Jul 22, 2010

The 2 Most Important Dates of the Year

People are at their most reflective on New Year’s day and their birthday. These are milestone dates. Another year has passed and it causes people to reflect, ponder and plan for the future.

On birthdays and New Years people consider what they achieved in the past year. Did they hit their goals? Are they happy? What resolutions should they make for the upcoming year? These questions are often deeply personal, but they also have a business connection.

Our work-life and personal-life are linked. Our successes, or failures, at work directly impact our sense of self worth and happiness. The same is true on the personal side. Problems at home can greatly impact work performance. I think it’s next to impossible to separate these two worlds. They’re tightly integrated.

That’s why birthdays and New Years are such important dates. These are points that cause people to reflect and be open to new ideas. These are opportune times for marketers. A timely message can be very impactful.

You plan on New Year’s day

New Years trigger us to look forward. It’s an exciting moment where we set goals and plan for the future.

For example, at LEAPJob we are very purposeful with our January email newsletter. We prepare an article that fits our audience’s interests in goal setting, reflection and New Year’s resolutions. In January 2010, we distributed an article titled, “Career Resolutions: Dreaming a Bigger Future.” What’s remarkable about the January newsletters are their hit rates. They have 30% more opens, click-throughs and comments than any other newsletter in the year (no matter how compelling the topic).

You celebrate your birthday

Birthdays are more subtle than New Years. A birthday is a personal moment. It’s a celebration. Direct marketing attempts on birthdays will be received as opportunistic and shallow. Rather than marketing, celebrate. A thoughtful gift or a hand written card does wonders to acknowledge a person on their birthday and let them know you care.

Birthdays provide an opportunity to strengthen your relationships with your customers. So help them have a special day, and leave it at that. This is an opportunity to reach out and connect with someone when they are open and receptive.

Birthdays are tricky

Tracking birthdays can be a challenge. Some companies request them, and others don’t. This is a cultural thing. It works really well in some industries, and not so hot in others. For example, my insurance broker sends me a nice birthday card every year. He is fortunate enough to know my birthday, because he holds my life insurance policy.

If you want to know your customers’ birthdays, simply ask. If you aren’t comfortable with asking, then check out Facebook and LinkedIn. Many people list their birthdays on their social networking pages, and this provides another platform for you to engage them on their special day.

Be strategic about these dates

Birthdays and New Years happen every year. You know they’re going to happen, which means you can be purposeful in how you engage and speak with your customers. Include these dates as strategic points in your annual communication plans. A well placed piece of content on one of these milestones dates might be the source of your next best customer.

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