“Yvonne was instrumental in developing a cohesive strategy and messaging for our entrance to the VR training market, allowing us to stay focused on creating the best possible product. With her help, we more than quadrupled our inbound leads. All the other elements have to be right to do that.”
Sean Hurwitz, CEO, PIXO VR
With its roots in entertainment and gaming, PIXO VR (PIXO) sought to pivot to virtual reality (VR), seeing an opportunity in industries where physical training is often too difficult, costly, or dangerous. Seeking compelling messaging and an effective marketing strategy, the company engaged Chief Outsiders CMO, Yvonne Brown. Working closely with leadership, Brown helped develop the brand strategy and messaging that more clearly communicated the value of PIXO’s exciting offering. With Brown’s direction, new lead generation programs have quadrupled inbound leads, resulting in sales opportunities with several Fortune 500 companies.
Pivot to VR Training
PIXO VR built on its roots in entertainment and gaming to develop groundbreaking enterprise virtual reality (VR) applications. Recognizing a defined need, CEO Sean Hurwitz launched a pivot into workplace safety training, a rapidly evolving sector in the VR space.
His team of award winning game designers, 3D artists, and content experts focused on delivering innovative virtual reality training modules to improve safety and performance in high-stakes verticals with specific and exacting compliance and qualification needs.
“Not only can VR training save time and money, it can actually save lives”, Hurwitz explained. “We’re building a content library that individual companies can license, offering solutions that boost learning retention and substantially improve employee performance.”
PIXO now has VR training modules for the natural gas industry as well as an OSHA safety compliance module for utilities, construction and manufacturing. Participants in these interactive, multi-user VR sessions feel the intensity of each scenario as if participating in a real-life situation. View exciting first responder VR training.
Communicating the Intensity
The company faced several challenges. The first was how to communicate the effectiveness of the VR training and the PIXO brand to the market as a start-up with limited resources. PIXO had developed an exciting product but lacked a cohesive marketing plan and struggled to create effective messaging.
“We weren’t communicating clearly the value of our training,” stated Hurwitz. “In addition to that, we were doing random acts of marketing and not doing much digital marketing. We carried out email campaigns and social posting, but were getting very few, if any inbound calls.”
Faced with numerous plausible applications in a variety of industries, Hurwitz also sought to narrow the company’s focus to the most profitable industries.
The Fractional CMO Solution
Not ready to hire a full-time marketing executive, Hurwitz discussed the situation with a respected marketing colleague. She introduced him to the concept of a fractional CMO and Chief Outsiders.
“We selected Yvonne Brown to work with us for her experience in enterprise software and marketing to the industries and type of companies we were pursuing,” he related. “Chief Outsiders was very flexible in negotiating the right deal for both of us.”
“Yvonne rapidly came up with a brand strategy and messaging that really helped us pull things together,” Hurwitz reported. “Working with her was easy. She made herself available, took the time to understand our business and certainly showed us that she was going to do whatever it took to help us.”
With Brown’s input and analysis, PIXO determined that oil, gas and power were industries with great potential and a defined need. “We could have spent a lot of time and money pursuing other markets, but to be agile with such a new technology, focus is really important,” he said.
With a decision to evaluate nuclear companies first, Yvonne proposed that PIXO interview several to understand how they would use virtual reality training and to qualify them as leads. She recommended an individual to set up interviews for the VP of sales.
“We learned a lot through that process and even had some sales opportunities,” related Hurwitz.
Strategy and Messaging
Drawing on her 25 years of marketing experience, Brown outlined the brand strategy and messaging to clearly communicate the value of PIXO’s exciting offering, including catchy tag lines, value proposition and key messages on website landing pages, collateral and email campaigns.
“PIXO’s innovative team builds training that is so realistic participants feel the emotions as if they were really there,” Brown explained. “Because VR training is a new market, companies don’t yet understand its value, and there is a lot of education involved.”
- Outlined the brand strategy and messaging.
- Led the development and design of website content, videos, marketing materials and conference visuals.
- Implemented lead generation programs to target utilities and first responders, including targeted content, telemarketing, PR and email campaigns and PPC.
- Found resources to work within available budget, including a PR firm focused on startups and a technology writer to develop thought leadership content.
“Yvonne worked directly with our content producer on the videos, identified a PR agency that fit our needs and budget and connected us with a blog writer,” related Hurwitz. “Her network of resources was very helpful.”
“I found it energizing to work with such a dedicated, passionate and creative group of virtual reality experts,” added Brown.
Cohesive Marketing Strategy
Hurwitz considers Brown’s contribution to be extremely valuable. “Yvonne assisted our company’s transition immensely. She was instrumental in developing a cohesive strategy for our entrance to the VR training market, allowing us to stay focused on creating the best possible product. With Yvonne’s help, we more than quadrupled our inbound leads. All the other elements have to be right to do that.”
“Without the marketing piece, it doesn’t matter how good our product is or how good we are,” Hurwitz added. “If we can’t build awareness and help people buy our technology, the company has no value.”
With the revised strategy, messaging and tactics in place, inbound conversions increased from 5 to 20 or more solid leads a month. “And these are major F1000 companies,” offered Hurwitz. “We are very, very close to landing several of these.”
“All that comes indirectly from Yvonne’s contributions, whether it be message, website, or the additional outsourced resources that she recommended,” he added.
Marketing Experts at Your Fingertips
Hurwitz now believes that the idea of a fractional CMO is a brilliant concept. “I don’t think enough people know about it,” he said. “A small company like ours could never afford that kind of experience full-time. Chief Outsiders brings a wealth of knowledge.”
“Working with Chief Outsiders is like having a network of marketing experts at your fingertips,” he concluded. “They don’t have an agenda. They just want to help you, whatever it is.”