Missed Marketing Opportunity – Take 2

I had a birthday over the weekend. Actually scaled back working a bit to enjoy it, and what was planned as a nice quiet dinner out with my wife, followed by some quality couch time (with our little one spending the night at Nana’s) turned out to be a full blown surprise party. It was a ton of fun and I have no clue how my wife managed to organize the party without me finding out! Thanks to everyone who attended (both in person, and in spirit).

On my birthday my peripheral email address started pumping out some neat emails. I use an old email address for all my forums and MMO access to keep my other email addresses spam free. I am not sure how new of a thing this is, but I was pleasantly surprised to see several “happy birthday” notices from forums I am a member of. Warhammer Online, Pirates of the Burning Sea, and the 2K9 forums especially – as they are all people I wasn’t always the “nicest” to – both on the forums and here. Also, I don’t support WAR or POTBS through subscriptions, to be clear.

So it was nice to get the form email from them regardless. Birthday’s get a special emotional response from people. I thought about those emails, and immediately concluded how cool it would have been if they had given me a little present to boot. Hence the title of this post. More after the break.

Smart marketers do this all the time in the food industry. There is a certain steak and lobster joint my wife and I go to 5-6 times a year, and last year for my birthday they sent me a form email too – except they added in a free lobster dinner for me redeemable up to 30 days after my birthday as a little gift. We definitely took that great gesture, and took 6 of our friends and had a long, fantastic, enjoyable dinner. Sure, I got a free $30.00 plate but no one else did. And once you add in appetizers, wine, aperatifs, (etc) the restaurant made out pretty good in the end.

If the WAR email would have said – “We have reactiviated your account for 15 days for your birthday!” – I definitely would have booted it back up and tried it out again. I hear they have made some great changes. If I was still subbed to the game, the email could have also said “We didn’t know what color you liked, so we send you some special dye in your in game mailbox that can be used on any armor you like – Happy Birthday!” – or any other fun, little thing. POTBS could have offered a free trial reminder, and 2K9 a coupon for $5 off any 2K9 software title. What is fair and good about the idea is that everyone has a birthday – so why not celebrate it?

This is the first year I have started receiving these forum birthday greetings, and to be honest it was nice. I just can’t help but think of yet another wasted marketing opportunity by companies who not only need to do a better job of making their customers feel appreciated, but their business exists because of marketing – and no doubt they all have fancy marketing contracts with slick marketing firms. So here’s the tip. Connect with your customer on an emotional level, provide them with a product or service they feel is of fair value, and always remember that while it’s the thought that counts, stuffing a little cash in the Hallmark Card isn’t such a bad idea either.

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. The recent rash of promotional stuff that the WAR people have sent out (to Keen and Graev, Ysharros, etc.) has been a great semi-viral marketing move. They can’t have cost the company a huge amount compared to some marketing (and emails are even cheaper), but the payout in getting people interested is great. The personal touch to it all is much welcomed, and it definitely makes players feel like they are more than just “subscripton #3654” in the beancounter’s file.

    Great article, Chris!

  2. The WAR stuff to bloggers has been great. A good example of taken new approaches. Especially in this market climate you think more companies would forego the multi-milliond dollar celebrity commercial route and start thinking of intuitive and effective ways to promote their products.

    War is also a good example, probably the most perfect one. I haven’t played in months, but supposedly they have made major (and positive) changes. Re-opening my account for 10-15 days would have given them the opportunity to retry (and hopefully be rehooked) the game and possibly resubscribe.

  3. Indeed. It seems like such a small investment for the potential payoff, especially with the changes they are making to improve the game. I can see not wanting to give away free time if you’re just presenting the same old treadmill, but if the game is substantially different (for the better) from month to month, giving birthday gifts away would be a great idea.

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