Most business owners and marketing professionals spend a portion of their time doing strategic planning and forecasting, but for businesses that have a strong seasonal focus, that often takes up the bulk of their time. Why? For seasonal businesses there’s no room for error when it comes to planning and forecasting because they don’t get do-overs. A typical business can afford a failure one month or one quarter, because there’s another one coming right around the corner to let them redeem themselves. But a costume shop can’t afford to have a bad October and a Christmas tree business can’t weather a December flop – that’s just the nature of their industries. This vulnerability means that their marketing must be on-point for them to succeed, which means that you can learn a lot from these types of businesses!
So, what did Halloween 2016 teach us? Here are the top 5 lessons that we learned this year:
Is it just me or is Halloween marketing starting earlier and earlier each year? I swear, kids start school and on the second day, the back-to-school displays suddenly turn into pumpkins and bats and it’s Halloween galore! Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but only slightly. If you have a short season, you need to do everything you can to try to extend it. This is why holiday marketing starts so much ahead of the actual holiday. Your business should be doing the same thing! When you have a product launch scheduled or an update to an existing product planned, get the most out of your investment. Start building buzz and increasing brand awareness early so you don’t shortchange its “season.” You’ll thank yourself for it later when you already have an engaged audience ready to buy.
Everything, and I mean everything, is Halloween themed in October. Whether you want to buy cookies, socks, or coffee get ready for it to be batty or spooky or pumpkin-y for at least a month leading up to Halloween. The Halloween craze has gotten a little out of hand, but it’s just because every company wants to try to capitalize on the season. So, it doesn’t matter whether or not Babybel cheese has anything to do with Halloween, in October you’ll see the wrappers donning ghosts and goblins. Your business needs to be a part of what’s going on around it too! Whether that means tying into the season or an upcoming holiday, referencing current events, contributing to industry innovation, or something else, your business should be relevant with the times.
Everyone likes something about Halloween even if they’re not into the whole ghosts and witches thing because it also includes fun costumes, yummy candy, and classic movies. By going Halloween-themed with your brand in the fall, your building off this excitement. But your business doesn’t need to wait for something that only comes around once a year to get people excited. You can piggyback off the excitement that’s generated from anything that makes people happy – saving time, cutting costs, building respect, etc. Latch onto a common desirable feeling and show your audience how your company’s offerings can help them achieve that.
Know Your Audience
I can’t think of another holiday that’s more polarizing than Halloween. Some people love the spooky side of it, some go crazy over the creative DIY craftiness of it, while others (like me) just enjoy the silly costumes and yummy flavors. This means that marketing must be specifically targeted for each audience to be at all effective. For instance, I would be totally turned off by an email referencing upcoming horror movies filled with blood and gore. Segmenting your audience is a critical step in understanding what drives them and what they’re looking for from your company. This is important year-round and is a key factor in the success of any marketing plan. You have to really understand your audience (timeframe, decision criteria, purchase expectations, budget, preferred channels, personal influences, etc.) to know what will get them to buy.
Branded Halloween hashtags, Instagram contests, Facebook giveaways, costumed snapchats – they’re all popular these days! As social media has gotten more popular, brands have continued to use current social trends to help guide their marketing efforts throughout the year. Most top brands have entire teams working on their social media presence, but a social presence is important regardless of the size of your business. Whether you manage your own social media in-house or hire a social media agency to do it for you, social channels are important for the success of your marketing goals.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!