Certain holidays offer opportunities for small-business publicity that other times don’t. Halloween is one occasion where parents all over the nation look for unusual events for their children to enjoy. But it’s not just for kids. The holiday and its related events thrill people of all ages. In fact, the National Retail Federation (NRF) says that consumers will spend $7.4 billion on Halloween this year, and that 75 million adults will dress in costume for the day. Here are a few ideas about how you can get some free Halloween publicity for your business.
Hold a Costume Contest
Halloween is all about fun, and you can cash in on that by holding a costume contest for customers, and awarding a prize to the winner. The prize doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be something related to your business and worth competing for. The key to success is to make the event memorable for the participants. Here are some ideas to make the day fun (and profitable).
- Offer spooky cookies and a ghoulish drink
- Have your staff dress up in costume
- Take a photo of each entrant and hang it in a spider web on the wall
- Promise the winner that he or she will be featured (in costume) in your newsletter or on your website
Be sure to contact your local newspapers and news channels in advance and tell them about the upcoming contest so they’ll have time to run a story. Then extend an invitation to the reporters to come and share in the fun. Be sure to spread the word in the weeks before your contest to your customers and local community with flyers, word of mouth, and a sign in the window.
Give Away Fun Freebies
Many of the nation’s chain restaurants give away freebies on Halloween to bring in parents and their kids. For instance, last year, Krispy Kreme offered a free doughnut to anyone who come in to a store in a costume. Olive Garden and Red Lobster gave free kids meals on Halloween when they were ordered with adult entrees. But you don’t have to run a food business to use this tactic. You could give away a free cookie with the customer’s name written on it in icing for all who come into your store in costume. Or put a sign in your window that says you are giving away free candy to all who enter — and then make sure that your sales are well marked and enticing. Expand this idea by using a street team dressed in costume to walk around the area giving out free candy and a discount coupon.
Partner With a Charity
Drum up some publicity and a feeling of goodwill about your business by teaming up with a charity and donating your time and services for a Halloween event. For instance, the NRF also says that this year, 14.3 percent of people are planning to dress up their pet for the big day. Why not partner with your local humane society and hold a Halloween pet contest? Hold the event at your business and ask your customers or local residents to bring in their pets dressed in costume for a prize, which can be a pet toy or something inexpensive from your business. Be sure to get reporters in on it because these are the types of stories they often love to run.
Sponsor a “Trunk or Treat” Event
Many parents aren’t comfortable allowing their kids to trick or treat in the neighborhood anymore, which is why “trunk or treat” events were born. These events bring together sponsors to give out candy to kids in a safe environment, and are usually held by churches or community centers. You can set up a candy booth at one of these events, or stand out and sponsor a hay ride for the kids. The sponsors are typically allowed to set up signs with their business name or hand out treats with a company logo printed on them. In addition, the promoters of the event will typically include the sponsors’ names on all of the written materials and follow-up newsletters.