Forget about sales when you wish people well for their annual celebration. Customers love to feel appreciated, and love discounts as well, but when it comes to birthdays, you may be better off just being a well-wisher.
As my 40th birthday neared, I received a plethora of emails from various fast food joints and online stores. Some were too “cheap” for me to even bother clicking a link. Businesses need to the think about how they appear when offering gifts and well wishes.
Various sites and stores sent me emails. Most were simple and to the point: Happy Birthday from (Company Name Here). That’s it – no sales pitch, no purchase-based discount and no plea for visiting the site. I can appreciate a company that simply wants to wish me a great day. I’ll also remember the company (so the message itself helps further brand the company).
Some stores, like Victoria’s Secret, sent me a $10 gift card. I could use it in a local store or online, for anything I wanted. Sweet! And, again, it furthers the brand.
Then there’s the guys who are hoping I’ll spend money with them on my day out. Like Wendy’s, who sent me not a simple birthday message, nor a free Frosty (which would have been worth the drive), but rather, a paltry $1 coupon off a food purchase. Sure, for that I could get a basic, junior burger (for 6-cents, of course, because I’d have to pay tax), but let’s be honest: sending me a small discount and asking me to drive 8 miles to redeem the coupon is kind of like saying, “Hey, it’s your birthday. Have you thought about having lunch at Wendy’s? Our food is good and here’s a coupon that’s no better than what you’ll get in the Sunday paper, but we really need your business.”
Actually, Wendy’s was a little more creative with its plea, saying: “May your year be filled with Baconators (TM) and French Fries and Frostys aplenty.” Hmmmm… Bad grammar, improper punctuation and a hope that I’ll live off greasy, fried food regularly. Thanks, Wendy’s.
Then there’s A.C. Moore. Every week this company runs ads with a coupon good for 40% off a single item in the store. For my birthday they sent me wishes, along with a coupon for 15% off any purchase of $50 or more. Now, such a discount would be pretty nice, say, from the Apple Store or Verizon Wireless, but from a company that weekly gives far better discounts to anyone with a street address, I’d expect more.
Here’s some tips on making customers feel like you care:
- If giving a discount for the store, don’t require the customer spends a minimum amount – it tells the customer that you’re sending a message just so he’ll spend money with you.
- Gift certificates are most always preferred, and tend to result in a higher order total. Gift certificate values should be based on the average cost of items you sell. Giving $2 when customers commonly spend $50 or more may appear paltry.
- Remember that the gift is not only to wish the customer well, but also to thank him for being loyal.
- If giving discounts or gift certificates is not in your budget, simply send a message, sans marketing. This will make the customer think that you do care and are not sending an email or card just to drum up business.
Of course, to do any of this, you need to know the customer’s birth date. This is best collected at the customer account level, rather than on a per-order basis. This should be, in most cases, an optional field and the birth year should not be necessary.
Who got my birthday business? Victoria Secret and Starbucks (which gave me a free beverage of my choice). Companies that sent a simple message will be recognized in the near future as needs arise, but AC Moore and Wendy’s? I won’t be going out of my way to patronize them any time soon.