Thinking Big or How to not Overlook the Small Stuff

“Focus on the small things and the big things will take care of themselves.”

I don’t remember who said that. Maybe a 4-star general or Lincoln or somebody. The point is that we have limited control over the big events in our life. Or the large, sweeping changes in the world for that matter. We can, however, try to excel at the little things. Because it’s those small, overlooked parts that over time compound, add up and multiply into something big.

I know this concept has all kinds of positive applications in your daily life (exercise, career, calling your mom more than once a month, etc.), but that’s not where I want to go with it. Let’s talk about ads.

Take a look at the ad to the left.

It’s a one-column ad from 1991 in the back of an issue of The Village Voice, a weekly, alternative New York culture pub.

Now, I don’t know if this little ad got any more pull than the standard “SUBSCRIBE NOW!” approach. I don’t have the data on that. To be honest, I don’t know if I would’ve done anything different myself.

But what I can tell you is that the current, alternative-minded subscribers who read this ad loved the magazine that much more. So much so that it created enough buzz to catch the ear of Communication Arts, an advertising/design magazine, which promptly picked it up for a 1991 issue. It was so well received among the Communication Arts readership that it then made the 1991 Advertising of the Year Annual.

But the little-ad-that-could wasn’t done.

It went on to make a return appearance in the 50th Anniversary Communication Arts issue 19 years later, which sits on my desk next to me as I write this.

On a side note, readership of the Village Voice did go up.

All of this from a small subscription ad. All of this because someone had the initiative to take something small, overlooked and passed-over, and make it into something great.

Now that’s thinking big.

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