14 last-minute Valentine’s Day marketing ideas for retail and high street businesses

8 Feb 2022

Valentine’s Day can be the first burst of profitable activity high-street businesses experience after the Xmas and New Year activity fades. For some, the increased activity and sales are more achievable. You’d expect gift shops, card shops, chocolatiers, florists and restaurants to be busy on the days leading to February 14. Salons and barbers also enjoy more sales as we get groomed for the night out. Here we’re going to suggest 14 quick, cheap promotional and marketing ideas you can put into practice over the next few days with little effort. The suggestions will be generic, so you’ll have to select which ideas fit your business.

14 red petals on black background

1: Create a special menu

This idea is for cafes and restaurants specifically, and it’s a natural change. You can create a romantic menu for the day, and it doesn’t have to be over-complicated and costly because the change will only last a day. Simple extra menus or just an addition to the sweet and pudding options can generate interest and increase sales on the day.

 2: Use social media

It’s now time to contact your database of loyal customers and offer them something. If you’re a gift shop, you should have already bought extra stock to cope with the demand; it’s now time to ensure the items don’t stick. Short sharp messages and images on Insta, Twitter and Meta might have success.

 3: Use boards and the shop window

The most underused and free advertising space you own is your shop window. You can decorate it for close to zero cost with a bit of imagination to generate excitement. Got an exclusive offer? Write it on the window. And if you have an A-board, you can put it to use even if the board is already sign written. Just use temporary writing that will wash off later.

 4: Print some flyers

If you have a laptop and printer, you can quickly create some flyers and distribute them to your neighbouring businesses. Don’t be shy; if you pick up the kids from school, hand the flyers out to other parents. And why not stand outside the premises and hand them out?

 5: Chat with your high street neighbours

It’s always puzzling how reticent we are about personal promotion. You’ve spent thousands to set up your business, but the “build it, and they will come” theory doesn’t work. 

You are your best salesperson; you’re proud of your efforts. So, chat to your neighbouring non-competing businesses about joint ventures now and later in the year and use those flyers.

 6: Offer incentives

Free desserts if you’re a café or restaurant, free drinks if you’re a bar, reduced colour treatments if you’re a salon, all promoted on that free window space mentioned earlier.

 7: Bundle up offers

Buy this and get that at a reduced cost. For example, if you’re a florist and not selling discounted chocolates, you’re missing a trick. If you’re a sweet shop or newsagent why not talk to the florist about joint efforts if you sell chocolates and sweets? You give away a single red rose with every box of chocolates bought from the florist, and they buy your chocolates.

 8: Discounts

A discount on any relevant Valentine’s gifts or experiences might work. A 10% voucher given on the day to get redeemed later in the year could work as a quick promotion.

 9: Give gifts

We all like freebies and gifts. A red rose at the side of the dinner table or a couple of chocolates perfectly boxed and wrapped to take away after a salon or restaurant visit can create an excellent impression with existing and new clients.

 10: Offer free items

If you’re a restaurant or café, why not offer a free Valentine’s course or coffee? If you’re a salon, offer a free colour with a cut. If you’re a gift shop, why not supply a free Valentine’s item if the customer spends over £20?

 11: Create unique attractions

Let’s say you’re a bar; why not create a new Valentine’s cocktail for the night? With a bit of joined-up thinking, you can use it on the flyers and post a perfect image on social media with a buy one, get another free tagline.

 12: Create interest

There’s always a bit of panic with Valentine’s Day. Most of us leave the restaurant booking and gift buying until the last minute. You can use this to your advantage by encouraging your database of clients to book and buy early. 

 13: Change uniform for the day

Red and black appear to be the dress code for many staff on the day. Perhaps an investment in red shirts and blouses is worth the cost.

 14: Raffle a prize

Now is the ideal time to promote a quick raffle. You can organise it as part of your social media reach or use the previously mentioned flyers to promote the raffle and the prizes.

So we’ve covered 14 last-minute ideas that might work on the day and the night. It’s now up to you to decide which combination of ideas and incentives might work best for your business. 

Every promotion listed should be cost-effective. If you require finance to increase your stock on the day or to finance any promotional expense, your business might need a funding option like a short-term overdraft. You can begin the enquiry process here. 

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Courteney Way
Courteney Way

Marketing Director

Courteney Way is the Marketing Director at Funding Options, raising the profile of the fast-growth fintech within the ecosystem and building brand awareness as a vital provider of finance solutions to SMEs. For the past ten years, she has worked across UK, European and South African markets and In 2022, she was recognised as part of Women in Fintech Powerlist.

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