Preview the Future

Enhance Your Experience Design with Previsualization Tools

Written by, Tim Smart, Manager, Technology Innovation Group

(Download PDF Version: Preview the Future

Anticipation builds as you move through the branded registration area and  vast expo space. You look around, impressed by what you see, but you’re excited to get to the general session and take your seat. As you go through the doors, you’re swept up by energetic music and pulsing lights moving around the room. You take your seat and the lights dim, revealing a beautifully designed stage and dazzling opening media piece on the screen. The excitement is palpable, but you’re not really there—you’re in your office, thousands of miles away. You’re experiencing your event virtually through previsualization tools.

The Power of Previsualization

InVision believes in using the power of previsualization (previs) to create smarter, more impactful events. Imagine being able to experience your event long before it even begins—getting a 360-degree preview, complete with environments, lighting, music and motion—without having to travel to the venue or build expensive sets.

When applied correctly to a production design workflow, previs enhances collaborative design thinking and accelerates decision-making during the pre-production process. With previs, you can test different concepts, experiment with effects and make changes before you execute them in the real event space. You can sit in the audience or stand on the stage. You can evaluate the impact of your music, media pieces and stage designs. And, best of all, you can share this experience with key members of your team during the development process—no matter where they are in the world.

So, What is Previsualization Anyway?

Popular with game developers and film directors, previsualization uses 3D computer renderings and virtual reality to create a realistic visualization of how something will look when complete. By simply putting on a pair of VR goggles, you can be instantly transported into a virtual environment.

Advantages for Event Marketers

InVision’s Technology Innovation Group was inspired by how previs technology was being used in other industries. We thought this same technology could offer tremendous advantages to event marketers, including:

  1. As an organizer, you have the ability to visually experience an environment in a form very close to reality. You can view sightlines and first-person perspectives from the best and worst seats of the house, on stage and everywhere in between.
  2. Executive speakers can experience what they’ll see from the stage, including locations of confidence monitors and other visual aids.
  3. Dynamic lighting schemes can be integrated into the virtual space and video media files can play on the virtual screens, bringing you closer to the actual experience.
  4. Programmatic and visual decisions can be made earlier in the process, cutting the cost and time spent developing environments because key decision-makers can experience the exact same space at the same time in advance of it physically being built.
  5. Designers can design within the virtual environment, reducing costs associated with any redesigns on site.

Previsualizing Success

Since 2015, InVision has utilized previsualization to help our clients develop more impactful programs, work more collaboratively and streamline development costs. We’re currently working on the next generation of previs, incorporating both augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality into our previsualization tools. Let us demonstrate how to bring your event to life before it even begins.

If you’re interested in learning more about how previs can enhance your planning process or if you’d like a live demo (which we highly recommend), let’s talk. Contact us at info@iv.com.

Visualize to Socialize

Creating a digital strategy for your company isn’t always easy. Admittedly, we have struggled with developing one in the past – and in 2013, the marketing department was tasked to develop a solid plan for our social media efforts to increase engagement. After some research and education, we have finally figured out the secret sauce… and all the ingredients that make up a successful digital plan.

The Team
Our first step was to get a group of individuals who were passionate about social media and could commit time and attention to the project. And it’s okay if you don’t have a social media department like larger companies do. With a well-honed plan and pre-determined schedule, social media doesn’t have to be an eight-hour job; think of it as a special task force.

Create a Digital Strategy Vision Statement
Your digital vision statement cannot stand on it’s own – it should always align with your company’s overall vision. It needs to be short and easy to remember. And no matter what, don’t get specific! A vision statement is an idea and a guiding principle, not a measurement plan. For example, avoid objectives like, “To reach 10,000 fans on Facebook.” Instead, take a similar approach to IKEA, “To create a better everyday life for many people.”

Develop Social Media Goals
Just like your vision statement, your social media goals should always align to your company’s goals as well as your Digital Strategy Vision. Again, do not be too specific here. For example, if your business goal is, “Be a more consultative partner to our clients,” your social media goal could be, “Show COMPANY as a thought leader and forward-thinker in technology, industry trends and creative ideas through our social channels.”

Quantitative versus Qualitative
In social media, setting a quantitative goal is easy. But are those numbers really helping you succeed? What good is having 1,000 fans if only 10 of them are listening and talking to you? What we found is that the true fans and followers are the ones that we want following us. So instead of tracking the daily number on Facebook and Twitter, look for patterns on when something is re-tweeted, shared, liked and commented on.

