Message & Media: Let the Good Times Roll
Have you noticed how much people love celebrations? I think it's because a celebration is happiness made tangible. For direct marketers, celebrations are opportunities to engage with our customers.
For example, as I write this column, people are in the streets celebrating major league baseball victories, as well as the capture and demise of the 9/11 mastermind. And by the time you read this, millions of Americans will have celebrated July Fourth watching fireworks displays. It's one of the most popular observances in our country.
In the best and worst of times, it's human nature to want to honor milestones, commemorate historic events and revel in good news.
So direct marketers take note: Celebrations are also a marketing tool that can help bump up flat sales, solidify relationships, and call attention to your company and products. The best news is that you don't have to wait for Hallmark to make your celebrations official. You can create your own reasons to make merry.
• Good News. I recently received an email form Hello Direct with the subject line: See what just won 'Product of the Year!' I opened the email to the headline, "Celebrate with Us! Our new Speak™ 410 Won Product of the Year! Save $30 Instantly on the Speak™ 410! Get yours now!" Hello Direct transformed an industry honor into an attention-getting sales event for its newest speakerphone.
• Anniversaries. It can be your anniversary or your customers'. Make customers feel important and appreciated by remembering their first, second, third, even 24th anniversary of doing business with you. Honor them with anniversary cards, free gifts or special discounts. Customer anniversaries are an opportunity to say thank you and acknowledge how much you value loyalty.
On the flip side, company anniversaries can be powerful marketing tools when translated into customer benefits. For example, a bank that's celebrating its 100th year can use this centennial to reinforce a message of financial stability: "We've been around for a 100 years and plan to be here for 100 more." It's also an opportunity to make special centennial offers to both loyal and prospective customers—honoring the past and future.
• Birthdays. Whether you sell to B-to-B customers or consumers, a birthday card is always appropriate and always appreciated because it's personal. That's why companies like Southwest Airlines send so many birthday cards each year to Rapid Rewards members who travel with them for business and pleasure. One cautionary note: Once we leave our 20s, few of us appreciate being reminded of exactly how many years we're celebrating. Even if you have the data, I don't recommend sending "Happy 40th" or "Happy 60th" birthday greetings. Let family and friends do that.
• Half Birthdays. I just read in the Wall Street Journal that DSW honors its rewards members with special discounts on both their birthdays and half-birthdays. It's one more reason to communicate, celebrate and encourage customer engagement.
• New Additions. What better way to announce a product line extension, improvement or enhancement than with a "birth" announcement. Call attention to what's new-and-improved with a dedicated email, catalog cover or 3D mailing to your best customers. Celebrate the people, technology and customer input that contributed to making the new addition happen.
• Holidays. We all expect to hear from our favorite marketers around Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day. But here's a way to make your company's holiday greetings stand out from the rest—celebrate less well-known events and holidays. For example, I once wrote a letter for a consortium of plumbers celebrating "National Toilet Tune-Up Week." It generated a flood of responses from both new and existing customers.
Tip: Looking for unusual holidays or events to celebrate that are guaranteed to capture more attention? Check out "Chase's Calendar of Events, 2011 Edition: The Ultimate Go-to Guide for Special Days, Weeks and Months." This book is "the world's authoritative guide to special occurrences, holidays, anniversaries, celebrity birthdates, religious observances, and sporting events." You'll be amazed at the ideas it generates. Did you know July is National Blueberry Month? Or Aug. 6 is National Fresh Breath Day? If you're a dentist or mouthwash manufacturer, the latter definitely needs to be on your marketing radar.
• Welcome! Welcome is a powerful word—right up there with free and thanks. When someone signs up for your e-newsletter, send a welcoming email. Celebrate new customers and clients by sending them welcome notes, letters or postcards. Include an incentive to make a second purchase. Remember, your first-time buyers are actually first-time triers. A true customer relationship is established with the second purchase.
• Milestones. Have you just served your 100th pizza? Is your one millionth customer about to walk through the door? Are you now making deliveries on all seven continents? Make the most of your milestones by weaving them into all your customer communications, including your blog, on Twitter, even in your package and statement inserts. It's called, "the bandwagon effect." People love to jump on the bandwagon and be a part of the "in" crowd.
Celebrations are positive, uplifting reasons to stay in touch with your customers and clients. Use them to your marketing advantage.