Can you imagine a world where you can get information and content on a product right then and there just by pointing your smart phone at it? What could have been just a fantasy twenty years ago is now possible with Augmented Reality. Founder of Revealio Michelle Calloway found a way to use this technology and make human connections that bridges the real world with the virtual world through cards that magically come to life. Learn how augmented reality marketing can empower business owners and make heart-felt connections with their clients.
I am bringing you another episode that I was lucky enough to interview for my Inc. column. I just thought you guys would be fascinated by this, so we wanted to bring it to you as a bonus episode. I was interviewing Michelle Calloway of REVEALiO. She has an AR platform that is really cool and fun. I think it really bodes well for those of you doing 3D print businesses out there. I really wanted to bring my discussion with her. She was in a graphic design business. She created this augmented reality greeting card and actual business card company after she had seen something AR and saw it come to life. It just excited her to no end, the possibilities. I really think that there are so many interesting things for us to talk about post, so I’m just going to go to the interview with Michelle.
Listen to the podcast here:
Creating Business Through Augmented Reality Marketing with Michelle Calloway from Revealio
Michelle, thanks so much for joining me.
Thank you for having me. I’m seriously excited about being here with you.
I literally Googled augmented reality cards: augmented reality business cards, augmented reality greeting cards was the other one and your site popped up. It was such a weird coincidence that we actually know Jill Lublin, who’s a really good friend of mine and part of my network, and she’s your PR agent. I love that. It’s like a great, small world. What I appreciated was I was trying to learn more about how to create. What augmented reality is, is a basic understanding, I think some of us have the sense of it. I would love for you to talk about that first. What is augmented reality and how can we understand how we might be using that every single day?
The augmented reality that we really all use is image-based recognition. Basically, you can take any element in the real world environment, whether it be an image or an object and we can train our software to recognize that image or object and overlay virtual content on top of it when you’re viewing it through an augmented reality lens. In our case, we use smartphones because everybody has a smartphone. The smartphone is the augmented reality lens that you view the image or object through and then you pop up this whole virtual element. It’s like Pokémon Go, the same thing. They use smartphones as the augmented reality lens and then you could see the little Pokémon creatures over the real world environment and then you would try and capture them.
Essentially, if I had an image of one of my designs, for instance, or my business logo, it wouldn’t matter what, right?
You’d use your app, you’d put your phone in front of it and that would be recognized, and then it would pop up any amount of information. It could be a video. It could be a schematic. It could be a story of how it was designed or how it was made. It can be anything, right?
It can be anything, absolutely. There are no boundaries as far as the content that comes up virtually. It all can be live-fed because it’s all vetted on the website of things, so streaming or geographical. It depends on how the app is designed but you can have certain aspects pop up for the augmented reality experience that are pre-programmed in the app. It’s all meant to be like a driver. It bridges the real world with the virtual world. It acts as a magical portal in which we can have this beautiful connection, where we’re reaching through and we’re touching humans on the physical realm with virtual content.
Have more information right there at that moment that you’re thinking about it.
It’s such a beautiful thing. You can use it to captivate people and then right while they’re captivated, you’re influencing them with whatever it is that they’re singing and engaging with. Then you’re able to direct them instantly to be able to take next steps, which really drives conversion.
I have to know how you got started doing this.
Actually, it was introduced to me by a good friend of mine back in 2012. I owned my own graphic design agency and when I was shown how something as simple as a business card can come alive with virtual content, in this case it was a video that played right on top of the business card, I couldn’t sleep for two whole weeks. Seriously, zero sleep. My brain must have been lit up so many bright colors because I was just like, “What is happening to me?” This technology just blew my mind. I started developing with it, learning everything I could with it so that I could figure out what I was meant to be doing with it because obviously, I felt like it was some form of calling. When that happens to you, it’s not normal.
This happened to me. I was invited by a guest that we had had on our podcast. I was invited to one of their conferences. It’s called FutureX Live. It had 3D printing in it, so it was right in my wheelhouse, which is how I got invited to it. Predominantly, there was a lot of content about augmented reality and virtual reality and all that. I had been this gigantic skeptic. Before I left, if you would ask me about that, I would have been like, “It sounds like it’s going to be great but.” I think it’s because I had more of a sense of virtual reality than I understood augmented reality. It was actually something that they had on display there. They had this big poster and the poster was like it would be in a grocery store. It had information on fresh vegetables and all sorts of things and it was advertising the local farm that was providing these vegetables. This could be a farm stand sign or something like that. I imagined if you were on the East Coast, it would be like Stew Leonard’s and if you were out here, it’s probably Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or something like that. You just had that feel. You could see that sign there where people wanted to know it came from a farm up the road.
