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Halloween marketing for small businesses

Halloween marketing for small businesses

Posted 01st October, 2019 by Sarah

5 minute read

The US Small Business Association suggests that small businesses should spend seven to eight per cent of their gross revenue on marketing, and the rule of thumb is pretty similar in the UK.

The reality, unveiled by research, however, is that most small outfits only invest one per cent.

If you run your own business this might come as no surprise.

Whether you’re a photographer, cupcake maker or musician, snapping, baking and playing will always take priority over office admin like marketing.

However, there are certain times of year when setting some time and money aside to up your marketing efforts can really reap you the benefits.

One of these times is Halloween.


Because last year, Brits spent nearly £420 million on Halloween celebrations and on seasonal promotions.

Big brands go all out to attract and engage customers at this time of year. In 2018, Coke spent £3 million on the Halloween marketing campaign for its Fanta brand. The campaign saw the launch of new seasonal flavours and limited-edition cans and the development of snapchat lenses and filters to be used in conjunction with the products.

So, what can small businesses do at Halloween when their annual marketing budgets are smaller than the amount a brand like Coke would spend in a day?

Actually, implementing a few little things can be enough to do everything from raising brand awareness to earning social media shares.

Here are a few tips for Halloween marketing techniques that won’t break the bank.

Use what you have

Even though Guinness is a mega brand, it doesn’t always throw a fortune at its marketing campaigns. In 2009, the brand’s marketing gurus were tasked with coming up with a budget friendly Halloween promotion to be rolled out in Romania, where the drink was still viewed as a niche product.

Inspired by the dark brooding colour of the drink and the spectre-like swirling the liquid makes when it’s poured, the people at Guinness created a set of beer coasters that were designed to look like spooky shadows attached to people’s pints.

All Guinness used to execute the campaign was its existing product and a bit of black cardboard. It was a simple and extremely cost-effective idea that got some serious social media mentions on the night of October 31st.

Use wordplay but organically

Research suggests that using puns in advertising – in the right context – can lead to desirable outcomes such as keeping a reader’s attention for longer and making the reader feel more positively about a product.

However, at Halloween, the puns come thick and fast and many of them are the same. Company after company uses plays on words like ‘frighteningly good deals’ and ‘spooktacular offers’.

If you’re going to use puns this Halloween, you’ll want to work a little harder to stand out from competitors.

Inspiration can be taken from big brands whose marketing departments often have weeks to brainstorm catchy and different Halloween puns.

In 2018, Netflix took the commonly used phrase ‘netflix and chill’ and adapted it into ‘Netflix and Chills’ – the name for its Halloween promotion of classic scary movies.

In 2013, Kellogg’s started referring to its Rice Krispie Square bars as Rice Krispie Scares as part of its Halloween marketing campaign.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, meanwhile, renamed its burrito the Boorito for the Halloween period.

Spend some time on imagery

Just as many brands use specially selected words to get customer’s attentions at Halloween, many companies also put a lot of thought into imagery.

One carefully thought out social media image can go a long way to upping brand awareness and brand loyalty.

In fact, studies suggest that social media posts that feature images can receive up to 94 per cent more views than posts that feature words alone.

For an example of something simple yet effective, take a look at McDonald’s 2018 Halloween campaign, which saw the brand release images of a strawberry sundae onto social media. The graphic made it look like there was a demonic face in the sundae’s sauce.

Offer something extra

Special offers and seasonal discounts are ten a penny at Halloween. That’s why the most experienced brands try to offer something extra to customers at this time of year.

Take M&Ms for example. In 2018, the brand offered customers a series of seasonal recipes through its Instagram channels for party treats like caramel apple pops.

WD-40 also offered its customers something different for Halloween 2018 – humour. Inspired by the solutions WD-40 offers, the brand’s marketing department created a squeaky door soundtrack app accompanied by the slogan ‘one night a year you actually want your door to squeak’.

Engage with your community

One marketing tactic that will hardly cost you a penny this Halloween is community engagement. In other words, interacting with your customers on social media and getting them to interact with you.

Big brand inspiration can be taken from Dunkin Donuts who, in 2017, asked their customers to incorporate a donut into their Halloween costume and share their images on twitter. The best entry was to be given a year’s worth of free coffee.

Some of the images shared during this campaign received more than 52,000 likes on twitter alone.

Ensure your hosting is up to scratch

If you are planning promotional activity for Halloween, you’ll need to ensure your website is ready for any potential spikes in traffic.

At tsoHost all hosting packages come with unlimited bandwidth, which means your site will stay at its prime when you get busy.

To find out more about tosHost’s hosting packages visit our hosting pages.

Categories: Marketing, Small Businesses

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