William Griggs of VirtualRealityRental.co: “Leverage your customer as the voice and image of your brand”

To avoid this crisis, clearly state what your business isn’t and who it isn’t for. By drawing a clear distinction between you and similar businesses, you will differentiate yourself from the competition and set expectations properly. As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure […]

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To avoid this crisis, clearly state what your business isn’t and who it isn’t for. By drawing a clear distinction between you and similar businesses, you will differentiate yourself from the competition and set expectations properly.

As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview William Griggs.

William Griggs is the Founder and CEO of VirtualRealityRental.co, the worldwide leader in virtual reality (VR) event entertainment services for businesses. Prior to VirtualRealityRental.co, William helped numerous startups grow, including companies backed by Andreessen Horowitz, FLOODGATE, & 500 Startups. He’s an angel investor in Standard Cognition, Lime, and Boom. In addition to his work with startups, he has written for Mashable, VentureBeat, & ReadWrite.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My interest in business was ignited at a young age. I grew up as a curious kid, which is no surprise because my father was an investigative journalist in the media. Communications quickly became my main area of interest and I was also inspired by the successful business owners in my community. I held several internships in high school and I was able to network with my friend’s parents who owned different businesses in town. By the time I was a young adult, my collegiate studies were focused on marketing, entrepreneurship, business and mass communications.

Once I graduated from college, I became a customer acquisition strategist and helped numerous startups backed by Andreessen Horowitz, FLOODGATE, Techstars, and 500 Startups. Being a part of those new businesses was exciting but I knew that I wanted something of my own one day. So I examined my passions and found a way to center my business around video games. My studies, life experience, and my love of gaming came together to create VirtualRealityRental.co and we now helping transform the VR industry.

Please share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting out? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There’s one embarrassing story that still makes me chuckle to this day. We ran a Texas-based marketing campaign called “MEAT & Greet” and we were trying to get our hungry customers attention with a catchy name. Well, that clever, or not so clever, campaign naturally drew the attention of our customers along with some unexpected people.

When naming the campaign we didn’t consider the various interpretations of this phrase and we heard that several people thought the campaign alluded to an inappropriate suggestion. The second unexpected wave of reactions came from members of the vegetarian and vegan community. We didn’t realize that we were directly promoting meat products to people with meat-less appetites and some people were perturbed. Why didn’t we consider this demographic? Well, we live in Texas, a state where the cattle industry and beef is intensely celebrated, so we genuinely forgot to address this smaller market segment.

I find the humor in how obvious these preventable mistakes were. Thankfully, nobody was too upset and our promotional meat gifts were donated to feed the hungry at food banks.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

At VirtualRealityRental.co, we never waste a failure. Every misstep is a learning opportunity designed to improve our process and make our customers happier. We have a competitive and relentless drive to exceed customer expectations and continuously get better at our craft.

VirtualRealityRental.co stands out from other technology vendors because we focus on the event attendee experience. We don’t push VR technology on you and your attendees just because it’s cool technology. Instead, our experts work closely with your event coordinator, marketing director, and/or CEO to help you accomplish your specific event goals by leveraging VR at your event.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I think of our business as a real-time strategy video game. The more milestones achieved, the stronger we become and this allows us to survive longer. By conquering adversity, we are able to handle the expected and unexpected waves of change in business. I’m excited about the next wave of our business and to start launching new marketing strategies and services.

In this next wave, we are intensely focused on improving our customer data and the value of our services. Transferring the value of our services and proving how our business can help others is the main focus of our next iteration as a company. When people think of VirtualRealityRental.co, we want to check all of their boxes and be known as the most trusted, reliable, professional and results-focused VR event rental partner in the corporate events industry.

In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

When I think of brand marketing or “branding”, I recognize it as the big picture and that overarching message of a business. Cohesion in branding is the key to being recognizable and it’s important to keep your brand consistent so you never develop a marketing strategy that contradicts your known perception.

Product marketing can actually be quite different and it’s more of the input to the branding. Product marketing is all about positioning your products and services towards a specific audience and showing them 1) why they need your services or products and 2) why your brand aligns with their business or lifestyle.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

Investing in anything is all about timing. If you’re a new company, I recommend holding off on investing large amounts of resources and energy into branding until your business is ready and at the right stage. A business’s identity can evolve quickly, so give your first iteration of branding some flexibility and room to grow with the business. Once you have nailed down your services, value offers, and the subtle notions of your business, you can invest in building out a fully developed brand and campaign.

(Choose one of the following questions)

Can you share 5 strategies that a small company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.