When you used your phone and you scanned over the pictures of the vegetables, it gave you a whole story about how they’re farmed and how sustainable that farming is. You follow the journey of that eggplant all the way through. When I saw that, I thought, “This blows my mind.” I came home from the conference going, “We need to start designing for augmented reality and virtual reality and doing all that.” My husband goes, “What Kool-Aid did you drink while you were there?” I was like you. Applications started rolling through my mind as to how great it could be.
Let me tell you a little bit about what sent me down the journey to build REVEALiO the way I built it. I’m building and I’m developing and I’m making things come alive all around me. A young friend of mine, she’s eighteen years old, she saw that I was doing this and she had fallen in love with a soldier who was deployed overseas. She came to me and said, “Could you help me create a greeting card so that when he sees it come alive, he can hear me and he can see me?” I just got chills all over my body and I said, “Absolutely.” We built it. She shot a little video on her selfie-style camera and she sent me the video. I made the whole card activated. When he received it, he said he was very touched because it was a physical card that he could keep and he could see her face anytime. He was skeptic too because at that time, he had never heard of augmented reality. When he actually downloaded the app to watch her come alive on the card, he said it rocked him to his core so much so that he felt that she was literally right there with him. He held it and carried it in his wallet every single day while serving abroad because he felt that she literally was right there with him.
When I felt that and she told me the story, he was just a young man. I figured, “If this could have an effect on a young male like this and this relationship could be enhanced through augmented reality that’s a magical portal that I’m now bringing to people, then I need to get this into the hands of everybody so everybody can feel that amazing warm sensation that just pierces through your body, because this is human to human connection on a whole new level.” I knew it was cool. I just didn’t know it was going to be that amazing too.
You didn’t know the effect of it was going to be that amazing. You just thought it was cool tech at that time.
That’s what led me down to build REVEALiO. My very first app was a greeting card app, and it still exists in stores. We have REVEALiO greetings which people can go and they can just pick a template, add their photo and add a little video message. Perfect for the holidays right now but it’s a beautiful, beautiful connection that happens when both cards come alive. Now I’m bringing that to business owners because as we all know, the heart of business is relationships.
It’s connecting and making that connection as live as possible and as rich information. I’m not a graphic designer but I’m a product designer, so I understand the idea that you’ve got to convey a lot of information. Sometimes that’s really hard to do. It’s hard to make a sale on something. It’s hard to make that connection that might make you a sale if you can’t dive deep with someone, if they’re just glancing by. If you’ve got a little wasted piece of paper in your pocket that you’re like, “Business card, I got somebody’s name.” If you can’t remember why you took that card from them, then it isn’t helping. It’s not going to do anything. That I think is really a compelling business case for doing something. Especially my Inc. column and everything like that, I’m a really big proponent of getting to that place in which we can get story, message, value. Essentially at the end of the day, it’s got to convey and it’s commerce of value. Doing that through imagery and doing that through visuals is more impactful than doing that in words alone or text alone or flat dimension alone. If we could do it more interactive, the better off we are. With that in mind, have you found that difference from having a graphic design business which was completely two-dimension to having this be multi-dimensional? Have you found that shift?
The idea that something physical, tangible, something you can hold in your hand can actually have now a whole other virtual element added to it is an amazing thing. It taps into all four dominant learning styles. That is really resonating with people. I got a call from a man who found me on the internet. He’s from New York but he went to a medical convention in Florida. He said there was one person there that had this augmented reality business card and he had never seen anything like it before. When he saw it, he was floored. He called all his colleagues over to take a look at it. They were all just like, “How is that happening? That’s amazing.” He went about for the next three days to attend the rest of the conference. When he got home to New York, he went through all of his stuff that he had gathered and only one out of 100 cards stood out to him. I said, “It was probably the one that came alive, wasn’t it?” He goes, “Absolutely, and that’s why I’m on the phone with you right now. I must have this.”
I was excited to hear that story because it’s the magical essence of human to human connection with visuals, with something that’s tactile, something that you can hold and also being able to convey a message visually and audibly through the video playback. It’s also the ability through REVEALiO, for instance when you’re watching the augmented reality experience happen before you, you also have virtual buttons that appear on your mobile screen. That allows you to take that next step, which really drives conversion. It’s instantaneous. Schedule a call or schedule an appointment or a buy now button, or give them a gift, give them something for free for just experiencing this with you. I had a live event where I offered a gift. We played a treasure hunt game and 70% of the room converted into my mailing list because I made it fun, I made it engaging, they got to experience some really cool cutting-edge technology, plus they got something for free at the end. It was a really big win for everybody. It’s definitely taking off to new heights for businesses. Like authors, allowing them to be able to warmly engage their audience who are holding their book, being able to just make that connection.
