The Importance of Saying Goodbye

First impressions count. That is what we are always told. If you start off from a pretty ordinary position then it can be hard to work your way back up. But there is something that is even more difficult to recover from . . . a bad last impression.


Drawing on my days studying psychology, there was a particular memory test which stayed with me. Participants were read fifteen items on a list and then, after a short break, were asked to recall all the items that they heard. Guess which ones were the most successful when it came to recall?

The items at the beginning of the list which made the first impression only came in second place. Sure, they were memorable for being right at the beginning, but they paled in comparison to the memories created most recently by the items at the end of the list.

Why do I bring this up? What does this have to do with entertainment marketing?

Memory has a huge impact on entertainment marketing, but an even bigger impact on service design. Not only do you want to start the customer’s experience with a highly memorable and influential experience but you also want to make sure that the ending contains even more fireworks because that is the most memorable component.

The real life effects of this became apparent when I recently did a Chocoholics Tour. I know what you are all thinking ‘What can possibly go wrong on a chocoholics tour apart from a lack of chocolate?’. Well, I am pleased to say that at no point was there a lack of chocolate – which was fantastic. But there was an issue with the ending.

After two hours of experiencing the paradise of chocolate lovers stopping off at several of Melbourne’s best chocolate shops for samples and stories, the tour ended in a chocolate café. The tour guide was fantastic, the chocolate was fantastic, but the café was not. One of the orders was incorrect and the service was a bit too casual with the waitress.

Not big things in the scheme of things. The chocolate dessert was delicious and so were the drinks – but walking away with a group of friends, the only thing that we could discuss was the final underwhelming experience.

It is the same in the theatre. At the end of the experience, it can be as small as an usher trying to get audience members out of the theatre as quickly as possible. It could be walking through a swathe of smokers at the front door. Or it could even be missing out on grabbing a programme at the end of the show. These are all only small components of the overall experience, but because they happen at the end – they are a whole lot more memorable than those experiences that occurred in the middle!