#TBT: Don’t Hate on Valentine’s Day: Relationship Marketing in 2015

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Originally written for Search Marketing Daily, published here.

Thanks to Taylor Swift we know for sure that, yes, haters are gonna hate. But I’m pleading with you, don’t hate on Valentine’s Day, especially if you’re in marketing.

I will hand it to you, Valentine’s Day definitely has a commercialized aspect to it – a “Hallmark holiday,” as one of my colleagues referenced it the other day. But I remember a Valentine’s Day that’s all about hope, passion, and displays of appreciation, placing importance on making those you care about feel wanted, loved and connected.

Okay, I’m sappy. I know it. And, no, I don’t think red roses are mandatory for healthy relationships. But what is mandatory is emotion – tapping into someone’s heart and pulling out happiness. And just as positive emotions and connections are the keys to healthy relationships (marriages and friendships alike), they’re also the keys to great marketing.

Why? We receive more marketing messages today then ever before. Marketing is everywhere, it’s in our video streams, our email, on our phones, I’ve even seen it on my cup o’ joe. And, according to the most reliable study I’ve found on this topic, we see about 360 ads per day. But there’s a finite amount of data that our brains can actually pay attention to, which means we end up ignoring 10,999.950 bits of data every second we are awake.

“Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart.
”– Unknown

Marketers can’t rely on just getting someone’s attention anymore (if we ever could). We have to engage people, build relationships with them, pull at their heartstrings. When a campaign isn’t targeted or specialized or doesn’t consider the actual person on the other end, it just becomes noise – another bit of data to ignore.

And with each new generation this is becoming more and more important. We’re all looking for ways to make our choices both easier and more informed. And that’s what’s influenced the rise of brand loyalty among younger generations.

48% of people between the ages of 18-44 report that any loyalty they feel toward brands in the future will be determined by the types of experiences brands create for them (Analytic Partners).

And how do you create meaningful experiences? Being vulnerable, or in business terms, being transparent. Being considerate. Creating content your audience actually needs. Investing empathy and thought into each message you put in front of someone. Making bold moves and creating special moments. And that’s the entire spirit of Valentine’s Day.

So, before you hate…appreciate. Take a moment this Saturday to appreciate your employees, appreciate your customers. No, you don’t have to send them a Valentine’s Day eCard (though I really enjoy them, especially those with great subject lines). But you can take a moment to evaluate your content strategies. Evaluate your marketing plans from your customer and prospective customer’s point of view.

And next week as you return to work, start making the changes you need to ensure that every part of your marketing mix screams “BE MINE!” Ensure that every tactic works toward creating lasting impressions, forging new relationships, and creating experiences. No one can ignore that approach.

P.S. Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day!

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