What are some of the challenges with growing this business for you? It’s an emerging technology, so there are lots of new things to learn all the time. There’s a learning curve on top of the clients who may not be educated in it. What’s been the most challenging for you?
I think it’s the educational barrier. REVEALiO has a business model that’s very unique to other augmented reality companies that are offering it. It’s that we are offering a distributorship partner program for businesses who see that this is one of those services that they can easily add to their existing services like video marketing companies, printing companies, publishing companies. It just makes sense that they’re able to say, “While you’re doing this with us, we can also take it to the next level with this awesome, amazing interactive technology.” What I’m loving with this business model is I’m allowing all of the experts that are in their own vertical to take it to their own vertical and share it with their people. I’m able to just provide that support. Plus I’m also really excited to be on interviews like this where I’m able to just share that I exist. We just actually launched this augmented reality marketing app in September.
You were getting some high Google ranking there because there isn’t much else, so Google didn’t know who else to give it to. Wonderful for you. I have interviewed Jay Samit in Disrupt You! and he talks about other people’s resources. We always want to use other people’s money when we’re starting our business but other people’s resources might be even more valuable. That’s what you’re doing by setting this distributorship model up. You’re just like, “It would take me forever to grow in all those verticals and it would take a lot of energy and money and resources and I want to grow fast, so the best way to do it is to tap into those who are already expert there and let me operate in my core of what I’m already trying to grow myself.”
They’re loving it. The most appealing thing right now for them is like you’re saying, “I can do what?”
It’s augmenting business.
“I’m able to capitalize on this myself and I didn’t have to go out and build this thing? I’m loving it.” I’m very excited about this model and so far, it’s been incredibly lucrative. I’m in the San Francisco Bay area but they’re all coming to me from all over the nation.
What do you see as the biggest challenge from the design side of these things? Are you still finding that that graphic design level is just amping up even more and that clients are expecting you to do more of that work as well?
You’re finding that they’re already bringing you design that they want?
It’s not putting any graphic designers out of business wherever they are.
In fact, I’m partnering with graphic designers. I’m partnering with book design cover artists. All of these artists, that’s what I’m saying, I can give them another up-sell, something that makes them stand out as a designer, “Now I can also take your design that I’m going to create for you anyway and I can elevate it to the next level by adding this virtual element to your product.”
I was seeing it from the other side. I thought you were talking about like you’re partnered with Jill and you’re doing PR agents who might be repping a bunch of book authors. You’ve got it from both sides actually. She can be recommending this as very valuable to all the book authors, but so could the cover designers. You’ve got it coming from all angles. You’ve got tens of distributor models out there.
We just really want to be a service provider. We don’t really need to be trying to compete in the printing industry or the publishing industry. We just want to empower. The more that we empower, the more people are going to start getting an opportunity to experience this because it’s magical. I just came back from a convention in LA in which one of my clients was an author. He was demonstrating his book coming alive and lo and behold, he was ranking his influence way high, top of mind because they have never seen anything like that before. He’s coming over to me and he’s an affiliate and he’s tapping me on the shoulder saying, “I’ve got a few people I need you to meet because they’re pretty excited about what’s happening here.” It’s already starting a buzz and I’m just like, “This is awesome. How can I support you? Let’s make this happen.”
I’m so glad I bumped into you in that way as well. Although, I’m sure Jill would have mentioned you to me eventually. She would have insisted. Also though, a model of business in which you really do need more designers out there learning augmented reality, being aware of that and other things. Where do you find that there’s education information or where do you look for that kind of industry? Because this is a 3D print podcast, but they’re interested in three dimensions in general. Where could they go to find out more information about what’s happening in augmented reality and the technology and the growth side of that?
I personally have created an AR, VR marketing group on LinkedIn because there just isn’t a whole lot out there. I’ve been filtering a lot of articles that I’m getting written. I’m filtering it into one funnel so that people can just go to one place and be fed knowledge about what’s happening in the AR, what’s happening in the VR and what’s happening in the marketing realm regarding all of these components working together.
I think that’s really so critical because applied marketing and using this in the marketing world and what’s working and what’s not, it goes beyond just the tech itself. That’s really what excites me the most is when we start to see good application stories and we start to say, “If that worked there, then I can try it here.” We start seeing overall. This is one of the things that I like the idea from incorporating into 3D printing and where my mind went with it. When I first saw this at that conference, my mind went with the idea that there are catalogues of our products, when they’re not online or when you’re physically seeing an object there, then what happens to the source story?
