Marketing’s Secret Weapon: Your Birthday

I work in retail running marketing for NOOK by Barnes & Noble. Being in retail, I know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are hardcore work days – some of the most important of the year. But this year, Cyber Monday was also my birthday, and it was so much fun because so many marketers have learned to leverage one of the best buying weapons around: saying Happy Birthday. Check out the fun birthday experiences that were created for me from some of the most unexpected brands. Kudos to all of you who have mastered the power of birthday marketing. And for those of you who haven’t – you might want to step up your game.

My birthday marketing adventures when like this:

  • Chase Bank: Three days before my birthday I went to the drive-thru ATM at Chase to get some money out. There, right on the screen was a nice “Happy Birthday” message from Chase. How cool!!! My bank remembered my special day. I must have told 200 people about Chase being a customer-centric company and at least 25 percent of them are planning to take money out close to their birthday to see if Chase cares about them, too.
  • Macy’s and Lord and Taylor: Of course Macy’s and Lord and Taylor remembered to email me a coupon a few days before my birthday and invite me to come shopping – but alas both coupons were filled with so many restrictions, and my Black Friday and Cyber Monday coupons were so much better, that I will miss out on really feeling special from those companies. It was nice to be remembered, though, as a few other retailers I frequently shop at didn’t even bother.
  • AMC Cinemas: Hooray for AMC movie theaters, which sent me a free large drink for my birthday. I haven’t gone yet, but, if you know the price of a large drink at a movie theater – this is a huge deal. I’m looking forward to sipping away while I catch a great movie this weekend. Thanks to this offer my frequency with AMC will increase (at least for this month).
  • The Local Gutter Cleaning Service: Yep, the local gutter cleaning service went out of their way to send me a birthday card. I have no idea why. I have never paid for my gutters to be cleaned or, even contemplated that. However, getting mail on my birthday that wasn’t a bill was fun and great and I have shared the card with lots of neighbors. Wouldn’t you know one of them needed their gutters cleaned – so… I guess it worked! Kudos to you gutter company.
  • Google: On the day of my birthday whenever I went to google.com the icon was birthday cakes. So…I’m not sure if this was just for me, or in general for everyone, but it sure seemed like it was for me (so don’t tell me if it wasn’t) and how cool was that! Even my search engine remembered me.
  • Amazon: This was a disappointment. The email from Amazon did not say Happy Birthday. It said – garbage disposal deals you might be interested in. The day before my birthday my mom asked me a question about garbage disposals and I looked something up for her. Wouldn’t you know I got retargeted? No thank you, Amazon. No garbage disposal birthday for me.
  • LinkedIn, Skype, and Facebook:None of these companies directly wished me a happy birthday, but they were kind enough to share with my network and so many friends, family, and colleagues reached out. It was really great to reconnect over a happy and positive reason.

After all was said and done I sat back and realized how powerful a simple phrase and non-salesy outreach can be. Maybe the birthday wish has become one of the most powerful tools we have in marketing these days because it is so personal and sincere.

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