Category Archives: Visual Media

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Using Beacon Technology to Boost Customer Experience

Beacons are small, physical objects – wireless transmitters that broadcast radio signals short distances. Smartphones and mobile devices can pick up on their signals to receive content. Their use is on the rise across a range of industries.

They have been likened to indoor GPS and, using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, beacons can communicate with and send small data packets to smartphones that come into a range of about 50-100 metres. They are low cost and require very little energy.

Within the marketing sector, beacon technology is also known as “proximity marketing” – alluding to its importance in creating timely physical context and location-specific relevance for customers.

The popularity of beacon technology is soaring as smartphones and mobile devices continue to proliferate. A recent study by AirSpace showed that 79% of the brands questioned are planning to implement proximity marketing over the next six months.

So 2015 could be the year that beacon technology hits the big time. And much of the commercial interest in beacon technology so far has come from the retail sector.

Retail

Apple has created its own iBeacons and set out its support for the technology by installing them in all its US stores to help customers seek assistance, alert them if their iPhone is eligible for an upgrade and push information about special deals.

Technology company Iconeme are currently developing the patent-pending VMBeacon – a beacon for use in fashion retail environments. The technology has already been trialled by House of Fraser, Oasis, Hawes & Curtis, and Jaeger. It has just been launched at Ted Baker‘s store in Westfield White City, London – a first for the brand.

How does it work? Customers will need to download the free app and allow push notifications. VMBeacons are inserted into mannequins within the store. When a customer passes a beacon, a push notification is triggered in the associated smartphone app.

These alerts can provide links to the Ted Baker website, or help the customer locate where the mannequin’s garments can be found on the shop floor. The beacons also generate detailed photos and descriptions of what the customer is looking at, and this content can become more interactive too: Shoppers can create look-books, share items with friends on social media, or be encouraged to continue using the app – and shop with the brand – by receiving exclusive offers and rewards.

Beacon technology can also be helpful for encouraging active sales and engagement outside of store opening hours. Mannequins located in window displays could interact with passers-by at all times of day and night.

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Other uses for beacons in retail include automatic acceptance of tickets, loyalty cards and payments. Norwegian startup Unacast is planning to use beacons to provide brands with the opportunity to re-target online ads to consumers based on the actual items they have been looking at in-store.

Education & learning

The potential uses for beacon technology within eLearning are huge. Visitors to museums and art galleries could benefit from using a site-specific app linked to beacons throughout the venue, which could offer a much more interactive experience than traditional signage and audio guides are able to do.

Curators and educators could collate further information for each object or artwork and save it within a beacon. Visitors could then automatically access interviews, music, further description, and video, and even respond to – and interact with – the object.

You can imagine that an app would then allow users to save their favourite pieces and share them with others – turning a potentially boring school trip into a rich, rewarding and more long-lasting experience.

Achieving personal targets would also be a great way to use beacons. They could guide you around the gym for example, delivering your exercise routine to your smartphone or updating your smartwatch as you go.

Customer services

Beacons are already being used to enhance travel and transport services for passengers, especially in locations such as major international airports. A pilot scheme by Emirates is fitting beacons into luggage tags – like a kind of wearable technology for suitcases – to track baggage and help prevent loss.

British Airways has been trialling the devices at key points along the consumer journey to improve customer experience and provide useful information like boarding times. Beacons could also be used at transport hubs to notify passengers of timetable changes, delays, special deals and gate information.

Back on the high street, a Barclays Bank branch in Sheffield is currently trialling beacon technology to help its disabled customers. An application on the customer’s iPhone will recognise the in-store beacon to notify staff that they have entered the building and will require assistance.

Our tips: Making beacon technology work for you

  • Convincing users to download your app is the hard bit. Remember that consumers will download apps, but only as long as it adds genuine value to their experience.
  • Plan how you’ll keep your content fresh. A content management system will allow you to manage all the information in real-time, in a way that’s easily update-able.
  • Once your beacon system is live, be sure to make maximum use of it to gain greater insights into your customers’ behaviour, needs and desires.

We’re always keen to work with companies with grand plans for using next generation digital technologies. Get in touch to discuss your ideas and we’ll make them a reality!

Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation today. Get in touch by calling 01908 522532 or email info@pauley.co.uk.

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Experiential Marketing: Exploiting Next Generation Tech

Experiential marketing places individuals, or groups of people, into an immersive, branded environment. This massively growing field is defined as an experience with some kind of physical interaction that goes far beyond passively watching a screen or a presentation.

What’s the point of experiential marketing?

It’s vital to grasp the fact that, despite the tech-focussed natures of Millennials, physical experiences are still more powerful than any other approach for new generations of customers. In fact, 78% are more inclined to become part of a brand if they have some kind of “face-to-interface” interaction. So get it right and you’re onto a winner.

Experiences that give rise to positive emotions and generate memorable mental imagery in potential customers are incredibly valuable to any brand. Designed well, with a little creative spark, such interactions create a closer bond between the brand and the consumer by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience.

On the surface, the engagement numbers might not convince you. But experiential marketing is all about quality over quantity. Carefully target the right people at the right time with a high quality interactive experience, and they’ll come back again and again, over a long period of time. This customer lifetime value (CLV) is a highly prized metric.

The not-too-distant future

Remember the personalised, holographic adverts featured in Minority Report? This type of highly personalised experience is likely to become an important part of marketing.

Cameras and facial recognition systems can already be used to determine the gender, ethnicity and emotional reaction of audiences to content on an interactive screen. Imagine if that content could be customized to each person in the audience!

Tracking technologies such as RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags could soon be fully integrated into events and experiences, allowing developments such as intelligent signage, and personalized sound, video, lighting… the list goes on. Beacons on physical objects could unlock interactive content in a live event or retail space.

Next generation tech NOW

Treating a handful of potential customers to a sky dive might help your company sell its energy drinks with an unforgettable experience, but it’ll cost the earth. So, marketing executives are teaming up with digital agencies such as ours to pioneer the future.

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Emerging digital technologies – platforms such as mobile apps, Microsoft Kinect, biometric recognition software, virtual reality, and the much-hyped Magic Leap augmented reality – can mimic this kind of experience in a way that’s portable, repeatable and reaches more customers in a cost effective way in all aspects of life, including trade shows, pop-up shops, and meetings around the world.

The tools are all out there – it’s just a case of putting them to use imaginatively. By combining the real world with the digital world, we’re creating a new era of experiential marketing in which the customer can “touch” or “interact” with your product.

Here at PAULEY, we’ve been using drones, Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets, and interactive content not solely for marketing, but also to deliver immersive training and sales tools.

Brands can extend the reach of their experiential marketing by encouraging customers to create their own content, making something that is tangible and shareable beyond the lifetime of the event. And social media can be integrated into marketing events to make the experience stretch further.

We’re always keen to work with companies with grand plans for using next generation digital technologies. Get in touch to discuss your ideas and we’ll make them a reality!

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Digital Trends to Watch in 2014

1. Gamified learning

We’ve written a lot about gamification this past year as a way of increasing engagement within digital applications. Gartner predict that more than 70% of the world’s largest 2,000 companies are expected to have deployed at least one gamified application by the end of 2014.

More sophisticated devices, such as Oculus Rift, will start to bring immersive experiences into more everyday use, making for memorable learning.

2. Wearable tech

It all kicked off in 2013 with wearable tech, with devices appearing from all over, designed for all kinds of purposes. Hopefully 2014 will be the year we’ll start to see a cluster of polished products come into mainstream use. It’s been speculated that Google Glass is set for public release later in 2014, although no announcement has yet been made.

The Pebble smartwatch (funded by Kickstarter, see below) and the array of fitness wearables, such as Jawbone, look set to continue doing well next year. Wearing such technology is a strong statement, and these digital trends are going to have to look a lot better if they are to be a hit on the mass market.

Any Message, Any Time

3. Investment

Crowd funding hit the big time in 2013 – a trend that shows no sign of easing off. Kickstarter, Crowdtilt, Seedrs and the like have been winning the cash of keen individuals and angel investors in equal measure. Meanwhile, online crowd sourcing idea generation sites such as Marblar may see their first joint effort reach market.

