While October is full of fun and interesting observances, this one final day of the month gets all the attention. But there’s no need to wait until the end of the month to leverage it for fun and creative marketing. There are several ways to use Halloween to come up with fun and attractive sales promotions that will increase engagement, generate leads, and attract more customers to your local business. Most importantly, these promotional ideas are focused on integrating with and building up your community, which is the best kind of marketing.
In this post, we’ll cover 13 easy Halloween-focused promotions to run this month, both online and off.
Halloween Promotion Ideas for Your Small Business
Many of these October marketing ideas are traditional Halloween activities, but you can make them unique with your business’s offerings and brand personality. As you read through and view the examples, think of how you turn them into authentic and win-win marketing opportunities for your local business and customers.
1. Throw a Halloween Party
Throwing a Halloween party suitable for all ages is a great way to increase foot traffic (if relevant) by both new and existing customers. Due to COVID-19, you may have to reformat the Halloween party to have a longer time frame so that only small numbers of customers can be in your store at a time.
Your Halloween party doesn’t need to be a massive expense — some free treats, spooky or festive music, and simple decorations can go a long way (mainly the free treats, so don’t forget those).
A few tips:
- Treats: Avoid bowls of unwrapped food or treats, which are bad for allergies and of course the pandemic.
- Music: Moster Mash, duh. Just kidding. Spooky music, festive tunes, or really just likable pop music are all good options.
- Decorations: You can obtain cheap decorations at your nearest Dollar Tree/Dollar Store/Family Dollar, purchase a few small pumpkins at a local farmstand or even grocery store, and even make cutouts and streamers.
Pro tip: Offer a party-exclusive sale, such as 13% off (a spooky percentage indeed), to help increase sales during your party.
2. Participate in Trick-or-Treating
If your town has a trick-or-treating event, take part! Not only will this increase foot traffic as with your Halloween party, but it’s also a great opportunity to familiarize your business with your community. Get to know your existing customers and meet potential new ones. Learn about them on a personal level. This is not just market research; it’s a way of building meaningful relationships that yield mutual, long-term benefits.
Some tips for your trick-or-treat event:
- Promote the event via your website, social media profiles, and Google Business Profile.
- When families come around to collect candy, have your business card or a one-pager available for interested customers that includes your contact information, website, and social media links to grow your online network.
- Use a hashtag for the event — one that both business and family participants can easily recall and include in their posts about the event.
3. Host a Trick-or-Treating Event
If your town doesn’t have a trick-or-treating event, well then, get one up and running. Be the change you want to see, right? If you don’t have the resources, you may want to collaborate with other small businesses in the area to offer a joint event. This will give it even more of a community focus. Plus, parents are always looking for safe Halloween activities, so this is a good opportunity to win them over.
Some ways to make this event unique:
- Include a special “discount” treasure map for the adults, listing out the promotions but leaving them to figure out which store it’s associated with.
- Make sure the businesses you partner with can offer different products or services from each other, so you can have a diverse (and therefore more appealing) range of offers.
4. Hold a Pumpkin-Carving Contest
It would be ideal (especially now during the pandemic) if you had an outdoor space at or near your location for this Halloween tradition, but you could also run the event virtually.
To make this a successful promotion:
- Have people register online with their email addresses so you can provide updates and follow up later with photos and other information.
- Offer incentivizing prizes (have a first, second, and third place) such as a gift card to your business, a seasonal gift basket, or a discounted bundle of your services.
- If you run your contest online, come up with a unique hashtag required for entry.
5. Offer a Dress-Up Discount
Another great way to increase foot traffic to your business and maximize sales this Halloween is by offering a discount or gift with purchase to anyone (human or pet) who appears in costume. Not only will this encourage customers to come to your store, but it also creates an opportunity for user-generated content. Maybe even offer an extra bonus if they post on social media and tag your business. If you have a tablet, set up a simple DIY photo booth.
6. Join in on Community Events
During the month of October, plenty of community events will be taking place in your neighborhood such as fall fairs, festivals, and farmer’s markets. Set up a table or tent with coupons, decorations, Halloween treats, and most definitely your dog if you have one, to attract visitors. Be sure to promote your presence on social media and add an extra incentive such as a free item for the first 10 people who arrive at your booth. Participating in community events will help to build your local reputation and as well as your knowledge about your audience. The more information you have stored internally about your customers as individuals, the more natural and successful your marketing will become.
7. Host a Scavenger Hunt
Whether your business has a storefront or operates digitally, hosting a scavenger hunt can be fun, easy, and affordable. This can be a store-wide event, a town-wide ordeal, or a simple and quick manipulation of your website. Maybe participants have to find clues on your pages, such as a bat peeking from behind your homepage logo, a skeleton in one of your product pictures, or a candy corn icon on your blog homepage. The images can link to a landing page with the prize discount, or you could have entrants come into your store or email you with locations of all the clues to redeem their prize.
