With St. Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you may be preparing to begin your Valentine’s Day promotions and sales. Alternatively, perhaps you’re having trouble knowing where to start your marketing.
If you own a restaurant, flower shop, jewelry store or the like, Valentine’s Day is likely a big day for you and your business. Even if you don’t, you can utilize marketing strategies to increase your sales for the holiday. However, competition can be fierce between small companies and big corporations. How do you make yourself stand out?
Valentine’s Day is a special occasion for a lot of people. Specifically, according to the National Retail Federation, about 55% of Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day. Not only that, 11% of people who do not celebrate Valentine’s Day still plan on spending the day “treating themselves,” making it likely those people will put some time and money into buying themselves gifts and rewards.
U.S consumers are expected to spend, in total, $20 billion this coming Valentine’s Day. The number has climbed 6% from last year. People are spending more money every year on Valentine’s Day. This article will go over some strategies on how to make sure your business is a part of that Valentine’s Day rush.
Make Sure You’re Prepared
Holidays can be hectic and overwhelming if you’re not well prepared. Take a look at what happened to JetBlue in 2007 on Valentine’s Day (and the days following), during which only seventeen of 156 scheduled flights took off. Part of it was due to a snowstorm and part of it was due to poor planning, specifically with their computer reservation system which couldn’t take so many re-bookings at once.
Or just look at what happened to Amazon on “Prime Day,” July 16th of last year. The website crashed, unprepared for the amount of traffic that was coming in, and redirected customers to error pages with pictures of dogs.
Source: Think Marketing
Though the dogs are cute, this is not exactly what you want to see when you’re trying to buy something off a website.
What can you do to prevent anything like this from happening to you? For one, if you rely on a computer system, make sure you have a backup plan should it fail or crash. Though, if you’re a small business, it’s likely you’ll be physically running back and forth making sure everything is good and ready in your store.
Nonetheless, try to prepare for the worst possibilities, such as system crashes, being short-handed, or lack of enough stock and solve those problems before the day of the sale.
If you expect a surge in sales leading up to and on Valentine’s Day, hire extra help or keep on those seasonal employees through this upcoming holiday. Have employees trained and ready for possible issues. Make sure your inventory is right and you won’t run out of that popular item halfway through the day.
If you own a restaurant or are planning on providing a service that requires limited seating, such as a theatrical performance or a spa special, require reservations and try to keep to schedule to make sure your guests are getting helped efficiently and on time.
While this Facebook post by Noble Rot doesn’t say outright reservations are required, the emphasis on making a reservation now, lest all the time slots get filled, heavily implies the requirement. With a post like this, those who see it are unlikely to assume this restaurant will be able to offer walk-ins on Valentine’s Day.
Look at the marketing campaigns you’re running and see how well they’re doing. Evaluating those numbers can help you figure out what you need to prepare for on Valentine’s Day. A failed Valentine’s Day event will hurt your business much more than being a little over-prepared will.
So, what campaigns and marketing strategies should you be adopting for Valentine’s Day?
1 – Use Email Marketing the Days Leading Up to Valentine’s Day
Email marketing can be a very effective way to announce to your usual customers that you’re having a special holiday sale in honor of Valentine’s Day. Email is more easily trackable than other kinds of advertising, such as TV or print ads. According to an article by Harvard Business Review, when an email is opened, you’ll know who opened it and what links they clicked on within 24 hours.
This makes it much easier to target and tailor emails for certain customers. It’ll help you guess if the person is in a relationship, is married, or is planning to spend the day alone. For example, if you include a link in the email encouraging the consumer to purchase something as a gift and another link encouraging the consumer to “treat themselves,” the link they click on will help you determine if you should be targeting them as part of a couple or not.
Of course, you want to tailor to the couples on Valentine’s Day, but it’s also a good opportunity to target those people who plan to spend the day alone or with their family or friends with “treat yourself” or “Galentine” deals.
This ad is more straightforward than a simple “Galentine” email ad but it saves itself from being too direct by saying “if you have a friend who was recently dumped” instead of directly assuming the recipient has been dumped and it mentioned that breakups are common on Valentine’s Day.
Nonetheless, ads such as this one are a great way to target, not only those people with significant others but also single people, especially those who may be struggling to enjoy Valentine’s day this year.
