Why Marketers Need to Disrupt Valentine’s Day

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What is Valentine’s Day all about? Consumers tend to imagine hearts, chocolate, cupid, and romance. For marketers, it’s all of that — plus dollar signs.

With the holiday’s spending on the rise, however — research reported a projected $1.1 billion increase from 2018 to 2019 — marketers have embraced Valentine’s Day marketing with open arms and open hearts. Consumers’ email inboxes brim with two-for-one deals and “You’ll LOVE This Offer!” campaigns. And when they switch to social media, they find their feeds festooned with meaningless pink and red Valentine’s Day content (often featuring a holiday offer).

Meanwhile, the mailboxes at the end of their driveways stay empty.

In the rush to put out yet another offer or promote a holiday sale, we forget to honor what Valentine’s Day is really about. On a holiday celebrating relationship-building, brands shouting offers and meaningless messages can be deeply off-putting. Revenue, sales, and engagement are certainly important — but there’s a more sincere way to strategize efforts around Valentine’s Day. Instead of sending more offer messages or email blasts, marketers should focus on driving consumer experience and appreciation.

Consumer experience has become the driving factor in purchasing decisions. Given that, it’s more important than ever to create experiences so unique, impactful, and meaningful to consumers that they feel connected to your brand and are willing to purchase more — and purchase more often. They’ll market for you as they spread the word to their networks about the awesomeness of your company. And what better opportunity is there to connect than on Valentine’s Day? Why not make room to celebrate the relationship your brand has with its consumers?

Why Disrupt Valentine’s Day?

To be fair, we’re conditioned to associate Valentine’s Day with romance. As such, many businesses feel like it’s inappropriate to put Valentine’s Day messages in front of their consumers. But marketers need to take a step back and redefine what Valentine’s Day stands for. After all, consumers already do that for themselves.

For the majority of consumers, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate all kinds of love and each of their relationships. Although many of us certainly get a bouquet of flowers and a card from a significant other, we also exchange valentines with our parents and the children in our lives. Then, there’s the meteoric rise of Galentine’s Day (searches related to the event have increased by 400% since 2015) and the projected $886 million consumers spent on valentines for their pets last year. Clearly, consumers don’t confine their celebrations to romantic relationships — so brands shouldn’t have to, either.

4 New Ways to Honor Valentine’s Day

To share the Valentine’s Day love and connect with consumers, consider these four ways to honor the holiday:

1. Show your customers some love. Valentine’s Day is an ideal time to simply let your customers or clients know what they mean to you and how much you appreciate their business. A quick message (“We love customers like you!”) along with a cheerful Valentine’s Day wish is an excellent way to build an authentic relationship with existing consumers and potential buyers alike. When you show your appreciation in this way, consumers see a company that cares.

2. Encourage self-care. For many consumers, Valentine’s Day just reinforces the fact that they’re single — and unfortunately, this makes them feel left out of the traditional Valentine’s Day marketing messages. This is another reason why businesses should simply send appreciation greetings instead of romantic, lovey-dovey sentiments: If your Valentine’s Day marketing focuses exclusively on the romance aspect, you might alienate a huge portion of your audience.

One way to include single consumers is to send messages reinforcing ideas surrounding loving, caring for, and celebrating yourself. You could also go all-in and invite consumers to embrace singledom by celebrating anti-Valentine’s Days such as Singles Awareness Day (Feb. 14 or 15), Singles Day (Nov. 11), or Finland’s Friendship Day (Feb. 14).

3. Celebrate Galentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day’s popularity might be declining, but its sister holiday, Galentine’s Day, is celebrated more and more each year. That’s been the case ever since Leslie Knope from “Parks and Recreation” revealed her annual tradition of getting together with her friends to celebrate strong, independent women. More than 10 years later, Galentine’s Day garners nearly the same volume of mentions on social media as Valentine’s Day. So get in on the action by marketing Galentine’s Day instead of Valentine’s Day. It might help you stand out in a crowded market or even connect more closely with younger Millennial and Generation Z consumers.

4. Recognize the diversity of love. If your marketing honors Valentine’s Day’s message of love and connection, recognize that there are so many different ways to love. Steer away from more traditional romantic marketing and embrace unique love — no matter what it looks like. If that doesn’t already include LGBTQ love, remedy that issue right away. But also look beyond romantic relationships to include love for family, or even jobs and hobbies. Some people’s purest and truest love is for an animal (as reflected in the explosive market for pet valentines), and that should be celebrated, too.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I challenge you to stop sending traditional Valentine’s Day offers and advertising. Instead, try sending a simple message of appreciation to consumers. Whether it’s in the form of a greeting card (“Thank you for sticking with us.”), a thank-you email (maybe even from a real person at your company), or a cute text message the morning of Valentine’s Day, hearing from you could make a difference to someone who might not hear “Happy Valentine’s Day” from anyone else. No buy-one, get-one offer will make a consumer feel more connected to your brand. But if you disrupt traditional Valentine’s Day marketing to honor the consumer-brand relationship in this way, consumers will feel more connected to your message — and therefore more inclined to hear from you and stick with you over the long term.

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