I frequently challenge my team to design an in-person customer experience for an event like the best Fourth of July fireworks displays. Why fireworks displays? Because the best fireworks displays and their big bangs tug on emotions, create anticipation, and generate excitement in ways that make them tremendously memorable. And memorability is an important objective for any event-based customer experience, whether it's a presentation, a conference, or a sponsorship marketing activity.
Since the Fourth of July is around the corner, here are 10 experience design principles you can borrow from the world of fireworks displays to introduce into your events:
- Based on how long the experience will last, create an event flow which ensures the desired intensity with no unexpected lapses in activity.
- Anticipate the vantage point from which people will view the event and design it accordingly. Remember, the vantage points could be physical, mental, emotional, etc.
- Begin with a "big bang" (maybe the third biggest bang of the whole show) to get the audience's attention right from the start.
- Don't plan each successive element of the event to be bigger than the one immediately before. Allow for quieter time after some intra-show highlights. This allows the audience to recover and re-set their expectations of what's next.
- Create an irregular pacing so highlights inside the event will further the sense of anticipation and surprise.
- Design differing elements into the program to create a real sense of variety for the audience.
- Don't make it a practice to duplicate creative elements inside a program. If you do, however, mass them in one section of the program to create the biggest impact and minimize a sense of repetition.
- Use multiple locations to introduce the event's creative elements. It's all about keeping the audience guessing what will happen next and from where it will originate.
- Use other integrated creative variables (music, lighting, sound, etc.) to build emotion and excitement into the program.
- Save the biggest bang for the event's finale, with the second biggest bang right before it.
Those are my planning suggestions for creating a big bang for your customers at your next event.
And my suggestion for watching fireworks this Fourth of July? Find the highest place you can (hotel, office building, an airplane) to watch fireworks. It will be a whole new Fourth of July experience if you've only watched fireworks displays from the ground before! - Mike Brown
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