Celebrating your birthday wasn’t even a thing until ancient Roman times. Then came the invention of birthday cake thousands of years later during the industrial revolution and the Happy Birthday song in 1893. So there hasn’t exactly been a lot of innovation around the idea of birthday celebrations.

That’s where you’ll come in.

In his bestselling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” If you can make people feel important by simply remembering their name, imagine how you can make them feel by remembering their birthday.

It can be magical.

Think about it. Retail greeting card sales are estimated to be between $7 and $8 billion, annually. That’s almost double the gross domestic product of island nation of Fiji. And birthday cards are by far the most popular “Everyday” card sent out.

What’s really crazy is that the younger, more technically savvy crowd is most engaged in buying paper greeting cards online. These are the same people that banks and credit unions are working feverishly to connect with…

So what should you do about all this?

The answer is obvious. You should be celebrating the moments of our lives by sending birthday cards out to your most important assets. Your customers.

And you should start today.

The Data to Back It Up

So, birthdays are an important part of everyone of our lives, what does that have to do with business?

Great question.

In 2013 a research analytics and marketing company based out of New York, called Fulcrum Analytics, performed a study on brand loyalty. They surveyed 500 people across all age groups and were able to confirm what marketers have thought all along.

“Sending a birthday greeting has a positive influence on strengthening B2C relationships.”

Of course it does. In fact, 92% of people surveyed between the ages of 25 and 34 were far more likely to report increased loyalty due to receiving a birthday greeting. While a hefty 73% of those surveyed over the age of 55 also reported increased loyalty after receiving a birthday message

Put simply, nearly everyone enjoys receiving well wishes on their birthday and that can translate into more loyalty to you.

Wishing customers a happy birthday is just one of those low hanging fruit strategies that provides a lot of bang for the buck.

It’s also a built in excuse to connect.

The Fulcrum Analytics survey found that marketers who practice birthday campaigns generally experience the highest click through and conversion rates in birthday messages among all of their operational communications.

When it comes down to it, recognizing someone on their birthday is virtually risk-free and an almost cost-free way to grow relationships.

So, instead of asking if you should be sending birthday messages out to customers, the real question is why haven’t you started already?

So How Do I Set Up a Birthday Recognition Program?

There are a couple things to think about when setting up any kind of new outbound communication program. The first question to ask is, can I automate this communication process? If you’re like most bank and credit union marketers out there, then time is your scarcest resource. So definitely think automation first.

Things to think about when automating outbound birthday messages include:

Who is the message coming from? Do you want your birthday greetings to come from the organization or from a specific employee like the President, Branch Manager or Relationship Manager? Software that integrates merge fields from your core can completely personalize automated birthday messages.

What medium are we using? Do you want to send printed postcards, emails or make outbound phone calls? Birthday text messages may also be a way to go, depending on your ability to decipher between cell phone numbers and landline numbers.

If automation is out of the question or you just want to get started as soon as possible, then here’s what you need to think about:

1. Make it Someone’s Job – You’re going to need central oversight to make sure that birthday messages are going out regularly. If it’s one person’s job, then that person should report on their output every month. If you’re delegating to relationship managers, you’ll still want oversight to make sure that everyone is doing what they’re supposed to in a timely manner. Make sure you have a point person.

2. Gather Birthday Information – You should already have birth date information in any number of your data systems. The key here is going to be figuring out a way to pull birthday data regularly, and to define what “regularly” even means. Are we talking daily, weekly or monthly? This will set expectations for the program across departments and equip your team with the resources they need to successfully execute the program.

3. Decide How to Communicate – You have options here. Whether you’re sending a postcard, a letter, an email, text message or making a personalized phone call, the most important part of this decision is to make sure that you have the resources to consistently carry it out. When it comes to birthdays, timing is everything. As a rule of thumb, be early if you aren’t able to hit people up on their actual birthday.

The most important thing you can do is just get started. That’s where all of your feedback and learning are going to come from, so don’t be afraid to jump in and get after it.

To help you get going, we’ve even put a number of birthday greetings together that you may download and use however you see fit.

Some Birthday Greeting Templates to Get You Started

This list of samples will continue to grow over time, as we make more. Don’t be afraid to bookmark this page and check back occasionally.

Extra Bonus Section – Pairing Birthday Communications with Something Extra

If you’ve read this far, then you’re probably very serious about setting up an outbound birthday communication process. Kudos to you, you’re making a great decision.

Once you’ve built up a birthday greeting process to your liking and are ready to add to it, here are a couple ideas to think about coupling with your birthday communications.

Financial Needs Assessment

If you’ve decided to call your customers or members on their birthdays then why not throw a “complimentary” financial needs assessment into the conversation. The trick here will be to make it as conversational as possible so it doesn’t feel like a sales call masquerading as a sincere birthday wish. But if you can pull it off, you’ll be able to kill two birds with one stone, with this idea.

Special Offers

What better reason to reach out to existing commercial clients then to ask them if you can help drive business their way. Curate your business relationships for retail offerings that your retail customers could use. Then ask your commercial clients if you can include their discounted offers in your birthday messages.

Update Your Records

If you’re on the phone singing Happy Birthday to people anyway, you might as well take a minute to verify phone numbers, as well as email and home addresses. Or if you’d rather send a birthday postcard, couple a $5 statement credit with a birthday message when an email address and cell phone number is updated online. It will be worth it to you in the long run.