There’s this amazing story about how my husband wears this 3D-printed tie everywhere he goes. Whenever we go to conferences, people are always touching it and wanting to do that. If you could hold up your phone to that tie and have the whole video play of how he created it and how it was printed, instantly, it wouldn’t be this thing like, “Go to our website at 3DStartPoint.com and check out the video at the top of the page for how it’s made.” We don’t have to do that anymore. It’s instant. That story and then conversation continues and you’ll have people be looking over their shoulder and checking out the video. That works for people. Also though I think in product world, I want to be more transparent about where our products are coming from. If I’ve designed this amazing product that’s on the shelf at Costco or Target or Walmart and because I designed it, there’s some code on there that just says basically, “Download the app and find out more information about how this was designed and how it was made for you so you can see the whole path of your product.”
That’s one of things that I take pride in is the usefulness of the technology. Rather than just being a really cool thing, I actually wanted to make it useful on top of that. I call REVEALiO as an entry level augmented reality company. The reason it’s entry level is because we don’t push real hard for the super fanciful 3D, really high-end interaction because that costs a lot of money. I really just want people to be able to find it useful. I say, “You come to us with your video content because video is king, it’s a way for us to communicate and feel connected. Let’s put that onto your augmented reality experience and keep your cost down low so you can do more of it. Let’s just do this and do it smart.” Video tells a story. Video connects.
This is how when I was searching for you, one of the reasons, because you call it entry level but it was that bridge. The bridge between what I do today and what was attainable and a taste of it to where the technology might be capable of. That’s exactly what we try to do here with 3D printing as well because it may not be realistic that everyone learns CAD and has a 3D printer. When I was looking at a lot of the other AR companies and some of them were doing these greeting cards and it was popping up and you could choose from a polar bear who said this and a penguin, I was like, “If I wanted to use my own penguin, it would be really difficult and take a lot of time. That’s certainly not something I could execute two weeks before the holiday. It’s not possible for me to do that.” I really have to plan ahead for something like that. I am capable of it but that’s not really feasible. I was like, “How could I do that?” When I saw yours, I thought, “I can get my three daughters talking. That’s easy. We can totally do that.”
People love it. They crave it. If you were to send that to your mom and she misses her grandkids or whatever, that is going to resonate with her. She’ll probably never ever throw it away ever.
How long does this process take? If somebody came to you and said, “I want to do a holiday card,” how much time do they need?
We do have a REVEALiO Greetings app. It’s all designed to be able to just tap and do it all within the app, within a matter of five minutes. Once the card is created inside of the app, then REVEALiO takes care of the printing and delivery. You can just do it all within five minutes. You can get the cards delivered to you probably within three to five business days. You would be able to turn around and send them out to your folks, your friends, family, your list. That’s the greeting card side of things.
We have a secondary app now and I just released that one in September. The REVEALiO Greetings app was released in 2016. Now we’ve released the REVEALiO – AR Marketing Tool. That one is the business one. We can do business cards, book covers, posters, banners, postcards, anything that you would use to promote your business. We can make it come alive with another level of communication through this virtual layer and we use video. That one, what we can do from the time where you purchased your REVEALiO and then to turn around, we have three to five days of there as well.
It’s just as fast as getting greeting cards or business cards from any of the other agencies and outsources.
Yes, it’s just meant to be simple. Of course, if you need our assistance with video development, that takes a little longer. It depends on what you come to us ready to go or if you need a little bit of assistance.
Actually, the hard part is always the same thing we have a problem with whenever we do a holiday card, which is wrangling the girls to all smile and do the same thing and be willing and in the mood to do it at the moment at which you need them to do it. That’s always the kids and pets problem.
The bigger the family, the harder it is. It’s so fun. I have this one family. This is their second year of doing an augmented reality holiday card and they put so much energy into it and they just go all out. They have so much fun. The memories that they’re building, plus the memories that they’re sharing, their friends are saying, “Are you going to do another one of those cool cards that come alive?” It’s an exciting time of year to share those kinds of fun, joyous things. That’s great that they can do that.
I’m so excited for all of you out there to see this stuff. Definitely you’re going to have to come to the website and check it out and check out the videos that are there that play. Is there anything you’re thinking of, Michelle, that’s really holding back AR from growing or businesses from adopting it? Is there anything that’s really holding that back that needs some investment or improvement or other things?
