Valentine’s Day is a holiday that some people believe was created for marketing and yet many businesses feel like there is little or nothing they can do to stand out from the crowd in promotions. Selling heart-shaped treats, red-colored anything, love-inspired packages, and coming up with fancy dinners seems like a shoe-in for such a special day, right? Not always so.

Here are a few tips to help your business share the love and reach a wider variety of customers this year:

Offer More Options, To More People

Limiting the menu to a Pre-Fixe can be detrimental. Even though it’s a special occasion and many people do love having a 3-course meal, having nothing else available limits your customers to those who prefer it and those who can afford it. Keeping your standard menu available or at least offering an a la carte menu alongside the pre-fixe might just get you some more reservations from people who want more choices for their special night out.

Besides, pricing your menu and only taking reservations “per couple” pretty much guarantees that you won’t be getting any groups of friends looking to celebrate together.

A recent survey by OpenTable.com of over 3,000 customers who use their website showed that 76% of customers surveyed would go out with friends on Valentine’s Day instead of a romantic partner - it’s likely that means several people already have done that or are planning to! They probably aren’t going to call for a reservation at any place advertising only “per couple” dinner pricing.

Always a favorite restaurant to feature cause they're so gosh-darn business-smart is La Laiterie. They note in their most recent email newsletter that group reservations are emphatically welcome for Valentine’s Day. Generally, smaller restaurants don't accept reservations for parties under six, but the 14th is a great day to make an exception.

Lose the Pronouns in Promotions

Let’s be blunt about this - Valentine’s Day has a long-standing tradition of being marketed directly to the men as a holiday where they need to kick the romance up a notch for their special lady. Of course, some of your customers are those guys. However, many of your customers don’t think or work exclusively in terms of old-fashioned gender roles. Not only will some ladies be the ones who are making the reservations and buying the flowers for their fella, but some others will be making those plans for their special lady. And some guys will be making dinner reservations for a special night out together.  There is no reason your marketing should be aimed at only one gender, or only one type of relationship. It's simple to eliminate the pronouns in your promotions and that way, you won't exclude anyone.

Love is all around at the Duck and Bunny, with 7 courses for you and "someone you love"!

Play to Your Strengths

There are many people wanting to find special gifts and avoid that same old box of chocolates that you can get anywhere. If your business offers something that would make a great gift, flaunt it! Don’t be afraid to be a bit quirky or campy and show that your business is offering an alternative to the ordinary! And look for opportunities to tie-in gift ideas, like these businesses:

Davis Squared has a trunk show coming up, so they remind their Facebook followers that the new products being featured would make great gifts.

Homestyle recently teamed up with In Downcity, a Providence blog that highlights local happenings, to feature unique gifts in a survey asking readers to pick the Valentine they would want to receive!

Is your sweetheart a foodie? Farmstead helps you get it right with their “Lover’s Gift Basket”.

Share the love in the comments and let us know if you have any more tips for out-of-the-ordinary Valentine's Day promotions!

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