Valentine's Day is a big deal for marketing firms. The holiday's commercial slant has made it ideal for developing marketing campaigns around happy couples, gifts and the air of romance that's all around. However, there are other, perhaps less obvious, lessons to be learned from these marketing efforts and audience responses that are critical to success during this season of love—and any time of the year. The most successful companies know how to leverage these techniques to make their customer experience truly exceptional, so what better strategy than to learn from those who have achieved marketing success with the holiday already?
These professionals from Ad Age Collective share a few valuable lessons derived from Valentine's Day marketing efforts, and explain why these lessons are essential for other businesses hoping to achieve success.
1. Align communication with compelling motivation.
Valentine's Day marketing by dating networks reminds us how important it is to align communications with the motivations compelling each of us. From leveraging humor to the power of love, the period between the New Year (when many of us make resolutions for improvement) and Valentine's Day becomes a six-week marketing strategy sprint in which the most creative and compelling wins. - Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide
2. Create opportunities to share the love.
Valentine’s Day is all about sharing love, and the brands breaking through are those who are focused on that context. The Body Shop is asking people to blow a kiss to their friends on Instagram and tag it with #sendingakiss. Nina Ricci is asking its fans to post pictures of them with their BFF to Instagram and use the hashtag #MyBestValentine. These efforts not only engage their audience, but also leverage their audience to recruit new members. Brands able to identify the context of the moment and work with their audience to create experiences to fulfill those needs don’t just break through, they grow. - Mathew Sweezey, Salesforce
3. Aim to be what they need at the right time and place.
Consumers have very specific and, usually, immediate needs on Valentine’s Day or any major holiday. Take those lessons to show that a brand should fulfill a very specific need in a consumer’s life and be there for them at the right time and place. An omnichannel and targeted strategy is key here. - Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
4. Break the mold and disrupt yourself.
Valentine's Day seemed to be unchangeable. The roses, the chocolates, the sappy couples—and the terrible movies. Then Deadpool came along and changed all that. Now brands look to subvert expectations when Valentine's rolls around, as all businesses should do. Even if you think your industry is stable, it could change in a flash, so don't be afraid to disrupt yourself before someone else does! - Patrick Ward, Rootstrap
5. Connect with your customers through experiences.
Branding has evolved from words and pictures to experiences, so holidays present a prime opportunity for companies to connect with their customers. In particular, Valentine’s Day is a special moment, an emotional experience, in which companies can engage and connect with their customers—specifically with custom-named campaigns that connect their brand with the holiday and the emotions of the day. Dunkin’ has created both “Dunkin Love” and Dunkintines to engage customers during their Valentine gift giving. Pizza Hut created a contest using #LastMinuteLovers and Uber had #RomanceOnDemand. All of these brands, and many others, use specific campaigns with clever names and catchphrases to engage their customers in the moment that’s authentic to their brand, and aligned with the experience of Valentine’s Day. - Aaron Hall, Siegel+Gale
6. Ensure your audience ‘feels’ your brand.
Powerful brands win. Branding is powerful, period. It’s what people hear, see, think, and feel—and the impressions that are formed as a result of their experiences with your product/service or business as a whole. Hearts and the colors red and pink make us think of (and feel) Valentine’s Day, even if it’s December. Businesses that have invested the time and intent in cultivating and positioning their brand will reap the benefits. It’s never too late to get this right, to go back to the drawing board even after years in operation and refresh your brand, beginning with the internal question, “What is our brand, now?” - Caryn Anderson, Operation HOPE
7. Give customers the chance to share their stories.
Yes, Valentine's Day is about marketing traditional products and services, but it is also an opportunity to engage with our customers and allow each to tell their story—what is most important to them. We love hearing their unique stories, from their unique perspectives. From those who are home, to those deployed and away from loved ones, it reminds us what is most important! - Rich Honiball, Navy Exchange Service Command