4. Online content

It seems fairly clear that online content will get even more interactive in 2014 as demand magnifies. The generation and viewing of online video looks set to ramp up a gear, with help from Twitter’s Vine, Facebook’s Instagram, and Snapchat’s video messages. Making and watching videos online – especially bite-sized ones – is faster and easier than ever. And video could become interactive too as more content is tagged and can be commented upon or added to.

There will be a shift in how we’re viewing it too, as more and more people access the internet using ever more powerful tablets and smartphones. Mobile access currently accounts for one in five web visits — by the end of 2014 it will exceed one in four — a big shift in digital trends.

5. Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology research will continue at a marked pace throughout 2014 and beyond. This vast and rapidly expanding field of research may see the 2D ‘wonder material’ graphene enter commercial electronics.

Samsung and Apple have dropped hints that this one-atom-thick sheet of carbon that is not only the strongest material ever discovered, but can also carry currents with a density one million times that of copper could be coming to a touchscreen near you soon. Replacing the conventional indium-tin-oxide electrode, graphene could initiate the dawn of bendy, interactive touch screens we have all been imagining for so long.

6. Autonomous vehicles

In 2014, Volvo is set to lead the world’s first large-scale autonomous driving pilot project. 100 self-driving Volvo cars will use public roads in everyday driving conditions around the Swedish city of Gothenburg, endorsed by the Swedish government.

Although just a trial, this project will confront the reality of whether an autonomous vehicle can cope in real traffic situations, and interact with other drivers. The project also aims to find out how confident passengers feel in such as vehicle, and to analyse whether autonomous vehicles could improve traffic efficiency and road safety.

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7. Space

It’s going to be a big year for gathering space data. In July, OCO-2 will replace the defunct Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) in an effort to map our planet’s carbon sinks and sources – vital in order to gain a better understanding of climate change. In the spring, ESA’s Sentinel will study sea ice in the Arctic and map land surfaces, including forests, water and soil.

In November, ESA announced that completely free access to Earth observation data gathered by Copernicus – Europe’s Earth observation system – will soon come into effect. This is likely to stimulate environmental services, space manufacturing, and provide useful information for many business sectors including transport, insurance and agriculture, as well as disaster management.

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8. Digital currency

Online currencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, Mastercoin and Bitbar are far from new, but they are just starting to become a concept most people have at least heard of. But given the volatility of digital currency, the question is can it ever become seriously viable, and is any of it here to stay?

If merchants begin to adopt it more widely and more consumers use it, the more valuable it will become. It’s still very much up in the air whether or not 2014 will be a turning point for digital currencies, so stay tuned.

9. Publishing

Experimentation is going to continue to dominate the digital publishing and ebook market as publishers try to figure out how they can make money in the face of plummeting ebook prices. Increased data insights are surely going to be part of this; data about book sales, how readers read books, the readers themselves and much more. Let’s hope all that still allows room for creativity.

Tying digital publishing up with wider digital marketing strategies will be vital to gaining customers and targeting the huge range of ebooks at the right audience.

10. Social media marketing

There’s a lot of talk about users moving away from public sites and forums to embrace more private online communities. So as advertorial really ramps up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, companies could have a trickier year connecting to their customer base and fans. Authenticity could be a big sticking point for 2014, making high quality online content more valuable than ever… if you can prove it as such.

Online branding is going to be key to building reputation and creating ‘the story’ behind the business. Building genuine relationships with fans and customers might be the way forward.

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New Technology: A Challenge And A Solution For Retailers

Development in consumer technology has created new challenges for retailers but also appears to offer potential solutions.

Today’s consumer is aided and abetted by technology. In a digital age where consumers are choosing to shop online rather than in store, retail managers are being forced to make the in-store experience more engaging and attractive. There is a growing demand amongst consumers for the ability to be able to interact with digital technology and have a seamless experience across all available channels (omni-channel retailing), which is resulting in many stores now investing in the trial of innovative touch screen and immersive technology to find ways to fulfil the needs of their consumers.

Ironically though, it was innovative new technology that encouraged consumers to move away from the store and retailers are now looking to employ constantly evolving new technology to bring them back!

