It’s inevitable. It’s Valentine’s Day or night and there’s that couple in the restaurant that is having too good of a time. They’re smiling at each other, eyes bright with love.

This is sickening for the person across the room! Arms crossed, shoulders back. They can barely touch their food because they’re thinking about all the things they would rather be doing than watching the lovefest across the room. They’re wishing the holiday season was over. And, depending on how deeply the person’s disgruntlement runs, they may be planning cupid’s untimely death and funeral.

We understand both of these customers!

The question is: Do you know your audience well enough to run a successful Valentine’s Day promotion?

If you Google marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day, you will find many articles on the subject. Some good, some questionable. What you don’t find is how to create a PLAN to execute your marketing strategy. This is where we would like to help.

We’re going to cover six things you must know in order to run a successful marketing campaign. If you know these six things, then you can approach choosing how to market for Valentine’s Day with more confidence and assurance.

1) Know Your Audience (Target Market)

All this means is who are you running the promotion for. It’s Valentine’s Day, the most popular day of the year for eating out! But, there are different types of people who go out to eat on this day. There’s the newlyweds, the soon-to-be engaged, and then the been-married-forever-and-this-is-our-only-day-out-of-the-house couples. There are the single people who are happy being single. Single people miserable being single. There are families!

Our point is there are many different types of people who you could be reaching. You don’t need to just spit out Valentine’s Day jargon and love stories to get customers. You need to know who your main customer base is, how many in each demographic you think you can reach, and what will enable you to gain the most profit.

Knowing your main customer base or usual audience can be a starting point. This will take a little bit of research, examining your sales data, and viewing your current list of subscribers and followers. Or, you can simply walk to the front of your restaurant for a week at different times of the day and gauge who is there most often. Families? Couples? Single people?

While we don’t recommend just advertising to the people who already frequent your business, it is helpful to know what you’re attracting. Who likes you? This is the starting point.


Next is choosing who to ask to come to eat with you. Most restaurants do choose couples (understandably so)! If you’re going to target couples, it’s probably a wise idea to emphasize the magic of the season. Play up romance whether it be helping that married-for-forever couple regain it with a night of fun, away from the kids, or the newlyweds who just are still infatuated with everything the other one does.

If you realize you have a high number of families frequenting your restaurant, then this could be fun! You can advertise to the kiddos. I know, strange idea. But we’re completely serious on this one. Host a Valentine’s Day party where kids can make and exchange Valentine’s cards or gifts. It can be fun for everyone in the family then and can inspire communities to come together.

If your target market is Mr. and Mrs. Single-Forever, either by choice or not, then you can promote mixers, quiet nights with friends, or just having a peaceful night to yourself with a fancy meal. Because you don’t have to be with someone to treat yourself. These are just a few ideas and a few potential options for reaching your target market. Our main point is: know who you’re trying to reach and what you want to say. This alone can go a long way in helping you reach more people, whether it be by marketing to a combination of the above audiences simultaneously or honing in and specializing on one. When you know your target, you can reach them much more effectively and when you reach them more effectively you will have more people coming through your restaurant’s doors.

2) Know What You Have to Offer

You’ve made it through step one. You know who you’re going to ask to eat with you. This is where planning gets fun! What are you going to feed them? How are you going to make it special?

There are a few ways you can make this “date” night special for your guest.

  • Pay for their meal- Not all of them, of course! But consider offering a special “buy one get one free!” deal, lowering prices for special meal items (especially the ones that you have an overabundant supply of!), or promising to donate a specific percentage of your Valentine’s Day earnings to a local charity.
  • Provide gift cards- Offer gift cards to customers so they can treat others with a special meal from your restaurant! This can be offered weeks or even months in advance.
  • Serve Valentine’s Day themed foods- No, we don’t mean a cake shaped like Cupid. We mean meals that are traditionally romantic. Cakes, chocolates, wines, and passion fruit.
  • You can be as “cutesy” as you wish with these, but maybe make a special Valentine’s Day-themed menu where the names of each menu item is based off of something romantic like “Sweetie Pie” pies. Cheesy? Yes. 100% cute? Definitely! And customers will love it.

3) Know How Long the Promotion Lasts

Once you know what you’re offering – what the deal is and what you’re serving- you need to know how long you’re going to be offering it. Will it be a 1-day, Valentine’s Day only special or will you offer it weeks in advance or after? Having a timeline can help you better prepare for the sale by giving you time to get the necessary stock in order and to hire any additional staff necessary.

Knowing how long the promotion is going to last also enables you to set an end-date for the sale which promotes a sense of urgency for customers. They’ll want to get the special while it lasts, whether that be before it ends on a specific date or while the supplies last. It creates a sense of uniqueness for the sale, one that they need to take advantage of while they can.

4) Know Where You’ll Be Serving the Food

This may seem like an odd one, but if you’re going to be running a Valentine’s Day promotion you need to consider whether or not catering and delivery can be an option for your restaurant. If they are, then you can advertise this instead of just in-store-only sale. You can promote special romantic meals customers can enjoy from their own homes! You’ll bring it straight to them so they can enjoy a romantic night in. Which, let’s be honest, in a Netflix and Chill culture, this is often preferable to a night-out.

Menu Board

If you do choose to offer catering or delivery services for the night, plan ahead for any additional staff you might need to deliver food within a timely manner. And determine how large of a radiance around your restaurant you would like to offer delivery to. Knowing this can help you know which target areas to market to.

5) Know Who’s Going to Be Working

We strongly recommend having a schedule for your staff, especially around the holidays. Determine ahead of time who is working and how many people you will need.

Holidays are a lot of work! You’ll need hands to help decorate, prepare food, deliver items, wait tables, clean up accidents, etc. Plan ahead so that you know who’s going to be there and who will be taking the night off so you can make arrangements as needed to keep your restaurant and Valentine’s Day promotion running smoothly.

6) Remember the Reason Why You’re Doing What You’re Doing

Holidays can get stressful. It is paramount as you’re planning and organizing that you have a clear vision in mind. Whether you’re doing it to increase your own bottom line, to serve customers and make guests happy, or a combination of both, remember the reason behind why you’re working so hard. This will help keep you motivated even when you feel exhausted and like it’s not worth it.

However you decide to promote your restaurant for Valentine’s Day, you can approach your marketing strategy with confidence when you know these six things. It empowers you to make wise decisions about how to proceed through the holiday season, increasing your chances for success.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. As always, our sales team is ready to help!

If you need any food service supplies or equipment for preparing these specials and promotions, just let us know! We can either supply them or connect you with those who can.

Call: 888.778.4815