Valentine’s day and doing business: local customs close the deal!

After the frenzy of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the end of year celebrations, Cupid’s bow is now poised and ready to aim at February. But how and if you celebrate Valentine’s day depends largely on where you are located. Like with doing business internationally, you better be aware of local customs if you want to succeed in love and business.

40 Valentine’s cards in a box?

Imagine moving from the Netherlands to the USA and your child coming home one day asking to go to Walmart to buy a box of 40 Valentine’s day cards! I was shocked to say at least! Turns out what is celebrated as a romantic day for lovers in the Netherlands is celebrated as a day to show love to everyone you care about in the USA, including your parents, siblings, and your 30 something classmates and teacher!

In a small country known for its gorgeous flowers, any form of extravagance is not much appreciated. Like the Italians, the most romantic of us human beings, the Dutch celebrate the day in a more subtle and sedate way. The population seeing it as an imported occasion between loved ones instead of a national one. And in Japan, 14 February is when – only – ladies give their partners gifts. It is reciprocated on 14 March, White Day, when the male population is expected to pamper the favorite lady in their life.


Not long ago Valentine’s Day was banned in Saudi Arabia. There wasn’t a red rose to be found, restaurants weren’t able to advertise romantic dinners, and stores weren’t allowed to sell cute teddy bears and other items that we attach to Valentine’s Day celebrations. The country is slowly coming out of the ban’s shadows, and Instagram is now awash of those celebrating the joy of receiving flowers or some yummy edible treats.

As international business owners, how do we show our clients love during the month of romance? How do we keep on top of intercultural communication and stay sensitive to any religious injunctions?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Personalize your offerings

Valentine’s is a great way to personalize your services to offer something a bit unusual. Do you send your clients a mail around Valentine’s Day? Instead of sending a written progress update, why not send an audio- or video file? Do you have a coaching call with a client in February? Why not make it a virtual lunch session and send your client a lunch beforehand, ordered at a local restaurant. Have a special thematized yoga class. Change the background color of your social media. Whatever you do, just make sure in the culture of your international client it is appreciated as well.

  1. Launch a new product

Valentine’s is an excellent time of the year to launch a new product or new service. It will allow you to test your product and see how it performs during the first few months of the year.

  1. Show up and stay consistent 

You don’t have to come up with something special because of Valentine. The most value you can give to your client is showing up every day and staying consistent in your messaging. It means that you take your business seriously, and in turn, it shows your clients that they can know, like and trust you. So, don’t be a stranger. Why not for this month send your clients an easy-to-implement tip every week or do  a live on your social media every week?

  1. Tell your story

We all love stories. We are curious and interested in the world and those around us. We love to know what makes another person tick. If your current or potential clients resonate with your stories or align with your thoughts, you will have long-standing business relations with them. So, if they respond to a message, whether that’s on FB or in your email box: let them know you appreciate their feedback. No matter what.

The strongest relationship

When it comes to intercultural communication and valentine’s day, showing up and demonstrating that you are serious is the best way of showing your clients that you are serious about them. Ready to invest in a long-term relationship. In good times and bad times. Just like with love.

Have a lovely month communicating your best to your clients.