Prepare to optimize Valentine’s Day sales

It may seem like Valentine’s Day is still far in the distant future. But, by the time the holiday frenzy is over and Jan. 1 rolls around, you’ll be in full-fledged Valentine’s mode before you can even say, “Happy New Year!” Make things easier during the holiday transition with some advance planning to reduce last-minute stress and increase profits.

Get a head start     

When you have some down time, start brainstorming ideas for designs you want to offer for Valentine’s Day 2016. Remember, you’ll sell what you show. Creating a menu of designs will not only help customers decide what they want, but it will also increase efficiency for you and your staff.

Here are a few basic pointers to keep in mind as you plan:

  • Select designs at a variety of price points, so you can appeal to customers with any budget
  • Include a couple options that are suitable gift ideas for family or friends ― not just significant others
  • Brainstorm catchy names to make it easier for people to request a specific design
  • Remember that 9- and 14-inch air-fill Microfoils make great add-ons, grab-and-go gifts or party favors

Once you’ve decided on your offerings, start making a list of the products you need to stock. It’s a good idea to place the order from your distributor about four to six weeks in advance to ensure availability. When ordering general love-themed balloons, remember these can also be sold year-round ― not just on Feb. 14.

Think big

Beyond balloon deliveries, there’s a lot more profit potential to reach ― you just have to seek it out. For instance, think about all the other businesses that profit from Cupid’s holiday: jewelry stores, candy stores, restaurants and movie theaters. What better way for them to attract more attention than with balloons?

Take advantage of such opportunities by cold-calling local businesses, or even dropping off a flier along with a complimentary balloon arrangement. Let them know you can enhance their merchandising with Valentine bouquets or simple décor. 

Another mutually beneficial arrangement would be teaming up with other local businesses to promote each other’s services for Valentine’s Day. Getting involved with your local chamber of commerce is one way to network and take advantage of opportunities to meet other business owners.

Promote, promote, promote

Everyone knows Valentine’s Day falls on Feb. 14 every year, yet shoppers are notorious for waiting until the last minute to buy gifts. While some people will always be procrastinators, it never hurts to encourage early orders and get people thinking about balloons ahead of time. Consider offering a pre-order incentive, such as a free balloon or small discount if customers order before a specified date.

Since Valentine’s Day 2016 falls on a Sunday, encourage office deliveries on the Friday before. Customers will surely get brownie points for surprising their significant other ahead of time; plus, it could drum up some extra business you might not have had otherwise.

Other ways to help keep Valentine’s Day top-of-mind include:

  • Placing a flier in customers’ shopping bags starting in January
  • Using your website and social media profiles to showcase your Valentine’s offerings
  • Creating storefront window displays for different Valentine’s ideas and themes.(Air-fill Bubble Balloons and Microfoils are long-lasting options)

Valentine’s Day is only one day out of the year, but it’s big business that shouldn’t be put off until the last minute. It pays to plan ahead.

— Amanda Dolechek, Certified Balloon Artist (CBA), works for Pioneer Balloon Co. and writes for a variety of balloon industry websites and Qualatex publications, including Balloon Images and Balloon Magic — The Magazine.

Originally posted Tuesday, Sep. 15, 2015