SANTIAGO — Nowadays, it's virtually impossible to surprise anyone.
This is a big challenge, especially in the entertainment industry where you need to make a considerable effort to stage memorable events that have an impact. When you consider that most consumers now are millennials, you have to ask, how do you make them pay attention? With more people traveling all over the world, they are being exposed to novelties like never before. Things seem to go "viral" across the globe so quickly, it's hard to find anything that's really new or surprising anymore.
Take fidget spinners for example. Within a few weeks, I went from first seeing them on Facebook to someone suggesting that we import them. Soon after, I began to see the toys being sold on every street corner in this town.
In this environment, I've come up with a few solutions. The first fix is "creativity." The worst you can do today is to repeat something. So devote time to creating something new, or at least consulting creative experts.
Today, competing with smartphones is too difficult.
A friend of mine got married last year but he inadvertently set his wedding day on the same date as the finals of the Centennial Cup America. As the wedding approached, he saw that his team had a shot at the finals. The event was becoming my friend's biggest distraction in the run-up to his wedding. He began to fret about what he could do. Change the hour of the wedding? Make no changes and compete with the game? My recommendation (which was ignored) was to have the game on without sound. My advice was the right one, technically, but perhaps not diplomatically.
You see, the way things are today, competing with smartphones is too difficult. It makes no sense to try and do so. The best thing to do is to use the threat in your favor, and turn these phones into a useful tool at your event.
Create selfie zones. Invite guests to download applications that show photos from an event that they can share. Let customers hashtag an event to gauge its following. Try live social networking. Let guests use a hashtag to choose the next song on the playlist. These are some of the techniques today to liven your event so your guests won't be forced to choose between their smartphones and your party.
Lastly, as marketing consultant Simon Sinek says, millennials are not motivated by the what and the how, but the "why?". If your event can find a larger purpose and is not "just" a celebration, then you can expect to win a large number of hearts and minds.
*Ronny Majlis is an engineer and co-founder of Chile-based brand activation company The Cow Company