Bakers Journal

Concepts for Success: December 2010

November 11, 2010
By Diane Chiasson

Building a birthday club is an easy, low-cost way to create great relationships with your customers

Building a birthday club is an easy, low-cost way to create great relationships with your customers.

People celebrate birthdays in several different ways, but the birthday cake is the one must-have item for a celebration. So, how can you entice customers to visit your bakery when they are planning a birthday party, either for themselves, family members or friends? One of my favourite marketing strategies is starting a birthday club as part of your customer loyalty program. A birthday club is easy to implement and is a low-cost marketing solution that gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with your customers.

Below are seven recommendations on how you can create a birthday club for your operation that will increase your customer loyalty and profits.

Build a customer list
A good customer database is the foundation of all your marketing efforts, and you need to build it one name at a time. Use contests or coupons to get customers to join your database and make sure they fill out their birth dates. Allow customers to sign up either in-store or through a form on your website. Once you have built a database for your birthday club, you can also use this database to do monthly promotions for other specials you have in your bakery (but make sure you ask permission first). Don’t just contact your customers once a year on their birthdays; make a point to send them monthly information.

Use proper POPs and signage
Once you have established your birthday club, you will need the proper advertising to get people to sign up for it. Set up mini signs around your cash register and posters on your walls. Sell your birthday club member benefits on your advertisements. Make sure your POPs stipulate all your rules, regulations and legalities.

E-birthday cards or mail?
Everyone likes to be treated special or get a special treat on their birthday, so make your customers feel appreciated by sending them a birthday greeting card in the mail. For a lower-cost option, send them an e-card via e-mail. As long as you recognize and acknowledge their special day, you will enhance your operation’s image in their minds.

Don’t be cheap
Make sure your birthday club offer is worthwhile. Don’t offer your customers a 50-cent coupon. You don’t want to give yourself the reputation of being cheap or stingy. Some ideas include offering a draw each month for a free birthday cake or a free slice of cake for each member on the week of their birthday. Or you can send them a 15 per cent discount voucher as a gift that can be used at anytime in your bakery. Remember, people like to receive free things and gifts – especially on their birthday.

Liaise with your community
Use your local community to your benefit. For example, if your bakery operation is in a college town, ask the colleges or universities to include one of your flyers in the welcome packages they send to students before they begin school. Your flyer can detail a birthday club that gives parents the opportunity to buy a birthday cake for their student living in the university or college residences or in off-campus student housing, which you will deliver. Include plates, napkins, forks and a card with a personal message from the sender.

Work with other businesses
Your birthday club offer doesn’t have to just be about free stuff and discounts for your bakery. Work with your local toy store, flower shop or any other applicable businesses to offer coupons to each other’s customers. For example, when someone buys a birthday present from the toy store, the recipient of the birthday present can also receive a coupon for a free slice of cake from your bakery. Or, if someone buys a birthday cake from your bakery, give them a 10 per cent coupon to the toy store. There are endless ideas on how you and other local businesses can work together to promote each other’s stores, while giving customers more bang for their buck.

Get your staff on board
Train your staff to encourage customers to join your birthday club, and to give an extra special welcome when they come in to claim their birthday club offer. Make sure you do not begrudge customers if they just come in to get their free slice of cake. Even if that customer doesn’t end up spending a penny, he or she can tell his or her friends how delicious that piece of cake was, helping bring in extra business in the future.

A birthday club is a great way to stay in touch with your clients. Help your customers think of your bakery when their birthdays (or their loved ones’ birthdays) roll around, and you’ll be the icing on their cake!

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or, or visit

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