Tips for a Valentine’s Day business plan

Businesses should embrace Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is on the horizon and, like it or not, is a major industry for a one-day event, with annual spending consistently reaching into the billions over the past few years, according to statistics by IBISWorld. While some businesses may scoff at the "Hallmark" holiday, they should nevertheless acknowledge that the holiday has become a veritable institution readily embraced – and even enjoyed – by many. 

This Valentine's may be an opportunity for those cynics to finally take part in the celebratory airs sincerely. In the spirit of the day, companies can embrace promotional giveaways, office presents and other means of morale-boosting and marketing.

Crunching the numbers
Some industries fare better during Valentine's Day than others. According to The Atlantic, dining out was estimated to be the highest Valentine's Day expense last year for the U.S. population, with more than $9.6 billion being spent on a special meal, based on data from IBISWorld. That's nearly half of the estimated $20 billion spent in 2012. Candy was the next largest expense, nearly $2.9 billion spent on sweets. Romantic getaways followed with more than $2.3 billion estimated. Flowers and jewelry both hovered around $1.7 billion, while clothing and lingerie combined averaged around $1.26 billion. One of the cheapest expenses also happened to be one of the lowest expenditures – greeting cards were estimated to have cost the U.S. population less than 0.9 billion.

The recipients of those gifts may be a little more surprising. Only a little more than half of those expenditures went toward romantic partners, with family taking up 20 percent, followed by friends at 7 percent and teachers at 5 percent. Co-workers tied with pets at 4 percent.

The business model
Companies that specialize in the travel, restaurant or gift card industry probably already have enough on their plate in terms of celebrating Valentine's Day. However, other businesses have just as many reasons to throw their hats into the ring. According to Small Business Trends, Valentine's Day can be a great opportunity for small businesses to to edge out larger companies through unique and interesting gifts for consumers. This idea can be extended to include innovative and eye-catching marketing campaigns that set your business apart for the holiday. 

Pens and customized calendars are standard promotional fare, and can be a helpful gift for people who tend to forget important dates. They're also a simple way to get a company's name out and demonstrate a little generosity. However, small businesses need not be afraid to innovate their gifts or the ways in which they present them. A lottery for a romantic getaway, an all-expenses paid evening out or a gift package of sweets and treats can be tempting way to get consumers to interact with a company. These giveaways can then be packaged inside promotional items, such as backpacks or totes. For the risk-taking crowd, businesses can keep the contents of a Valentine's gift tote a secret until after it's won. 

Businesses‚Äč can also find ways of utilizing more cost-effective prizes in more interesting ways. Customized calendars are an inexpensive and practical gift with a lot of potential. One way to utilize them is to circle differing dates in a number of calendars with various discounts associated with them. Recipients of the calendars will then win those discounts for that specific date. That way, the calendar becomes an integral part of the gift and also prompts the winner to use it. 

Co-workers deserve to feel some love, too. Employers can show their appreciation for their colleagues by offering small tokens of appreciation, including promotional pens, candy and even a notepad with a kind and encouraging message written on it. 

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