According to the National Retail Federation, 55% of Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day. For brands and retailers, that’s not too shabby given the average spend per person is around $147.

But here’s the problem with Valentine’s Day; for many of us it’s a day that creates a lot of unnecessary stress, unmet expectations and quite frankly, a lot of money spent on cards that eventually get tossed in the trash. Whether you celebrate the day with a loved one or sob over Boys II Men songs while stuffing your face with chocolate, the love hate relationship we have with Valentine’s Day can feel a lot like the relationship we are trying to build with today’s tech-savvy consumers on their path to purchase – sometimes we catch our bait, other times our bait plays hard to get.

Fortunately, there is a lot to learn from the stresses that this holiday inflicts. So, here are three common beliefs that often cause a minor panic attack on Valentine’s Day, how they relate to some of the hurdles marketers are facing year round, and ways to take your relationship with your consumers to the next level.

1. My Relationship Status Is Not Clear
Believe it or not, not knowing where you stand in your relationship, particularly on Valentine’s Day, can cause a huge strain on whatever relationship you think you’re in. On the flip side, Valentine’s Day can actually be a moment of clarity to your “are we” or “are we not” status. If you don’t have clear communication in a relationship, then you’re going to find yourself lost and confused. Just like your consumer, if you don’t know the context of where they are in relation to the product you are promoting, you’re going to find yourself frustrated and left out in the cold.

With the significant rise in mobile usage, location-based targeting is becoming a commodity. Pretty soon, every single one of us with a smartphone will be tracked by our every move. But the power in location isn’t just understanding a single point in time, but an ability to understand patterns. What you should be collecting are the data points along the consumers journey. By using this intelligence to determine the particular places where a consumer would most likely be receptive to your message is what will ideally set your location-based offers apart from the rest and move you from “it’s complicated” to “in a relationship.”

2. I Am Worried She/He Won’t Like The Gift I Bought
This is going to get personal but, I can’t help but think back to a Valentine’s Day about 10 years ago when my dad bought my mom a gift from Victoria’s Secret. Now, you’re probably thinking some sleek negligee or even a bottle of perfume. Not quite. To my mom’s surprise, her gift was a flannel pajamas set. We’re not sure what planet my dad was on when he purchased this for her because if you knew my mom she is far from the flannel “type.” Luckily, my dad redeemed himself next year and it’s safe to say it was the first and last time he ever bought her flannel.

Here’s the point – knowing what excites and what doesn’t excite your consumer will save you a lot of disappointment, a lot of time and a lot of money. Yes, my mom shops at Victoria’s Secret, but what she prefers and purchases at Victoria’s Secret may be far different from what Sally’s mom – who is the same age, falls in the same income bracket and lives in the same zip code – prefers. It’s this type of granular shopper intelligence you should be collecting and utilizing in your campaigns instead of just assuming that all 40 year old women who shop at Victoria’s Secret like flannel.

Let’s face it, the wealth of products and the way consumers consume products has made it increasingly more difficult for marketers to target their ideal shoppers. So, you need to get a little more personal. Go for the sophisticated negligee, not the basic flannels. Try adding some additional TLC to your generic demographics with data points that inform you of a shopper’s behavior such as brand affinities, price sensitivity, purchase intent and optimal times to send a message. If you can master the data, you can really target the customers you want.

3. What If I Fail to Meet Expectations?
Oh boy, that diamond ring and knee drop she was expecting but never got… I won’t go there but, we’ve heard it happen far too many times. Not knowing what your significant other is expecting – especially on a holiday where statistics show 6 million people expect a proposal – can somewhat relate to not knowing where your products are at the onset of a promotion or marketing campaign. You’re definitely going into the fire blind and boy, do you get blindsided.…

If your current platform or solution isn’t meeting your product inventory and local availability expectations, then it’s probably time you break up and look for a richer, more intelligent solution or platform that can provide real-time inventory data, competitive cost analysis and ways to redirect your campaign to push consumers to stores that only have your promoted product in-stock.

So, what have we learned about marketing and Valentine’s Day? Well for starters, don’t promote flannels to a consumer that doesn’t like flannel. Second, pushing relevant messages to shoppers at a time and place that is most convenient for them will eventually end in a happily ever after. Lastly, don’t expect your marketing efforts to always work. Expectation is the root of disappointment and heartache and like any long-term sustainable relationship, you must work hard, be patient, and never loose sight of the reason why you started that consumer on their path-to-purchase journey.

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