According to Practical Ecommerce, Halloween is the second most important holiday for retailers. In fact, based on 2011 figures, Halloween drives more than $7 billion in retail sales alone in the U.S., starting in September.
But that’s not the only industry that gets a huge boost from the holiday. Halloween is a major event across business sectors, in large part because it’s a great marketing opportunity. If you’ve been tempted to put together a Halloween advertising campaign in the past but never got your pumpkins in line, this may be your year!
But like any marketing campaign, you don’t want to step in blind. Use some of these tips as you consider how to design and deploy your Halloween marketing campaign.
When should you launch?
Holiday marketing campaigning is completely out of hand when it comes to timing. Everyone already knows that Christmas is essentially fair game well before Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t keep some companies from going even earlier – in fact, according to Marketing Pilgrim, Kmart may have set a record in 2013 with an ad running Sept. 9.
Realistically, September is when most companies begin their Halloween campaigns. But you want to be wary of holiday fatigue. Depending on your demographic, folks tend to have a higher tolerance for extended Christmas marketing. But start on Halloween too early and you’ll exhaust your target audience before the holiday even arrives!
Retail will obviously want to start sooner – but for most other industries, rein in your launch day until October begins. That way your message won’t feel either stale or unnecessarily preemptive.
Go live with an event
As a kid, Halloween is all about costumes and candy. As an adult, it’s a little bit less about costumes and a bit more about parties. Whatever demographic you’re trying to reach, kid or adult, both their interests are perfect for a live event.
Depending on your industry and company size, different kinds of events are a better fit. You may want to consider creating a Halloween 5K fun run in your local town, with costumed racers. Or host a scary movie festival, where you’ll either screen a few horror classics or invite independent filmmakers to show their latest works.
There are plenty of other basic Halloween ideas you could employ as part of your larger event: pumpkin carving contests, candy-making, costume contests, costume making, Halloween crafts, various Halloween-themed kids’ games or a history of Halloween talk.
But throwing a great party under your brand name alone isn’t all the marketing you should do. Have your employees proudly wear company shirts with a festive orange theme and hand out Halloween promotional giveaways. These can range from actual candy to fun toys or useful trick-or-treating items, like custom flashlights.
Perhaps the most Halloween-savvy option however would be promotional tote bags, since they’re optimal for carrying candy on the big night. Plastic vinyl bags are also a great option, and allow visitors to carry home their party swag in style.
Keep things going online
Whether or not you do a live event, a social marketing campaign is a must for Halloween. It’s cheap, yields good return and is a brand new arena in which to show your marketing chops. Try some of these ideas out.
• Create a hashtag
For better or for worse, hashtags aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re trending better than ever, and as a key part of social media you’ll want to use them to your advantage. Sendible’s advice is to come up with a clever, memorable hashtag phrase – not too long, remember – and unleash it on your Twitter followers with some incentive, like prizes or a contest.
The news source looked to Dunkin’ Donuts 2011 #carveDD campaign, which gave out gift cards to Twitter users who won its pumpkin carving photo contest.
• Hold an online costume contest
Costume contests are Halloween party staples, so take that party online with one held via Facebook or Twitter. The photos and videos are great for drawing attention to your page, noted Sendible. And as PetSmart has shown, there’s no reason to limit contestants to humans – encourage consumers to dress up their pets, too!
• Make a video
The internet has hugely expanded the typical idea of a commercial. You’re no longer limited to 30 second spots, so let your creativity run a little wild. For Halloween, take inspiration from the masters of scary movies – with your own humorous or innovative twist, of course. Then post it on Facebook for fans to see.
As Practical ECommerce pointed out, all you need is a camcorder and some basic makeup. Let your creativity do the rest.
• Offer coupons
Whatever your products or services, consumers love a deal. Social media is a great spot to post coupons and get consumers’ attention. Once there, consumers are more likely to stay and check out your ongoing costume contest, hashtag trend or multimedia show.
• Always be giving out promotional prizes
Halloween is all about the treats – we’re trained to expect them as kids, so why not deliver to your customers. Whether they’re participating in the costume contest or they’re the 100th or 500th person to retweet your message, throw them some promotional swag. It’s free advertising, after all.
Whatever your industry and whoever your demographic, don’t settle for the same old Halloween style. Come up with your own blend of spooky and funny if you want, or go for a more ironic route. The most important thing is to stand out and help your consumer base have a good time.
Looking for inspiration? Fast Company has a slideshow of some of the best Halloween ads ever. Companies range from Snickers to Guinness to REI, so it’s sure to hit some market not too far from your own.