What I’m experiencing is most business owners just have no clue that this is even an option, so education. I’m going to be launching it in January. I’m going to be starting up a whole community that’s all about just enlightening and educating business owners. We’re going to call it Tech With Heart. It’s all about the technologies that do exist beyond just augmented reality. That’s just one of the most wow factor technologies that’s out there, but there are other technologies that business owners could be using today that could elevate them out of a sea of digital noise and make them stand out as if they had their own island where they’re just calmly waving at everybody else that’s just swimming in the sea saying, “Come visit me. It’s really nice over here. Let’s do business together.”
That makes me think of some of the early things I saw about 360 video and really there are some amazing non-profits who are utilizing 360 video. While it may be a little more complicated to film that video, the power of it holds so much more heart and ability for conversion in that sense of getting donations or getting volunteers involved because you have a sense of really immersing yourself in that. I think that you are right, there are technologies that really change the face of that and make the world a really different place.
We just need to empower business owners to get them to realize that they too can do this. It’s not rocket science. It’s just something different. We’re all about bringing people together who understand how important it is to have that heartfelt connection at the core of their business. Then let’s enlighten you to how to use some of these technologies that will really connect you in a very powerful way and elevate your business really fast.
Thank you so much for talking with me, Michelle. I’m so inspired and excited.
I’m really, really happy to have been able to spend this time with you. I hope we can do it again in the near future. Maybe when I launch Tech With Heart, we can do another get-together and we can explain what’s going on with that. That’s very exciting.
Creating Business Through Augmented Reality Marketing – Final Thoughts
As I mentioned in the interview, I came back from FutureX Live raving about AR and all that it could do and we had drank the Kool-Aid, but you can see Michelle drank the Kool-Aid too. That’s exactly what got her excited about it. This is really an interesting concept to being able to demonstrate stuff that we don’t get an opportunity to do in 2D really well. We’re talking about 3D printing, you might want to have videos of how things are made, you might want to have background information on your company. I’ve gotten quite a few of them, plastic 3D printed business cards. It’s yet another thing to be able to take that to another level to really talk about what your business is doing that’s disruptive and special and interesting and why people should care. Those are the cards people won’t throw away because they’ll want to see them again and again. I think this is just such an interesting concept that Michelle has.
In the 3D print industry in general, this is something underutilized. It’s something we haven’t really incorporated well. We are in the tech world, so we have full capability of understanding it. We have lots of 3D models. We have rendering softwares. We have videos of stuff running on our machines. We have a lot of content that lends itself into this world. I really think that the idea of getting through this chain of design all the way through manufacturing is important to many, many people. If you can find a way to express it either by some code that might be embedded into your product when you print it or it might be on your business card or it might be on the tag that comes with your products, these could be great ideas for you. That’s why I really wanted to bring Michelle on and let her talk with you and get a peek into that interview.
I hope you got as much out of it as I did. Thanks again. This has been Tracy on the WTFFF 3D Printing Podcast.
About Michelle Calloway
Michelle Calloway is a Speaker, Int’l Bestselling Author, and the Founder and CEO of REVEALiO, Inc., an augmented reality marketing company. She is driven to success in response to a calling she believes has been placed in her life. Her goal is to make augmented reality experiences available to everyone, no matter the budget, and ultimately fulfilling a higher purpose than herself here on earth.
Ms. Calloway’s background includes visual and digital communication, small business, and technology. She combines her background of visual communication with the emerging world of augmented reality, which overlays virtual content on top of real world objects when viewed through a mobile smart device.
Her vision of REVEALiO became clear when she witnessed the powerful heartfelt connection that took place when a deployed U.S. soldier received a REVEALiO greeting card from his girlfriend. When the card “came alive” with her talking to him on the card, it rocked him to his core. He folded it up and carried it with him every day because it made him feel as if she was right there with him. This powerful human response is what inspired Michelle Calloway to develop and launch REVEALiO – Cards That Come Alive!
Michelle wants to share her inspirational story, and teach the power of augmented reality as a marketing tool to entrepreneurs, small business owners, CEOs, Marketing Professionals, and Publishers. Her heart is to empower small businesses to gain the ultimate competitive advantage by captivating their audiences and influencing their buying decisions.
She delivers a very engaging presentation filled with strong visual aids, interesting videos, and highly informative content. Members of the audience walk away inspired, enlightened, and empowered to begin incorporating new technology into their business marketing strategies. Early adopters of these new marketing technologies will catapult their business to success, leaving their competition in the dust.
Ms. Calloway also speaks to faith-based entrepreneurs about faith, trust, drive, and perseverance, leading to success, while living a life fully reliant on God.
Michelle is a two time, Int’l Bestselling Author. Her books, Discover Your Inspiration, and Rock Your Life, focus on what inspires and drives her to success.
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