The $100 Experience
Grace Crawford

Project Manager

I learned a simple yet invaluable lesson about growing and maintaining client relationships when I was an Account Manager at a start-up agency in NYC.

A Minnesota-based company had just acquired our small agency. The managing partner of this larger firm flew us out to the midwest to meet as he wanted to ensure we were all aligned with his expectations on client services.

In a conference room, he had a pile of envelopes and informed us that each contained a $20 bill. He then proceeded to hand an envelope to everyone in the room and told us to open them. 

He asked how many of us got twenty dollars in our envelope. Only a third of the room raised their hands. He then asked how these people felt, to which they all agreed, “Good. You told me you would give me twenty dollars and you delivered on that promise.” He then turned and asked how many people got only one dollar in their envelope. Practically the remainder of the group raised their hands. They felt ripped off, of course, as they expected to receive twenty dollars, but only got one.

Finally, he asked who got the envelope with one hundred dollars. It was me.

I was thrilled—he told me he would give me twenty, but I got five times what he promised.

The moral of the story was this: always aim to give your clients a $100 experience. Promise them $20, but with the goal of giving them $100. And, never, ever over-sell and give them the dreaded one dollar experience. It is more optimal to under-sell and over-deliver than the other way around.

While that $100 hasn’t quite stuck with me, this particular lesson in account management has. To this day, it is still one of the core tenets I leverage when partnering with our clients here at First Flight Agency.