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Use These Tricks to Scare Up Halloween Business

By Marcia Richards Suelzer, MA, JD | September 19, 2013

Halloween is an increasingly popular American holiday. The National Retail Federation’s 2012 holiday survey found that seven out of ten people plan to celebrate it. More than half of us will decorate our homes or yards, while one-third of us plan to either throw or attend a Halloween party.What’s more, Halloween-related spending continues to climb.. Sales of Halloween related products are expected to reach $8 billion in sales, with the average person spending $80 on costumes, decorations and candy. 

If your business sells those items, then Halloween is a natural opportunity for you. Make sure that you leverage your unique advantages of personalized and friendly service to lure customers into your store, rather than the big-box store on the edge of town. However, even if you don’t sell costumes, stage makeup or lawn decorations, you can still scare up some business at Halloween. Restaurants can offer seasonal specials. Service businesses can sponsor contests or offer a 'frightfully good deal' on their services. Beauty salons can offer “make up and hair” promotions for all the “Princesses,” young and old. The following ‘tricks’ can help you make the most of the holiday.

Decorate your business establishment. When planning decorations, remember you want the atmosphere to appeal to your customers. Urban areas tend to be edgier than the suburbs. So, a store that caters primarily to young urban professionals might have the employees dressed (and acting) as zombies. In contrast, a store catering to young families or children could use cheerful ghosts and cute black cats as the major elements.

Work Smart

Don’t forget to decorate your website. For an online-only business this is essential. Give your website a Halloween make-over. Promote holiday specials on your home page. The same holds true for your Facebook page: Select a new cover photo and make sure to post upcoming events and specials.

Participate with other businesses. Being part of the community is one of the strengths of a small business. Find out what events are being planned by your local chamber of commerce or merchants association and join in the planned festivities. If none are planned, reach out to nearby businesses and suggest joining forces to other special Halloween promotions and events. Having several businesses participating will bring in more visitors.

Example

In Wauconda, Illinois, merchants are proving that working together boosts all the businesses. Wauconda businesses are using a Facebook page, Trick or Treat on Main Street, to promote upcoming holiday events and contests.

The collaboration goes beyond the Facebook to the events themselves. 

The Pet Costume contest is co-sponsored by local pet grooming and boarding establishments, as well as the local animal hospital. Not only will all the businesses get a boost, this is an excellent example of how a service business (a veterinarian) can participate in a Halloween-themed event.

Communicate to your customers. Make sure your customers know of upcoming events. In addition to updating your website and your Facebook page, send an email blast offering “scary/good deals” to those your mailing list. Craft some special offers for your Facebook fans and Twitter followers.

Plan a variety of events. Halloween is more than just one day—the decorating and festivities span the entire month of October. Therefore, you should plan events to draw customers during the run-up to Halloween, as well as on the day itself.

  • Plan a contest—either by yourself or with other local businesses. Some contests, such as a Pet Costume contest, will build goodwill and generate traffic. But with a little planning, you can create a contest that helps get people more familiar with the products you carry. For example, tuck ghosts into various places throughout your store and have customers find and count them. Those who locate all the ghosts are entered into a drawing for prizes on Halloween. The Wauconda merchants are doing this on a larger scale by having a town-wide scavenger hunt—the participants have fun and also learn more about local businesses.
  • During trick-or-treating hours, provide treats for children—and to their beleaguered parents. Parent-treats might include a more grown-up candy (such as dark chocolate truffles), a free sample of one of your products, or a coupon for use in the future. (Of course, distributing treats doesn’t need to be restricted to Halloween. You may want to have treats available during the week before.)
  • Stay open late on Halloween. Hold a “Midnight Madness” sale and offer discounts to customers in costumes. Have “Mystery Bags” that sell for $1 and that contain a variety of small items that you might not be able to sell otherwise.

Anticipate the rest of the holiday season. Make your promotions do double-duty. Halloween marks the start of the holiday season that runs through New Year’s Day. Capitalize on this by combining a Halloween-themed offer with a coupon for use later in the year. For example, a bakery could offer a coupon for a Christmas item with each package of pumpkin muffins or Halloween themed cookies.

Regardless of your business, find ways to capitalize on the fun that surrounds Halloween. Doing so will treat you to increased sales and happy customers.

Marketing

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