People also like to dress up for Valentine’s Day, which opens up another set of consumers you could target.
This ad is well done because it offers the option to dress up for both people with someone to celebrate and people who don’t have that person. “Dress for yourself this Valentine’s Day” also has a strong undercurrent of “reclaiming the day,” meaning it encourages those people without dates to enjoy the day despite it all. It’s subtly empowering.
So, here are a few tips for Valentine’s Day emails:
- Start early. You want to have enough time to send multiple emails and build slowly up to Valentine’s Day. Send your email list the first Valentine’s Day email late January or early February to remind them the holiday is coming and that you’re preparing for it as well.
- Send more emails in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. This doesn’t mean send so many that your recipients begin deleting them without opening them. Send only a few reminders about the upcoming holiday with suggestions tailored specifically for the person receiving it. If someone’s already purchased a gift, send them an email suggesting similar products.
- If someone added a product to their digital cart but left without buying, send them an email reminding them to buy it. Emails reminding customers of abandoned carts save about 29% of lost sales. The same Harvard Business Review article says that sales are not only made online. In fact, 79% of customers buy in store rather than online, meaning emails are bringing people into your place of business.
- When the day comes, send one last email. Use it to assure them it’s not too late to get a last-minute present or grab some last minute dinner, as a few examples.
Ads like these are for that person that waited until the last minute to buy a Valentine’s Day gift. It quietly reassures the recipient that it’s not too late and offers them a solution to a problem they may be having.
Make sure to optimize your emails for smartphones as well. According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of U.S adults own smartphones. Many of those people read their email through their phone and not a desktop or laptop. Reading and/or writing emails is the third most popular activity to do on a smartphone. This is why it’s important to make sure the emails you send are optimized for mobile, on the significant chance the person you send it to will open it on their phone.
2 – Use Google’s Display Ads
For Google Ads in general, keeping up with the weather and incoming holidays is very important. You have to make sure you’re changing gears from your regular Google Ads marketing to your extra sweet Valentine’s Day Google Ads marketing when your customers begin to look for Valentine’s Day gifts.
For Google Display Ads, you can even start a little sooner. Like email marketing, display ads can help remind your potential customer that a holiday is approaching and they should start thinking about getting gifts for their loved ones.
Not to mention, display ads work well when used for retargeting those people who visited your site but did not buy anything. Remember that customer who added things to their digital cart and then never finished checking out? Or maybe this customer clicked on a product but never even added it to their cart.
Retargeting with display ads allows you to show them ads for the products they were interested in before, encouraging them one more time to come back and complete their purchase.
Display ads are all about the visuals. Making your call-to-action clear and easy to find, writing an interesting headline, and choosing an impactful image all influences the visual attractiveness of your ad. You want to stand out and make an impression, all while staying true to theme.
Thankfully, there are many examples of ways companies have creatively advertised on Google’s Display Network for Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is a great time to explore your creativity. For example, take a look at the ad below.
The choice to make the background a drawing makes the ad stand out, especially because it prioritizes the Valentine’s Day color scheme over realism. The candy itself is not a drawing but a picture, making it pop out in the ad, but it doesn’t look out of place. The ad is pleasing to look at and makes you think Valentine’s Day even before you read the headline.
The ad is simple and straightforward. The tagline “Valentine’s Gifts She’ll Adore” and the photo after it of a woman kissing the cheek of who we assume is her significant other tell us all we need to know. She is pleased with the presents she received from Pandora, meaning that if you buy your significant other something from Pandora, they will have the same reaction.
Strategically, since this is an ad for a jewelry store, some attention goes to her rings. The color scheme is to-theme and pleasing to the eye. The couple also matches with the color scheme, as they’re both wearing pink. Plus, the call-to-action is clear and easy to find: “Shop Now.”
3 – Use Google’s Search Ads
During the holidays, consumers begin searching for different kinds of terms in Google’s search engine. For Valentine’s Day, you can expect they’ll look for “valentine’s day gifts” or “places to go on valentine’s day.” Accordingly, you should create search campaigns that can help you find those consumers that might be looking for your business–in particular, because of this holiday.
When searching for Valentine’s Day gifts, ads such as the ones below will appear.
Because “for him” is included in the search, the ads are tailored towards gifts for men. Your ads should be tailored in the same way. You should create different ads for different keywords, even though they’re all meant for a Valentine’s Day campaign.