More than a decade ago e-commerce abstracted some aspects of shopping from the store into a digital context, offering additional benefits to both the retailer and the consumer. The abstraction, however, left key parts of the shopping experience behind which retailers are now refocussing on – the store’s multi-sensory and naturally social context, shopping as an event and destination, and the promise, though not always met, of personal assistance. To its advantage, e-commerce added easier access to reams of information, created new social realms and commercial spaces with new participants, and made shopping ever easier and more convenient. Retailers have continued to augment and improve their customers’ online experience with better content, search, personalisation, security, lists, reviews, checkout, and the like. Most recently, they’ve been adding barcode and QR code search, Web sites optimised for mobility, and mobile apps.

Mobile technology and the ability to shop online at anytime from anywhere is changing the face of the retail store. Over the past few years, the world has witnessed the unprecedented growth of smartphones, changing the way consumers shop and browse. Reports from eDigitalResearch and IMRG have been tracking the growth of the mobile market in the UK. Smartphone ownership now stands at 60% of the overall UK population, having continued to grow at a solid pace over the past 12 months. With the introduction of new, more innovative devices, as well as emerging technologies, such as 4G, ownership looks set to increase in 2013 and signals just how important a channel mobile is becoming to retailers and brands. The report clearly shows the steady growth in the number of smartphone owners who are using their devices to shop and browse. In the latest results from April 2013, over half (54%) of smartphone owners claim to have used their device to browse for products, whilst just under 40% have gone on to make a purchase.

With more convenient digital ways for a consumer to shop, retailers are struggling to keep the consumer engaged in their stores. Immersion seems to be the key to success, with the implementation of technology in store including reality-augmenting magic mirrors, interactive displays, and shelf-edge video to name a few.

The ideas and the innovations of interactive digital signage, online shopping and mobile browsing are here to stay and are being used every day. Retailers can now vastly improve their customer in store experience by providing technology and solutions which help customers to share the online experience they had at home and to revisit the phone browsing experience they had on a train and, by joining up the dots in the digital map, create an engaging multi-channel experience for customers shopping in their store. Combined with a multi-sensory experience that cannot be achieved on mobile devices and a sense of community, the retail store will remain an essential part of our shopping experience. Retailers are just having to work harder to come up with and invest in innovative ways to remind customers why its still important to visit stores and what the benefits are.

There are a vast array of interactive options available to retail outlets, from self-service touch screen kiosks, interactive screens that enable the consumer to explore and order items from product ranges, to augmented reality engines that can help to engage shoppers in unique ways.

Tesco, for example, are trialing the use of augmented reality in their children’s clothing ranges in store. The technology allows children to stand in front of a screen and choose different garments in various sizes or colours etc. to try on. Without needing to go and find and touch the clothing items, they can get an idea of what they would look like in them. Tesco are also using touch screen kiosks in store that customers can use to look up what stock exists in the warehouse and order / pay for an item that is not currently in store.

John Lewis department stores have a pop-up style shop in Exeter which is about a third of the size of a normal John Lewis store. Due to the reduction in floor space, the retailer has had to become more ingenious in the way they use technology in-store. Instead of displaying multiple plates on offer, the Exeter store has a ‘plate wall’ with one of each dish and a kiosk alongside where consumers can order the number they want and have them delivered home. Julian Burnett, head of IT architecture at John Lewis, in a recent edition of ‘Integrated Retailer’ said “Everything that we do is about creating an interactive, engaging and energising experience for our customers”.

Example of augmented reality use in a retail store

Example of augmented reality use in a retail store (Credit: http://www.consumerinstinct.com)

With substantial upfront investment required, retailers are yet to prove that this new technology is having a positive impact on their bottom line, even though visitors appear to love it. There is hope, however, that increased brand engagement techniques and an improved experiences in store (created by new technology) will encourage consumers to continue to visit and buy their products over a competitors.

Not all digital technology has to be interactive. Large format projection screens can also be used to liven up open spaces in retail complexes and provoke the senses to create a more immersive experience as soon as the consumer walks in. Video advertising and product ranges can projected onto screens across what would otherwise be empty windows/dead space to liven up the environment. Moving graphics will catch the eye of consumers and help to enhance their experience right from the first moment they walk into the centre or store. Digital advertising in store can also be used to drive customers to redeem a discount code on their mobile for example, creating a multi-channel experience under one roof. A combination of immersive and engaging technology ensures the correct brand messages are successfully communicated.

