Fantastic keynote from Rory Sutherland at TED about “Sweating the Small Stuff”. This is a must watch at 12min 30sec that goes by fast.
He makes a compelling case that the world we live in wants to believe that big, important problems require big, important, and expensive solutions. However, the reality is that what changes our behavior is disproportionate to the amount of force and expense we apply to it. In other words, the more resources and money we use to change buying behavior, the less real impact it actually has. Take for example Virgin Atlantic Airways, who brings a salt and pepper set in the shape of cute little airplanes to each passenger in coach. Some might like them so much, they consider pocketing the set. Then they turn the salt and pepper shakers over and engraved in the bottom are the words “Stolen from Virgin Atlantic Airways upper class”. Just these few words make the brand highly memorable each time you fly, and yet costs very little. Or, the elevator in a boutique hotel in Stockholm, Sweden where you are greeted with what, at first glance, looks like a set of floor buttons. Starting at the bottom it reads “Garage”, but then the next one reads “Funk”, then “Rythm & Blues” – that’s right, these are buttons to pick your elevator music! Again, highly memorable and not expensive – especially compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on upgrading hotel rooms to look like every other hotel room you stay in. Contrast this to something very large and massively expensive, like the AOL Time Warner merger which was heralded by Time Magazine in 2000 as the largest, single deal of all time. Now many people are customers of one or both of these corporations, and yet unless you were a shareholder or lawyer or dealmaker, did anyone notice anything different as a result of this at all? As Rory puts it, “You were engage in a huge piece of activity that meant absolutely bugger all to anybody”.
The essence of his argument is that we are socially conditioned to believe that to achieve big results, we need to have powerful people who develop big, important strategies, and spend a lot of money. However, what we really need is a class of people who have immense power and no money. That, every corporation should have a Chief Detail Officer and every governments should have a Ministry of Detail. People who take the time to comb over the little details to find minute opportunities to trigger significant change. Thank you Ben Young for sharing this video with me!
Rajan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BIG Marketing for Small Business. He's an award-winning marketing strategist who is passionate about branding, digital marketing and social media. He spent nearly a decade as the marketing executive at global IT firm Peer 1 Hosting and was instrumental in their explosive growth.