What Customers Buy on Halloween

If you're a graphic designer and a client asks you, "What do people buy on Halloween?," do you tell them that people buy candy, costumes, decorations, scary movies and other traditional haunts? If your answer to the questions focuses solely on things that sell for Halloween, you've missing the big picture. The truth is that people buy everything on Halloween, just like any other time of the year.

Connect with your audience

It's certainly true that Halloween has become a major spending holiday - purchases are motivated by Halloween itself. But that doesn't mean that gift retailers, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, service providers, nonprofits or any other organization can't profit from the spend-happy season. The key to mega-sales is in connecting with your audience, regardless of day and month. You don't even have to theme your promotions for Halloween - though many companies do because they've found customers respond to Halloween-themed advertisements.

A real estate agent might offer an iron-clad guarantee that he won't sell you a haunted home, for example, and promote this with a postcard or newsletter (bonus PR if you can get it in the hands of the right reporter). A clothing store might have a "fit to be buried in" sale. And imagine what a hardware store could do with chainsaws and axes ... The sky's the limit - all you have to do is tap into your creativity.

Get a mailing list

A Halloween theme alone won't sell your products. You'll still need to follow basic principles of sound marketing. This starts with completely understanding your audience, what motivates your customers, and how you can provide solutions to their problems or otherwise make their lives better and more enjoyable. Once you identity who you need to target, you have to find out where they live by generating a well-defined mailing list. Many say that these steps alone account for as much as 40 percent of your success.

Create a can't-miss offer

You'll also need a stellar offer, something that your customers are likely to respond to. Halloween is not too early to compete for Christmas dollars. An electronics outlet might offer a great HDTV deal that "will be in the grave by All Hallows Eve." If the price is backed by a guarantee that no competitor will beat it by Christmas, this type of promotion could skyrocket sales and give you the edge you need over Christmas competition. Like the quality of your mailing list, the perceived value of your offer accounts for another 40 percent of your success.

The remaining 20 percent of your direct-mail marketing success is contingent on everything else. Print high-quality postcards, brochures, catalogs, newsletters and flyers. Incorporate dazzling Halloween design with compelling copy. Don't forget to include a call to action that lends a sense of urgency.

All of these elements combine to create an incredible Halloween marketing campaign that's sure to send sales high as a witches' broom and tack another nail into your competitors' coffins, no matter what you sell or to whom you sell it. Happy haunting!