Marketing Tricks of Terror

In Advertising, Digital Strategy by Marius Badenhorst

Frighten Your Fans with 13 Creepy Content Marketing Tactics

Digital marketing requires marketers to be savvy and will keep customers riding on the edge of their seats ready to pounce on the latest opportunities that surface. The phrases ‘news-jacking’ and ‘trend-jacking’ may seem familiar, but let’s consider holiday jacking. Many holidays may be completely unrelated to a brand’s core business, but yet these special days pose as an excellent opportunity for promoting the brand’s offering.  Holiday-jacking has been a key aspect of commerce from as early as the Industrial Revolution!

Establishing the correct context for your content isn’t a walk in the park, but by targeting popular holidays you may earn an automatic “in” with a larger audience. The bigger the holiday, the larger the interest among consumers and naturally, the associated search volumes on Google. By effectively tailoring your marketing efforts to upcoming holidays, such as Halloween, you can captivate your fans and score a great ROI. Try your luck with these tricks…

Happy Halloween

1. Tell a Real Horror Story

Focus your efforts on creating a scary story about what your buyer personas can expect if they don’t buy your product.  This will appeal to“negativity bias,” which causes us to pay more attention to bad news than positive information. Keeping in mind the nature of your audience, you can be as outrageous as you want.

2. Draw from a Familiar Tale

There are many non-copyrighted characters to draw from in your Halloween marketing efforts. By combining your unique brand message with a well-known Halloween legend (be it for video or written content) you could increase your brand’s appeal significantly.

Snickers’ Horseless Headsman

3. Encourage User-Generated Content

As marketers we want to form real relationships with our customers. If you can get your consumers to engage in conversation with your brand, you are winning. Ask them about their Halloween plans, costumes etc, and encourage them to share photos. This will provide you with a wealth of resources to share on social media or your blog.

User generated content at Halloween

4. Put a Spin on It

Adapt your product or service offering and leverage existing excitement around the trending Halloween theme. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) managed to do this very well and earned over 77,000 Facebook likes due to a content piece named: the “Disaster Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse Guide.” By leveraging the existing buzz that surrounds the popular television show The Walking Dead, the organization was able to gain huge attention.

Tide – Scared Stainless

5. Map Your Product to Halloween

Another idea is to tailor your products to the Halloween theme. This trick is similar to the one mentioned in point four, but here the aim is to show consumer the many ways in which they can use your existing products. Identify any possible connections that your product may have to the holiday.

REI Outdoor Wear:13 Essential Tools for Surviving a Zombie Outbreak (Full Image)

REI Outdoor Wear:13 Essential Tools for Surviving a Zombie Outbreak

6. Participate and Share

Another tried and tested tactic is to showcase the people behind your brand – feature photos of your staff participating in Halloween, and if you can, use behind-the-scenes video.  Share these media pieces to your social pages and blog.

Google’s Halloween Doodle

7. Hand out Freebies

Everyone loves freebies! Think of something useful and holiday-appropriate that your fans might enjoy. Useless gifts won’t achieve the desired “dazzle” effect on your fans and customers, and it would be a waste of money to your company. You can package the freebie as a gift-with-purchase or simply as a thank you to your loyal fans.

Free Kellogg’s Krispie Scary Vending Machine

8. Target Your Halloween Communications

People interpret holidays each in their own way. Although you may be excited to get started on the Halloween theme, it’s important to not go over-board and to remember this aspect of individuals.  Ensure that you understand how your buyer personas are likely to relate to the holiday you are featuring, and adapt your blog, social media, emails, and other forms of content accordingly.

9. Vile Videos

Customers love to be entertained! Halloween is one of the few times when brands can be a little silly, scary, or strange. There’s no better way to showcase your company’s dark side by creating a video, and it doesn’t have to be a £120,000 production. By using your iPhone or Smart Tablet’s camera and simple editing software, you can create a compelling video with an adequate quality level for social media and blogs.

Westlake Ace Hardware Zombie News Report: Zombie Acceptance Certification

10. Everyone Loves Surprise

If you’ve watched a horror film in the theatre, you’ll know that the shared gasp of the audience is always one of the best moments of the movie. A well thought out marketing campaign makes you think out of the box and catches audiences off guard. You don’t have to be “scary” to surprise your fans.

Carrie Remake Promotion

11. Make the Audience Visualize Themselves in the Situation.

Keep on the lookout for new opportunities to get your consumers emotionally involvement with your brand. If you consider why horror movies are scary, it’s because the audience subconsciously believes that the same thing could happen to them. Likewise, as marketers we want the audience to feel like they’re the ones who could benefit from our products or services.

World War Z Movie Promotion: Crisis Zero – Postcard from the Edge

12. Focus on the long-term impression.

A terrifying movie is memorable and leaves one unable to sleep peacefully. Good content marketing has a long-term impression on customers.

13. Lighten Up!

Remember that Halloween is an opportunity to be a little bit bizarre and light hearted. Find a way to lighten up the status quo.

What scare tactics do you use to form a lasting impression in consumers’ minds?

About the Author

Marius Badenhorst