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Marketing Your Business for Halloween: The Do's and Don'ts

As you know, Halloween is just around the corner. This holiday kicks off the last few months of the year, diving right into the holiday season. Now is a good time to start thinking about your seasonal branding, if you haven’t already. This is important, since 40 percent of holiday shoppers begin their shopping duties before Halloween, while another 41.5 percent claim they begin in November.

Many stores and businesses see a huge increase in activity and sales during the holiday season. For that reason, it can end up being a lucrative way to boost sales, traffic or views. People love holidays,be it Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, and so they are more inclined to visit a website decked out in holiday themes.

What Is Seasonal Branding?

Admittedly,seasonal branding is no different than your usual marketing or advertising strategies. The only exception is that you add some festive touches to pander to the majority of your audience. You are celebrating the holidays with them —whether you truly do or not at home. This includes promotional flyers and ads, deals and discounts, decorations, website themes or additions, and more.

Some of the more common examples of seasonal branding include: 

  • Holiday newsletters

  • Holiday-themed events

  • Social media content with a festive theme

  • Website design or visual updates

  • Special deals and promotions

  • Holiday item placements, such as skulls and witches

  • Holiday music on the radio or media channels

One Burger King store in Queens, New York, even dressed up its store like a ghost. Talk about stopping traffic! It’s not always as simple as slapping a few cartoony witches across your store and site, though. There are plenty of things you can do to get in the holiday spirit, but just as many things you shouldn’t do.

Before you launch your Halloween branding campaign, let’s take a look at some of those points you should consider. More specifically, what are the do’s and don’ts of marketing your business for Halloween and the proceeding holidays?

The Do’s

  1. Start as Soon as Possible

There is a window of opportunity, but it closes more and more each day as we get closer to the end of the year. If you haven’t already —and that’s why we’re discussing this now —then you need to deploy your holiday campaigns as soon as humanly possible.

In fact, you should always start your holiday planning at least a month in advance. Even if you’re a little early, you can get a head start on the festive craze. Obviously, this means setting aside time to prepare, test, correct, create, place and get things set up. It includes just about everything your brand owns —from brick-and-mortar stores to your website —and even social media profiles. For lack of a better phrase, bedazzle your stuff with Halloween and festively themed content.

  1. Embrace the Holiday and or Season

For the most part, the bigger holidays have panned themes or colors. Halloween, for example, is orange and black. If you really want to shift into gear and make your holiday campaign seasonal, inviting and successful, then you need to go with a corresponding color scheme.

Keep your logo and font the same, but change the colors to match up with the season or a temporary site theme. You can do the same in your stores with promotional content, flyers and paper ads. Don’t be afraid to deck out your brick-and-mortar stores with decorations. While you’re at it, make sure you have some seasonal items and products in stock. If your focus is on services instead, try offering some holiday-themed support.

One of the best ways to garner attention, however, is to think outside the box. Do something intuitive or unique to grab the attention of your audience. Why not create a seasonal character for your website and go all out? Come up with a voice and personality for that character, and deploy support across all your channels.

Taking that a step further, your character could interact through voice commands — similar to Siri or Alexa — and offer holiday-themed answers to customer queries. Pretty cool idea, no? This takes a lot of preparation, especially on the development side of the equation, which is why you want to start as early as possible.

  1. Reach Out With Warm Wishes

Whether you use email newsletters, notifications through a mobile app, a news feed on your site or even conventional print marketing like snail mail flyers, Halloween is a great time to send out exclusive content to your customers. First, make sure you offer warm wishes and help them celebrate. You can do this simply by saying, Happy Halloween! You could also do something like send exclusive discounts and promotions. If you’re feeling frisky, you could run a contest or sweepstakes.

The main goal is to send out social messages, delivering warm wishes and happy greetings to your customers. You can do this any way you like,including via social media and related digital channels. The underlying premise is to show your customers that you are willing to celebrate Halloween with them, and you’re just as happy and prepared for the events.

  1. Don’t Waste Your Content-Marketing Opportunities

Honestly,you could apply this rule to content marketing in general throughout the entire year. It’s just as important during Halloween time. Why? Because you have the opportunity to deliver an incredibly engaging and effective content marketing strategy, if you plan appropriately.

