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A Small Shift, with Massive Impact

Making them active experiences, not passive ones.

I spoke about the brand personality of your event the other week, which created some discussion about which characteristics are more valuable to dial up than others. And one that definitely makes the experience more distinctive the more there is, is the level of interaction.

I’m sure you have seen this in your events.

The more inter-active the experience it is, the more engaged your audience is.

But are you really ‘engaging’? ‘Engagement’ is what we are all seeking as event providers, it is the ‘value proposition’ of events, it is what set’s us apart.

By definition – to ‘engage’ is to:
“1.  Occupy or attract (someone’s interest or attention) 
– and –
2. Participate or become involved in”

So to ‘engage’ we must ensure our audiences actively participate, in order to occupy their minds.

I’m sure you have experienced this yourself, whether it be a sports experience, educational, trade event, or brand activation, when you are able to cross that invisible line, and interact with something, the more real and immersive it becomes.

An Engaging example A personal story I like to tell, which I think illustrates how we can all harness the power of this strategy, no matter how small the budget, is in my families trip to the Rosebud Kite Festival.

Along with a few other families we were wandering along at the Festival, and my boy Jack and I happened to take a turn into the local ‘kite makers association’ tent. For just $6 we able to make our own kite, and in such a small investment of time and money, it changed our whole experience. While the other families passively watched the impressive kites being flown, Jack and I actually got to fly our own (after Dad tried to impress son with his flying skills, 5 year old Jack just picked it up and showed him up – as kids do!).

My learning was that as we walked away from the event, the other families were somewhat engaged, but happy to leave early, and had a nice but somewhat unremarkable experience. But, Jack and I struggled to get away, found ourselves recalling and sharing our experience, and, found ourselves out flying kites for many weeks afterward. So from a very small difference in our experiential journey, a far greater impact was made.

Something to think about if you are trying to have an impact with your event, and to influence what people think and do afterwards.

That’s my boy Jack, who turned out to be quite a kite flyer!

Interaction amplifies a connection The events that are standing out from their competitors, and as leaders in entertainment, are those that have shifted from passive to active experiences.

From local success stories such as the hugely experiential Australian Open, to the immersive GABS (Great Australian Beer Spectapular) experience, to global icons like ‘Running with the Bulls’, and La Tomatina, these events are truly interactive experiences. And that, is what makes them so great.

Is it really an ‘Activation’? Unfortunately, we see too many ‘brand activations’ at events that aren’t ‘activating’ at all. A one-way transaction of handing out brochures, or worse taking our personal data for very little reward, is not respecting the moment as a two-way, interactive relationship building opportunity.

But, when we do get these activations right, they are very powerful interactions, which are amplified by those that experience them.

Sometimes the simplest things can create meaningful interactions! #BucketheadsWe have seen many great examples of interaction across events in recent years. Many include clever uses of technology, and while we fear the digital world will see us all become more inactive, I believe which we should in fact embrace technology – to make experiences more active.I spoke recently with Markos and his team at Fun with Balls, who are doing great work harnessing the power of gamification and tech, merging the digital and physical world’s to great effect.

Why is this interaction so important?

As the famous saying goes…

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”

And there is also some science behind this, with studies enlightening us to interesting insights such as ‘The IKEA Effect’, which tells us why we value things more the more involved we are. I will talk more about that next week!

So, how can this help you? Well I do believe that the more interactive you can make your events, the more engaging, memorable, and successful they will be. Taking a look at the event as a whole, or any opportunities within it, any parts of the event, or partners activations. The more each and every part shifts from being passive, to active, the better it will be.

How do you do this? It is all in the ‘Experience Design’. Mapping out your audiences journey, so that there is continual interaction, between you and them.

Making this sometimes small shift will unlock powerful results.

If you need some help with that, just let me know!

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