Facebook versus Twitter: The Audience
One observation that we found to be a big no-no was assuming that Facebook and Twitter have the same audience. They don’t. We found out that our Facebook fans wanted to know about us, our culture, our people and our work. On Twitter, followers wanted to know our thoughts and insights. So when you’re creating a plan for your Twitter or Facebook pages, make sure you identify who you’re talking to and provide content relevant to what your audience wants to see.

Frequency
Do not make occasional or one-time appearances in the social landscape. Post frequently. But don’t post just to post because quality is still more important than quantity. Make sure there is thought and value. Ask yourself, why would I want to read this? And make sure that your posts are relevant to the social channel you are working on.

Create a Social Media Handbook
This is so important. Having a handbook that outlines the overall digital vision, strategy, goals, tactics, rules/etiquette, crisis response plan, etc. will keep everyone on track. Make sure your staff sees it and understands it – social media is a moving target, but a well-prepared team makes all the difference.

What has made you successful in your social media endeavors?

Amanda Retter, Marketing Specialist, InVision Communications

The Benefits of Your Business’ Presence on Twitter

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had colleagues dismiss my invitation to develop a presence on Twitter.

There seems to be little compromise when it comes to the ever-growing social media platform – companies are either fully dedicated to their professional presence on Twitter or could think of no bigger waste of their time. But the fact is, Twitter is worth your business’ time and resources. Here are the top 3 reasons why:

1. True Representation
We live in a day and age where your photo, bio and contact information are a Google search away from any able-bodied fingertip. Creating and updating a Twitter profile allows for a more controlled look into your company’s happenings. Any content you share creates a specific projection of what your followers will see, as opposed to outdated interviews and headshots – and it keeps you current.

2. Keeping Up with the Joneses
Twitter “suggested-followers” system makes it simple (and seamless) to connect with your target audience. A quick search of your industry’s hashtags will take you to live updates of your clients, colleagues and even competitors. The sphere of active industry users is smaller than you think and the insight that follows is priceless. It’s an incredible resource – waiting for you to explore it.

3. Sales & Marketability
While this is applicable to some companies more than others, the fact remains that a social presence drives traffic to your website and your work. Unlike many other industries, where social networking can be the first place potential clients discover a company, our industry’s clientele are more likely to research our work after we approach them. Twitter may not be a driving force for direct revenue now – but if every business-owner claimed that developing a website didn’t drive sales two decades ago, where would we be today?

Amina Bobb, Operations, InVision Communications

Yes, We Can

In 2006, Time magazine turned the tables with their much-anticipated person-of-the-year. The recipient? YOU. It was a gracious nod…and a brilliant, honest acknowledgement of the brave new user-generated world.

In 2008, Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency took that idea to the next level. Three dollars and a hope for change…Sounds like a fantasy, right? And that’s the point. It incited the imagination of millions, and it changed history.

But why? Because it focused on individual stories and personal agency. Time’s cover was prescient and precise: today, we’re all authors, with powerful pens in a communal dialogue. The Obama strategy encouraged individual people to make a difference, and used an emotional approach to help them see themselves reflected in his candidacy.

That’s an extreme example. You don’t need to promise a brighter future to establish that bond – that worked for a political race because it had context to do so. So think about the essence of your brand. How does it connect with everyday life? Better said: how is your brand meaningful?

With that answer, you can articulate the way(s) your brand plays a role in the lives of your consumers. By accessing – and expressing – authentic human moments, you can truly make a more substantial connection with your audience. So put the official guidelines aside for a second and consider what your brand really means; what stories do you have to tell?

Climbing the Social Ladder

Social Aggregation Optimization – aka SAO – is the next of kin to SEO. It’s much more than an obscure acronym (or a future Trivial Pursuit question, btw): it’s an almost alarmingly simple response to the fact that the web is social, and has a lesson that your pre-web grandmother (or 2 seasons of Rome) probably taught you: when the people talk, listen up.

Not so terribly long ago, the Internet was the province of programmers, and the public paid by the minute to log on (remember that???). Then word got out, high-speed connections hit the scene, and social platforms changed the game. In its infancy, the Web was a soapbox. Now it’s an all-access chalkboard, with a 24/7 live feed. It’s a vehicle for passion and personality, no longer limited to those in the Java know.

