Did you know? Halloween has become the second biggest holiday event for U.S. retailers. In 2011, nearly $7 billion was spent on Halloween festivities across the country, up from nearly $6 billion in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation.
Halloween presents opportunities for most small businesses, even those whose products and services aren’t directly related to the holiday. Here are some tips to attract consumers with fright-night fever:
Give your business a Halloween theme. A bakery could offer Night of the Living Dead cupcakes. A hardware store could sell “build your own monster” toolkits. You get the idea: A little imagination can attract customers looking for a creative way to celebrate the occasion.
Partner with a Halloween costume shop or a local candy store and give away each other’s coupons. Print Halloween T-shirts to promote the special offer: Give them to your staff to wear, hand them out to family and friends, and offer some to customers on a “first-come, first-served” basis. There’s no telling how many eyeballs will land on these T-shirts in the days leading up to Oct. 31.
Other holiday promotional ideas:
- Send out holiday incentive coupons offering 20 percent off selected items. (Make sure the wording on your direct-mail piece is Halloween-related and designed with images of ghosts, goblins, and witches.)
- Distribute Halloween Safety Tips via direct mail or on your company website.
- Offer branded candy-collection bags to customers.
Chances are your in-store staff and sales team will jump at the chance to enjoy the holiday as part of their jobs. Have the team dress up in their favorite costumes and snap a picture for your website, brochure, direct-mail piece, etc. A day or two before the big night, send members of the sales team to your clients’ offices wearing (tasteful) costumes — and see how much of a stir they cause. It’s a lighthearted way to show that while you’re serious about your business, you’re not above having a little fun, too.
Do you get a lot of foot traffic? Consider staying open later on Halloween. Let customers know you’ll be handing out goody bags; make sure these are branded with your store’s name and website URL. And, of course, ask employees (in costume) to greet trick-or-treaters. It won’t hurt to decorate the store with a few giant spiders and “customer-snatching” cobwebs.
If appropriate, you might host a Halloween party. Invite clients, vendors, loyal customers, and prospects. You and your team can make valuable personal connections by taking part in traditional activities like pumpkin carving and a “scariest costume” contest. Stock the premises with treats and marketing materials. Maybe even whip up a little house of horrors (complete with a scary soundtrack), where bats and skeletons leap out of the fog to spook fun-loving party-goers!
Whatever your Halloween plans, be sure to let people know about them. Spice up your website with Halloween-inspired imagery and content. Issue a press release alerting the media to your Halloween event or special holiday-themed discount offers. Post notices on your Facebook pages. Tweet about the upcoming event (or holiday discounts). Send an email blast to your mailing list. Make this a Halloween your customers and prospective customers will never forget!
Has your small business run successful Halloween events or promotions in the past? Share your experiences with us in the Comments field below.