How to use Halloween in your marketing

Hoping for huge sales this Christmas? Then your marketing copy better be ready for Halloween.

Halloween officially marks the start of the spending season. Research by Yesmail Interactive suggests 38% of people start Christmas shopping before November. According to the Daily Mail, 24 October is the day most people start their Christmas shopping. That means many of your customers are thinking about Christmas already – and have been for some time.

Parents are one such category, with half-term holidays at the end of October giving them the opportunity to hit the shops. It’s also the time savvy shoppers start planning for huge retail days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as an opportunity to buy cut-price Christmas presents early.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, Halloween itself has a lot to offer your business when it comes to marketing. Since this holiday is becoming bigger year on year in the UK, your customers will expect to see you reacting to it. Here are some ways you can use Halloween in your business.

Get creative with Halloween marketing

Halloween provides an opportunity for you to get reacquainted with your products in a unique, distinctive and creative way. Anything which makes you look at your usual wares or services in a new light is a great way to get to know your products’ USPs inside and out and what your customers respond to.

Whether you sell DIY products, bespoke jewellery or kitchen wares, you can market your product for Halloween with just a little thought.

Don’t neglect your visuals too. Why not create a spooky banner for your homepage and email marketing, create a special Halloween page displaying all your themed products, or even set up a promotion for the holiday?

Tap into hashtags

Social media is awash with Halloween-themed stories, posts, news, ideas and more. Get in on the action proving yourself an invaluable tool to your customers.

You can do this by creating a Pinterest site with great tips and advice on costumes, home decorating and recipe ideas. Or feature polls on Twitter to get insight on what your customers are up to and which of your products they like/need/want most. You can even give your Facebook followers #HalloweenTips to get them using your products this Halloween. Some of the best Halloween hashtags are: #HalloweenMakeup #pumpkin #creepy #spooky #monster #costume #zombie #Halloween

You can also tie your Halloween marketing in with autumnal and harvest trends, which is a desirable marketing point if you’re selling things like staycations, family days out, homewares, gourmet foods, DIY and craft supplies. Popular autumn hashtags include: #home #comfort #autumn #fall #outdoors #cosy

Engage your customers

Your customers are busy people – they’re doing a lot this Halloween. Whether they’re going to adult parties, putting together a costume for their little ones, or busy defending themselves against the onslaught of trick or treaters – they know Halloween is coming and they’re all reacting to it differently.

Consider running contests or taking the time to browse through some of your followers’ profiles and see what they’re up to. Asking your community to tweet photos of their Halloween outfits and decorated homes or even asking for their quirky tips on how to deter trick or treaters is a great way to let your customers know you’re interested in them. And if you can throw in a prize too for the best submissions, you’ll endear yourself even more.

Be part of a bigger narrative

Seasonal marketing campaigns don’t have to be separate entities. In fact, your overall aim should be to create a bigger narrative through your seasonal campaigns which unite your business’ ethos.

With Halloween getting bigger every year in the UK, your Halloween campaign is actually the perfect opportunity to kickstart your Christmas campaign, as crazy as that sounds.

Use the sinister side of Halloween to create mystery and initiate a story you will continue to unravel throughout November and December advertisements, print marketing or radio jingles. Narrative works especially well through the medium of copywriting, so hire a copywriter to help you firm up the details.

If you sell toys, perhaps the most wanted children’s toy this Christmas has been stolen by angry witches. Through a gruesome retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story, the children might go in search of the toys to a haunted mansion. With a ‘To be continued’ ending, you can leave the customer in suspense.

As Christmas approaches, pick that story back up. The children are in peril, but perhaps they realise the haunted house is made out of gingerbread? They might rescue the toy and themselves by eating through the house.

All stories have light and dark to them, and most have a happy ending, meaning it’s not too difficult to weave a story through Halloween, ending at Christmas. Your customers will also enjoy the clever technique, feeling that they’re following something through to the end and feel closer to your brand as a result.

