It is the small things that make the difference at Southwest


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In the sport of tennis, love means nothing…

But when it comes to air travel for Southwest, LUV means everything. The carrier celebrates its 40th anniversary this week. LUV is not only the mantra, its the NYSE ticker symbol for the airline. Check out this vintage ad from 1972:

First class legroom, free cocktails and a schedule you can depend on . . .

From its inception, Southwest has been a poster child for marketing lagniappe strategy. Last year they became an inaugural Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer. They epitomize the mantra of putting your customers first. They strive to deliver high value and execute it with low maintenance.

#823 in the Project was taken from an article in the July issue of the Economist:

“It is the small things that make the difference. Southwest still gives out free peanuts, an oddly emotive subject among travellers. It lets passengers switch their flights often, for no extra charge. Most importantly, perhaps, it does not charge for checked-in luggage. Bob Jordan, Southwest’s vice president for strategy, reckons that charging for bags would have given the airline an additional $300m a year. But bag fees are so irritating that Southwest decided to go without.

Executives crow that this has allowed Southwest to poach customers from rivals, which has made up for the forgone fees. Meanwhile, Southwest has no qualms about charging for extras that irk passengers less, such as those early check-ins, and this generates a happy whack of cash.

Other airlines could imitate Southwest’s original approach to smiles and peanuts. “Anybody can copy anybody, right?” Mr Jordan concedes. But he argues that the others have grown so addicted to the extra revenue from bag fees that if they change, the hurt will linger like a jumbo grounded by a snowstorm.”

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway: Differentiation via added value. Southwest has it in spades. Add in the fact that they do it with a smile and you’ve got a powerful one-two punch. It’s no wonder they were awarded the top slot rising 2 points to score 81 in the latest American Customers Satisfaction Index. Unfortunately, it’s an honor earned in an industry that ranks below the federal government’s 65.4 score when it comes to customers satisfaction.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra for good measure) – Here’s another throwback to the 70’s. Turns out there was an all female group called LUV. Straight from Germany for your viewing pleasure:

Lagniappe defined: A marketing lagniappe, i.e. purple goldfish, is differentiation through signature added value. It’s anytime a business goes above and beyond to provide a ‘little something extra’. It’s that unexpected surprise that’s thrown in for good measure.

How do you stand out in the sea of sameness? How do you win repeat customers and influence word of mouth?

Are you Giving Little Unexpected Extras? What’s Your GLUE?

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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