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What advisers are saying: Sweat the small stuff


Everything counts. Every aspect of your business says something about who you are, what you value and the kind of experience a client or prospect can expect to have should they choose to give you the time of day. That goes for providers, platforms and advisers. Brochures, employees, products, packaging, wallpaper, flowers, absence of flowers… each small detail is communicating on your behalf, whether you have given it your permission to or not.

The classic example is the out-of-the-box experience you have with any Apple product you buy. At this juncture I must clarify that 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 genius, so much so that people actually record what has become known as unboxing videos to document what it’s like to unwrap a new Apple iPhone or an iPad. 

Product packaging is a small consideration compared to the actual product but Apple understands that it sets the stage for the product – 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. Apple knows that if it takes care of the small details like packaging, people will trust that it is taking care of the larger details like hardware construction.

And if it is not trust then it certainly is something approaching a weak-kneed, doe-eyed crush – which is no less powerful.

The intellectual part of the human mind can spin a whole range of stories, can compare features and benefits, can 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, joy, (Ekman’s List of Basic Emotions). We tell ourselves different stories in different scenarios but still, there are only six or seven buttons being pressed (or not being pressed).

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 a while 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 of So Here’s The Plan



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