This year is special, thanks to Facebook and reminder of Skype, I had much more "happy birthday" than the previous years, which is always pretty cool, but only my very close friends know that I HATE CELEBRATING MY BIRTHDAY ! … actually not only my birthday, but also Xmas ( even if it is changing a little bit ), and the 1st of January. Why ? I will try to find some hidden reasons and share some thoughts about the birthday management and business on a professional point of view.
Let’s start with the personal point of view
– Family : I m a single son and from my own family I have only my mother left, it makes very few opportunities to receive the "happy birthday" or it doesn’t let the opportunity to make a real party
– Friends : I m not that social, I have very few good friends, and at least they know they should make any surprise or party this day, it is too risky, as I could be deeply depressed and the even won’t be fun at all. Furthermore, I have especially geeks and maybe not the best organized one, if it wasn’t popped out by Facebook Calendar, Skype Birthday icons, they will probably not think about the date, exactly like me if I m not reminded by some electronic information system.
– Me : and that’s the most important, except for 18 or 21, which is definitely the legal milestone, the day you can drive the car alone, drink alcohol, watch any movie in theater, I don’t see the point to remind yourself and everyone you are getting old… getting old for me, it is getting closer to the death day, not really a happy perspective. The second bad thing about the birthday / 1st of January, it is a fixed date to look at what you did the past year. The debrief day of what was good and bad. the 2009 to 2010 was especially difficult for me, the first medical depress of my all life due to the lost of control of my own company VSO-Software and the fight with my "future-ex-partner-in-business". If you look at the glass half-empty, I already lost a lot of money, and the control of my baby ( as I consider I have put more in this company than some other persons ). And I lost a good occasion to have an extra birthday cake for lunch with my co-workers. If you look at the glass half-full, it is definitely a new milestone for me, Stanford was a great experience, but I still don’t know how the future will be for me, and if I should mount a new company, which products or service, or if I should take a longer break and accept to join a company as a regular employee for while. Hopefully I have the time and the luxury opportunity to not have to hurry to take the right decision. That’s definitely the part which makes me hating the birthday celebrations, the debrief of the past year, and the fear of failing in the projects defined for the next one.
– Gift : I know some friends really excited by their birthday only for the gift part, the surprise, the gift they expect but they can’t afford it themself, the party. In this field I m blessed, as I have everything I need, or want already. Did you face the big question about what to offer to someone, just because you are not sure what she / he would like / appreciate, it is not fun for people who offer, but it is not fun either for the person who receive the gift. Sometimes you can be very uncomfortable, because the gift is too good and expensive, and you didn’t produce the same effort for your friend. but let’s face the truth too, you may receive a gift you don’t like, and it makes you very uncomfortable, that’s why the "no-gift" "no-party" can be a good strategy to avoid this situation. This year my gift will be a full parcel of ginger ale and root beer. It may not sound very exciting, but you need to know these products are not sold in France, and I had to give up a lot of cans in the airport because of the extra weight due to the Stanford reading list ( article to come ). My lovely girlfriend find the original idea to order some of these beverage online to make me the surprise, not very expensive gift, but the pleasure will be there ( so sorry guys…, I won’t drink champagne today, even if the look in the glass will be very similar )
– the age : not all the birthday are the same, if you are turning to 36 like me today, ( I need to compute with my birth year as sometimes I m lost myself about how old I am ), it is not a strong number. Be sure the day I will turn 40 ! I will be very depressed to see how old I m … 36, 37, 38, it sounds all the same, and nothing very important to celebrate.
True opportunities for marketing with birthdays
Now, let’s back to serious discussion, how any company and marketers could use the birthday to create customers intimacy ? how to get the birthday information , how to manage it ? Facebook has been the most used in my personal case to get my birthday address,
Skype has a nice birthday notification, I m not sure MSN live messenger has one, and I have only a few of my contacts in Outlook with their respective birth date. Facebook announce the full next week calendar, which is good to be prepared, but if it is not very close friend, you can forget their birthday during the week.
Forums have been the most efficient to send me the "happy birthday" email, even at midnight + 1 minute. It is quite positive, as it is a way to remember about some forums I don’t visit that often, so in their case, they just need to do the greetings and nothing more.
By snail mail, I receive a few offers, for the haircut, for clothes with a rebate coupon and that’s all.
By SMS , I receive only 1 offer, with a immediate discount for a haircut, I think it is too late, as if you want to use it for the birthday party I don’t do… I would prefer to use it a few days before.
By email, I got some emails from Air France, my ISP, but nothing specific to my birthday, nothing from Expedia or any luxury or leisure service which has probably my email…
Which companies have my Birthday information ? but first who is collecting the information anyway ? I don’t think any person would refuse to enter his birthday information, you guess how it can be used, but it is very disappointing to not see a lot of companies to use them. I remember I got a nice birthday cake waiting in my room in the Jumeirah Mina Al Salam in Dubai. Probably because they filled the information from my passport during checking. Nothing from Mercedes my car supplier…
I got also a free delivery voucher from Fnac.com, considering I am a VIP "One" customer, I would have probably bought something if they gave me a special discount for today.
Finally, I got an email from the account manager of one of my bank ( a very selective , high quality bank who surprised me when they used Viadeo to get information about me and my profile), but it wasn’t about my birthday, only a phone number update notification. Wait ! banks are one of the industry which have all the required information from their customer, their phone number, an dedicated account manager, and an email address… but none of my bank made a special mailing today. It could be a nice idea on my point of view. I don’t expect a discount or free "commission" for the day, but it could be a cheap marketing campaign, and I won’t think my bank is greedy ( hey, it’s a bank anyway !!!) if they just wish my birthday without any special offer.
Finally from a joke email about my humor of the day, it could be a very interesting topic to discuss about customer relationship strategy used by corporation, if you have any experience or comments, please share them with me, no need to say "happy birthday" as an introduction.
** UPDATE : I got a nice offer than I will use … a week of free premium access for Experteer.fr , a web site which claims to have the best job offer for high salary