According to Research Now, about nine out of every 10 customers, or 84 percent, will make a purchase after reading about a product or service on a blog. So, if you’re not going to get your hands dirty and do some content marketing yourself on your brand or company blog, then why not outsource the work? You can tap into industry influencers, news sites and customer blogs to spread whatever it is you need to, including news about discounts, deals, promotions and campaigns.

People aren’t just shopping during the end of the year, they also consume more content —and that means reading Halloween-themed blogs and articles. That’s exactly why you see a lot of news and media sites cover topics like “x gadgets for…” Don’t waste the opportunities you have.

The Don’ts

  1. Choose Your Holidays

Sadly, we would all love to hit every holiday during the year, especially during the super busy holiday season. However, that’s just not viable, especially if you have a small- or medium-sized business.Thanksgiving, for example, happens the day before Black Friday. Then, just days later, you have Cyber Monday. To make matters worse, the big retailers are now celebrating these holidays all week and month long, making for some tough competition.

Choose your holidays wisely, because the truth is that you probably don’t have the bandwidth to cover or celebrate every single holiday and event that’s taking place. Find a balance, especially in terms of your budget and resources. Choose the most lucrative holidays for your brand and company.

You may or may not have good performance and sales during Halloween season, according to past experiences. So, it might be a good idea to close up shop or wrap up any campaigns you have going by then.

  1. Don’t Recycle Content

If a deal or discount did excellent the year before, awesome! Don’t run the same exact deal or campaign, though. The same is true of Halloween-themed content, flyers, decorations and social media posts. Just don’t recycle anything — it should be unique, just like your actual content.

You also want to ensure your content is separate from the competition and other brands. You don’t want to be regurgitating the same Halloween greetings, images and cards they are. Show your customers they matter by producing something unique and exclusive. Furthermore, people’s tastes change over time, which is exactly why you don’t want to run the same campaigns and promotions every year.

  1. Don’t Overdo It

All this talk of holiday-themed content, visuals, color schemes and more might entice you to completely revamp your entire site or store to match the coming season. Why not change all your fonts to bright orange over a black background? Let’s throw some animated flying witches or headless horsemen across each page! What about a black cat with glowing eyes in the background?

These are some remarkable ideas, sure, but you don’t want to overdo it.The bright orange fonts, for example, may end up being tough to read and will look terrible on mobile devices. Animated characters one very page might hinder the performance of your site and cause longer loading times or frustrating experiences.

Yes,it’s always good to be a trendsetter and do some cool things, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the core concepts and principles you’ve always followed. Your website, for example, needs to be convenient, reliable and accessible. Don’t do things that would go against that, despite how interesting or innovative they may seem.

  1. Don’t Alienate Your Audience

In today’s politically correct world, it’s tough to think of everyone and consider how every single person will react or feel. That doesn’t mean you should ignore entire segments of your audience or customer base. Some may not even celebrate Halloween, while others may celebrate a completely different holiday. 

Do what you can to celebrate the full spectrum of your audience and customer base. You may set up a section for Halloween-themed decorations, and another nearby for Mexican Day of the Dead. Maybe Halloween is a little too dark for your audience’s tastes? Keep your celebrations and decorations minimal out of respect.

The point is, be sure to consider your audience before doing anything,and that includes understanding how something will affect them. This is a time where data analytics and customer touch points come in handy.

The Ultimate Power of Seasonal Branding

If and when you deliver your seasonal branding appropriately, it can open doors wide for you. It’s an incredibly powerful medium that has the potential to transform your business for the entire year ahead.

Rather than just take our word for it, let’s look at a real-world example of holiday branding done right.

KFC— as mall, fast-food joint you may have heard of —leveraged its holiday branding to find success in Japan, of all places.The major fried chicken provider launched an incredibly successful seasonal campaign in the ‘70s. It became so popular, in fact, that eating KFC and fried chicken is now a cornerstone of Christmas celebrations throughout the country.

This led to its famous “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii” message, which means “Kentucky for Christmas!”

It’s had a stunning effect on local sales and performance in the region, thanks to more than 1,000 branches in Japan. The event is so popular, the chain takes orders for the Christmas Eve “Party Barrel” up to three months in advance, and long queues happen at KFC stores on Dec. 24. 

KFC is now a core part of Japan’s Christmas celebrations, so much that the national airline even serves branded KFC meals for three months, in the run-up to Christmas.

Imagine meeting success like that with your own seasonal branding? It is possible, but only if you do things right.


Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She enjoys researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on DesignRoast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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