Birthdays: 50 Ways Marketers Celebrate

Are You Maximizing the Marketing Potential of Birthdays?

Happy 50th Birthday President Obama! Marilyn Monroe made presidential birthdays famous when she sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to president Kennedy. As a marketer, birthdays provide a great reason to initiate marketing promotions.

To help you celebrate birthdays better, here’s a list of 50 celebration-packed marketing tactics in honor of the President. Bear in mind that some of these events can be paid for by your customers.

Company birthday

  1. Mail customers a coupon. Make it look like a birthday card so it gets opened.
  2. Email customers a coupon. It’s a reason to communicate with your house file.
  3. Text customers a coupon. Text messages break through and it’s a good reason to communicate with your housefile.
  4. Mail housefile customers a catalog. I know that this sounds like old media at its most traditional.
  5. Share the news. Take out an ad in old-fashioned print media. (Of course, you shouldn’t forget to get your shop dressed for the occasion.)
  6. Send customers a gift card. The goal is to entice them to shop in your retail stores.
  7. Make customers an offer on a social media network. Think Facebook and Google+.
  8. Tweet customers a special offer. Make sure the incentive is good enough to get prospects and customers to follow you on Twitter.
  9. Make a special location-based services offer. Use Foursquare or other location-based services platform to get customers involved.
  10. Create a fun press release. Incorporate a special offer to entice new customers.
  11. Have a storewide sale. This option’s a classic. It’s useful to move your company’s celebration to an otherwise quiet period.
  12. Give customers a gift. Hand out a company promotional gift. Make sure that it’s something customers will keep around and coordinates with your offering.
  13. Offer customers a virtual gift. This works well for B2B offerings. Give away an e-book or research.
  14. Have a contest. Get people excited about your firm’s birthday. Make it easy for lots of people to participate. For example, use photographs of customers.
  15. Serve them breakfast. Open early for a special party. Get customers powered for the day with caffeine and muffins. Limit your invitations to make customers feel special.
  16. Let them have cake. Invite customers to your store or business for birthday cake. Knitty City, a NYC knitting store, does this every January.
  17. Drink to your customers. Have post-hours party with grownup drinks.
  18. Have a special raffle. Bear in mind that it’s better to have a lot of small winners than a major one so more people can win.
  19. Host a special event. Depending on your business, create an event that gets prospects and customers to your establishment. This requires some creativity. For example, an animal hospital might have an event around dog care.
  20. Throw a virtual event. Take Google+ for a test drive to engage with your customers.
  21. Use QR codes and host a scavenger hunt in your store. Get customers involved by getting them to work around your store using information connected with the QR codes.
  22. Create a full day event around your product. This is useful to keep people coming into your store all day. For example, a cookware company could offer a series of mini-cooking lessons.

Customer’s birthday

This can be tricky since your buyers, especially if they’re female, may not want to share this information. Therefore, stick to month or month and day. Also, make sure that you have the database capabilities to back it up.

  1. Send an old-fashioned birthday card. Old-fashioned direct mail at it’s best. How many people still send them?
  2. Email customers your birthday wishes. Make sure that this doesn’t look like junk mail.
  3. Text customers on their birthday. Text messages break through the clutter (of course, you need to have a list to begin with.)
  4. Highlight your customers’ birthdays on your social media executions. Have a special birthday widget that highlights customers every day.
  5. Leave birthday greetings on Facebook. Give your customers a shout out on their Facebook page.
  6. Give customers a special birthday promotion. Have a special birthday deal that everyone gets. For example: Loehmann’s, a discount retailer, emails a promotion that’s good for one week.
  7. Give customers a gift. Offer customers a special bonus on their birthday. It can be samples or something else related to your business.
  8. Make them a star. Put a photo of your customer or their handiwork on view in your store the month of their birthday.
  9. Make a donation in your customer’s honor. Customers like businesses that support charities, so integrate your birthday promotions with a charity that’s related to your business.
  10. Have a breakfast for customers. Open your establishment early to catch people on their way to work.
  11. Throw customers a party. Once a month have a party in your store to celebrate the customers with birthdays that month. Have cake or other refreshments to get customers in. Think about how to entice people to come on less busy days.
  12. Have a potluck dinner after hours. This is a great option for small businesses where a lot of the customers are friends. It gives people space to get together (and show up at your establishment.)

Public birthdays

Such as the President’s. Depending on your business, select some famous people who are relevant and use them as a reason to have a promotion.

  1. Create a fun sale. Of course, President’s Day is the quintessential version of this option. For your business, do some research and select some fun trendsetters or influencers in your niche.
  2. Let the whole world know. If the costs make sense, use old-fashioned media to announce the birthday.
  3. Give them cake A party by any other name is still a party. Serve cake or other refreshments.
  4. Let’s do breakfast. Offer coffee and Danish to get shoppers off to an early start.
  5. Create special after hour event for top-shoppers only. What type of engagement would these customer go for? Think adult drinks.
  6. Have a virtual party on a social media platform. Get your social media tribe to engage with photographs on Facebook or another platform.
  7. Give a gift with purchase offer that’s special for this event. Your goal is to entice shoppers in.
  8. Offer a special gift. Just give visitors something special for stopping by. Free samples by any other name.
  9. Create a special virtual gift. Provide another e-book or research paper.
  10. Have an after hours event. Make customers feel special by inviting them to a special party. You may even be able to get people to pay for this event.
  11. Hold a special by invitation only sale. There’s nothing that gets people’s attention more than velvet rope appeal.
  12. Have a special live event. Invite someone well known in your niche to come to your store or business where they can interact with prospects and the public. Bookstores have done this for years with readings.
  13. Develop a special raffle. Get customers involved by sharing trivia.
  14. Host a special virtual event via social networks or webinar. Get one or more people who are well known in your niche involved.
  15. Make a charity donation. Match a percentage of customer purchases or donations. This is used around Thanksgiving.
  16. Create a charity tie-in. Work with a not-for-profit organization to get your customers involved and have fun at the same time. Get everyone to go to a local hospital to have a knit-in or renovate a home for Habitat for Humanity.

Birthdays are meant to be celebrated with people you care about. As a marketer, what’s important is getting your customers engaged while providing them with an incentive to shop from you. After all, many people get cash to select their own birthday gifts.

Are there any other birthday suggestions that you’d add to this list? If so, what are they?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Here are three articles that relate to planning your promotions and celebrating your customers.

Photo credit: Poolie via Flickr

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  • http://www.postcardmania.com Ferris Stith

    Great article Heidi! Our company, PostcardMania strongly supports birthday marketing programs, especially with direct mail. This is popular across many industries including our restaurant customers who mail to a list of prospects within a certain mile radius with birthday’s in that specified month. They usually include a coupon or gift cert for a free meal, dessert, etc. to get them in the door. They also use the birthday program for their current database to get more returning customers. Works great!