Rapid Rewards Marketing Failure


I’ve been traveling a lot for work recently, 25 legs in 40 weeks, and all of that travel has been on Southwest. I’m sure there are road-warriors who travel more, but, from Southwest’s perspective, I’m an up-and-comer, or something like that. Pretty much unknown to them until the beginning of this year, I’m now an ‘A-list’ member of their rapid rewards program.

As a kind of ‘thank you’, they’ve sent me, for the second time, four drink coupons.

I find a few bits interesting about this marketing piece:

  • If I redeem this coupon, there is a real cost to Southwest. It isn’t a big cost, but it has a cost. The value to me is $6, and the cost to them is probably $3. In comparison, if they were to give me a free early-bird check in, it costs them nothing, and saves me $12.50. It seems to me that this a more ideal ‘give away': more benefit to the customer for no cost to the company.
  • Only about half of the US population drinks alcohol on a regular basis. So it seems like a fair number of these coupons will go unused. Which may be Southwest’s goal, but if that is their goal, then it is an even deeper marketing failure than I can address here.

The converse of that last point, is that 30 percent of people haven’t drank in the last year. Given the strong cultural prevalence of alcohol consumption in our country, I’ll assume that these people are probably actively resisting drinking. Like me.

So what this means is that Southwest has just sent a “thank you” to some of their most valuable customers that a non-trivial number of those customers will be actively irritated by receiving.

Or put another way: Southwest has likely encouraged/enabled alcoholism.

So that’s why this seems like a massive marketing failure–nearly half of the recipients of this marketing will be at best ambivalent, and maybe as many as a third will be insulted/irritated by it. Considering how easy it would be to offer other perks for free (early-bird check in, a month or two of a-list status, free WiFi internet) that would not actively offend a portion of the population, it surprises me (a little bit) that they’ve chosen this method of marketing.





I’ve finally decided to separate my photography website stuff from my personal blogging. Having them conjoined caused me a wee bit of stress for reasons I’m sure few would care about. So as of today, posts about my photography will be posted to http://RickBennett.Photography/

Yes, that’s a real domain.

Anyway, this site will continue to be about pretty much whatever I feel like, except pics related stuff. Thanks for reading.

My Story, video form

As a photographer I’m pretty consistently being asked if I can “do video”. My answer is usually a tepid “yes”. And that yes is usually followed up with some additional clarifications. I’m just now beginning to feel like I’ve developed some skill with photography, and everything I know about making images leads me to be incredibly intimidated at attempting to create video at the same level.

My biggest concern with video is the story telling aspect of it. Once you step out of the “look what my baby/pet/sibling did” realm of video, and actually attempt to produce something with mean, story is king. And I don’t tend to think I have stories to tell. But after a couple of recent inquiries regarding video for musicians, I decided to work on my own personal story. More specifically, my story related to alcohol. The video above is a retelling of this blog post. The narration is mostly true, while the video is all staged/reenacted/inspired by potentially real events in my past. What I mean is, this is not a documentary. No consumption of alcohol was actually done in this video. It is a story.

I didn’t make it because I needed to tell my story. I made it because I needed to practice story telling in a video form. I also had 6 bottles of beer left in the house that I was tired of keeping around for no reason. So maybe it is a ceremonial discarding of perfectly good beer. Sorry about that.

A community of my own


Recently I’ve been mourning the loss of the community of my kids elementary and middle school. I’ve gotten somewhat involved with the school photographically, and as a parental chaperon, etc. The kids knew me, and I dare say that a few of them even like me.

And as a result, I’ve become connected with a number of their parents, mostly through my photography. And I was sad to think that I was losing the connection to that community, because although it is cool for a dad to take pictures of school children, its creepy for some middle-aged man with no connection to do the same.

So while I was feeling all sad and low about this departure, I kept trying to think of ways that I could get involved in other communities. Volunteer at schools? Pet shelters? Get back into scouts? Build a photography community from scratch? Connect bands and photographers and website developers and poster designers and sound mixers into a great music collective to turn Columbus into the next Nashville or Austin?

It all sounded daunting, and likely to fail. And failure just doesn’t feel good. I’m terrible at maintaining connections. I have precious few friends from college that I’m still in touch with. Even fewer from high school. None from graduate school (either time I tried).

And then my birthday came along, and the birthday wishes came pouring in. As I read through the names, there was an amazing variety of people commenting in Facebook: family, personal friends, photography contacts, coworkers spanning two decades, bands I’ve done promo work for, bands whom I’ve met once or twice, people I’ve met in bars.

It dawned on me as I was going through the list of all the people who had taken a moment out of their day to wish me a happy birthday: I had created my own community. Its a hodge podge of people, but they’re my people. My community. This is something I never got in those “job hunting 101″ classes where they advise “networking”. I hated networking for the sake of networking. I was terrible at it, and it always felt empty. But building a community, one person at a time, over time–I guess I can do that. We all can do that.