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Lessons Learned From a Backpack

October 23, 2009  
"Let's imagine it's this afternoon, and I suddenly have cause to fly to West Virginia," writes Peter Hartlaub in a post at The Poop blog. "Airline X has a non-stop flight that will get me there three and a half hours after takeoff. Southwest Airlines also has a flight, but there are four different layovers, which will get me to my destination next Saturday."

This might seem like a no-brainer. But Hartlaub would choose Southwest without hesitation—never mind its reputation for complicated long-haul itineraries. And the reason for his newfound devotion is directly linked to the superhuman efforts of a Southwest employee named Louis Begin.

It all began when Hartlaub's four-year-old son Theo lost a backpack during a family trip to Utah. Since it contained no identification, held little of actual value and could have gone missing in several places, Hartlaub and his wife made only cursory efforts to track it down.

Louis Begin, meanwhile, began his search for the backpack's owner based on a receipt he found in a book that had been purchased at a Tupperware-style party. He contacted the publisher, tracked down the woman who hosted the party and discovered the wife's name. But finding the family still took some work. Begin eventually procured the phone number from Hartlaub's mother-in-law, whom he found through a search of flight manifests. All so that Southwest could reunite a young boy with his missing backpack.

Your Marketing Inspiration is simple. "I've developed a fierce loyalty to businesses that are nice to my kids," says Hartlaub. "I don't expect special treatment as a parent, but I greatly appreciate it and go out of my way to reward it."


More Inspiration:
Mike O'Toole: Why The FTC Ruling Is Good For Marketers
Paul Barsch: Marketing Lessons Learned From Micro-Finance In India
Michael Rubin: Use Social Media To Help Your Fans Tell a Story

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