There are plenty of reactionary voices that point to Valentine’s Day as another consumer-driven holiday engineered by businesses to make money. But the truth is, there are also millions of people that celebrate Valentine’s Day as a day focused on romance, love, and intimacy. And if the old adage, “the key to the heart is through the stomach,” is true, that means you can’t afford to leave the holiday out of your restaurant marketing.
Why Valentine’s Day Matters to Restaurants
According to a survey from Statistic Brain, nearly 62% of consumers will celebrate Valentine’s Day, spending roughly $13.3 billion annually. Of those spending money, over a third (34.6%) will go out to eat and another 12.6% will purchase gift cards (a portion of which will be for restaurants). That’s a healthy chunk of spending that makes it worth investing in Valentine’s Day restaurant marketing. A hearty strategy will help bring you a good return on your investment.
Design Your Valentine’s Day Marketing
If you want guests to be struck with Cupid’s arrow and fall in love with your restaurant, you need to put effort into romancing them. One of the first places to start is with your advertising.
Target Your Local Area
Take advantage of services like Valpak to reach out to the community around you. Direct mail is effective for sharing special offers with current and potential diners, especially if you take full advantage of services that allow you to segment and personalize mailers.
Direct mail is effective for sharing special offers with current and potential diners, especially if you take full advantage of services that allow you to segment and personalize mailers.
Utilize Search Engine Marketing
The role of paid search can’t be underestimated, especially in an increasingly mobile world. Take advantage of major platforms like Google Adwords and brush up your SEM to ensure your restaurant features prominently in key ad spots.
Pay for Social Advertising
Social advertising claims a large portion of mobile advertising; Facebook alone claims 19% of $70 billion spent on ads in 2015 and 22% of American’s mobile internet time. Don’t pass up an easy opportunity to reach a targeted audience.
Heart Your Radio
Believe it or not, in the rising digital age, 90% of adults still listen to the radio at some point throughout their week. In fact, radio reaches 54% of the US daily. This will boost the effect of your other advertising campaigns, especially if you take advantage of popular radio personalities.
Your physical restaurant itself is one of the best marketing tools you have, so be sure to show it some love throughout your campaign. Wait staff should mention any special promotions—especially to couples who are regular guests—and have clear signage and fliers to help entice them to dine at your restaurant on the holiday.
Speaking of your actual restaurant, it’s important to remember to craft the right atmosphere for Valentine’s Day. The decor, music, and even your menu, should reflect the type of experience you want your guests to have, and some of that transition can begin before February 14 to help build anticipation.
Extra Tips for Full Hearts
Don’t forget that you can and should do more than just cut prices for the day, and any special offering should work its way into your marketing. For instance, Statistic Brain also reports that more than half of women (53%) said they would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentine’s Day, which may include a romantic night out and a fabulous dinner. You can further expand on that by offering gifts like flowers or candies.
Partner with Other Local Businesses
Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to partner with other local businesses. For the night, or the whole week, you might consider adding luxurious, hand-crafted chocolates from a local candy store to your menu. If you already have a menu full of decadent desserts, you could hand out a coupon for that store with your bills all week. That store could also include coupons for you along with every sale they make.
Adjust Your Menu
Consider having a specialty menu printed up for the day. This could be as elaborate as an intimate prix fixe menu or as simple as making menu favorites shaped like hearts. The more you can make it feel special, the more attractive it will be to guests who are celebrating. It could also be sent to your preferred demographic prior to the holiday as part of your direct mail reservation campaign.
Most importantly, you should start your marketing campaign now! This is one holiday that people still plan for in advance. If you wait too long, a competitor could capture your diner’s attention first. You should be courting Valentine’s Day guests by the end of January at the latest.
What it comes down to is this: if you want to win hearts (and dollars), you need to market your restaurant around Valentine’s Day. The statistics associated with the holiday show a clear win for restaurants that make an effort to advertise, offer promotions, and build an engaging atmosphere that resonates with diners emotionally. The tips we offer are sure to help you maximize your efforts.
Start Valentine’s Day Restaurant Marketing Today
- Remember that Valentine’s Day can be an emotional holiday. Your atmosphere and your marketing should play into that to enhance the diner’s experience.
- Plan your marketing strategy early so you can put it into action with enough lead time to influence lovebirds. Provide reasonable and romantic incentives to draw customers in.
- Unless your reservations are booked solid, make sure you have day-of marketing in place and other ways to capture last-minute diners. This could be important for saving someone’s holiday and turning it into something special.
- Review the Valentine’s Day marketing ideas for restaurants we’ve shared above. Determine which you can implement in your holiday marketing strategy immediately and which tactics may require assistance from your marketing partners.