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Don’t just stab in the dark – capitalise on Halloween properly for treats instead of tricks

Written by Angus Shaw on Wednesday, 31 October 2018. Posted in Branding, Sales & Marketing

There are plenty of Halloween clichés companies try to lure customers with. But if you instead use your brain like these businesses, you can reap results

Don’t just stab in the dark – capitalise on Halloween properly for treats instead of tricks

While Halloween is terrifying for many, it’s like Christmas for the confectionary industry. But if your marketing unapologetically incorporates the spirit of Halloween like these companies we’ve spoken with do, consumers won’t need a sweet-tooth to justify spooky spending.

Think of the children

No matter how many adults rock up at your door on October 31 donning superhero capes, remember – Halloween is for the kids. And targeting the right demographic reaps rewards as Hayes Garden World, the garden retailer, found by hosting a pumpkin-carving competition every day of October half-term. “Pumpkin carving is hugely beneficial to Hayes Garden World,” said Lyndan Orvis, the company’s ecommerce manager, to Elite Business. “Not only does it increase footfall but enhances brand loyalty.” It gives the café a chance to fire up the ovens for themed dishes and with the Christmas department on full display, impulse buys are commonplace. Moreover, getting children pumped for Halloween guarantees parents will be pestered to return for future holidays. “Children come for the pumpkin-carving, have a good time and want to come to the other events such as Fairy World and Santa’s Express,” Orvis explains. 

Braindead marketing

If your business deals with offices and paperwork you may think it’s excused from putting on a spooky show. But Shredall & SDS, the information management company, is here to prove you wrong. That's because it’s launching a campaign about the steps businesses can take to survive a zombie apocalypse. "As a company specialising in information management, it's often a challenge to tie-in marketing efforts to consumer events such as Halloween,” admitted Nik Williams, managing director at Shredall SDS. That hasn’t stopped the firm’s effort from doing well though. “The campaign is currently proving to be very successful, earning us valuable feature opportunities,” Williams told us. Pulling quirky publicity stunts can prove fruitful and Halloween is a better time than ever to do so. Indeed, by giving rundowns of max security spots like the Cheyenne Mountain Complex and Area 51, Shredall SDS may even grab the attention of some paranoid individuals. “Whilst our goal is not to generate direct leads to our website, we are increasing both our brand awareness and our authority in data privacy and physical security best practices,” Williams concluded.

American Instagram story

It’s hardly a secret that the States goes large for Halloween. “Across the pond, their retail displays, hotels and restaurants seem to be dominated by pumpkins and witches,” observed Carl Reader, director at d&t, the accountancy firm and author of The Startup Coach. So you can’t go wrong by taking a leaf from social media strategies proven to work there. For example, not enough can be said for subliminally attracting customers with something as simple as using the right colour palette for Halloween. “As the celebration is very visual, brands which embrace social media can find that their promotions can go viral,” he said. Orange tends to jump out as a colour and makes the posts visible in a sea of similar Instagram posts.” Of course, if the post standing out has no message, there’s hardly a point to the endeavour. So take the opportunity to unleash hell and go viral in time for Christmas. “By tying in the messaging with a competition, a campaign and encouraging virality, businesses can really gain a pre-Christmas boost.”

Little shop of horrors

Projecting an eerie image can be a magical thing for Halloween shoppers and Internet Gardener, the garden e-tailer, is no stranger to that. “Around Halloween, our strategy allows us to pay tribute to the macabre,” detailed Andy Baxter, managing director of Internet Gardener, who revealed autumn and winter are generally quieter months given the nature of the business. "Halloween is the perfect excuse to broaden the topics your business has authority on and, in the spirit of the spooky day, have a bit of fun in the process,” said Baxter. “We write about slightly more tangential topics such as carnivorous plants and nocturnal plants.” However, the real dough comes in by anticipating exactly what consumers are looking to splash out on for any given holiday and upping the ante ahead of time. “Halloween always gets people purchasing outdoor lighting so we often try to capitalise upon this when stock allows,” Baxter explained. “The worst outcome is that someone interacts with the website but purchases nothing. There's nothing to say they won't return or remember us the next time they need gardening supplies, though.” As well as Halloween, thinking one step ahead of consumers means you can order the right stock and get the hugely profitable Christmas season in the bag.

Come out and play

The name of the game is free candy on Halloween. But really, kids will go mad for just about anything if there’s no cost – knowledge businesses can use wisely. “Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop in Covent Garden will market the shop through small gifts hidden in corners round the Piazza – for example, small brown felt squirrel bags in the autumn,” said Erica Wolfe-Murray, founder of Lola, the innovation studio, about her client. While this strategy is clearly aimed at children, don’t forget that adults are essentially big kids and far from immune to a bit of nostalgia around the scary season. “People like to be reminded of their childhood but in an adult, delight-filled way,” Wolfe-Murrey advises. “Flavours, experiences and activities can all tap into this.”

So rather than tricking your customers with hackneyed Halloween decorations and obligatory discounts, put your heart and soul into marketing. Literally, if you’re that dedicated to the holiday spirit. 

About the Author

Angus Shaw

Angus Shaw

With a keen eye for politics as editorial assistant, Angus can often be found scanning the horizon for the next big waves crashing against business shores – which makes up the time when he's not setting sail at Radio Caroline, the former pirate station, on weekends. Follow him on Twitter @Angus_Shaw for his latest cognition

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