Generating the Spark for Memorable Virtual Experiences

Howard Stern, Mixed Reality Strategist at Kaon Interactive

By Howard Stern, Mixed Reality Experience Strategist at Kaon Interactive

More now than ever marketers are competing for the eyes of their customers. With many working from home, not only are you up against the entirety of the internet, and every avenue for media consumption available, but you are competing with your customers’ workloads, emails, children, pets, laundry… and who knows what else. Distraction is everywhere. So, the primary goal needs to be getting and keeping your customer engaged, and you don’t have a lot of time to accomplish that. The average human attention span (thanks, smartphones) is somewhere around eight seconds… less than a goldfish. Let that sink in… eight seconds.

I like to refer to this sustained engagement goal as “generating the spark” — creating an experience for a user that will ignite a lasting memory. But, how do we go about transforming traditional sales models, those that relied on human connection, into truly engaging, digital, interactive experiences that create a spark? There are three key components with which to start.

Times Square billboards

Image by Wallula from Pixabay

Your Message: Brevity is your friend.

Traditionally, B2B companies focus on the details — lots of details. In a first engagement, especially a digital one, the visitor needs to be able to connect very quickly to the value you provide. Think of a billboard when you drive down the highway: if the message is too long, you drive by before you can understand what it says. Therefore, it’s critical to start with the digestibility of the message — an easy-to-understand story that shows logical progression. Don’t get caught up in the particulars, at least initially; get to the point quickly and succinctly. Remember that the minutia, which you may find important, probably doesn’t apply in your first interaction with a potential buyer.  

Don’t get me wrong, details are important. However, your customer needs to express interest in your differentiation of value first. Your goal is to get them to come back, so they can ask more detailed questions during a second engagement — the next step in their buyer’s journey. 

Creativity: Find your inner B2C.

People are craving connection and seeking it out wherever they can. When we think of virtual “connection”, we typically think of connecting with other people, not content. However, we make emotional connections with content as well; we elicit emotion when we read a poem that inspires us, watch a video that makes us laugh or cry, or see a painting that transports us to a place in time or space. The key ingredient with establishing a connection with content, or an application, is creativity.

Traditionally, B2B marketers err on the conservative side when it comes to their content and customer engagement strategies and production, whereas B2C companies are more willing to take chances. B2B buyers want to be entertained in the same way they are by consumer-focused marketing. B2B organizations can set themselves apart from the competition by embracing bold expression over the same old, conservative methods. People remember wacky, risky, and beautiful campaigns because they cause the associative network to make crazy connections with existing memories. These associations allow new ideas to stick in your brain.

Dell Virtual Reality Experience

The Journey: Bring your customer into digital/virtual environments. 

Again, creativity is key! If you want your product to differentiate and be remembered, you need to bring your buyer somewhere that will evoke emotion and cognitive connection. Start by asking yourself: 

  • What is the objective of this engagement?
  • Do these buyers have a specific need that requires them to understand a complex process?
  • Do you want to show them specific products?
  • Do you have solutions that are complicated and difficult to visualize?

Once you answer these questions, you can start to dig deeper into what the virtual journey may look like for your customer. I like to categorize a virtual experience into three types of spaces or environments:

  1. Real but impossible: Take your audience somewhere that exists in the real world but is not accessible because of, well, physics. For example, if you are talking to the power of a processor or technical product specifications, you could drop your guest onto a motherboard or the working mechanism of a complicated device. This change of perspective transforms their perception of the products you sell, showing the unique value.  
  2. The real world: You can recreate any place, but you have to know why you’re recreating it. The sky’s the limit in the virtual world. Here are two examples of when to use real-world scenarios:
    • A space that is widely inaccessible to the average person (an oil rig or inside a medical laboratory).
    • A specific location that acts as a metaphor to show a process that is difficult to understand or visualize without a 20k-foot view (a stadium during an event that requires multiple touchpoints for different technologies).
  3. Abstract: Sometimes the value of a product or service can be really conceptual and broad. This is an opportunity to place a user in a more creative or artistic space. If we can create a visually appealing environment — one that uses color, shape, and captivating user interfaces, in dynamic ways — the experience can elicit a visceral reaction, one that will create a lasting impression. 

Creating the application environment is just the beginning of “Generating the Spark” for a buyer. As we move forward in this crazy new world, it will get increasingly more important to relate to users in, not only creative but also, meaningful ways. We need to start thinking about how we can use all the technology at our disposal to excite guests and engage them. People are, increasingly, going to desire to feel as if they are a part of something special and unique and, more importantly, connected with others. 

If this article interested you, join me for UNTETHERED 2020, a virtual summit taking place next week, May 19-21. I will be presenting this topic on Wednesday, May 20, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. I will also be participating in a Fireside Chat with Naomi Clare of Storycraft Lab about the future of events and technology on Thursday, May 21, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

For more information on how Kaon Interactive can help you generate the spark for memorable customer engagements — virtually and in person — contact us.

This entry was posted in Creative Crackerjack, Marketing Guru, Sales Tools, Trade Show Trends and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Tell us your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s