Read: the Internet is now about content, and brands will sink or swim based on how they adapt to that reality. We now live in an i-centric world, and emotional response is our common currency. On the surface, photos, tweets and “likes” make waves. In deeper waters, UX, relevancy and essential appeal are the hallmarks of successful campaigns.

SEO made information available, but it hinges entirely on a search for answers. SAO does the same thing… but for interest.

How can brands respond to this? Back to Nana: when your people talk, pay attention.  It’s a task for marketers, but a refreshing, essential one. Here are a few rules to the cyber road.

1) Make sure someone’s driving. 
If you use social, hire a person (people) to manage it. Budget cuts in staffing have been a major setback in past years, but they come with a dual cost: if you can’t dedicate an ear to feedback, don’t ask for it. You’re not ready for social.  Courting public opinion engenders a responsibility to answer, so make sure you have people in place to holler back.

2) Don’t build a house without a blueprint. 
What do you need from your audience? Are you launching a brand play? An internal buy-in campaign? A sales push?  Don’t mix messages. A strong value proposition (and creative hook) can encompass multiple media and targets, but multitasking has its cost.  Prioritize goals and markets.

3) Test and learn. 
If science has only one thing to teach us, it’s the value of dedicated, methodical trials. If that seems like textbook mythology, remember that only the highlights make it into the highlights reel. Try a message and listen to the response. Ezra Pound said, “Either move or be moved” – but with the right balance, a company can do both.

4) Discern. 
Simply because a platform exists doesn’t mean it’s right for the brand. Do you have enough to tweet about? Do you need an internal social media vehicle?  The answer can be “yes”, it can be “no” – but it’s critical to know before you start.

5) Join the conversation. 
Brands have personalities. Let yours speak – and the point is to speak. Products and services are for people, and brands help those people understand what they get and how it fits into or benefits their lives. Stories are at the center of it all. How does your brand express its connection to real people?

6) Trust. 
Connecting with people requires, well, people. Employees need to be empowered to take on conversations as brand ambassadors. That means they need to understand the fiber of the brand in real terms, not just catchphrases – so the foundation of a strong brand voice is solid internal advocacy. A social plan is one component of communications that needs to be considered externally and internally.

The Digital Dish: Social Media, The Voice We Never Had

InVision attended a companywide offsite in early March where we spent three days celebrating the success of the company and one another; much like the events we put on for many of you. While it was a great opportunity to get know my fellow InVisionites, it was also a great opportunity to think more about me.

The first day was one of my favorites because it was all about discovering your passion. As I sat and listened to everyone share what they were passionate about, I had to ask myself that very same question…what are you passionate about? As I struggled to come up with something clever, it wasn’t until the last day of our offsite when I came to the realization that I had known all along.

From the day I was born (and some may argue with this statement) I knew what I was passionate about. My passion is finding ways to help people understand and better connect with their audience, whether that be a one-on-one conversation or in front of 5,000 people on a main stage.

So, you are probably asking yourselves how was I able to find my passion at such a young age?

Well, the truth is I grew up with a brother who was born 100% deaf. And from the day I was born, it was both his mission and my own to become the best of brothers and sisters and the best of friends.

The challenge? We couldn’t communicate with one another.

So throughout our lives we were forced to get creative. When I didn’t understand what he was trying to tell me, he drew it on a napkin. When he tried to explain something he experienced that day at school, he literally held my hand and guided me to the destination to show me. When people made fun of him because they couldn’t understand what they were telling him, I would throw him a wink and become his interpreter. I literally became an extension of his ears and his mouth. But through all of this it was ultimately never about the tools we used, it was about understanding each other and finding the most effective way to get our message across.

And then cell phones and text messaging came along. Thank goodness, because as I went off to one college and he went off to another, our old creative communications tactics no longer worked. But now we had this amazing tool that allowed us to stay connected no matter where we were.

The tools many of us use today to communicate are called Twitter, Facebook, Instagram…you name it; there are literally hundreds of them out there.

The coolest part? Today, my brother Bryan uses social media to run his own painting business. He invites his clients to become part of his private Facebook page where he shares testimonials, photos of his work, coupons for his services, and so much more. It’s also a great place for customers to post questions because he can answer them in real time. Social media has enabled him to have a voice, and he really doesn’t need me to do that for him anymore.

If social media can give a deaf person ears and a voice, just imagine the possibilities it can bring to help you facilitate connections with your audience at an event. 

