Approximately 179 million Americans are planning to celebrate Halloween this year, the holiday that marks the beginning of the end of the year. This presents the perfect opportunity for your small business to interact with its audience using fun and creative approaches, albeit a little spooky. Millennial consumers are particularly interested in celebrating All Hallow’s Eve, as shareable experiences remain one of their cornerstone values. The following ideas will help your small business brand launch a Halloween marketing campaign that will boo, I mean woo, customers old and new.
No. 1: Host a contest (i.e. food, pumpkin carving, costume, bobbing for apples, etc.). This time of year, many people unleash their creativity by designing their own costumes, decorating their houses, carving pumpkins, and making fall or Halloween-esque recipes to put on the table. Why not let your business facilitate this seasonal fun and get your audience’s creative juices flowing by hosting a contest? You could host a Halloween craft/costume/food contest at its location to drive foot traffic to your business, or host any of these contests online by urging your social media audience to post images of their creations. Either way, your brand is participating in community and becoming a part of each participant’s Halloween celebration. Plus, it’s an opportunity for your business to give away a prize that spreads brand awareness.
No. 2: Show off your products with Halloween-themed content. During this time of year, think about changing the imagery and copy of your brand’s content to reflect the holiday’s spooky playfulness. Similarly, if any of your products/services can be used for a Halloween project, you will definitely want to promote this content via an online ad, social media post, blog post, or tutorial. Savers Thrift Store is a great example of this tactic. Leading up to October 31st, the thrift store posts DIY costume ideas on its website’s homepage for visitors and potential customers.
No. 3: Re-post your social media audience’s Halloween-esque creations. Even if your business doesn’t host a Halloween contest, your brand can still encourage its audience to share their Halloween crafts, costumes, or baked goods in order to create and/or boost online engagement. Your business can go about this by reposting your followers’ images (and crediting them), then asking your audience to tag your business if they use your brand’s product/service in the creation of their festive project.
No. 4: Create your business’ very own Halloween hashtag. A great way to make your Halloween marketing campaign stand out is by creating a unique hashtag that’s specific to your brand. On Twitter and Instagram, this dedicated hashtag will personalize your business and increase brand visibility. Plug in this customized hashtag in the captions of any type of post that pertains to Halloween to maximize the holiday’s campaign (i.e. contest, project reposts, events, etc.). For example, Coca-Cola’s Halloween campaign promotes Fanta through a virtual reality experience paired with their very own Snapchat filters, which are promoted by the hashtags #fantahalloween and #fanta13thfloor.
No. 5: Decorate your store/restaurant/office for the holiday. Adding a Halloween or even autumnal touch to your place of business can be the trick (or treat) for attracting new customers, increasing overall foot traffic, and showing off your products/merchandise in a fresh, fun way. If you have space, consider adding a Halloween-themed photo booth backdrop with a basket of hats and masks to encourage visitors to capture a fun, Halloween moment. Also, encourage anyone who takes a photo to use your business’ Halloween hashtag if they share the image on social media. Even if your business is an office, encourage your employees to take photos and share on your brand’s social media. This will illustrate to your audience that your business is a fun place to work, making your brand more trustworthy in their eyes.
No. 6: If your business is a restaurant, add fall flavors and items to your menu. From breweries to bakeries, having seasonal or Halloween-decorated offerings is a great way to partake in the holiday’s spirit. By now, Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte has become a cultural icon. Similarly, your small business can create a local and loyal following for a seasonal offering, incorporating flavors such as pumpkin, apple, and cinnamon.
No. 7: Create and promote a spooky video. With video marketing on the rise, consider sharing a silly or spooky Halloween video during this time of year to better interact with your online audience. The video can be an advertisement, a tutorial, or even a highlight for a promotion or limited time offer. Video is a great opportunity to grab the attention of potential customers and also hone in on your brand’s storytelling.
No. 8: Host an event with other local businesses. Consider teaming up with your surrounding local businesses to put on a Halloween event or block party with food, drink, music, and games. Hosting the event with the help of your neighbors will cut the expense and also pool resources to create an unforgettable time. Being involved in the community like this also presents the opportunity for your business to be featured in local media print and channels.
No. 9: Create Halloween-themed product/service bundles. Boost sales and engagement with your brand by running a Halloween promotional package. When sharing this limited time offer, use Halloween-themed imagery, colors, and copy in the form of seasonal puns to attract your audience and beyond.
No. 10: Throw a Halloween party for your staff and customers. A party is a great opportunity for customers to visit your place of business and for your business to show off its company culture and staff appreciation. Consider offering free giveaways, discount codes, sales, or other promotional items to add incentive for the festivities.
No. 11: Give away treats that are branded with your logo. Participate in one of Halloween’s oldest traditions -- trick-or-treating. Your business can get involved by passing out candy, branded tokens or stickers, or even water bottles with plastic labels branded by your business’ logo.
No. 12: Hand out paper, plastic, or tote bags with your business’ logo. Resources like ShowYourLogo.com will print your brand’s logo on a Halloween-themed (or not) bag that you can pass out to trick-or-treaters and shoppers alike. This is a great way to spread and reinforce brand visibility in your local scope while also participating in the Halloween festivities in a subtle manner.
No. 13: Get involved with fall-themed community events or attractions. In the month of October, many couples and families like to partake in fall and Halloween-themed attractions such as apple-picking, cider mills, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and hayrides. Your business could offer services for these types of attractions if applicable, or work with these local happenings to provide discounted tickets to customers who shop with you. Again, participating in these community events will build relationships with your local audience and foster customer loyalty.
No. 14: Add Halloween elements to your current branding. The easiest way to show Halloween spirit is by incorporating a spooky symbol with your existing logo and branding. You could add a seasonal touch via fall leaves, a ghost, Frankenstein, a pumpkin, black cats, etc. This will signal to existing and new customers that your brand is relevant and in touch, piquing their interest to stay tuned on your brand’s offer.
No. 15: Reverse Trick-or-Treat. Last but not least, instead of passing out candy, your business can offer branded treats or small, free items to the surrounding businesses in your area. Make this effort even more impactful by having your brand’s ambassador dress in a Halloween costume. This is a great way to interact with your community and also spread your business’ name in a memorable way. Whatever tactics your small business uses this Halloween season, you will want to leave a lasting impression, however small or large.
Blog by Melissa McElhose, the NALA staff writer