How Lenovo Software Used Virtual Reality to Increase Leads 350% at Gartner Symposium

Arik Abel, Unified Workspace Marketing Manager

Anyone who works in digital marketing knows how frustrating it can be to play darts with spaghetti. (Or, in industry terms, to reduce friction and fill the sales pipeline with qualified leads.)

In our attempts to capture slivers of prospects’ waning attention, we measure time on site in seconds and whittle down lead gen forms to single fields. Content overload and short attention spans means we’re on a constant quest for strategies that allow us to be as succinct as possible.

So you might be surprised to hear we did the opposite at this year’s Gartner Symposium.

Would you believe that we discovered a way to get senior decision makers to interact with Lenovo Software for 15 MINUTES per sitting? In the middle of a crowded expo? After waiting in long lines for a chance to take a turn?

Rather than focusing on reducing friction, we invited people to devote more time to our tradeshow booth. And the crazy thing is, it worked.

So, how did we do it? The campaign centered around two key concepts: 1) Vuja de, and 2) virtual reality.

Allow me to explain...

Applying Vuja De to Digital Marketing

Are you familiar with the concept of Vuja de? It is the opposite of déjà vu and involves looking for ways to experience everyday events in completely new ways.

At Lenovo Software, we’re constantly looking for opportunities to apply the Vuja de principle to lead generation. As staggering amounts of content are published every hour, Vuja de is proving to be the key to discovering what truly captivates people.

And that’s how we came to identify virtual reality as the secret to tradeshow success.

Popular within the gaming community, virtual reality (often referred to as “augmented reality” or “VR/AR”) allows users to become immersed in three-dimensional, computer-generated virtual worlds. While a few consumer companies have recognized virtual reality as a more engaging medium than traditional print and web content, few B2B businesses have followed suit.

We decided to give it a try. The story of Unified Workspace hasn’t changed, but the way we tell it certainly can. Virtual reality might just compel prospects to pay attention.

Using Virtual Reality for Marketing

Every October, the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo attracts hundreds of the most established CIOs and senior IT executives in the U.S. It’s one of those few-and-far-between opportunities to get your solutions in front of big-budget IT departments. We look forward to it every year and devote a lot of energy to planning for our booth.

And yet…

Last year's expo was akin to an extended trip to the dentist. We pulled a lot of teeth just to get lukewarm interest in reminder cards for follow-up appointments to discuss Unified Workspace. We went home with a grand total of approximately 80 leads. If that.

So this year, we decided to try something remarkably different. We’d promote the same software and solutions, but present them through an entirely different lens.

The Unified Workspace Augmented Reality Experience

Unified Workspace solves a lot of common IT problems. Lenovo Software’s workspace aggregator allows companies to grant secure access to apps and data from any location and device. All it typically takes for an IT lead to be convinced of the value of this powerful software is a short one-on-one with our sales engineer.

Problem is, no one wants to sit through a demo. Not during a busy workday, and definitely not in the midst of an important networking event.

So at this year’s Gartner Symposium, we dropped the demos altogether. Instead, worked with virtual reality experts to create a first-person game that lets people experience Unified Workspace firsthand.

“The typical trade show involves sensory overload, so drawing prospects into a different world goes a long way in minimizing those distractions,” said Joshua Setzer, chief commercial officer at Lucid Dream, our partnering agency. “Virtual reality experiences tap into a different part of the brain that’s used for extended memory, so it increases the chance of success in future follow up.” 

 Together we created a first-person shooter game, flew to Orlando and set up six VR headset stations in the middle of the exhibition hall. It was Vuja de at in its truest form.

The Results Were Mind-Blowing

Suffice it to say that we exceeded expectations. By a lot.

Top-level executives were not only sitting down and engaging with the brand, but were lining up to do so. In fact, at one point attendees waited so long to get the full Unified Workspace experience that we had to be kindly escorted out of the building by security after staying later than other exhibitors.

Over the course of 4 days, some 360 people wore Unified Workspace headsets for an average of 15 minutes each. (Some played the game for as long as 25 minutes.) Add in the time spent debriefing post-experience, and we were looking at 30-minute brand touches with senior level executives at a major trade show.

Forty percent of the requests we received for follow-up meetings came from companies with IT budgets of $100 million or higher.

Finding the Future of Marketing

As word got around and people heard about the Unified Workspace virtual experience, the lines at our booth continued to grow. When one digital marketing manager returned with his entire team, I overheard him telling his VP, “This is the future of marketing.”

I tell that story not to brag, but to offer inspiration. If you feel like you've tapped out on marketing strategies, I hope this post provides the courage you need to try something remarkably different. We may not always hit one out of the park. But if we continue to seek out what people truly desire and need, the right innovations will follow.