By Kylie Jane Wakefield
Holidays are fantastic for businesses. Potentially, they can lead to an increase in sales and help boost a business’s image even after they’re over. With Valentine’s Day coming up- and rather quickly!- it makes sense for small businesses to take advantage and tap into the holiday, cash spending opportunity with a variety of marketing techniques.
According to SEOptimise, Valentine’s Day is right behind Christmas in terms of big spending. Retailers and certain small businesses have the chance to rake in huge profits leading up to and during this holiday.
A Business Insider article from 2011 claims that over half of the population in America celebrates the holiday, and it was found that 60% of all Valentine’s Day spending happens in the five days before and on the holiday itself, according to TIME. Last year, the average amount a person spent on the holiday was $126.03. A range of $25 to $50 was spent on gifts, but many people also spent money on restaurants and other romantic outings. The total amount expected to be spent on Valentine’s Day was $17.6 billion.
The bottom line is: Don’t miss out. If you can, take the opportunity to market your business and get customers spending in 2013. Here are some ways in which your company should already be appealing to shoppers during the Valentine’s Day season.
1. Use Social Media to Promote Deals
Customers are always looking for a good deal. They are more technologically savvy than ever, subscribing to brands on social media sites, purchasing deals on sites like Yelp and Groupon, and researching for the best price on discount websites. Since 20% of Valentine’s Day gifts were bought online last year, your small business should be meeting them in the middle.
You can announce sales on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other social media account. Offer discounts to fans or to people willing to post a company-themed hashtag. That way, both you and your customers are benefiting from this small action. Remember also that a whopping 97% of text messages are opened, so be sure to offer your customers deals and coupons through that channel as well.
According to Search Engine Watch, in 2012, the top search keywords around Valentine’s Day included “valentines day meals,” “diy valentines gifts,” “valentines day drinks,” and “valentines day baskets.” Blogs and newsletters need to hone in on these trends occurring in the U.S. Think about it: DIY is trending because of the economy. “Meals” is a popular keyword because people might want to cook at home. Look at popular news items, YouTube videos and memes. A “Gangnam Style” parody for the holiday—why not? How about a funny cat photo that includes your brand logo? The possibilities are endless.
The blogs posted need to make specific references to Valentine’s Day. In the Search Engine Watch article, Microsoft suggests including calls to action, promotional information and words that inspire confidence in site visitors. Some themes that customers will be interested in are gift ideas (with links to your online store), holiday-themed stories and ways in which they can celebrate. Remember: Any content that is fun, useful, entertaining and informative will have a better chance of resonating with consumers.
3. Hold an In-Store Event
Although many consumers are shopping online these days, foot traffic is still going to be prevalent. A small business could hold an in-store event and include a catered party of festive treats (think cookies, candy hearts, champagne, chocolate). An upbeat evening with a live local band would be entertaining as well. “Throw in festive gift wrapping and a holiday incentive, such as 10% off or a free gift with purchase, and you are on your way to a successful ‘mini’ event!” says Nicole Reyhle of Retail Minded. Make sure to incorporate kids’ activities to attract parents into your store and send out reminders the day before the event.
The best place to run any sort of holiday contest is on social media. Try running a sweepstakes, where in exchange for a “like” on Facebook or a follow on Twitter, a customer will receive a shopping spree at your business. Creative contests that require consumers to make videos or take photos are also useful. While they’re entering for a chance at winning a prize, your company is also receiving content to post. Make sure to know the rules of contests before running them, however, to protect your business and your consumers.
These guidelines for this romantic and profitable holiday will be relevant for years to come. Social media is only growing, and holidays are always going to be a time when Americans are in the mood to shop. Make sure you have a plan of action this Valentine’s Day and the next.