If you ask us, Halloween is the holiday that has it all: You get to dress up in a fun costume, go to parties, stay out late and — the best part — it’s socially acceptable to gorge yourself senseless on candy and treats. Sounds perfect!
Many college students agree, so that makes this holiday an ideal opportunity to attract new customers to your store and encourage existing ones to come back in with a series of killer events.
While the focus this month is more on building awareness rather than directly generating sales, increasing the amount of foot traffic your store sees can benefit you in two ways. Not only will raised awareness potentially lead to more sales in the future, but sponsoring fun events solely for the enjoyment of your students improves public perception of your store.
We've got four event options for you, along with all of the marketing materials you'll need to promote each one. You can download the entire set by clicking on the image below, or download the materials for each event individually in the image accompanying each description.
Download: Don't Fear the Foot Traffic Promotional Materials
Download: Costume Contest Marketing Kit
That’s the Spirit Costume ContestIt wouldn't be Halloween without a costume contest, so give your customers an excuse to dress up and win prizes.
When? What date will you have your contest? If you choose a weekend (particularly the weekend before Halloween) you'll have some competition with events from other business and organizations. Choosing a weekday evening or another weekend during the month of October instead may result in higher levels of participation.
What? Decide on the rules. What qualifications will participants have to meet? Are there any types of costumes that you won't allow? Will you have separate prizes for different categories? What will you offer as prizes?
Who? Is your contest aimed just at students, or is it open to everyone? If your store is more family-friendly, or interested in developing a stronger relationship with your community, you may want to consider either allowing children to participate or holding a separate, smaller competition for families before the main event.
Where? Will the contest be held in the store, or in another location? Make sure that all promotional materials are clear — and that you use these free marketing materials to help spread the word.
Download: Movie Marathon Marketing Kit
Monster Movie MarathonTurn one section of your store into a private viewing area and screen back-to-back movies.
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to scary movies, so pick any from the following list and your customers will be hooked:
These movies all have multiple sequels, so you could try to make it through a whole series — if you dare:
- Child’s Play
- Friday the 13th
- A Nightmare on Elm Street
- Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Good campy fun
If silly is more your speed, check out these less serious options:
- Evil Dead ( I, II or Army of Darkness)
- Shaun of the Dead
- They Live
- The Cabin in the Woods
- Trick or Treat
Make sure you have a comfortable area set up — if you don't have a suitable place in your store, consider working with your student union (or any other group with a lounge area).
Snacks are an essential part of a movie marathon, so offering soda, popcorn and candy would be an easy option. While you could plan to pop multiple bags of microwave popcorn, renting a popcorn machine from a party rental store would be a fun alternative (and more efficient).
If your marathon is after hours, be sure to section the area off from the rest of the store and keep in mind that your attendees will need access to a restroom.
Download: Dance Party Marketing Kit
Shake Your Bones Dance PartyInvite your students to shake off their mid-semester stress with a themed dance party.
This event would be a good fit for a weekend, and is another great opportunity to work with a campus group.
Choose a date.
Since Halloween falls on a Monday this year, chances are that the weekend before will be booked solid with parties and other events. Choosing to hold your event during another weekend in October will help increase the odds of a good turnout.
Pick a theme.
Should your attendees dress up in costume or wear regular clothes? If you're requesting costumes, is there an incentive like prizes or a giveaway?
Plan a playlist.
Since the music will make or break this event, it's important to put some thought into it. It's likely that no one really wants to hear Monster Mash — maybe Thriller, though —so enlist the help of your student staffers to create the right mix or reach out to on-campus DJs to take the lead for the night.
Make it memorable.
Decorations are key to any great party, so we recommend browsing Pinterest for some inspiration. You could also provide cheap party favors like glow sticks or necklaces and some simple refreshments.
Take plenty of pictures.
Document the event thoroughly, be sure to post pictures on your social media accounts and ask attendees to share their pictures as well.
Download: Donation Drive Marketing Kit
Boo Some Good Donation DriveHalloween may not traditionally be associated with charity, but with colder weather just around the corner, it's a good time to help those in need.
This is an easy one, so in five simple steps, you'll be all set:
- Decide what you'll accept
- Pick the recipient organization
- Establish the time period for donations
- Designate a drop-off location in your store
- Promote the drive with posters, in-store and online
No matter what event you choose, be sure to assess your results.
What would you do differently next time? What was feedback like from the participants? Consider reaching out on Facebook and Twitter and asking your audience directly for their suggestions.