Get started on your Halloween marketing copy

It’s not too late to implement some of these Halloween marketing techniques. The easiest and fastest way is to get online and start tweeting your followers. Or if you want to be one step ahead of the holiday next year, remember to schedule a reminder to start working on your Halloween campaign around July.

If you plan in advance, you can hire a copywriter or marketing consultant to help get your campaign in perfect shape so there are no spooky surprises come October.

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How to write a business strategy

Writing a business and marketing strategy when you’re a freelance copywriter might sound overwhelming. It might even sound unnecessary. Believe me, it is both simple and necessary!

Why do you need a business strategy? Because with the best intents and purposes, getting your foot on the copywriting ladder can be a bit difficult.

To make the best impact and not become dispirited, it’s good to implement several different tactics at once. Having a plan will help you stand back, look at the overall direction you want to head in, and start moving.

Before we begin

Jot down all your ideas in a notepad for establishing your routine and marketing your services. Once you’ve got an outline, you can type them up in Word.

There’s no set formula but I use a basic table with 3 columns (first column for publications/activities; second for detail; third for deadlines). You can tweak what I suggest to make it work for you and your business – that’s fine!

Content

Your content is the most important thing to your business. But writing to promote your own cause when you’re probably not being ‘paid’ for it can make you likely to waver. By creating a regular plan detailing which days you write for what publications makes it much more likely you’ll stick to it.

Make a table with three columns. In the first, list publications you write for and then list those you would like to write for (there’s a really good article here about planning to approach new publications). In the next column you can go into more detail such as genres/article types. In the final column list the timeframe, such as when you will publish this content or, if you plan to approach a new publication, the deadline you will set to do that by.

Remember, by publications and businesses I mean those you write for under your own name. This plan is about getting your name out there – not any clients that pay you to write their articles anonymously. At present you might only be writing for your blog. Look for websites that take contributions. Even if it’s unpaid, you’ll be getting your name out there and earning lots of experience.

Digital activity and social media

This includes promoting your articles through social media and e-newsletters etc. On your table, detail which digital avenues you work with (e.g. Reddit, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, your online portfolio…) and next to each one write the days of the week you will promote certain links/campaigns/others’ posts through these avenues.

Try to have something to promote each day (Mon-Fri). For the days when you don’t have original content of your own, ensure you’re reading others’ work and retweeting/sharing. This earns followers and you can highlight the causes/topics you’re interested in.

Remember to use the social media ‘forum’ with respect: interact with other users and post observations. You could even start a regular segment such as your favourite blog or app of the week that you always run on a Friday. It is more engaging for your followers than merely seeing a series of links coming from your account!

And what about starting a monthly e-newsletter through your website? Setting one up is easy with free tools like MailChimp and gives you something free to ‘sell’ to your followers. You can use it to collate your articles from various different publications or even entice followers with articles solely published in your newsletter. Plus you can update your followers with tips, news and offers.

Advertising and promotion

Your copywriting is still a business that can benefit from promotion and advertising. This encompasses print/digital ads, direct mail, sending out a press release

Think about who needs your service. It’ll mostly be other businesses, so where might they find out about you? In your table, list possible publications (e.g. trade magazines, local paper) to advertise in or approach with a press release, as well as businesses you could approach directly with a sales letter, etc.

Then spend an afternoon getting quotes, contacts and artwork deadlines. If you’re going to attend networking events or conferences you’ll need business cards. These are also useful for dropping off in venues where customers can pick them up, such as restaurants, exhibition centres and libraries.

Events

Freelancing can also be a lonely business, so it’s refreshing to make a network of contacts through digital or in-person events. Scour Google for virtual conferences and webinars, and sign up to copywriting websites such as the Pro Copywriter’s Network and Copyblogger, a great way to get information on events. Hootsuite also often has virtual learning sessions helping you learn while connecting with others in your field.

Physical events are also ideal to get you out of the house. A site like Meet Up can help you discover what’s going on in your area that ties in with your interests. List these events under the first column in your table including any dates and activity/materials you want to have completed (i.e. business cards) in advance of them.

