My birthday was yesterday and as usual, I take great care to notice (and reward) those businesses who paid attention (this blog is almost 4 years old, downright creaky by web standards), and those who already have the info (like insurance agents) and use it wisely.
While not a ton of the businesses who know my birthday (or at least the month), there’s still a fairly decent list of businesses that do.
Examples include: Attorney, anyone with any sort of financial contact such as CPA, stock brokerage (even the internet ones – and I use several), IRA, insurance of any and every variety, mortgage broker, Realtor, dry cleaner, financial planner, car salespeople, every bank I have an account at, the local movie rental places, the pharmacy at the grocery store, every doctor and dentist I’ve ever seen, and so on.
Wow. That’s more than I thought.
So here’s the breakdown of birthday contacts received this year from people I do business with:
Phone calls: One.
The call came from Jim Spence over at Eisinger Chevrolet in Kalispell. In the last 5 years, I’ve bought 2 used cars from Jim and given him a bunch of grief because he jokingly promised the dark blue one would never get dirty. Jim didn’t call to sell me anything, just to wish a happy birthday, and make some small talk.
Any guesses who I’ll call first the next time I’m ready to buy a car – even if I don’t want a Chevy?
Last year, a local hardware store sent a personalized one that even had my name mail merged into it.
I’m a little surprised that GKIC didn’t pick up on this by fax or email.
Greeting cards: One.
A computer generated and computer signed card from my auto/home insurance agent using an online card service similar to Send Out Cards. The card was mailed from somewhere else, so (as with SOC) the agent never saw it. I assume he chose at some point in the past to mail it or not mail it. I expect it might be a for-fee option in their corporate-managed marketing system.
Even so, that is far better than nothing. The card included an insert to remind me to stop by the office for a free gift (probably a map – which is actually a pretty nice one). I usually pass, until I manage to destroy the one I got from them the last time:)
The cheapest, simplest thing anyone could have done. Yet none of them did.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t sit around all day wringing my hands, wondering where all my buddies are and why I didn’t get more birthday loving from businesses who take my money.
What I do think, however, is that my work is far from done here in small business land. A lot of people’s businesses aren’t personal – and in a post-bailout economy, that’s insane.
For those in the crowd who are freaking out that I expect someone to dig through their file cabinets at the mortgage company and find out your birthday – they really don’t even need that. The month would be acceptable. The month and the day would be a bonus. Ask during the PROSPECT phase, so you don’t have to dig through files. Automation is your friend.
I really don’t care if you are 5, 25, 55 or 95, you still appreciate it when a business remembers your birthday and holy cow, stunned if they offer you a discount coupon, a BOGO or *some* sort of offer to get you in the store for a birthday gift, bonus or special.
Your solution: Ask your customers for their birthday month. If they don’t mind, tell them they can fill in the day if they wish. TELL THEM WHY you’re asking, and then follow up with a card, call, email or SOMETHING.
Make your customers feel special. In most cases, hardly anyone else will, outside of their family and friends. Exactly the group you want to be in when it comes time for them to make a purchase decision.