Hype Halloween

Thirteen spooktacular marketing tips for increasing sales.

By Teresa P. Lanker

1 Bobbing for discounts. Write percentage discounts or other sales promotions on the bottoms of miniature pumpkins, and float them in a tub. Allow customers to choose their pumpkin discount prior to purchase.

2 Jack-o’-lantern contest. Invite your community to enter a pumpkin-carving contest, and present awards for the cutest, scariest and more. Have separate categories for children and adults, with ribbons and small presentation bouquets for the winners. Display the jack-o’-lanterns in the cooler.

3 Candy treat arrangements. Take a cue from mass marketers who have successfully sold candy bar “arrangements” for years, but add your own floral pizzazz. Attach full-size or mini candy bars to wood stakes, and incorporate them into your Halloween floral designs, or arrange them like flowers radiating from a base of orange carnations or a ghostly cloud of baby’s breath. Use novelty containers and add balloons for increased value.

4 Mix-and-match merchandise. Create a “Halloween Happening” or “Fall Festival” atmosphere by offering a selection of hardy mums, pumpkins, corn shocks and hay bales with a price incentive such as three for $10.

5 Decorating products and services. As the second-largest holiday for decorating—only Christmas exceeding sales of holiday décor—Halloween provides an opportunity to market your shop as a holiday and seasonal decorating specialist. Replace red and green with orange and black, twinkle lights with flashers, and snowmen with jack-o’-lanterns, and you can transform traditional Christmas decorating schemes to spooky and spirited Halloween vignettes for homes, businesses and the shop as well.

6 Free gift wrap. Maintain the parallel of Halloween to Christmas by promoting Halloween gift giving with the offer of free gift-wrapping. Use brown kraft paper or similar gift bags with orange tissue and novelty Halloween ribbons. Offer candy or foil balloon add-ons for an extra fee.

7 Halloween cards. Whether you routinely send bewitching wishes at Halloween or not, don’t miss this opportunity to use holiday greeting cards to pump up sales. With Halloween growing in popularity, particularly among adults, (in 2010, Halloween card sales totaled $346 million) be one of the nonmass-market outlets where fun and original cards are offered alongside tasteful Halloween giftware and décor.

8 Tricks and treats. Encourage fun and spirited Halloween gift giving by including “white elephant” tricks with floral treats delivered throughout the season. Allow customers to provide their own gag gifts, or offer humorous options such as wind-up witches, bobble-head jack-o’-lanterns, “dead” (dried) roses, or bagged (plastic) spiders tucked in or tied to flower arrangements.

9 Web everything. Apply hot glue to a block of plastic foam, then immediately place another block of plastic foam on top of the hot glue, and instantly pull the blocks apart, to create spider-weblike strands. Apply them liberally to displays and entryways, wreaths, plants and vases. Offer free webbing on any holiday design or giftware purchase.

10 Scavenger hunt. Partner with neighboring businesses to offer a Halloween scavenger hunt or trick-or-treat event. Use flowery clues for the scavenger hunt, or give out flowers by the stem to trick-or-treaters. Add simple games to your stop on the hunt, such as guess the number of pumpkin seeds or sit-and-hop balloon pop.

11 Costumed deliveries. Make deliveries throughout October or during Halloween week with a helper dressed as a vampire, black cat, gypsy or superhero. Publicize this special service, and charge a bit extra for it, if you wish.

12 Pirate and princess parties. Anticipate the most popular costumes of the season, and plan parties for each. Offer them free, or charge a small fee to get kids into the store (or perhaps the parking lot) for an afternoon of fun and games. Parents should be encouraged to remain on-site to help supervise (and shop).

13 Night-owl sales. Choose an evening each week of October or just one special date prior to Halloween to stay open late with big discounts on Halloween or other seasonal merchandise. Line the sidewalk or parking lot with luminarias. Create a haunting atmosphere with the sights and sounds of the season. Make this an adults-only event, and offer discounts to guests who dress in costume.

Teresa P. Lanker is assistant professor and chair of the Horticultural Technologies Division and coordinator of Floral Design and Marketing at The Ohio State University ATI.


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