About six years ago during a cursory, off-the-cuff conversation with an executive in the entertainment industry, I was given a wonderful piece of advice.  It was so powerful that I think about it every day.

“Generally, it’s not the big mistakes that get you fired,” the executive said.  “Rather, it’s the small details.  You mess those up, and that’s the easiest way to lose a client.”

He was right.  That’s not to say that making a major mistake won’t be damaging.  Rather, it’s to say that the little things (i.e., not returning a phone call or showing up late to a meeting) are the most infuriating to clients.

Here’s a story that makes the point:

Years ago, a representative from a beer company was at a dinner meeting with some consultants and vendors, including a team member from his public relations firm.  Before the meal began, each person ordered a drink.  A few had sodas while others opted for the same beer sold by the rep’s company.  One individual, however, decided to order a different brand of beer.  After he finished his beer–yep, you guessed it; he was fired.

In another instance, a public relations firm representing a manufacturer of aluminum made the error of setting up refreshments for a press conference with plastic bottles of soft drinks.  The account rep was taken to task for not serving soda in aluminum cans.

When dealing with your own clients, always be alert to your surroundings and ALWAYS have a high level of awareness.  Think about the little things.

So, if you’re going to a meeting with executives from Sprint, Nike or Apple to discuss cross promotional marketing opportunities, you’d better NOT…

1.)      Let them see you making a call on your Verizon telephone.

2.)      Wear your Puma sneakers that day

3.)      Play your Dell Jukebox MP3 player

Remember the little things that may not be so obvious.

– Todd Krieger