Happy Valentine’s Day all! A few weeks ago, I received an email offer from one of my favorite New England gold courses with the subject line “A Sweetheart of a Valentine’s Golf Deal.” The first line of the email simply read, “Flowers fade. Chocolates are quickly gone. But the gift of a bluebird day on a golf course in Maine? THAT says love!” and proceeded to offer me an early-bird deal on golfing this spring. Now for anyone familiar with the current weather in New England, we are more than a few months away from hitting the links. But that’s not the question that came to my head. Instead, I was curious, is marketing an off target product or service effective around an upcoming holiday?
Obviously, if your micro business sells chocolates, flowers, jewelry or other traditional Valentine’s Day gifts, marketing around Valentine’s Day is a must. But in the case of this golf promotion, did the company have to pull Valentine’s Day into their email marketing campaign to be effective? Was it relevant? Chances are I’d be enticed to save a few dollars on a round of golf whether it was tied into Valentine’s Day or not, so it was at least a good reason to get in touch with me.
But let’s take a closer look at what you should consider and think about before doing a campaign specifically around non-traditional “holidays.”
- Staying Connected: If you have an existing mailing list that customers and potential customers have opted into, you want to reach out to them often with news and offers. Valentine’s Day gives you an opportunity to reach out with an offer, even if your product or service is not a perfect match for the holiday (i.e. the golf outing offer mentioned above). Valentine’s Day (or any holiday) can also be used as a reason just to check-in and say hi and wish everyone a happy holiday. Most importantly, you want to stay top of mind with your customers, so events are always a good reason to reach out, even if you’re not strictly selling.
- Good Timing: Chances are if you use direct mailing/email marketing, you exhausted your mailing list leading up to the busy holiday season last November and December. After giving your list a rest in January, Valentine’s Day gives you a reason to ramp back up with an offer and recent news. As a marketer you have to look for opportunities to reach out, and with a lull between January and February, this could be a good chance.
- Annoying Your Customers: While customers and potential customers may have signed up for your mailing list, you don’t want to seem like you are intruding on their inbox. Most times, customers want to hear from you when you have a relevant offer for them, rather than trying to shoehorn your business into a holiday that doesn’t make sense. Going back to the golf promotion, did they have to connect their offer to Valentine’s Day? Probably not.
- Valentine’s Day Scrooges: Given the love and romanticism tied to Valentine’s Day, many folks are turned off by it; some do not even recognize it as a “holiday.” Depending on your target market and demographics, you stand the chance of annoying your target base by trying to leverage a holiday some aren’t a “fan” of. So be careful, know what your customers want and want they are likely to react poorly to.
Unfortunately, there is no clear cut do or don’t when it comes to marketing on various non-traditional holidays such as Valentine’s Day. You have to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks. But as is the case with all marketing, knowing your customer base is paramount. You need to have a feel for what works and what doesn’t, and what your customers will respond to versus what they won’t. It’s always better to air on the side of caution, rather than turning off a large portion of your customer base. And of course you can always test an offer on a holiday like Valentine’s Day to a portion of your list and gauge the reaction. If it’s a positive one, St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner
So what’s your approach to Valentine’s Day marketing? Do you hold off on reaching out to your customers, or do you use the holiday as a reason to reconnect?
On another note, I didn’t end up buying the rounds of golf, but next time around, that might change.