Spending big dollars for Valentine’s Day is for suckers. Impressing someone doesn’t have to be expensive – you just need to spend your money wisely. And who knows more about return on investment, or ROI, than marketers?
(This article was published on the Marketo blog.)
Ladies and gentleman, let me reveal my secret formula for Valentine’s Day success, guaranteed to impress – or your money back. The best part? Using my marketing-inspired method, you can woo your sweetheart for less than $100.
Know Your Audience
A key principal in marketing is to know your audience. As marketers, we use demographic and behavioral data to learn as much as we can about our audience, which is how we create relevant, engaging campaigns. You might also create buyer personas, which summarize both broad and specific information about your ideal buyer.
When it comes to impressing your Valentine, the more specifics you know, the more relevant (and the more appreciated) your date will be.
- What colors does he/she most frequently wear?
- Does he/she prefer classic fine dining or culinary adventure?
- What’s his/her favorite perfume or cologne?
- Is he/she a dog person, or a cat person?
Know all the answers? If not, take a cue from a marketer: it’s time to do some research. Marketers conduct buyer research by using marketing automation to track online and offline behaviors, or by conducting interviews/surveys with customers and prospects. They use that research to create buyer personas and buyer journeys, so they know exactly what to say and how to say it.
To find out specifics about your date, try these techniques:
- Scouring his/her social networking profiles, website, or blog
- Interviewing his/her friends and co-workers
- Dropping casual questions the next time you talk – for example, “You smell amazing, what’s that scent called?”
Of course, the trick to a successful Valentine’s Day is not the day itself, but the relationship you’ve developed over time. This is a lot like lead nurturing – marketers develop relationships with leads long before they’re ready to buy. Rather than coming on too strong with a sales pitch, good marketers gradually convince you that their product is best for you.
So how can you “nurture” your Valentine?
Marketers nurture with personalized, relevant email messages – why not follow their lead? Try a handwritten note with a personal message. Keep it relevant and timely with a message specific to the holiday, and customize by including an inside joke or a personalized compliment.
Handwritten Note Cost = $0
Marketers love to talk about multi-channel marketing – campaigns are most effective when they span multiple channels and techniques. For example, a direct mail campaign can be strengthened by an associated email send and a social push. Use this technique for your Valentine by combining handwritten notes with digital messages: SMS, Facebook ,Snapshat, etc.
Here are some creative ideas for “multi-channel” wooing:
- Send a YouTube link to his/her favorite song
- Make him/her laugh – send a meme or a funny YouTube clip
- Send a quote from his/her favorite song’s lyrics
Digital Note Cost = $0
Use a Strong Call-to-Action
Good marketing always has a strong call-to-action (or CTA): an invitation, a special offer, a free download, or a subscription. For Valentine’s Day, your CTA might be an invitation to spend the day (or just dinner!) together.
Send Flowers BEFORE Valentine’s Day
This is unexpected and much cheaper than day-of deliveries. Take a lesson from smart marketers, who always try to do what everyone else isn’t doing. If you aren’t following the herd, you won’t get lost in the noise. Use the flowers as part of your CTA – they’ll double as your invitation to the fantastic date you’re going to plan.
As marketers, we’re always looking for the perfect time to send an email – if we’re sending to a personal email address, we send it outside of work hours; if we’re sending to a work email, we’ll send it during the workday. You need to strategize your flower delivery in the same way – find out the time of delivery, and make sure your flowers arrive in the right place.
Flower Cost = $40-60
Mind Blowing Digital Invitation
Marketers know that digital campaigns result in the highest ROI, but that doesn’t mean they should look cheap. The trick to digital marketing is to be as creative as possible – otherwise it looks boring and lazy.
If you decide to send him/her a digital Valentine’s Day card, don’t settle for a typical e-card. Try this technique instead:
- Find a picture of his/her favorite actor
- Record your voice saying “Dear <his/her name>, will you be my valentine?”
- Find someone on Fiverr (this service would work) to create an animated video of the actor speaking your message
- Upload the video to YouTube and send him/her a link, or send the video via email
You can use the same technique with a dog/cat picture (depending on his/her preference), or with his/her favorite song as background music. Make sure you send this during office hours so that the whole office can admire your handiwork.
Card Cost = $5-10
Every event marketer knows that preparation and organization is the key to running a successful event. Your Valentine’s Day plan is no different, so if you’ve waited until now to find a dinner reservation, you’re probably out of luck.
Luckily for you, while most people are crowding into restaurants, there’s a way for you to stand out from the pack.
The answer: a picnic. Yup, a picnic.
This won’t just be any picnic. You still have time to organize the most romantic picnic ever had. How? By using a powerful marketing technique called personalization. Using your vast knowledge of his/her preferences (or the research you’ve conducted on the fly!), you’ll create a picnic specifically tailored to your Valentine.
Choosing a Venue
Finding the perfect venue is half the battle: find a park near the beach, or a spot by a river, or somewhere with an amazing view. Weather not cooperating? You’ve got two options – bring plenty of blankets, or take it indoors. Why not build a romantic tepee in your living room? Run a Google search for “indoor tepee instructions” for plenty of awesome ideas. Good marketers always make sure that they have a plan A, B, C, and sometimes D for an event to go off without a hitch.
Here’s your pre-event planning checklist:
- What time will the sun set? You want to start while it’s still light and watch the sun go down.
- How will you arrive at your location? If you’re driving to an outdoor spot, map out your route ahead of time.
- What’s your back-up plan? Make a list of everything that could reasonably go wrong, and how you’ll accommodate it.
Venue Cost = $0.
For a classy picnic, you can’t go wrong with Italian or French. But don’t assume that one size fits all – that’s like sending the same offer or email to every member of your audience. Take a cue from marketers, and make it personal and relevant: make sure you’re fully aware of any food allergies, dietary restrictions, or dislikes. Here’s an easily customization, portable grocery list for your perfect picnic:
- Crackers – the most artisan, gourmet, expensive ones that you can find. If your date is gluten-adverse, substitute with apple slices, crudité, or gluten-free crackers
- Meat – try prosciutto, salami, mortadela, jamon or cold chicken. For the vegetarian, substitute smoked tofu or a fancy hummus.
- Cheese – camembert, brie, double brie. Some people have strong feelings about the stinkier cheeses – does he/she love them, or hate them?
- Melon – ask your grocer for help in picking one that’s ripe, and slice it beforehand to avoid a mess.
- Champagne or sparkling wine
- Strawberries and chocolate for desert – find out if he/she likes dark or milk chocolate first.
Food Cost = $40-50
And there you go — a fool-proof, marketing-inspired Valentine’s Day plan guaranteed to win anyone’s heart. Unfortunately for me, I now have to come up with a completely different plan – my wife is probably reading this article!