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How Marketers Can Use VR to Make Them a Success Marketers need to keep in mind that if they don't get in with VR once it goes mainstream, someone else will.

By AJ Agrawal Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Virtual reality (VR) is the next big technology. And it's growing at an extraordinary rate. The Oculus Rift for gamers has been one of the most successful VR devices to date. By 2020 it's expected that 30 million U.S. consumers will be using the technology.

Related: Why Virtual Reality Is Vital

What hasn't been looked at, though, is how marketers can use VR to make their campaigns and their businesses successful.

Begin by targeting consumers with mobile.

VR is already beginning to make its next move. Rather than putting a large headset on top of your head, you can now experience it from the comfort of your smartphone. It still requires you to stand around with a helmet on your head, though. Marketers can take advantage of this feeling of self-consciousness by producing mobile VR content that doesn't take too long to watch.

Creating short-form branded experiences that can easily be shared can get people interested in what you have to offer. The reason why marketers should get on board with this now is because once it does take hold, you'll be ready to ride the wave all the way to the top.

Realize that content marketing still matters.

People like to get wrapped up in new technology like this because it's new and interesting. What people forget is that content is still the driving force behind it. A video game played with a VR headset will still be terrible if the story and gameplay are terrible. VR isn't going to cover for that.

Advertisers should avoid falling into the trap of believing they can produce absolutely anything for VR. You still need to think about what content is going to sell.

Right now, it's clear that the content doing best is content that makes people stop and stare. The Game of Thrones version of VR involved building a version of The Wall. Users stand at the bottom of the wall and then climb it, all while wearing a VR headset.

Related: Will You Be Ready for the Virtual Reality Future?

The reason this has worked is that the content is simply amazing. Marketers need to think about replicating such experiences.

Allow users to create the content.

The leading VR companies have already started to explore the idea of creating a community. The community would have the chance to create content, or at least dictate what happens within that content. The problem is that marketers aren't used to allowing people to do this. They like to have total control over everything.

Marketers can benefit from allowing interactive content, through creating simple choice-based paths. Providing multiple endings to a piece of content can make the members of your target audience feel that they're in control.

Brands that want to allow user-generated content should prepare for it. They need to make sure they're ready for what comes next. You should already have campaigns planned for when user-generated VR content becomes a thing.

Use VR to engage the senses.

VR attempts have always been about seeing something that isn't really there. You never truly feel that you're in another world, though. People always feel that they're standing in a room with a headset on their heads. The best marketers are going to have to focus on getting around that.

So, how are they going to do that?

It all starts with being able to engage the senses. You need to take a look at all five senses and think about how to incorporate them. Marketers are going to use this technology to make consumers believe that sensations are there when they're really not. Their task is going to revolve around tricking the brain.

But engaging the senses is tough, and something still in the early stages of development. The chances are, we won't see full sensory VR for a few years. That's because scientists don't yet understand well enough how the brain work.

Last word: Do marketers need to worry about VR now?

The truth is that getting ready for VR doesn't have to be a priority. VR hasn't managed to go beyond its initial heartland of video games. But just because you're not going to start prioritizing VR content yet doesn't mean you should be ignorant of what's going on.

Marketers need to keep in mind that if they don't get in with VR once it goes mainstream, someone else will. This is the next leap forward for technology and advertisers need to keep their fingers on the pulse.

Related: How This Couple Is Amalgamating Virtual Reality with Architectural Visualization

AJ Agrawal

Founder of Verma Media

AJ Agrawal is the founder of Verma Media, a marketing agency that focuses on emerging tech, like blockchain and AI, and on cannabis companies.

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