Don’t abuse birthdays


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My husband had a birthday recently and he received tons of emails and paper birthday cards from companies he has bought from in the past. Some included a basic birthday greeting message (so generic that they felt impersonal) and others were clearly just about reminding you to buy from them – one e-card even said so overtly. He was so offended to receive a message that said, “If you received money for your birthday, why not buy X with it” that he had to tell me about it. As he pointed out, the solicitous emails didn’t even offer a birthday discount, which may have made them more tolerable.

Come on now, marketers. I understand the appeal of using birthdays as another touchpoint in your marketing communications & customer retention calendar, but I think too many companies abuse it.

Let’s go back to a basic principle of customer communications. You need to provide value to customers. (See my previous blog on “value” not meaning coupons.) What do your customers value? They may value information, or access, or even sometimes special deals tailored to their interests. If you don’t follow this basic rule, you can create a negative impression of your company.

Before this trend became big, I recall receiving an annual birthday card from Talbots with a discount card. At the time, I loved getting it. I loved Talbots (I’m from Connecticut and I’m proud to dress in a classic way) and I was glad they wanted to give me a discount so I could buy myself something on my birthday. It felt good.

Now it feels common to get the marketing birthday card with a discount inside. It feels more like a marketing tactic than a caring message.

If you are addicted to giving out random discounts (because it helps your revenue), pick another day of the year and say hey, “We love you Ms. Customer, so here’s a coupon, go get yourself something nice.” A surprise deal is better than a tired and disingenuous birthday message.

The best birthday gift you could give your customers may just be to stop sending birthday messages.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kim Proctor
Kim has a passion for improving the customer experience and loves the online space. Having spent most of her career on the web, Kim is a consultant that knows how to grow web traffic, leverage social media and grow deeper customer relationships. She has consulted for a wide range of companies from small business to the Fortune 500. For more info, see


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