The other night, we were walking down a beautiful Spanish-style promenade, taking in the sight of the multi-colored light strings and lanterns draped above festive al fresco dinner tables. But our romantic gaze quickly turned to one of horror when we spotted a haggard woman with a flesh-eaten face dining at one of the tables. She was jabbering away to a man who looked equally undead. We were pretty disturbed until we realized that it’s October, that special time of year when any man, woman, or child can get away with dressing in grotesque and/or wildly inappropriate ways (we saw a lady last year who dressed as a “naked woman wrapped in cellophane,” for example – c’mon, that’s not even a thing!), without any negative repercussions.
Whether you love Halloween or not, as a business owner, you’ve got to recognize the holiday as a great opportunity to welcome new customers to your store or service with Halloween marketing. Here are some ways you might take advantage of the ghoulish festivities this year.
Get people excited about your Facebook page and your product or service by hosting an online or in-store Halloween contest. Don’t just make it a simple costume contest – incorporate your product or service in the theme of your event. For example, if you own a hardware store, encourage your Facebook and Twitter followers to send you pictures of themselves as Haunted Handymen (and Handywomen). If you own a natural food store, hold a contest for the most creative healthy Halloween treat (for example, a tray of baby carrots arranged to look like a jack-o-lantern, or a dirt cake made from organic raw chocolate and dried banana “worms”). To keep excitement high, post contestants’ photos each day of the competition. If you offer the contest in your store, get the word out by blanketing the neighborhood with fun flyers advertising the event. Make sure to make the prize worth winning – a hefty gift card to your shop always gets people motivated, and it gets them in your door as well!
If your business is located near a busy pedestrian area, you can use Halloween as an excuse to pull street-level marketing maneuvers you would otherwise be too embarrassed to try. If you own Mike’s Bike Shop, try sending some “super heroes” out into the streets on a few of your snazziest bicycles. When people ask the riding super heroes what they’re doing, instruct the crusaders to tell the public that before they sat on the bikes they were mere mortals, but that riding Mike’s Bikes has given them SUPER POWERS! Your “heroes” can then give out flyers with your store’s address and a special Halloween offer – say, 10% off any purchase at your store.
Use your Twitter feed, Facebook page, blog, and other social media tools to offer followers little-known Halloween-themed trivia. For example:
“When asked what inspired him to create the character “Freddy Krueger” in his hit Nightmare on Elm Street movies, Wes Craven said they included a bully from his grade school, a disfigured homeless man who had frightened him when he was 11, and the 1970s pop song “Dream Weaver” by Gary Wright.
Encourage your employees to dress up in themed costumes and to shamelessly attract attention to your business by periodically parading outside the doors. Offer freebies in your store, like Halloween candies or cheap googly-eye glasses you can pick up at the local Party Barn. This will make people laugh, and when people are laughing and entertained, they are more willing to spend money.
Nothing attracts attention like blood, guts, and rotting bones. So use this holiday as an excuse to print your business some flyers that make use of all these very graphic, uh, graphics. Don’t forget to include a coupon with a fast-approaching expiration date – for example, 20% off a single item IF they redeem the flyer before November 1st – to make sure all the little boys and ghouls – uh, we mean “girls,” of course – come running in to haunt the aisles of your store.