Leverage your customer as the voice and image of your brand. Consumers love transparency and you can make your company stand out by using real customers, their likeness, honest testimonials, and their pictures on social media. By marketing your company with transparency, consumers will be more likely to trust your brand because they know that it’s authentic.

Address every consumer to brand touchpoint and pay attention to the smallest details during those interactions. Examining different touchpoints in the customer journey can help you identify what’s working and flag any interactions of concern. Once you have located the missteps in your customer’s journey, you can redirect your marketing campaign to keep prospects engaged long enough to convert into paying customers. Developing the right customer journey for different audience segments requires some trial and error so don’t be discouraged if you stumble upon several roadblocks in the journey.

Track your customer trust and willingness to recommend your services by using a Net Promoter Score. Asking your customers to submit their scores every few weeks will help you keep a pulse on how your customers perceive your brand and help improve it quickly if customers are unsatisfied. If your customers are thrilled, NPS will let you know what you’re doing right and you can use that positive feedback to attract more customers.

Never waste a failure. If there are issues and trust me, there will be, dig in, find a resolution, and eliminate future issues. The only true failures are the mistakes that you fail or refuse to learn from.

How many times have you given your favorite brand’s competitor a chance and been let down? Perhaps your favorite brand does deliver a superior service or product but chances are, you applied the exact same expectations from one company to another. Consumers make assumptions frequently and expect different companies to deliver on the same set of expectations. An identical experience isn’t a guarantee for the consumer so it’s important to know how brands differentiate themselves from one another and.

To avoid this crisis, clearly state what your business isn’t and who it isn’t for. By drawing a clear distinction between you and similar businesses, you will differentiate yourself from the competition and set expectations properly.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Bonobos, the WalMart subsidiary and e-commerce based retail brand, exemplifies what a modern company should be. Their brand has a clean, masculine, feel and their target market is attracted to the brands simplicity and unique shopping experience.

The most impressive thing Bonobos has done is adapt to changes in retail, identify available opportunities, and evolve with their customer’s demands. Bonobos wanted to take the chore out of shopping for men so they branded themselves as a fun, laid-back clothing experience and kept the convenience of online ordering at their retail locations. As brick and mortar retail was dying, Bonobos decided to create a hybrid model of shopping and combine physical retail and e-commerce into one experience. Their Guideshop innovation has allowed Bonobos to attract new customers and develop strategic brand partnerships with Nordstrom, further improving their brand reach.

Today the Bonobos brand is known for their Ninjas, brand representatives with tasked with providing high-quality customer service for their e-commerce retail site. When your company can join the exclusive club of companies famously known for great customer service (Chick-fil-A, Nordstrom, Amazon, etc.) you know that you’ve made it!

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand-building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?

When measuring the success of a brand, it’s important to look at your leading and lagging indicators. Share of Voice is the leading indicator that we use to examine how our brand influence is being received. By keeping tabs on our brand exposure, we can see how recognizable we are to our audience segments and look for ways to put our name out there more.

Market Share is a lagging indicator that we look at to measure how we are controlling our company and competing with similar companies. After we have examined these performance metrics, we look at our sales and can determine what is working for the brand and what isn’t.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

Social media can be one of the most engaging and profitable digital marketing platforms that can be used to increase your brand’s visibility. Over the last three years, we have been developing our brand aesthetic, voice, and tone so we can show off the VirtualRealityRental.co experience on social media. Social media has become the true face of most companies, sometimes it’s even more important than a website, so make sure that your social content reflects your brand accurately.

What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

It’s important to not wait until burnout sets in because it’s difficult to recover from. Set up emotional tripwires and take time to analyze your energy levels so you know when burnout is creeping up on you.

The biggest perk to being your own boss is having the ability to hire a coach who can help you see your own blindspots, identify burn out triggers, share stories of how others have handled adversity, and tailor problem-solving to your business model.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I want folks to feel empowered to make their life, other’s life, the world a better place. When people lose faith in their own abilities or think the world is against them, this feeling of empowerment is lost.

So give it your all. Give to others first. And always give a crap about your brand.

Can you please give us your favorite life lesson/quote? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.” — Quincy Jones

To me this quote is about doing the right things at the right time in the right way with the right people to generate the right results.

Who is the one person in the world with whom you would like to have breakfast with?

I’d have the call this one a draw. I’m a huge fan of Chamath Palihapitiya, Venture Capitalist and CEO of Social Capital, as well as Tilman Fertitta, businessman and owner of the Houston Rockets. They both play the game of life according to their own rules and but have been extremely successful while staying true to who they are.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/william_griggs

Instagram: @virtualrealityrental.co
 Facebook: @virtualrealityrental.co

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