Do you know what the second-biggest spending season is after Christmas? You guessed it. Arbor Day.
We’re just kidding. You can obviously read headlines so the answer is Valentine’s Day. And while some might call it a Hallmark Holiday designed to boost spending during the slow months between Christmas and summer, well, so what? Cynics haven’t slowed it down as last year Americans spent $13.9 billion.
That’s enough to buy the Dallas Cowboys 8 times.
And unlike Christmas, this is a season where (mostly) guys will be looking to small businesses to plan that perfect, intimate Valentine’s Day dinner. Or give her the perfect gift, spa treatment, or book. This is a season when a small business can really be an asset to a clueless Valentine’s Day shopper, so here are some things you can do to lure them in.
Offer Advance Discounts.
There are guys out there who actually plan Valentine’s Day ahead of time. You might think these guys share a 3/3 with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, but your business can actually help create some by beginning your promotions early, and offering discounts to the first 30 people who make a reservation at your restaurant, book a treatment in your spa, or give the gift of tax preparation.
Market To People Who Would Marry Their Cars. Or Shoes.
There are, sadly, a great number of guys out there whose girlfriend really is their ’68 Mustang. Or a great number of women whose great love in life is a red pair of Louboutins. And many of these people are single and proud. Design a special ad campaign around “Giving to the one who REALLY matters,” and you’ll find a surprising number of people who’ll spend that Valentine’s Day money on the one they love most: Themselves.
Hook-Up Your Employees.
Notice the lack of the word “with” here. What we’re saying is as cheesy as it is to tell your employees “You’re ALL my valentines,” nobody’s going to complain if you give them movie theater gift cards so they can enjoy Valentine’s Day without you.
Give Something To Your Existing Customers.
Similar to how you should lavish something nice on the person who supports you on Valentine’s Day, rather than chasing potential new…um……”business,” treat the people who turn on your lights like the love of your life and get them something to show your appreciation.
Run A Special On Friday.
There may be some ladies out there who don’t mean it when they say going out the day before Valentine’s Day is “fine.” But that’s not really your problem. Your problem is competing with every restaurant in the world for Valentine’s Day diners, and running a special the day before will have every crowd-hating couple booking a table for the 13th.
Offer The Longest And Shortest Married Couples A Free Dinner.
A lot of people will think they qualify, but only two couples will. You may end up with a restaurant full of newlyweds and old people, but that may prove entertaining enough in and of itself.
Promote For Single Ladies.
For single guys, Valentine’s Day might be better than Christmas. For single ladies, well, make it Christmas-like for them by offering stuff like free champagne for groups of females who come to your bar. Because if single guys know there are single girls drinking champagne alone on Valentine’s Day at your bar, they’ll pretty much pay any price you ask.
Print Your Own Valentine’s Day Cards.
Hand them out to everyone – Handing out fliers for your business on the street is annoying and litter causing 364 days a year. But make it a Valentine? All of a sudden you’ve made someone’s day. Bring a pen and fill in their name under the “To” line to personalize it, and they will 100 percent take it home and show it to someone. If only to say “The only Valentine I got this year was from a dry cleaner.”
Find Out Where Men Go, And Put Products There.
For instance, say you’re a clothing store, spa, salon or shoe store and want guys to buy their ladies something at your business. Talk to a local sports bar, auto mechanic, cigar shop or other guy-centric business and ask them to sell gift certificates to your store. Then offer to reverse the roles before Father’s Day. Everyone loves a one-stop shop!