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Monday, October 5, 2009

Frugal Halloween Promotions will lead to SPOOKTACULAR sales!

Halloween brings out the inner child in all of us! The holiday provides a wonderful opportunity for you to give your customer a much needed break from the economic woes plaguing the nation to focus on some good old fashioned fun! Although the average American will spend $10 less on Halloween this year, consumers will still spend almost 5 Billion dollars on the holiday. You might not sell costumes or candy, but it is still possible to get your share of the Halloween pie!

What is the Crafty Retailer to do?

Lighten the mood and set the stage for some ghoulish good times! Take a few minutes this week to plan activities that will reinforce your message....after all, YOU know that you have a killer store, but is the word getting out to the community? Do you have an established following? You want to create a vibe that says: We are hip, we are fun, and we want you to play with us!" Think that you are already delivering that message? Check out the "Craft Store Horror Stories" post at Crafty Pod. Diane Gilleland put out a call for Indie Crafters to share some of their experiences with local craft stores and the floodgates opened! The comments were a real eye opener. Ouch.

The average retailer employs the same tired old "10% off the store" promotion so often that it has become little more than white noise in a world of similar promotions. The bar is so low that it will not take a heck of a lot of effort to outshine the competition. There are a plethora of low cost promotional ideas floating around to help get your creative juices flowing. Here are just a few:

1. Give out candy that affords an extra treat. We have designed a wrapper that fits over a Hershey mini candy bar. Simply shoot us an email and we will send you the template. Print up the labels and replace the Hershey label with the Halloween version. Offer a candy to your customers as they check out from the register. The Schtick: Random bars will have a special marking on the inside of the wrapper. Award a prize to the lucky one who chooses a candy bar containing the winning mark. The prize need not be elaborate or costly....a grab bag or small gift certificate will work just fine. The idea is to generate warm fuzzies and a foster sense of fun.

2. Host a Pet Costume Contest. Don't want to deal with the four legged creatures on site? No worries...accept photo entries only. Put up a photo gallery for your customers to enjoy and let them vote on the winner. "Most Pathetic," "Funniest," "Most Likely to Get Revenge Later" etc. Although I am somewhat embarrassed by the delight I get in dressing up my own animals for the holiday, I know that I am not alone. Admit it. You think it is funny, too!

3. Host a Cute Baby Costume Contest. Same Rules apply. Encourage Mom and Grandmom to send in pictures of the adorable tykes and let the customers vote on the winners.

4. Schedule a Halloween Themed Knit/Crochet/Bead/Felt Along. During the month of October we always featured a perennial favorite at the bead shop: a Frankenstein bead weaving project in Brick Stitch. The finished piece was then appliqued to a black T Shirt for an
acceptable costume substitute. I still have the pattern and am more than happy to share. Email me if you are interested in a copy. Crochet aficionados need look no further than Monster Crochet for some incredible patterns.I love the bones scarf and severed that wrong? Many of your customers will be hosting parties to celebrate the occasion...felted eyeball coasters will add sick charm. They are quick and easy to make and you can find Regina Rioux's tutorial here. Still need some inspiration? Check out the twisted creations by Etsy's Dark Side Street Team for some wickedly goofy inspiration.

5. Here's a no brainer: Put all orange and black merchandise on sale. Ho Hum, but better than nothing. Just make sure that it is not the only promotion you do this month!

6. Turn your sidewalk into a pumpkin patch for charity! Get some pumpkins from the farmer's market and sell them to raise some money for a good cause. The pumpkins will also act as holiday decor. Prepare a press release and get the coverage you deserve!

7. Sponsor a pumpkin carving contest. Folks can bring in their pumpkins for judging, or you can actually host the carving event outside of your store. If you are going to have a live carving event, NOTIFY THE PRESS.

Decorate the store and the window displays to set the tone. Are your shop windows visible from the street? It pays to put a great deal of attention there. Your windows set the mood....what message do your windows give? A well lit Halloween Window Display will have Big Impact at night. Give the cars traveling past your place a reason to be curious. Passersby will take the time to come in if you pique their interest! Of course, decorations should extend beyond the window. Put away your lovely hand displays and substitute a more gruesome plastic hand. You will find them at your local party store. Another fun option is to make your own displays, similar to the Bride of Frankenstein model featured at right. It took less than 15 minutes! I simply did a google image search, printed the picture on photo paper, glued it to some heavy cardboard and attached a cardboard "stand" to the back. Fill your shop with creepy creatures to display earrings or knitted hats! Check out the detailed tutorial here.

9. Dress for the occasion! You don't need to go full out if that is not your style, but an all black outfit topped with a witch's hat will set the tone. My Halloween uniform is a plain white tee with the word "BOO" screen printed on the front. It is easy, tasteful, and gets the job done.

10. Food, Food, Food! Whether you are serving severed finger cookies, or peanut butter eyeballs, show off your playful side! Instructables has a wealth of ideas for all seasons. There is a subscription fee, but it will pay for itself many times over. I am planning to serve the finger food pictured at left to my guests this season. Fill a punch bowl with plastic baby limbs as well as punch for maximum impact. If you prefer more healthful fair, you cannot go wrong with a watermelon brain!

11. Fill a large jar with candy corn or plastic spiders and have customers guess the number. The person whose guesstimate comes closest to the actual number in the jar wins a prize.

12. Use your newsletter to extend the fun. Include recipes and fun Halloween Factoids to engage the reader. After all, a newsletter that does nothing but try to separate your customer from her cash is not going to be as effective as a newsletter that provides helpful information. Toward that end, feel free to cut and paste my recipe for yummy peanut butter eyeballs

Candy Eyeballs (Makes about 3 dozen)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 pound of confectioner's suger
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
12 ounces white chocolate
squeeze tube icing in blue, red, black

Mix the butter and peanut butter together. Add the sugar and vanilla, mixing well. Shape the mixture into one inch balls and refrigerate for about an hour.

Melt the white chocolate using a double broiler (or the microwave). Use toothpick to dip the eyeball into the chocolate, covering all but a very small circle surrounding the toothpick. Place on wax paper to set. Use the icing to add the iris and the blood vessels.


Another newsletter newsbite: Oriental Trading Company is sponsoring a hilarious download. Your customers can upload photos of family members to create a "Monster Mash" family video that will get lots of giggles. It is a ton of fun and can be downloaded here.

Remember....the vitality and profitability of your store rest on your shoulders....Get out your marketing calendar and make the magic happen!

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