Small Details. Big Difference.

In life you sometimes hear about small details making a big difference.

One example that comes to mind is if you are working with a client or partner, it makes sense to experience their product or service.  It's not about blind loyalty.  Naturally there are exceptions to this rule (i.e. If you are a healthy adult and you are working with a company that produces laxatives.)

Having said that there are exceptions to the exceptions.  What do I mean?  I had the privilege to work with Harlequin a few years ago.  Naturally, I don't fit the typical Harlequin reader profile but because I worked there, I did read some books as I believed it was important to be familiar with the company's products. 

Recently, I was talking to a friend and he told me he still wears a watch.  I asked him why because you could just as easily use your mobile device to check the time. I stopped wearing watches a year ago.  Joel told me that if you looked at your mobile phone in a meeting it could give the impression you were checking your email or messages.  Which appears rude when you should be paying attention to other person.  I never thought of that and must admit I could have been unconsciously guilty of that sin in the past.

Of course the detractors may counter that you don't want to look at your watch in a meeting either but at least you can say you were keeping track of time and be somewhat credible when you say it.  Again the small details come into play.  For what it's worth I’ve tried to remind myself to start wearing a watch again.

I can also recall another example where a certain agency (that shall remain nameless) went into Apple and pitched them armed in tow with Dell laptops using Power Point.  I am not making this up.  Would it have really been that difficult for the agency to come with Macbooks and use Keynote?  Buy them.  Rent them.  Borrow them.  Or maybe even just use a pen and notepad instead?

Another example comes to mind when an agency flew an entire team out to meet the President of a national airline.  The President had their executive assistant check the passenger manifests to see if the agency staff were on their flights to give them extra special treatment. The agency staff were not as they had flown in on a competitor airline.  Rightly or wrongly the President immediately cancelled the meeting with the agency.

The same thing about small details comes to mind when looking for work.  What do I mean?  When I was advising an executive who was trying to apply for a job at Yahoo, I reviewed their resume and LinkedIn profile and both were flawless except for one glaring error.  It wasn't a typo or grammar.  It was their email account.  

They were using jane.doe@hotmail.com.  They were using a hotmail email account.  The same Hotmail owned by Microsoft a fierce rival of Yahoo! in the digital space.  How difficult was it to sign-up for a FREE yahoo email account when interviewing with Yahoo?  It's akin to walking into a meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs wearing a Montreal Canadiens tie.  Now why anyone would work for the Leafs is beyond me as a Habs fan but I digress.  The point is that it's all in the small details.

As marketers and business leaders we have a lot of things to worry about.  Keeping mindful of the small details is one of those things we cannot overlook.  They often make a big difference between success and failure.

Sulemaan Ahmed

@sulemaan

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Tags: Best Practices, Branding, Marketing Careers, Strategy

2 Comments

  • Erik Bartz said

    Those are some great examples of expensive and silly mistakes. I often try to get someone who has nothing to do with my project give it a look over and see if they notice anything that doesn't make sense. Sometimes we just get to close we can't see the details.

  • Sulemaan said

    Sometimes having someone from the outside take a look is all we need and it only takes a few minutes. Great point Erik.

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