If you've flown anywhere lately, you know how dire the experience has become. We're talking about overbooked flights, overworked staff, scant luggage space and virtually nonexistent snacks. It's a level of service to which most frequent flyers have become accustomed, and about which few people complain anymore.

In a post at his blog, Greg Verdino recounts one recent journey that was par for the course—nothing that deserved a scathing rebuke. But his attitude changed when a cab ride downtown took him past a stadium emblazoned with the name of the airline he had just used. It didn't sit well.

"How is it possible," he asks, "that the airline can justify an advertising (sorry—sports marketing) spend of this magnitude but can't justify spending that same budget to make the customer experience better?"

Verdino calls this "middle finger marketing," a flashy and expensive ego-boosting play for new business when existing customers are being asked to endure a product or service of increasingly diminished quality.

Your Marketing Inspiration is to keep your priorities straight. "Instead of flipping customers the bird," says Verdino, "you should be reaching out your hand, patting them on the back and letting them know that you're doing what you can to help."

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