Halloween & Calendar Event Marketing – Does It Work?

As a business-to-business provider of print and design solutions to central London companies, we’ve been received lots of Halloween themed campaigns over the last week or so, and will no doubt be receiving more over the next week. This has led to hot debate in the office over whether they work and whether we should be doing one as some of us loved them and some of us were sick of them.

Now, it seems pretty definite that if you are in the business-to-consumer trade, they are well received as people have fun with their kids and parties at home, but do they work in business-to-business marketing?

We think the issue here is whether you are running a campaign themed around Halloween just because you are suffering from a lack of more creative ideas or whether you are using it as mechanism to achieve a specific objective.

An example of a bad (and lazy) campaign would be ‘A Spooky 10% Off This Halloween’ or ‘Let Us Treat You To 10% Off, No Trick!’ spammed out by email to a list purchased from a third party with the objective of generating a sales (or maybe even because ‘we have to do some marketing’).

We ran a Halloween ‘Trick or Treat’ campaign a couple of years back with three levels of objective of increasing customer awareness of our range of offerings, gaining feedback (positive and negative) on our service and getting testimonial comments which we could use in our marketing – this obviously (as all marketing should) had the ultimate objective of increasing sales. This was sent by email with to our in-house database of existing customers – we’ve never bought in email lists having grown up in the age of opt-in! – and via printed postcards with orders being delivered in the weeks before Halloween as well as a email footer on staff emails.   We used ‘spooky’ graphics but took great care to make them cartoony and fun so that they would not be threatening or unsettling.  The recipient had to go to a webpage and complete a quick and easy quiz to test how well they knew Cascade and it’s offerings.  We incentivised response by offering to send a ‘trick’ or a ‘treat’ to each and every recipient – this was a small bag of happy faced pumpkin sweets for the ‘treat’ and a small bag of jelly worm sweets for the ‘trick’. We also included a postcard with the sweets, encouraging people to share their experiences on social media.

So, how did it go and what results did we achieve?

The Good

  • A 2% response rate (very acceptable and within the industry standard of 1-3%)
  • Identification of two unhappy customers that we could follow-up with and regain their confidence
  • Enquiries for two major projects (inc one cross-sell opportunity) and quote requests for lots of other ad-hoc requirements
  • 30 new testimonials
  • The opportunity to feedback positive comments to the whole team and raise staff morale inc. congratulating specific staff members mentioned as delivering exceptional customer service.

The Not So Good

  • A negative and angry reaction from some of our more religious customers – Learning: Take care to carefully think about who you send a campaign to and segment your database accordingly.
  • No shares on social media – Learning: Trying to force a viral element to social media marketing is a hiding to nothing and doing so may have the opposite effect.

What’s your experience of Halloween marketing?  What are your thoughts on setting marketing objectives and coming up with creative ideas?  We’d love to hear your comments and for you to share your experiences here so we can all learn more.