Nicole Bojic, Senior Digital Strategist, InVision Communications

How IVC-ee It: 10 Reasons Why YOU Should Be Using Social Media in 2013

(even though you might have already deemed it useless and can’t possibly find the time to use it…) 

1. Connecting.
Whether its reaching out to a prospective client, facilitating an opportunity for a potential new hire or getting to know a colleague from a different office – there is no denying social media’s power over communication. Get connected.

2. News.
There is no faster alert than a live update in real time. Follow The New York Times (@NYTimes), The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) and the Associated Press (@AP) on Twitter for up to the moment news 24/7.

3. Media.
Photos and video have the power to convey messages the way lengthy descriptive emails simply cannot. Instagram, an application solely centered on photo sharing, was recently bought by Facebook for $1B in cash and stock. You do the math.

4. Internal Sharing.
Engage in thought provoking conversations with your colleagues. Privately shared social networks like Yammer can help reduce and, in time, eliminate company-wide emails. Who doesn’t support that?

5. Social media goes wherever you go.
You’re a professional on the go-go-go! Lucky for you, there’s a mobile app for every major social media platform. So stick that new Yammer app next to your weather forecast pronto!

6. #Hashtags.
Simply put – they are everywhere. I guarantee that the use of #hashtags to create #trendingtopics has been encouraged during every networking experience, marketing campaign and televised event you have experienced in the last year.

7. Post-con follow-up.
What better way to retain the attention of an audience than by offering a virtual space to view media immediately after an event, communicate with attendees/organizers and spark interest for the next big thing.

8. Build your own branded community.
Create a following by engaging users with likeminded interests and pertinent content that you enjoy learning about.

9. Your kids (& grandkids) use social networks.
This reason may appear to be a deterrent BUT if your children are disclosing their private thoughts and photos to the online world, you should probably make yourself aware of the platforms they use to do so.

10. Your presence is requested.
The best way to represent yourself is by making your presence felt. Put a face to the title. Become a part of the conversation. Share your thoughts in a forum where associates and strangers can learn more about who you are.

Amina Bobb, NY Receptionist/Facilities Coordinator, InVision Communications

How IVC-ee It: Technology – How Wow Is It?

The goal in corporate communications is to successfully communicate the company’s objectives to their intended audience. As their partner, we know that the overall experience will make or break an event so we consistently push the envelope to create amazing experiences that move audiences to action. A crucial component in this process is finding some of the most innovative technologies to help achieve our goals. But how do we know what’s right?

Technology has always been the forefront of the “wow” factor for any event. But a “wow” technology can only get you so far as a marketer. It needs to have a clear purpose. While it’s exciting to have that holographic image appear on stage, theater tricks doesn’t always produce the results you are looking for.

Take for example social media. Don’t integrate Twitter into your event just to say you had Twitter for your event. Create a digital strategy with a clear vision that aligns to your overall goals. Ask yourself why is Twitter important for X campaign and how will it help you accomplish your goals. You might even find yourself realizing as you develop your plan that Twitter isn’t even the best social media channel for your particular campaign.

Another example might be audience response systems. Plan ahead and ensure that you have a clear vision for how you want to use an audience response device. Are you using it to gather audience feedback in real-time? Is it for attendees to ask questions to the speaker to help guide a keynote? Always make sure that it’s easy to use, serves a purpose and produces results.

My tip for the day: Never use the reason to integrate a technology into your event because it’s cool and trendy. If that’s your only answer, don’t use it.

What tools have worked at your events and what hasn’t? Why?

Nicole Martin, WC Receptionist, InVision Communications

 

Top Trends in the Events Industry

As we approach the end of 2012, trends in the event industryare being noticed and predicted for 2013. Technology is still ahead in the game, especially the integration of mobile communication and social media to help extend the reach of an event. With so many people using mobile devices to communicate, the events industry is quickly adhering to the demand and finding new ways to take these tools to the next level. Tell us what common trends you believe are headed into 2013 – have you seen an increase in demand for mobile communication?

Pinterest vs. Facebook: Which One Drives More Results?

With all the different kinds of social media outlets out there in the online landscape, business have the fun task in finding the right social referral source to make the most impact in generating customer traffic. An online jeweler retailer sought out to find the answer and uncovered interesting insights from user and sales data that focused on visitors who were driven by Facebook versus Pinterest. The article enlightens the idea that every social media funnel likely affects audience behavior and their mind sets, which, ultimately, is quite important for businesses looking to target the right consumers. Do you think this is true? Share with us what you think!