If I say metaverse, what comes to mind? The new improved ‘Second Life’? Something from a superhero film? A flash in the pan? In fact, the metaverse is a trillion-dollar opportunity. It’s understandably piquing the interest of many marketing leaders today and we had a brilliant turnout for our latest CMO Community virtual roundtable about how marketers can embrace this new frontier of customer connectivity, creativity and collaboration.
We were joined for the session by Mark Curtis and Katie Burke from Accenture Interactive who are leading our client work in this fast-evolving space, and I was also delighted to welcome Adam Whyte, Founder and CEO of Edge and self-confessed ‘recovering sports attorney turned professional gamer’, to join the conversation, providing fascinating insights from his work in the metaverse. The session was held under Chatham House rules, but I’m happy to share the main takeaways with you.
What is the metaverse?
The answer to this question changes depending on who you ask, but simply put the metaverse is the culmination of blended technical and other capabilities that form a new place and new ways of interacting for people. Just as nobody quite knew what the ‘internet’ was before it arrived, the metaverse is still in the process of being built. Advances in VR and AR mean that people can be fully immersed inside the metaverse, able to interact with others and with overlaid objects in the visual that’s projected in front of them. It’s here to stay and as marketers, we need to get practical about how we can integrate it into our strategies. There is great value to be unlocked in this new space and in the new ways that individuals and brands will create and collaborate.
Connect with new communities
Rather than launching traditional digital marketing techniques in the metaverse, marketers need to understand why people are entering this new space. Unlike going to a physical shop to buy a physical product, the metaverse allows consumers to journey to a new place where they can connect with people in new ways.
Understand what your customers value and what you want them to feel. Take Peloton – people are connecting with thousands of other like-minded individuals for a fun and shared cycling experience. But it also connects back into real life, transforming the consumer’s experience of personal fitness. In this case, there’s a dual purpose: wanting to get fit and wanting to find a community of like-minded people.
Endless opportunities for creativity
It’s not just the big tech players using their imaginations in the metaverse today – individual creators are using the same technologies and unlocking new sources of value. Consumers are turning to the metaverse to find a sense of community, but also to express themselves creatively. The metaverse is changing how companies interact with customers – and employees - as well as what products are ‘made’ and how they’ll be developed and delivered. In this new metaverse continuum, product development, sales and marketing functions converge. This, in turn, is changing business operations. It’s time to visualise the future of work and to bring in new talent for the new ‘work to be done’. Teams need to be made up of creators and builders of immersive experiences for consumers. A mindset shift is required. Instead of ‘media planning’ think ‘space planning’, for example. Fundamentally, if your brand is a bundle of promises, the existence of the metaverse will change how those promises are delivered and experienced, as it will be filtered through a lens of VR or AR.
Relinquish brand control to build trust
Building trust must be a priority. Be authentic and honest about what you’re doing in the early stages of building your metaverse communities. Build from the bottom up and your consumers will become part of your brand. Marketers are moving from planning highly coordinated storytelling journeys to engaging collaboratively with consumers. This new approach asks the consumer to contribute to the building of new worlds and encourages them to navigate through those worlds themselves. It includes an element of unpredictability, so you must adapt as you go along and be willing to relinquish brand control.
How do you do metaverse?
There are five new marketing Ps for the metaverse:
- Place - a virtual place in which action takes place and value can be exchanged.
- People – while driven by technology, it’s occupied by people and those people can interact with each other in a way not available on the web previously.
- Products – a venue ripe with products and resources, both new and familiar, that bridge the virtual-physical divide.
- Portable – it has real assets and property rights that can live and travel across the metaverse with you (NFT-based art, cryptocurrencies and the like).
- Purpose – it’s a place that goes beyond the physical, where people come to learn, train have fun and connect in new ways with communities they wouldn’t otherwise have access to
To get started, research cryptocurrency, NFTs and API integrations and how each relates to your brand. On their own, these things have little purpose but if you can integrate them into your long-term marketing strategy, they can help build your metaverse community. However, there are pitfalls to exploring the marketing opportunities of the metaverse, such as vulnerability to hacking.
At the end of the discussion, the sense of the wonder and possibility of the metaverse for marketers was palpable. You can read more about metaverse marketing in our latest Fjord Trends report co-authored by Mark Curtis as well as Accenture’s approach here.