Parting is such sweet sorrow—and so is failing to make the most of this $13.2 billion holiday
For a holiday filled with candy hearts and chubby Cupids, Valentine’s Day can be daunting for small business owners. With everyone looking for the right way to say “I love you,” the volume of orders, exhausted staff and last-minute calls can spell doom, even for an established business. Here are four tips to survive—and perhaps even thrive—this February 14.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare
For Dana Cook, owner of Julia’s Florist in Wilmington, North Carolina, Valentine’s Day planning begins on February 15. Each year, her staff debriefs after the holiday, sharing what worked and what didn’t. This helps small staffs avoid the same costly mistakes year after year.
The shop places its Valentine’s product orders months in advance and brings on temporary help—and rental vehicles and space—to support its design and delivery efforts. The business continues to grow, Cook says, and with so many factors at play, very early planning is key to success. For example, Valentine’s Day revenue is dependent on the day of the week the holiday falls, with Thursday being the best and Sunday the worst for business. With $403 million in fresh-cut flowers sold last year, according to the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, it’s imperative for business owners to stay organized in order to maximize every dollar.
2. Market on multiple platformsIt’s hard to find the marketing sweet spot between the hectic holiday shopping season and February 14, says Chantale Escobar, owner and designer of Eclectique Collection, a handmade-jewelry company in Roselle Park, New Jersey. Instead of wasting marketing resources when consumers are sick of spending, she offers affordable deals in the month leading up to Valentine’s Day. Escobar, also a graphic designer, markets her products heavily online on her Wordpress blog, the handmade-marketplace Etsy and social media sites.
so much competition online,” she says, “you have to look at what others are
doing, figure out how you can make your products stand out and also make them
affordable.” Using keyword tags on her blog and hashtags on Instagram, Escobar
is able to attract customers who are on the hunt for custom pieces, like her
uniquely personal charm bracelets and intricate wire wrappings.
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important to reach your audience with targeted ads and promotions leading up to
the holiday. Cook regularly purchases ad space on the local ESPN radio channel
in January and February to remind its primarily male listeners to place their
floral orders—before it’s too late and they end up in the dog house.
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3. Keep staff happyWith staff members working long hours and enduring the stress of the holiday rush, Cook keeps them happy with catered meals on February 12, 13 and 14. “When people get hungry, they can lose enthusiasm,” she says. And new this year, Cook is bringing on a “happiness helper” to keep spirits high. If someone is looking overwhelmed, the helper can offer him or her “a little something—a snack or trinket— to show our appreciation,” says Cook. Whether it’s a free meal, some extra time off after the big day or even a favorite candy bar, small gestures help show staff that owners and management understand and appreciate their extra effort.
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4. Make a statementDespite it being a one-day holiday, don’t be afraid to put a little personality behind your efforts and offerings, says Escobar. “You have to hook them the first time they see your products,” she says, “otherwise you will lose them.” Riffing on the love theme, she features customized name wire wrappings and jewelry with hearts to encourage holiday orders.
A big part of Escobar’s business is custom orders, when clients often commission her to rework scratched or broken pieces of jewelry into something new. “I like giving broken pieces new life,” she says, admitting that the work has become part of her company’s mission, to show people that there’s still value and beauty in the used and discarded. In that vein, she encourages other business owners to take a closer look at the core of their business and find ways to show consumers a little love on that special day.