Small things count. Or rather, let’s start to appreciate that the small things count.

I was in a meeting the other day with Darren Woolley of TrinityP3. The project is an agency assessment – how to evaluate the relationships between agencies and this particular advertising client. Darren talked through the Issues Matrix.

The Issues Matrix
The Issues Matrix

“To build a relationship fix the big issues and fix the regular issues. If there are big, regular issues the relationship is over already! Fixing big issues might take time. But the regular, little issues are the ones that are unnecessary and will create a relationship breakdown.”

Think about the little things in life. Take a plane ride for example. When was the last time you sat on a plane and had someone a bit stinky sitting next to you? You had nothing in common with the person. So you put on your headphones, sank deeper into your chair and by the time the film was half way through, you’d forgotten – for the moment – all about him.

And then on the return flight the person next to you was a little old lady who hardly acknowledged you. Again, you put on the headphones and drift off in oblivion. You watch the movie of your choice.

What commercial messages did you see on that trip? The bank’s video for wealth management, the sports car driving in Italy (or was it Japan?) or the pic of that Swiss watch? And you know what? The little old lady and the stinky bloke both saw the same ads.

Why? Because the airline’s not tailoring its ads. Not even slightly.

When I stay in a smart hotel, on occasion the TV screen is already on and it says “Welcome, Mr Welch”. Well, imagine if the airline had the ability to recognise that I’m likely to be sitting in my allocated seat. They know where I flew recently. They could start to learn what content I watch on long flights and short flights. They could start to do little things like recommending content – like Outbrain does on websites across the globe. “People who like this also like…”

Make the small things unforgettable.

That’s what we start to need to achieve as a communications industry. Data can help us achieve this. As Kristian Barnes wrote on Campaign Asia the other day about sociocultural tools supplementing big data analysis: “Am I what I am? Or am I what I am online?” His thesis is that he’s being stalked online not delighted by the data that could be collected about him. And brands can get it right with basic use of data – look Southwest Airlines is doing just that. I love this idea. (I don’t love this video. But watch it anyway, please. It talks through what an airline can do already…)

Yes, I love the idea that an airline is using data to make the customer journey more memorable, more useful, more interesting, more valuable. So two things come to mind:

First, let’s consider the data available across the path to purchase:

The All-New Path To Purchase

Second, let’s look at making the little things count. Let’s flip Darren’s Issues Matrix and create The Surprise and Delight Matrix:

The Surprise and Delight Matrix

Let’s search through the data to find small thrills. And let’s create such thrills regularly.

What have you seen of late that makes a journey more memorable thanks to good use of data? What has surprised and delighted you?