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Little details make the difference to great advice

Never forget that everything counts. Every aspect of your business says something about who you are, what you value and the kind of experience a client can expect to have should they choose to give you the time of day.

Brochures, employees, products, packaging, wallpaper, flowers, absence of flowers – each small detail is communicating on your behalf, whether you have given it permission to or not.

The classic example is the “out of the box” experience you have with any Apple product. At this juncture I must clarify I still do not own any Apple products.

I do not know whether it is my stubborn digits or equally stubborn (stupid) resistance to stuff that gets popular. But the design is undeniably lovely; so much so that people actually record “unboxing videos” to document what it is like to unwrap a new iPhone or an iPad.

Product packaging is a small consideration compared with the actual product but Apple understands it sets the stage. It is all part of the broader brand experience.

It has thought through what the consumer will experience as if it were a journey: from unwrapping, to booting up for the first time, to how it feels in your hand and so forth.

The voodoo cast is that a company that takes care of the small details can be trusted to care of the big stuff. And if it is not trust, then it is certainly something approaching a weak-kneed, doe-eyed crush, which is no less powerful (certainly in the short term).

The intellectual part of the human mind can spin a whole range of stories, compare features and benefits, create narratives that compel us to take action or not. But all of these words are merely costumes for the fairly limited number of emotions built deep in our primordial soup: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise and joy (Ekman’s List of Basic Emotions 1972).

We tell ourselves different stories in different scenarios but still there are only six or seven buttons being pressed (or not).

A small example is client-facing brochures. Research after research points to the limited engagement clients ever have with them. But they still send cues and contribute to the experience in a small way.

While we have been under so much big-picture pressure for what seems like forever now, it remains as vital not to forget the small stuff because it is the little details that make the difference between good and remarkable.

Phil Wickenden is managing director at Cicero Research

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