birthdays and brands

My birthday was last week (I turned 21 again!  😉 )  Included in the birthday greetings I received were messages from four brands.  Of all the brands that know when my birthday is (or could easily find out), why would so few take the opportunity to send me a birthday wish?!  How disappointing!

Don’t worry — this post isn’t some pathetic woe-is-me gripe about not feeling special on my birthday.  Rather, it’s a suggestion to companies that are looking for ways to develop stronger relationships between their brand and their customers:  reach out to your customers to acknowledge their birthdays. You don’t send an elaborate greeting, nor do you have to include a special offer (although one is always nice); simply sending a birthday wish is enough.

To explain, I received snail-mailed greetings from Nike and White House/Black Market (a chain of boutiques featuring ladies’ apparel in black and white and shades thereof.)

Also Baskin-Robbins and Pizza Hut emailed their birthday messages.

My comments are primarily in response to the first 2, because receiving the greeting in the mail seemed more personal — which is a good segue to the first reason why I recommend companies send birthday greetings.

  1. birthdays are a personal celebration — by engaging with your customers to acknowledge their birthdays, you are engaging with them on a personal, emotional level.  For me, even though I knew the greetings were automatically generated by a CRM program and automatically sent by a mail house, the mere fact that the messages were about my birthday made me feel as if the companies cared about me as a person.
  2. remembering a special occasion in turns makes you memorable — marketers are always looking for ways to imprint their brands on their customers’ brains and hearts — what better way than to associate your brand with a special occasion?!  whether at the conscious or sub-concious level, the association makes your brand more memorable.
  3. a birthday is a customer-specific touchpoint — birthdays are a connection that’s unique to the customer.  These days, every holiday (including Groundhog Day and National Yoga Day) seems a reason for companies to send me promotional messages.  Those mailings seem generic, a dime a dozen — a birthday greeting seems more special.
  4. it’s a way to breakthrough — a birthday program seems a fairly untapped way to participate in the trend of increasingly targeted messages.  From my experience, it seems only a few companies employ birthday programs — so sending a birthday greeting is an opportunity to demonstrate some creativity and stand out from the crowd.

Now I don’t mean to overstate the importance of a birthday greeting.  It’s only one arrow in what should be a quiver full of ways to connect with your customers — and it should be part of a comprehensive customer relationship development program.

Come to think of it, it’s really no surprise that Nike and White House/Black Market would send me birthday wishes.  Both are at the top of a very short list of brands that I feel a real emotional connection to.  Of course, my feelings are not solely a result of the birthday greetings — but rather, the mailings seemed a natural outgrowth of the personal relationship the brands have already established with me through all the other ways they serve and connect with me.

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