Yesterday my wife and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary with dinner and a movie (Tropic Thunder — go see it! Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. are surprisingly hilarious in this flick). Our dinner plans included a fantastic, high-end, seafood restaurant in Estero/Coconut Point, FL (Tarpon Bay at the Grand Hyatt; very nice). Before leaving, they asked if we would want to fill out a form to “join their birthday club” and “receive a complimentary dinner on your birthday.” Data they solicited was name, birthday (month/year) and email address. Basically, for filling out this information, you (or someone you refer) get a free dinner (mind you, the entrees here were $25 – $35; not inexpensive) during the “month” of your birthday. That would make the cost per acquisition, in my estimation, ~$30. The good news is that hardly anyone eats alone, especially on their birthday so they make up the revenue with the additional meal(s), drinks/desserts/etc., not to mention the fact that they will probably be able to lure my wife and I back, even before our birthdays.
The “birthday club” idea is not new and could be perceived as a little intrustive (especailly to marketing types who just want to make it through a dinner w/out being sold/solicited — my wife had no problem quickly filling out the form). Nonetheless, considering the value of a free entree, especially considering the fact that my wife and I had a wonderful time and the food was fantastic, and that I’m always looking to save a little if I can (who isn’t?, especially since a nice dinner usually comes along w/ celebrating someone’s b’day), this tactic for customer acquisition, retention and referral marketing could be a great way to build your customer list. Remember it’s your repeat customers that are the highest value and could turn into evangelists for your products/services. Proof of concept — this blog entry supporting Tarpon Bay restaurant.