My last blog post shared the story of a client who was “obsessing about details to the point of paralysis” and how I burst her bubble with a Schitt’s Creek reference. “David. Nobody cares.” If you missed it, here you go.

Today, I want to expand on one thought from that post.

While “nobody cares” about all those details you are obsessing over, your customers do notice the little things. And now you’re probably thinking, “What?! Could you be any more contradictory?”

From my last post: “There’s a difference between paying attention to the little things and obsessing about them to the point of inaction.”

But what are “the little things” to pay attention to? What are the “little things” that customers notice?

These special little things I’m talking about are a big part of your brand—they are “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another,” as branding expert Seth Godin describes it.

Little things like…

Was writing “Made with Love” on every wrap a well-thought-out marketing strategy? Part of a branding agency’s big plan? To be honest, I don’t know the answer and actually, it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is the way those words make me FEEL. I see the quickly scrawled note and think, “I love this.” It’s a fleeting thought. Will everyone notice it or care? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t cost Cafe Del Soul anything to do this and for those customers who do notice it and who do care…it matters. In a big way.

The little thing: Cafe del Soul takes a minute to put love in every bag, to make a human connection, to share their values. This small gesture results in GOOD FEELINGS.

I bet you’ve heard this quote before, but have you applied it to your business?

Marketing and branding are all about building relationships. When you are genuine, authentic, and sincere in your interactions with your audience—when you are really you and expressing your true values—you have the opportunity to make people FEEL something.

How do you want people to feel when interacting with your company? Getting clear on this will help in all your marketing efforts.

Once you start paying attention, you’ll see this everywhere. Is it manipulative? Not when it’s authentic, honest, ethical, and sincere.

I’ve seen our pediatric dentist double or triple (if not more!) the size of her practice in the 14 or so years my daughters have been her patients. When our family joined her practice, she had one small office. I’m sure she has strong marketing efforts: advertising, partnerships with pediatricians, and community outreach through events or even youth sports team sponsorships. Those marketing efforts might get people in the door, but why do they stay? Why are patients telling their friends about her practice? Why do kids like going to the dentist?

Dr. Gila Dorostkar and everyone on her staff are incredibly kind. They have the clearest, friendliest, and most thorough communication processes. Parents, and therefore kids, can relax there. The offices are FUN: name-the-stuffed-animal raffles; a bouncy ball machine (gum ball style in her first office) that stretches from floor to ceiling (when she grew into her larger office) with a clear shoot for the ball to roll from the ceiling to the awaiting child’s hand; TV screens in the ceiling above each chair; colorful walls and an open atmosphere where parents can be right nearby. We were actually sad this summer when my oldest daughter “graduated” from the practice.

The little thing: Dr. Dorostkar, her partner doctors, and her staff provide incredible service every single interaction. And it’s a kid-friendly atmosphere. We feel safe, relaxed, taken care of, and going to the dentist is actually fun.

What’s that little something special you can do for your customers?

It’s easy to find examples in huge companies: Virgin Atlantic Airlines provides funny complimentary eye shades and the coolest in flight safety demonstration; Nordstrom has the best return policy; Doubletree Hotel offers a chocolate chip cookie for every guest at check-in.

What can smaller businesses or service providers offer?

I recently ordered two bracelets from Etsy to commemorate my beloved dog. I added a personal note to my online order to describe the design I wanted and why I wanted it. They arrived quickly, were exactly what I requested, and included a handwritten note on a pretty notecard with condolences for my lost pet.

The little thing: Deliver a great product plus that extra something—a human connection that made me feel seen and heard. Carson + Co. cared about me. In the card, Christine also asked if I would leave her a review on Etsy. Asking for a referral is a smart marketing move. After receiving such a lovely handwritten note, I was happy to return the gesture. Five stars!

I recently learned about HUM Nutrition from a friend/healthcare provider and became obsessed with their Collagen Pop moisturizing skin boost. Great product. My first order arrived in a beautiful package of recyclable materials and a free sample of sunscreen. I love their dedication to sustainability without calling a bunch of attention to it. I ended up joining a monthly subscription to get significant savings, but they also include a “special gift” in every box.

The little thing: Each order from HUM feels like a present! I feel good about the beautiful, earth-friendly packaging and I’m excited to find the extra surprise inside (Cracker Jacks anyone?). Bonus for them…if I fall in love with one of the samples, I know exactly where to buy it.

Key branding takeaways that have absolutely nothing to do with the design of your logo or the choice of your fonts:

  1. Deliver an amazing product or service
  2. Make a human connection.
  3. Leave your customer with a good feeling.

So, how do you want your customers to feel? What little thing can you do to help them feel that way?

When brainstorming ideas for your next little thing, remember…

Slow and steady…you don’t have to implement this tomorrow.

Sustainable…make sure you pick something that’s really easy and affordable to implement.

Satisfying…if this little thing is fun to for you to do and creates good feelings in your customers, both of you will want to keep the relationship going.

Marketing and branding are all about building relationships and sometimes the smallest gestures make the big difference.