Unordinary Thinking No. 46 – Sweating the small stuff to make a big impact

Often, it seems, brands are less focused on designing coherent marketing strategies but would rather put their efforts into the search for a ‘silver bullet’, ‘magic wand’ or ‘killer app’ instead. And when they find something (often inspired by the technologists), they pin their hopes on it solve their business problems like one neat easy to swallow proposition pill and we can then all retire to the beach. If only!


The reality is that the silver bullet that is sought is often a combination of many smaller elements brought together.  They are the sum of the small things within a business which make a difference for the customer.  They are the things which are not always obvious when companies choose to continually stare inward, rather than observe outwards at their customers.  I recall a brand planner on this subject stating, ‘you always start with the brand’. But we find when marketing energy is liberated to look at the potential of the small things that make a difference to customers, a different variety of more engaging solutions emerge. And when conducted appropriately these have brand differentiation baked in too. These then help to define the brand differentiation created

At Lexden we are big fans of developing small ideas which deliver a BIG impact for customers and the brand. It’s much simpler to getting something delivered when the idea doesn’t involve cross-departmental approval or IT resource prioritisation.

Contact us for a copy of our ‘small ideas | BIG impact’ workshop guidance notes.

Below are two fine examples of what a big impact small ideas can have.  To arrive at these outcomes requires a unordanary approach to idea development.

An inch smaller please

Back in the nineties, Sears and Montgomery Ward, two huge nationwide retailers in the US, were locked head to head in a battle for the hearts and wallets of consumers.  This meant price wars and huge TV advertising campaigns.


However, it was a small move made by Sears which made a disproportionate difference.  They altered the height and width of their home catalogue so that it was smaller than that of Montgomery Ward.  The effect of this was to ensure that, when the two catalogues were stacked on a coffee table in the customer’s home, Sears would always be the one on top.  This increased the chances it would be looked at when a customer was browsing and hence the likelihood of a sale.  Commercial difference from a small place.

Everton on top in the Mersyeside derby

From home shopping to Premiership football.  Selling merchandise for professional football teams is a huge part of their business model and, these days, involves massive sponsorship deals and overseas tours to expand their fan base (and sell more shirts).  For the bigger clubs, retail shops on the high street are the norm.  In 2009, when Everton FC was opening their new retail store in the city centre shopping mall, Liverpool ONE, they spotted an opportunity for a rebrand.  They decided to call their new store Everton Two meaning they had an interesting address-Everton Two, Liverpool One.  Of course, at one level, this is simply a bit of fun in a football mad city.

But, viewed commercially, think of the incremental PR this generated.  Think of the conversations and discussions between people taking place around Liverpool.  Think of the appeal of Everton fans to visit the shop, and discuss out loud the venue they’ve visited. Clients these days are continually asking us about how to use social media to create word of mouth marketing.  Well this buzz was all created without a tweet or facebook ‘like’ in sight.  The story was picked up by the local press and was a topic of conversation in cabs, offices and dinner tables around the city.  So what does this mean commercially?  It meant that the money Everton had allocated for promoting the new store could be used elsewhere.  Probably to the weekly wage of a millionaire player but that’s a whole different story.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the marketing strategy

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact or call us on T: +44 (0) 207 036 2968. M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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