Marketing tips for Virtual Reality Start-Ups

Great insights by Martin Shervington


We all know that Virtual Reality (VR) is on the rise. I’ve spent the past few years dipping in and out of the Silicon Valley scene for 6 months at a time, and it is (as my friend and VR storyteller, Sarah Hill says) like drinking from a Virtual Firehose.

The challenge is that until people have experienced VR, they are somewhat like the Square in ‘Flatland’, unable to see the next dimension until the Sphere appears.

(Watch it. I loved the book from Reverend Abbott that it is based one)

As such, if you are working with a VR start-up, or selling into that space, I think it’s worth looking at a few shared principles.

Operating Principles:

1. VR is the next platform – Mark Zuckerberg

Knowing this, it changes your view of what is being built, and it worth talking in terms of this not in terms of games, apps, headsets, processors and so on.

This is the future, and integral to Zuck’s plan for Facebook.

2. It is hard to sell 3D in a 2D world.(credit to The Next Web for that phrase)

You have to give people the experience of VR directly.
There is no other way to ‘bring people into’ that dimension.

As such, always be seeking to give people a positive experience. It is the only way for people to understand.

3. The battle is against 2 dimensions. 

You are seeking to take attention from existing platforms.
This is going to be interesting. Why? Well you simply cannot be in VR and be in this world. Unless businesses adapt and enter the VR space, they are likely to be left behind in time.

4. The battle is not against each other. 

I mean all you VR start-ups and anyone looking at supporting the industry.
There is enough room for everyone.
Ask yourself: How can you ally with your virtual neighbors?

5. Engage the senses

The more senses you engage, the more real it will feel.
Obvious, yet I would suggest you need to break down each sense and rate the level of immersion on a scale of 1 -5.
This way you don’t kid yourself when your story is a 5, but the sound is 1.
We can see this issue with underwhelming experiences of 360 footage. Some tips on filming here.

You need everything to be activated for it to be believable.
John Gower from says that ‘belief is the new sense’.
It is when there is doubt created (e.g. through poor sound) that a person stops ‘suspending disbelief’.

6. Novelty, surprise, and shock the senses.

This is the opportunity in VR – to have someone engaged, and then to create a new experience. Watch to the end of ‘Unicorn Island’ by Jaunt to see what I mean. I laughed out loud as ‘something happened’. You’ll see.

7. Create features in 3D to be shared in 2D

I loved Vtime’s selfie feature which allows you to take a snap and when back in ‘this world’, and share what you were up to on Social Media.
This helps pique interest in the mind’s of the curious yet initiated.

8. Culture is something you allow to form, it is not given

VR is new territory, and it is going to be very Social.
Whatever you condone becomes part of the fabric of the experience, and as with all Social experiences the ‘people will make the place’.

9. The rules have changed

You don’t have to follow the old approaches, you have to experiment.
In AltSpaceVR one time I manage to weird out my fellow explorers when I articulated how I should not have assumed a person with a pink avatar was a girl. Why? It is an old paradigm, but one that is deep in our culture.

10. Mindshare

Right now you have to be generous in sharing what you know, and for an older generation this may not ‘feel right’. It is moving quickly. 
Blog, create videos, run courses, educate people. The whole industry wins this way.

11. Think ecosystem

Understand it is an eco-system of businesses, working in the same space.
You really want to be networking with the right people to bundle packages or products, run events etc.
We can see this happening at Upload VR, with Robert Scoble leading the way.

I know this is already happening in many locations (including the UK), but having chatted with some VR start-up members there is still a feeling of competition – as such I am encouraging an alternative view, especially as…

12. Nvdia are creating the shovels

Look at how you can best help them sell more. Simple.

13. Plantronics are making a consumer play

Sound is going to be one of main ways to either increase immersion/engagement, or not.
And as 360 headsets make it onto the market, expect Platronics to be making a big play.
After all, the last time there was a giant leap for man (on the moon), he reported back on one of their headsets.
I learned this from one of their crew, Niven Miraj (based in South Africa) over breakfast whilst attending a conference last week.

14. Oculus has the shelf (for now)

Until Google brings out a higher end unit, Oculus wins. (keeping this simple, knowing there are other platforms too)

Google will win attention though.
It may only be Cardboard today, but we all can guess that new units will be announced by Google by year end, based on Android.
And that is just the beginning…

15. VR Livestreaming is happening on YouTube now, and will come to Facebook soon enough.
This will massively increase adoption rates.
Using certain cameras (Insta360 being one of them), you can do live 360/VR. But you need to ask ‘why 360?’ not just using a normal 2D approach.


With the release of the Samsung 360 Gear today, we will see more people start to play with VR – but it is still very early days.

As such, we are planning to set up a community of VR evangelists, called The Metaverse, where they can meet and discuss.
Would you like to be a part of it?

Please apply here.
We are seeking a small number of sponsors (Level 1: $1000 a month, Level 2: $2500, Level 3: $5000) – all of which will gain a big boost in this space.
What will you offer?
Sponsors: will give members early access, discount vouchers, special events etc.
Members: will help spread the word

…and together we can take people into the next dimension.

A version of this post originally appeared on the Plus Your Business Blog


Martin is a keynote speaker, author (business, personal development), marketing consultant and Official Google Small Business Advisor
Founder and community manager of ‘Plus Your Business’ he spends much of his time supporting businesses make the most of Social, Search and Spend, including Google+, Adwords and Reviews.

“When it comes to social media, Martin Shervington is one of the most clever and hard working people you’ll find. He’ll help you take your game to the next level.”


 “Reviews are the lifeblood of most local companies, and Martin and his team provide the wisdom and guidance you need to master this business imperative.”

JAY BAER  – Best selling author of “Youtility

“@MartinSherv…can help YOU grow your business. Smart guy. :)”

CHRIS BROGAN – New York Times best selling author

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