Going From ‘Wow’ to ‘Whoa’


Working in the experiential space, I hear one phrase all the time: “Wow” factor.

Companies are looking for ways to create a wow factor to differentiate themselves from the competition and to get the attention of new talent and new customers.

Wow factor is an important first step. In a world clamoring for your attention, creating something novel and unique that demands attention is difficult at best and infinitely valuable.

This is also why varying content either through planned refreshes or through generative content driven by data or environmental factors is extremely helpful in sustaining the wow factor. Variation creates novelty and novelty can renew attention. If you pass the same LED sign every day, and the message is always the same, you stop reading it at some point. However, if that message varies, you may just look each time to see what the new idea is.

However, this is just the first step. The question that must be asked is this, “Once I have someone’s attention, what do I want to do with it?”

If you’re a business, you may want to attract customers, if you’re a nonprofit, you may try to create advocates; if you’re a church, you may look for converts.

The reason many large-scale AV installs don’t deliver the expected value is that the question of “what are we trying to accomplish” isn’t asked at all.  A “wow” moment will typically last a few seconds, a few minutes if you’re lucky.  People may remember and talk about that moment, but without that moment being connected to a larger goal, they may not even remember the company that provided it.

Wow to Woah

I’ve talked about this with several people looking to deliver “WOW!” and the way that I explain it is that we need to move people from “wow” to “whoa.”

The attention gained in the “wow” moment needs to lead to compelling content that creates actionable insight.  Observers should move from being an observer to a participant, from the reader of the story to the hero in it.

In other words, they have to go from, “Wow, that’s really cool,” to “Whoa, I need to do something about this.”

That’s the way that you create momentum around a product, a service, a movement — the only way that true ROI can be accomplished.