Birthdays And Other Important Dates

I’ve seen literally thousands of versions of birthday promotions, all designed to provide a special gift or recognition from a brand on your birthday. 

Taking inventory of my last birthday, which ironically coincided with a holiday, I realized for those with the same quandary that holiday promotion trumped birthday sentiments. Still,  I put little value on birthday emails these days, simply due to the lack of thoughtfulness put in by marketers.  Is there still value in a happy birthday coupon from a favorite pizza place?  Should I expect a birthday wish from my favorite tire store?   Or $3 off at my pharmacy?   Nothing more sentimental than walking the aisles of my pharmacy trying to figure out what to buy with my $3 coupon.

What are the characteristics of a birthday?  It’s one day, unique to everyone.   You usually think about it in advance of the actual day. You typically expect some reward and recognition from others, increasing in magnitude or thoughtfulness as you span age bands. There is usually some degree of planning for this day by you or your social networks.



We always used to  sorry for the poor soul that had their birthday on New Year’s, Christmas or Halloween.   Great to have a big party, everyone can rationalize, but usually less about you.

How can your brand make the most of this event: a prime opportunity to do something thoughtful and premeditated, and connect a consumer to your brand?   Is yours one of the 50 birthday emails that are sitting in someone’s inbox the morning of?   

Here are a few ideas for planning your next-generation birthday or recognition program:

  • Think days before and after, less about day of.  
  • The day of is about personal REWARD, the days before and days after are about RECOGNITION.
  • Social connectivity: Enable it! Are you enabling friends and family in the event planning and experience design?   Can your brand even consider participating?  
  • We seem to think about birthdays as a direct-to-individual deal.  Are you using data to associate households?  I didn’t buy my own gift this year.  Can you make the association to households, and target others with buying ideas based on the interests of the Birthday Boy/Girl?

Where is the thoughtfulness?  Creativity?   Fun?  This is my day as a consumer!

There is one brand that I think really puts thought into customer engagement: Southwest Airlines!  They win again for the most thoughtful idea: a holiday card that arrived days before my birthday in a classic envelope.   No reward, simply recognition and a little note letting me know they were thinking of me “before” my birthday. 

2 comments about "Birthdays And Other Important Dates ".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, April 2, 2013 at 12:18 p.m.

    Before you embark on a birthday marketing campaign, think about the ROI and in particular the design work. You're only going to be able to use it 1x per person per year. This compares very badly with a typical weekly newsletter-style campaign that you can use 52x per person per year, with minimal changes - a *lot* more marketing for a very similar investment

  2. Erik Blakkestad from, April 4, 2013 at 7:02 p.m.

    This article nails the idea that birthday promotions need to be thought of in terms of the days before and after a birthday. If your birthday falls on a Tuesday, chances are you will be too busy to really celebrate on the day of.

    BUT if you could plan ahead and have options to celebrate with friends and family on the weekend, and maybe search locally for great freebies and discounts in your area....hmmmmm.

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