Photo courtesy of Brian from Toronto, Canada
I recently celebrated a birthday, the specific number of which shall remain nameless.
Various companies are aware of the date of my birth, and they will often send me promotional offers in order to get me to spend my birthday money in their establishments. I'm talking about things like a free cup of coffee on my birthday, a free muffin on my birthday, a free scoop of ice cream on my birthday. (I seem to have signed up for a number of food-related promotions, haven't I?)
Southwest Airlines, from whom I earn "Rapid Rewards," also sent me a birthday promotion. And it stunk.
I received from the illustrious airline a birthday card with a cut out in it so that I can use the cheap cardboard as a picture frame. Inside the card, the airline wished me a happy birthday and invited me to use this frame for my own vacation photos. Which I will get by buying tickets from them.
I spent several fruitless moments searching the envelope to determine if there was anything else in there. Because surely this was the worst possible birthday wish. In effect, Southwest was saying to me:
"Happy Birthday! Why not spend some money with us so that you can end up with a picture you can display in a paper 'frame' that most people would probably not put on their desk for fear of looking cheap. Also, the frame is the yellow color from our logo that is guaranteed to make even the most attractive picture make you look bilious. Did we mention that you could spend money with us? For your birthday!"
Don't get me wrong. For the most part, I love Southwest. They're a friendly and inexpensive airline that has taken good care of me over the years. I just think this promotion could have used a little more thought. Either just send me a friendly card wishing me a good birthday. Or send me a little something, like a drink coupon for my next flight. Don't send me a useless "gift" that will just end up in the recycling bin and that will make me feel like you really don't care about me at all.
Not that I really expect you to care. It would just be nice if the "caring" gestures you offer to all of your customers don't come off as the marketing tools that they are.