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BNH Book Review: Small Data

Published Friday Mar 20, 2020

Author Terri Schlichenmeyer

"Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends"
by Martin Lindstrom
2016, Picador
$16/$22.99 Canada
244 pages

It’s always the little things: A chocolate on the pillow or slippers beneath a turned-down bed, stickers for a customer’s kids—all things to ensure a speedy return of a buyer or client. But are you missing anything in your zeal to retain business?  Maybe; in “Small Data” by Martin Lindstrom, you’ll see that it’s always the little things.

As a child in Denmark, Martin Lindstrom was diagnosed with an illness that resulted in long hospitalizations and so, with nothing but time, he started to people-watch, keeping track of seemingly insignificant observations. It was a skill that, once honed, became a career. Lindstrom now spends his time working as a global branding consultant and using his eye for details to help businesses.

That can mean going “so far as to move inside people’s houses or apartments” where Lindstrom says he “make[s] myself at home” and does what he calls “small mining.” He peeks into closets and pantries, peers at computer and TV screens, looks at the bottom of shoes and the tops of cabinets, and he asks questions. And he listens. How else would he learn that magnets on Russian refrigerator doors can launch a profitable business that also boosts the self-confidence of a population? How did souvenir fridge magnets lead to an Aha! moment in Saudi Arabia, when he was asked to consult on the construction of a high-end mall?

Details make Lindstrom’s stories come full-circle as they illustrate how psychology, intuition and observation can save a campaign or even an entire business. Reading this book will open your eyes to your customers’ habits; for sure, you’ll never shop the same again. Read it, and it may revolutionize your business because, now in paperback, “Small Data” could lead to big things.

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