Written by David Knowles

Deliver more than is needed. How WestJet did.

I’ve been given a task for 2015. To get bda to “deliver more than is needed”.

So how do we do that? And more importantly how do we do it in ways that genuinely help us and help our clients?

I think “delivering more than is needed” often gets misinterpreted. I find it’s generally perceived as delivering extra artwork or throwing in extra functionality to a website. Or reducing the cost so that the ratio of deliverables to expense is shifted.

But although a reduction in price might make your wallet feel a little better and your budget go a bit further, it isn’t what clients really want. Great customer service is.

I’m going to write about how bda will “deliver more than is needed” in a later blog, but before I do I wanted to set the scene with a video from WestJet (embedded above), a Canadian low-cost airline. It’ll take 5 minutes out of your day, but I guarantee you will enjoy it and maybe it will change your thinking.

WestJet already had a great reputation in Canada, but over Christmas 2013 they went that extra mile.  After four months of planning and  six hours of mad activity they brought smiles to the faces of 250 passengers during the season of good will. But this activity went far beyond that.

They achieved:

  • 35 million YouTube views (70 times what they hoped for)
  • Over 29,000 comments
  • Like for like sales for the same period were up 86%
  • Viewed in 235 countries
  • Trended in Canada for two days

Given the results, you could view  the campaign cynically and as just another way to make money. But when you take into account that this is the airline with comedy flight attendants and that all 150 people involved volunteered their time because they believed in giving back to their loyal passengers, maybe you’ll lose some of that innate cynicism.

WestJet ended up in a win-win situation. Increased sales, improved reputation, massive amounts of free marketing and they made a genuine difference to the lives of 250 people that Christmas. And to reaffirm their sincerity they didn’t stop there. They continued to work with Ronald McDonald House to supply those in need with free flights after the bulk of the free publicity had finished because they genuinely care. The strength of their belief trickles down from the top through to every member of their team.

However you view this campaign, you can’t argue with its success.  It touched the lives of 250 unsuspecting passengers and created massive unexpected marketing exposure for WestJet. So what made it a success? It was unexpected, it went above and beyond what those passengers thought they were getting, it truly delighted them, it made their days’ and possibly even their Christmases.