If you don’t happen to sell gifts for men, make sure your ad is not appearing for this search, even if that means making “for him” a negative keyword, meaning your ad will never appear with searches that use that phrase.
It’s important to consider what phrases people are actually searching that may relate to your business. Being broad won’t be especially helpful as many people are specific when they use a search. Often, if they’re looking to visit a place of business, they’ll look for local stores, adding to their searches “near me” or “in San Francisco.”
Speaking of location, make sure to localize your ads as needed. If you only do business in San Francisco, for example, optimize your Google ads campaigns so that they appear only when someone is searching in your area or looking to buy in your area.
For Google Ads, you have to pay for every click, whether that means your regular customers or someone on the other side of the country who cannot physically purchase from you clicks on your ad. Narrow down your targets and make sure you’re finding the people who are most likely to be interested in your business.
4 – Use Google’s Video Ads (on YouTube)
There have been many memorable YouTube Valentine’s Day ads. Valentine’s Day ads are often sappy, sad, and/or sometimes funny, using emotion as the primary way to reel watchers in. Videos are as visual as display ads, but they’re also reliant on audio, movement, and length.
According to a study on the effectiveness of YouTube advertising by Paula R. Rodriguez, certain cues such as music and length affected the level of effectiveness of a YoutTube ad. The more cues and the clearer the message–in other words, the better the communication–the more effective the ad will be.
Take the following video ad, for example. It’s clever, funny, and relatable to many people.
The video format makes it possible to communicate the situation and message without having to say anything, except “how to renovate your relationship.” We don’t even need to hear them say anything to each other. Their wordless actions tell us everything we need to know. This technique is something only videos can do this well.
Now take a look at the following ad. This ad takes the more romantic and heartwarming road.
The ad is trying to defy stereotypes and make itself stand out while still being about love. It does a good job of making a romantic ad without making it too alike other ads. It is heartwarming and clever enough to stand out from the rest.
The great thing about creating Valentine’s Day ad is that the topic of love is so popular, you’re more likely to find people who relate to it than people who don’t. Video ads are also memorable, especially when they make you feel something. Really effective holiday ads have a tendency of being remembered because of their emotional impact or clever execution.
5 – Use Guerrilla Marketing to Put a Spin on Traditional Marketing
Have you ever seen cars driving by painted crazy colors with company logos printed on its doors or windows? Or have you ever seen videos of companies setting up large art-like displays to catch the attention of random passerby? That’s what’s known as guerrilla marketing. It’s an innovative, eye-catching way of promoting your business and Valentine’s Day offers plenty of opportunities to use this kind of marketing.
Like video marketing, guerrilla marketing needs to be engaging and evoke emotion, not only in the consumers participating in it but also in those who may end up watching the experience. The book Your Ad Here: The Cool Sell of Guerrilla Marketing by Michael Serazio notes that guerrilla marketing
like that of word-of-mouth… depends upon a kind of promotional crowd-sourcing–one that is both enabled technologically… and advantageous culturally.
So, guerrilla marketing relies on technology to spread the word but it’s also more small-scale than other kinds of marketing.
For example, let’s look at this guerrilla marketing campaign by the Flower Council of Holland.
The placement of the boxes throughout the city is, specifically, the part of this ad that is guerrilla marketing, known specifically as ambient marketing. This kind of marketing works because it’s surprising and it grabs people’s attention. If done well, it gets your audience involved and often it’s shared by users on social media–an example of how this kind of marketing is also, to a degree, dependent on technology. The use of video makes this ad a video ad as well as a form of guerrilla marketing.
Valentine’s Day would also be a great time to start a “viral challenge.” Viral marketing, such as the famous Ice Bucket Challenge, is another form of guerrilla marketing and with the right combination of engagement, uniqueness and emotional response, as mentioned in our Guerrilla Marketing article, it can be very effective.
For example, in 2013, CNN challenged its viewers to make a six-second video on Vine (before its untimely demise) as a love letter to their loved ones.
It was simple and fun to participate in and heartwarming for others to watch–the perfect combination for Valentine’s Day.
As you can see, Valentine’s Day is the perfect holiday to make creative ads, take risks such as trying out guerrilla marketing, and use the universal theme of “love” to improve your sales and to take part in the Valentine’s Day fun.