9 Non-Creepy Ways to Celebrate Birthdays

Birthday photo for non-creepy birthdays postDo drinkers celebrate their birthdays at your tasting room? You’ve got a beautiful space, there are plenty of beverages to choose from, and your team is at the top of their game. Why wouldn’t someone want to include you in their plans?

Because your marketing is creepy.

What do we mean by that? Many craft beverage producers have experimented with some form of customer relationship management (CRM), where a drinker’s data is collected and stored for future marketing use. The data might be as simple as a name and email address collected via a newsletter signup to more detailed order information, customer lifetime value and other predictive analytics. They may have even requested a customer’s birthdate at one point, creating a promotable event where messages could be sent with well-wishes and a call-to-action like a buy-one-get-one or free dessert offer. Or miles or points offers in other industries. For decades this was the single biggest value proposition for any membership program. But the loyalty landscape has changed dramatically and craft beverage has been slow to keep up.

Are you still sending out birthday notes? You may want to reconsider.

Hacker photo for non-creepy birthdays postFast forward to today where name, date of birth and address give criminals all they need for identity theft and fraud. Plus, loyalty to any one beverage isn’t realistic with so much consumer choice. To use someone’s birthday in marketing efforts, your business must offer something of value that overshadows the risk. Which is why so few producers and other businesses are sending out birthday emails or push notifications to fans: their offer isn’t compelling enough. This has the opposite effect of actually pushing customers away, critical of being “marketed to” and concerned about privacy.

We all like to be recognized on our birthdays. It’s the one day out of the year where the focus should be squarely on us, after all 😉 Unless you have a rock-solid birthday offer like a free any-size coffee or you-pick doughnut, read on for ways to create other special days worth celebrating at your tasting room.

why drinkers are hesitant to share

Collecting data on our customers is important. It’s how we learn what beverage appeals to them and which food trucks they like to see in your parking lot. Data allows us to monitor turns and how fast product moves, find efficiencies in production, even measure satisfaction with the tasting room experience. Shouldn’t we be collecting as much data as we can on our customers so we can better service them?

Not without a plan to use the data in a responsible way. People want control of their relationship with any brand, any industry, and that starts with the data collected from their first point of contact. High-profile computer hacks have put everyone on-watch for identify theft, credit card fraud and other crimes involving exposure of personal data to the outside world. Consumers are rightfully concerned about corporations following the rules with respect to privacy and sharing lists. Some are sensitive about age and other forms of discrimination made possible by mismanagement of data. Others just don’t want to be part of a larger SPAM engine that never stops peppering them with useless messaging. Whatever the reason for hesitancy, you must recognize and respect the data relationship on the customer’s terms else risk losing them altogether.

Surveillance photo for non-creepy birthdays postWhat makes a marketing offer creepy? When a company or brand knows more about you than you believe they should. When you consider all the data companies are collecting from your online browsing and buying, it’s no surprise that birthdate ranks right up there with social and credit card numbers in customer sensitivity. We recommend not asking for date of birth during any registration process, and not storing it during any ecommerce session/transaction where proof of age is required. It’s counterintuitive, but unless you have valid reason to collect and allow customers control of its use, best to stay away from this one.

what’s a compelling offer

Drinkers will give you a pass if the perceived value of your offer is greater than the downside of you having that information. Want a practical example? Every Google search, mobile mapping or Smart Device request yields actionable results in a fraction of a second. So, for the convenience of ready access to information, however accurate, you are willing to help Google build out more of a profile about your shopping and travel habits. That data undoubtedly is used for re-marketing efforts in real-time by advertisers looking for someone like you.

Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook…they all understand the power and value of this data, so they protect it above all else. Consumer rights and privacy advocates have put them to task in recent years, demanding they be held to a higher standard. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), CAN-SPAM and other policies offer guidelines for corporate compliance with penalties for abuse. Companies have responded by tightening up data security and offering [limited] control over what data is collected and stored. All in an effort to continue tipping the value scale more in their favor, upholding their side of the two-way data relationship between brand and trusting consumer.

Women cheersing photo for non-creepy birthdays postWhat’s a compelling marketing offer you can send to drinkers? Beyond BOGOs, new product releases, local music and events, what’s going to drive traffic, build engagement and capture new sales for your business? We like this article from Entrepreneur Magazine highlighting the components of an offer that works:

  1. Be clear.
  2. Offer great value.
  3. Deliver a discount or a premium.
  4. Explain your offer.
  5. Require immediate response.
  6. Include a strong call-to-action.
  7. Provide a bulletproof guarantee.

When determining what you should offer customers to get them [back] in the door, it’s important to keep in mind the average order value (a bar tab might be $20) and you can’t give alcohol away for free without an associated purchase. Let’s take a look at 9 ways to celebrate your customers on special days other than their birthday.

ways to celebrate your customers

Private tasting photo for non-creepy birthdays postBirthday offers differ from general tasting room promotions in how personal and individual they are. Rather than a broad message about happy hour drink specials available to all guests, the perception is a birthday offer is specific to you on your special day. So how are you supposed to generate a compelling, personalized offer WITHOUT using birthdate information? By creating special “micro moments” throughout the year, craft beverage brands can build meaningful engagements with customers which can still be executed at scale. All in a non-creepy way. Consider the following 9 ideas for engaging promotions that cater to the individual, not the masses:

  • Anniversary of first purchase: rather than a birthday, why not celebrate an anniversary? From newsletter to signup to first purchase, show your appreciation for your customer’s business with a note and special offer.
  • “Advent Calendar” of progressive promotions: the idea of daily “reveals” leading up to a bigger promotional event isn’t only for the Holidays. Build a series of escalating offers to visit your tasting room delivered by email or text message.
  • Annual “Insert-Name-Here” Day: take a page from the Amazon Prime Day manual and offer special pricing or privileges (think buyer’s club benefits) for one day only, staggered across the year for all customers.
  • Making a charitable donation: let the customer know their patronage makes donations to a selected charity or environmental movement possible. Be careful here: not everyone will agree with your choice of beneficiaries, so best not to say, “we’ll be making a donation on your behalf.” Keep it broad.
  • Customer story and photo montage: reserve wall space for photos and stories from patrons and ask once a year for them to share. Consider a masonry-style display of customer photos on your website.
  • Monthly work-with-the-production-team day: give your customers access to the women and men behind their favorite beverage! Stagger the invitations to help make group size manageable.
  • Special tours, tastings and pairing events: “package” an offer like this so it’s easier for your team to execute in real-time when customers visit the tasting room to redeem.
  • Personalized greetings: a note from the owner or a video message (like Hippo Video) from the team thanking a customer for their business goes a long way towards encouraging repeat visits.
  • Surprise and delights: buy-one-gift-one, bundled offers on- and off-line and gift certificates are low-hanging fruit when it comes to recognizing and rewarding your best customers.

How have you successfully marketed to the individual versus the masses outside of birthday offers? We’d love to hear and share your stories! Simply send your ideas to scott@marketyourcraft.com.

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