Application of Rear Projection Screens in Shopping Centre

Application of Rear Projection Screens in Shopping Centre

Rear projection screen applied to empty shop frontage

Rear projection screen applied to empty shop frontage

So the physical retail store can still offer an experience to consumers that cannot currently be had through mobile commerce. Virtual reality stores can get close to the real thing, but there is still a way to go before digital technology can claim to completely replace the retail store. Until all of our senses can be successfully stimulated through digital technology – sight, sound, smell and touch, the physical store will still add to a consumers experience. And although numbers of in-store shoppers have been dropping, with the development of new technology and highly visual and interactive experiences, consumers will become privy to the benefits of the in-store experience.

Another consideration for the rise in e-commerce and mobile commerce is the impact on logistics and our environment. Because consumers cannot ‘try before they buy’ when they purchase online, we’ve seen a rise in postal returns, the effects of which are unrealised by so many. Increases in fuel consumption for increased deliveries and increased paper usage (even though the order was digital), are having a negative impact on our environment. Trying goods in store can alleviate this to a degree.

Ultimately success for any retail brand is measured on sales. New technology is also aiding retailers in creating what is now widely known as an omni-channel consumer experience, giving them the digital tools to be able to fully understand a consumers journey and activity across multiple channels and to offer a ‘preferred’ and ‘personalised’ experience for each and every individual consumer.  Every digital device, whether it be a touch screen kiosk in store or a mobile phone, can be linked to remote networks to pass behavioural and purchase history information on a consumer to a central database that can then be mined to learn about each consumer and provide them with a unique offer. This is a retailers ultimate goal as it will ensure that a consumer remains loyal to their brand based on a consistently excellent experience of the brand both online, through mobile and in store. With so many consumer digital touch points to monitor and optimise, this is a real challenge.

Perhaps we will be looking towards a future where a global sizing standard is implemented and where scanning technology can tell you exactly what size to order? This would certainly reduce the amount of unnecessary returns, but could also potentially offer a wider range of goods to consumers based on the insight gained from ‘body size’ statistics. For example, a new ‘wider’ foot range may be introduced when its realised that a larger percentage of consumers actually require this. 3D printing technology may also offer a future where goods tailored to an individual can be created quickly and cost-effectively based on a body scan. This could completely change the concept of the retail store.

Combined with the technology now available to create an amazing visual experience in store, the future of retail, although extremely challenging, is exciting and is one industry in which the major benefits of any new technology could be exploited to their maximum for the benefit of both the consumer and the retailer.

If you require help in creating your in-store immersive experience or wish to brainstorm ideas, contact PAULEY on 01908 522532 or info@pauley.co.uk

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3D Product Explosion: Murata PS Smart Meter

Do Interactive Digital Product Demonstrations Really Improve The Chances of A Sale?

Effective product demonstrations have always been an essential sales and marketing tool, but advances in digital technology and changes in consumer expectations are taking their potential to convert prospects to customers to a whole new level. Engaging and influential, digital interactive product demonstrations are now a key tool in pre-sales and the qualification of a lead into a prospect. They allow your prospects to take control of their ‘pre-sale’ product experience and form their own individual bond with them.

There are now so many innovative ways to use digital interactivity to present your products, and they are being applied to all industries to help increase sales through engagement and inspirational visuals. Interactive product presentations are becoming an essential part of all marketing and sales strategies; The ability to offer the prospect an ‘experience’ to outdo any other, whether this be in store, on an exhibition stand, online or in person. Customers have a new found expectation as a result of faster computers and more powerful graphics cards. Improving technology has meant that consumers expect suppliers to do something amazing with it. Companies cannot afford to ignore this expectation and must embrace the new power of computer graphics and interactive technology to keep consumers engaged with their brand and ultimately sustain and improve their sales.

Photo-realistic, 3D product models, which look and behave exactly like the actual products, allow companies to present sophisticated on and off line products and demonstrations. Extraordinary interactivity allows customers to experience products in a virtual 3D environment, with the ability to rotate, zoom, measure, and interact with the product’s features and options. Through user interaction, selling is transformed from a passive process to an active, dynamic one that gives users control over their own experiences.