8. Participate in Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude runs an annual Halloween Candy Give-Back Drive where kids can donate a portion of their Halloween candy that is given out to deployed troops, veterans, and first responders. Make your store a donation station to not only incentivize people to come in but to do something that will make them feel good. You may even want to add in an incentive, such as $1 per pound of candy donated (or maybe X ounces; hopefully your kids aren’t in possession of have several pounds of candy). This is an awesome way to give back to those that serve our country while also promoting a healthy community (and whiter teeth).
9. Run a “Guess How Many” Contest
Want more email addresses for your newsletter or email marketing list? Grab a jar and fill it with something Halloween-inspired–candy corn, plastic spiders, orange and black candies, etc. Put the jar by your cash register or in your location and have customers drop their business cards or a slip of paper with their guess in a box. Just make sure customers include their email address in their entry. You can also run the contest on social media to increase engagement — post a picture or a video of the jar and have people comment with their guesses and tag their friends to get their guesses!
The winner gets a discount off their next purchase, a free service, or a free product. Announce the winner on email, social media, and in-store media.
10. Offer a Halloween-Themed Item or Service
Get a sales boost this month by offering a Halloween-themed product, service, or an entire menu. Themed items are always appealing to customers and typically make for great social media material.
Here are some ideas:
- Bakeries can feature green witch finger cookies or white chocolate-colored strawberry ghosts.
- Restaurants can offer vampire cocktails with cranberry juice and a plastic spider garnish.
- Florists could offer Halloween bouquets with orange, black, green, and purple flowers at your flower shop.
- Gyms could throw a Halloween-inspired fitness class. Create a Halloween soundtrack (think “Somebody’s Watching Me” or “Disturbia”), run a black-lit class where neon sneakers illuminate, or if you want to get really silly, have participants lift a large pumpkin in one of your circuit stations.
Make sure to announce these fun offerings to your website, blog, social media, and Google My Business posts to generate excitement and maximize participation.
11. Spookify Your Online Assets
A Halloween-themed cover photo from Party City’s Facebook page.
This is a super-simple Halloween marketing idea that can be fun for you too. While you can easily decorate your storefront for Halloween with pumpkins and spider webs, you can also decorate your homepage. After all, it is your online storefront. Also, change your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter cover photos to a Halloween-inspired one using Photoshop or Canva. Maybe even swap out the feature image on your website with a photo from last year’s event if you ran one.
12. Make the Most of Social Media
I’ve mentioned social media throughout the post but will include it as its own idea here for added measure. There are a few things with regard to social media that can help make your Halloween promotions successful. First, be sure to take plenty of pictures and share them before, during, and after the event or sale. Capture customer or employee photos and (with their permission) share them on your Facebook page. Encourage others to do the same. Second, use hashtags (you even can apply all of them to one post) to boost your exposure and get better results.
Here are some hashtag ideas:
- Use unique hashtags for contest entries so you can track and monitor participation (#FitSpaPumpkinContest2020).
- Add custom hashtags you use regularly to enhance brand awareness (#UnrefinedHalloween).
- Use location-based hashtags to build your local online presence (#AllstonOctoberSale #TimsPumpkinPatch).
- Use popular hashtags for your Halloween-themed products like #halloweenrecipes or #halloweenworkoutjams.
Finally, be sure to monitor the hashtag and share or repost any comments or posts from customers. Social media is a two-way street, and the more you engage with your followers, the more they will continue to engage with you. And the more engagement you have on your page through comments and posts, the more prospects can see how active your business is what it’s like to interact with it.
One final tip is that you can also share useful or fun content produced by complementary businesses and industry influencers, such as pictures, recipes, costume ideas, and safety tips. The more content you put out on social media, the more attention your business will get.
13. Experiment Before the Holidays
If you’re not familiar with promotions or social media, this is the best time to start one. Why? Because Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday, Christmas, Hannukkah, and New Year’s Eve are right around the corner. And we all know that once it starts, it does not stop. Marketing strategies like these can make a big difference during this time of elevated consumer activity, so use Halloween to get a feel for things and maximize your holiday promotions. You may want to use your Halloween promotions to:
- Try out marketing automation platforms.
- Find out which channels are most popular among your audience.
- See what messaging resonates best with customers.
- Identify popular products to help inform your holiday offerings and deals.
A successful Halloween promotion will help your business to increase engagement, attract new customers, awaken dormant existing customers that have perhaps dropped off during the summer, build your local presence both online and off, and most importantly, strengthen the community of which you are a part. Start simple and let the process flow from there. If all else fails, you’ll be sure to learn a lot and have some meaningful experiences.