Hero Story - Business


4 Marketing Lessons from Halloween Decorating

Ever since my kids were old enough to notice, I've decorated our home for Halloween.

Truthfully, I never was a huge fan of the holiday, but my boys and their friends love it—and I know there are only so many years left that they will.

Last weekend, I had the rare occasion of being home alone. I knew it was then, or never, if I was going to get the decorating done.

After dragging the orange bins up from the basement and quietly scolding myself for how carelessly I tossed the decorations back in last year, I got to work. And because I had to celebrate the rarity of having some time to myself, I did what any busy mom would do: I opened a bottle of wine. (Have you seen all the fun Halloween-themed labels? Moms deserve treats, too!)

As I got to sipping—I mean working—I started thinking about how similar holiday decorating is to marketing. Now, maybe it was the wine or my marketing brain that I sometimes have a hard time shutting off, but I kept thinking about the similarities and what we can learn from each.

Here's what I discovered:

Pick Your Poison.
I gave up decorating every part of my house a long time ago. It just takes too much time and seemed silly to decorate where few people went. Instead, I focus on two areas: the fireplace mantel (the focal point when you first enter our home) and the kitchen (where, as we all know, everyone ends up anyway.)

It may seem obvious that you'd advertise where you think you have the best chance of the greatest reach. But when it comes to marketing, it takes research, thought, analytics and planning to choose where you market.

Do you have a marketing plan? Are you testing and tracking the success of your efforts? Tracking your competitors? Asking others what has worked for them?

I prefer to plan ahead for three months at a time and use Google docs to track social media reach, email open rates, and of course, the ROI from my efforts.

Which "Witch" is Your Audience?
When the kids were little, our Halloween décor was full of goofy pumpkins, smiling bats and friendly ghosts. As the boys got older, I added the "fear factor" by including scary skulls and creepy baby doll heads. This year, my son asked if he could add some blood to the babies' heads. Umm ... OK!

If you're not thinking of your audience's likes and dislikes, or things that matter to them, then you won't effectively gain their interest. And if you can't effectively market and advertise your business, how will you sell your services or products?

"Creep" it Real.
Every year after my decorating is complete, I take a couple of photos for next year. Why go through all the effort of moving things around and knick-knack fiddle-faddling when I can quickly remind myself what worked best?

When we talk about brand strategy with our clients and advertisers, it always starts with focusing first on what you're best at, and then repeating it over and over. Branding takes time and consistency. Only after your brand is solid in the eyes of your target markets are you ready to layer on new elements and features.

Don't Forget the EEEK! Factor
While repurposing what has worked well in the past is important, it's also vital to be open to change and trying new things. Each year, I like to add something new to the décor to add an element of surprise for my little monsters.

The same goes with marketing.

So often, companies just do what they've always done because: Why change things if it works? To me, that's lazy ... And a dangerous outlook. You can maintain the offerings that your customers love most about you, but keep things fresh by adding a little magic once in a while.

How long has it been since your company's technology was updated? Your clients expect it to be intuitive and responsive. How about your marketing copy? Is it fresh and engaging? You have a matter of seconds to get their attention. Are you consistently posting on social media and keeping up with the latest trends and opportunities, like video marketing? It's a never-ending journey.

Good decorating is no different from good marketing. It takes thought, planning, the occasional update and sometimes the help of a professional.

Written by Jill Carroll, Marketing & Media Consultant for Serendipity Media LLC.

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