So yesterday was my birthday. I hung one more year on the line. (Other Paul Simon song lyrics here.)
As usual, the Internet likes to wish us a “Happy Birthday” in a variety of ways. Some people post a simple message on Facebook, LinkedIn, or email. I make it a point to acknowledge everyone that reaches out to me even in the smallest way. I’m one of those people that really appreciates those wishes. When I send birthday wishes, that’s all that I do. Just a little blip from the universe with a birthday greeting.
Consumer brands do it differently. If they know your birthday from some rewards or loyalty program, they have an algorithm that emails an offer at some point on or near your birthday. Sometimes it is for something small and free that will get you to the store, and sometimes its a decent discount when you spend some money. Some brands do a good job at showing some personality with the birthday greetings. In essence, the brand uses our birthdays as a reason for a small sales pitch.
But what if a personal connection uses your birthday wish for a sales pitch? Should there a difference for personal connections compared to what brands do? Let me explain.
Imagine receiving a message through Facebook, LinkedIn or direct email that says something like this:
“Happy Birthday, Howard. If you need <insert services here> at great prices, please give <business name> a chance. <Several sentences of details about the service>. <And then some more marketing stuff>.”
Gee, thanks. You just used my birthday as an excuse to pitch your services to me. And yes, I received several of these pitches on both LinkedIn and Facebook, and they all read basically the same as the above.
When I train people to use LinkedIn for their sales process, a big theme is personalization: personalize the connection request, personalize the recommendation, personalize the introductions, and personalize the messages. I’m a huge fan of reaching out to your connections through personal messages. However, if you haven’t said two words to me in the last five years (or since the last birthday pitch), and then pitch your services to me without even the slightest effort to customize your message, I’m probably not going to be jumping at your offer.
When it is your birthday, you are actually NOT a particularly good receptor for sales pitches. You are being overwhelmed by small blips from the universe and many people simply delete the mountain of email notifications. If you pitch someone through a birthday wish, you are most probably decreasing the probability that they will respond to the pitch.
Birthday wishes should be about the person with the birthday, not the person sending the message. Otherwise it isn’t special.