Bringing it together

You’ll notice how each field begins to overlap. This is good because you’re drawing connections between your activities. So long as all activities have the same end goal – to bring you more business – they will strengthen each other and, in turn, your brand. It also helps when setting yourself deadlines since one thing usually depends on another.

Next is buying or creating a calendar in Word. Detail everything (so make sure it’s a biggie!). Jot down the days you’re writing for which publications. Then the days you’ll spend devoted to finding new followers, for example, followed by the days you have any events, as well as print deadlines. And so on…

Tip: Use colour-coded keys and back up your calendar with a simple Excel planner like these templates from Hootsuite for more in-depth info on what you’ll be writing each week. That way your main calendar remains like an easy-to-read overview.

From here

Now your strategy is all typed up, scheduled and ready to go, it’s time to implement it. Write down the immediate action points that have arisen from your plan. Use these to inform your workload for the next week or two, to ensure you meet your deadlines.

Don’t forget that your business strategy will evolve over time and regularly need updating.  Depending on how quickly you work, set aside time to update it – every month…or three – whatever helps it stay relevant and progressive for your business.

Finally, good luck! If you have any questions, drop me a comment, I’d be glad to try and answer them.

Next week: I’ll show you how to find your first copywriting clients

Neglect social media at your peril

If you’re not convinced social media is important for your business – then this blog post is for you.

I’ve worked with clients who see social media as a last resort. They see it as something that, if they use it almost sparingly, will stand them in good stead against the hordes of online competition.

This just isn’t the case.

Social media is your child

Time consuming as it is, social media is not just something that happens once, like updating your virus protection. Instead, it’s like a child, which needs constant attention and nourishment in order to grow.

Starting with the basics, key social media sites Facebook and Twitter are crucial for getting news, offers and new products out there. They’re important as a way to send traffic (people) to your blog and website.

To put it bluntly – you need them to sell your stuff.

Don’t lose out to the competition

You might think it takes a lot of effort to write a blog post once or twice a month and post it to your blog and social media accounts. And it does.

But I hate to tell you that that alone won’t do anything for your business. If you’re putting money and time aside for that, you might as well not bother.

With social media, it’s all or nothing. You’re up against big businesses who have a whole marketing department devoted to blogging, tweeting, liking and sharing all day, all week, all month long.

If you’re not posting on your blog at least once a week and checking your social media at least twice a day (to make friends, respond to queries and post relevant content), you’ll never be part of the online conversation that your customers are.

What can you do?

There are several online tools that make this easier for independent businesses. These include the scheduling function on several blog hosting sites, including WordPress.

Hootsuite is another great tool which allows you to manage up to three accounts for free. This way you can schedule tweets or posts and respond to messages, likes, retweets and mentions all from one platform.

Finding the time

The best way to do this is to manage your time accordingly. Put aside one day a week where you write as many blog posts and schedule as many social media tweets as you can.

However. This doesn’t replace being constantly engaged with your online customer base.

You should think as social media in the same way you would a shop front. It is a virtual high street. You need to keep rotating products, highlights and offers in your social media window in order to attract people inside.

I can help

It’s not easy doing this yourself, but a freelance copywriter or marketing consultant can help. I have worked with several clients and businesses to write their blog posts and promote them online.

Using a professional takes care of the hassle of writing engaging and keyword-rich copy. After all, we are trained and experienced in how to do this.

We can even monitor your accounts for you, ensuring your online customers are being looked after in the same way a shopkeeper would.

Think about it for a second

In real life, you wouldn’t shut your cupcake business on National Cupcake Day. Or leave your customers to wander around your shop and put money on the counter without any interaction with an employee, would you?

Who would answer their questions? Who would make sure they knew about the latest offers? Who would ensure they could find everything they needed?

81% of people research their purchase online before they buy. That includes high street shoppers. If you neglect that 81%, you neglect them at your peril.

I can work with you on your blog and online needs to ensure your business works as hard as you do. So take the next step for your business today and contact me now to get started.