These Emerging Technologies Are Impacting Marketing and The User Experience.”