If well executed, prospects can effectively be nurtured using tools that allow them to fully explore the key benefits and features of the product and even explore opportunities to tailor it to their requirements. Especially in the case of complex and highly technical products, interactive demonstrations can help ‘break the ice’ when understanding technical jargon. In the past, prospects would only have had the option of trawling through technical specification sheets or calling up the sales team to gain a full understanding of what is on offer. Now, a prospect can be given all of this information (and more) in a visual presentation that allows them to explore details on parts of the product that they wish to get information on, rather than having to trawl through loads of technical text. Furthermore, this presentation can be given through many different display mediums, for example, online via a website, on a mobile device or app, touch screens in foyers, in store or at events, and through webinars (online sales presentations). This range of display options gives their application the power to sell anything from anywhere. No longer are there restrictions around getting prospects to a physical showroom or store.

Touch Screen Monitor with interactive graphics

Touch Screen Monitor with interactive graphics

A well-executed visual presentation permits customers to review instructions at their own pace, put up their queries as and when required and revisit areas of interest as necessary. No amount of text can ever be equated to a visual demonstration of the product. Shooting fancy words or an eloquent usage of language skills is unmatchable to the impact that a live moving image can create. 3D models of a product that can be pulled apart (extracted) and queried by the viewer allow them to focus on areas of the product of interest to them. These presentations can also offer the viewer the ability to ‘customise’ aspects of the product (for example, changing the colour, size etc.). This gives the consumer so much more flexibility and the option to interact with products on an emotional level, creating their own unique visual experience. If the emotions of a consumer can be provoked successfully, they are much more likely to relate to a product and want to make a purchase.

3D interactive demonstrations are now also being applied in new and innovative contexts. During a recent attendance at this year’s Retail Business Technology Expo in London, we experienced a new application of an interactive product demonstration on a touch screen on Samsung UK’s stand. They presented a 3d product demonstration alongside specification and stock information, on a touch screen transparent box around an example of the physical product itself (see image below). Retail outlets with limited space are using 3D product demonstrations and catalogues to expand their ranges displayed in store.

Samsung interactive product display unit

Samsung interactive product display unit

They may only have one physical product on the shelves, but an associated interactive display allows them to show the customer what else is available in the warehouse. Demos are also used more frequently by Sales teams to demonstrate products on the move using mobile tablets or through a web-based presentation. This process has been proven to shorten the sales pipeline, and reduce costs of running the sales teams. Prospects can be pointed towards an online product display before a visit from a sales representative may be required. Then if they choose to request a demonstration of the physical product at a later stage, they are much more likely to make a purchase, making more productive use of the sales representatives time. Interactive demonstrations are also used on touch screen devices on exhibition stands to add to the overall brand experience.

Interactive demonstrations can also make great training tools, ensuring that staff know as much as they can about the product they are selling. They can then be used to continuously train your sales and support staff, sales channel business partners and customers. Helping everyone to understand your product better is the most effective way to reduce both sales and support costs.

With product demonstration evolving as an excellent tool for marketing, one thing that remains certain is that the content of any marketing tool must be visually appealing and engaging. In order for a demo to create a long lasting impression on the minds of the customer, the content must be inspiring. Interactive features can include 360 degree product rotation, drag, drop and zoom and pan, step by step animated information, hotspot information, custom menu and navigation design, user input via search or select, product customisation (eg, colour, finish and dimentions), video user controls, sound effects and audio overlays.

So for the sceptics amongst us, embrace the technology available to ensure you don’t lose market share over your competitors during the pre-sale process. Potential customers are much more likely to buy your products if they can experience them in a way that allows them to tap into their personality and emotions; a place where they can make their own choices in their own time. People generally don’t have the time to trawl through large documents or data sets to find the information they want. Interactive demonstrations can take thousands of words and present them in a visually stimulating way, guaranteed to capture the imagination of your customers.

If you’d like to find out more about interactive product demonstrations and how PAULEY can help you achieve your goals, please contact Christina Lacey on 01908 522532 or info@pauley.co.uk.

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