02/13/2014 10:12 am ET Updated Apr 15, 2014

Small Businesses Can Show Customers Some Love This Valentine's Day

Ah, Valentine's Day. A holiday of last-minute scrambling, gift-appropriateness worries, and untold millions for the greeting card industry. Whatever your personal feelings about February 14, though, the day is an excellent opportunity for small-business owners to show their customers some love.

Why? Because unlike low prices, a little love here and there helps build the kind of long-term relationships that keep revenue strong long after the last chocolate has been plucked from the Whitman's Sampler you swore you wouldn't finish by yourself this year.

Valentine's Day Deals for Busy Businesses

You may think that if you're not in a consumer-facing business, there isn't much you can do to say "I love you." You're just not being creative. Here are some last-minute ideas for small businesses to boost revenue this Friday and beyond.

For online businesses...

  • Have a one-day sale: If you do commerce primarily online, send an email announcing a one-day sale on Thursday evening. A reminder email or two Friday creates a sense of urgency and excitement that longer-term sales cannot.
  • Send treats through a client's business: If you serve other businesses, use one of your clients to send Valentine's gifts. Even if you don't work with florists or candy shops, you can think outside the box to send thoughtful gifts to your friends, family, or valued associates.
  • Offer excellent last-minute gifts: Part of the stress of Valentine's Day is not knowing what to get for a partner -- or forgetting about the holiday until it's almost too late. If you run a nonprofit or charity, send a holiday email to your list suggesting your contacts make a donation in the name of a loved one. Make the offer more compelling by sending a special card or email donors can present to the honoree.
  • Focus on a different kind of heart: Sure, candy is a favorite on V-Day, but if you're in wellness services, you might want to focus on a different kind of heart this holiday. Offer discounts on heart-healthy treats, products, or services (personal training sessions, spa services, etc.) to balance the focus on sugar consumption. Given that we're in that post-New-Year's resolution drop-off period, now might be a good time to remind your customers of their resolutions.

For brick-and-mortar businesses...

  • Announce a one-day sale for anyone wearing pink / red / hearts: For businesses with brick-and-mortar locations, holidays are a great excuse to offer discounts or special deals to those openly celebrating the holiday. Offer a discount for those in pink or red - or go anti-Valentine's, and drop prices for anyone in black. The important thing is to create a promotion that connects with your customers and drums up conversation about your biz.
  • Win over the singles: Couples tend to get all the attention during the Cupid season, so reaching out to singles can help you stand out from the crowd. If you have a physical location, offer a discount for anyone who pays with singles. Or offer as singles items you usually only sell as part of a package.
  • Remember your clients' best friends: Dog walkers, pet groomers, and others who own pet services business can warm their clients' hearts by snapping photos of their furry friends and creating digital valentines. Americans adore their pets, which makes Valentine's Day the perfect time to send a small greeting.

So, while your significant other should be your number one priority this Valentine's Day -- don't forget your customers. Around the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's holidays, you are competing against everyone else to show them your love. At Valentine's, you may just have them all to yourself.