With COVID-19 cases surging in many states and politics heating up, the real world is scary enough this fall without ghosts and goblins. We need a break from it all, but “normal” still seems far off. Which is why the team at Market Your Craft searched for ways to help craft beverage drinkers have a bit of fun this Halloween. Not surprisingly, we found very few tasting rooms that have organized or promoted any activities around the holiday. In this email you’ll find 20 ideas to help your brand capture the spirit of Halloween in a shockingly short amount of time 😱
- Why didn’t I think of that?
- Takes a minute: video
- More difficult: to-go sales
- Guide to Marketing During COVID-19
When a speaker wants to break tension in the room, she tells a joke. When we’re stressed, we take a walk. Or call a friend. Whatever it takes to relax. The same is true for craft beverage brands: when everything is so serious, sometimes it helps to offer up a diversion. It’s easy to forget that customers still want to be entertained during the pandemic – your priority is business operations. However, continuing to market during COVID-19 is critically important to drive traffic, build engagement and capture new sales. Doing so will help your brand immediately stand out from competitors while building momentum towards a much more favorable position when this is all over.
why didn’t I think of that?
The low-hanging fruit when it comes to promoting Halloween is deciding what to do in your tasting room. From decorations to discounts, [socially-distanced] costume contests to selfie-walls, your team likely already has a plan for the on-site experience next week. It’s important to recognize what’s changed from years’ past and create options for new and current customers to stay engaged. All signs currently point to customers being reluctant to gather in a tasting room. So, we’ll focus on those areas that cater to a remote, thirsty audience:
- Staff picks: design a landing page to capture team Halloween favorites, including movies, music, food and drink recipes, candy, etc. Promote the landing page by email or social posts.
- Homepage background: does your website feature a background image? Change it the week leading up to Halloween for something more fun and thematic. Not sure how? Here’s a primer for WordPress.
- Seasonal beverages: if you have a limited release or seasonal item, now is the time to promote it [heavily]. Especially those with pumpkin or other fall flavors.
- Product locator: make it easy for customers to find your craft beverage locally if they’re not able to visit your tasting room or are outside of your delivery area. They’re more likely to celebrate Halloween with your product when you remove barriers to buying.
- Zoom background: create a haunted Zoom background for the occasion. Think dark scenes, ghoulish images and scary-movie text. Don’t forget subtle branding or product placement.
- Photo contest: ask your production team to dig up their best costumes of Halloween-past. Same for pet owners who force their miniature dachshunds into a hot dog outfit. Then ask fans and followers to share their best and display in a photo gallery. No kids: posting children in costumes could be [loosely] viewed as promoting underage drinking, so just don’t do it.
- Social takeover: ask a team member to manage social channels for a day (either the evening before or Halloween night works best). Give them guidelines for posting, sharing and responding, then have fun with it. If nothing else, it will be colorful and full of personality, right?
takes a minute: video
The value of human connection during the pandemic is undeniable. Technology solutions burst onto the scene when gathering wasn’t an option, with services like Zoom and Houseparty leading the charge. Craft beverage brands were relatively slow to adopt, but around June there was an explosion of online happy hours, free and paid private tastings and other activities to capitalize on the trend. Since August these touchpoints with craft beverage brands have virtually disappeared. Why is that?
Blame the start of school, changing seasons, evolving social gathering guidelines or COVID-fatigue. Here are some ideas to bring video back from the dead:
- Happy Hour: invite customers to pre-purchase your beverages and chat with the production team. Schedule it at a time convenient for parents with school-aged kids to participate. Get dressed up and encourage guests to do the same. Then, prepare for some unscripted fun!
- Haunted tasting room tour: pre-record or livestream a walk-through of your facility and its ghastly décor. Share a story about ghosts walking the halls and the one team member that was never seen or heard from again…
- Netflix Teleparty: log in to your favorite streaming service, find a scary movie and invite customers to join. Viewing is synced across all devices and group chat is available for running commentary. Drinking games, anyone?
- Listen together: share your tasting room Spotify or Pandora Halloween favorites with customers and dance like no one was watching.
- Virtual tasting: you’re already an ambassador for your craft beverage. Now it’s time to be an entertainer. Whether you offer it for free or sell it as a package, scheduling a video tasting around Halloween could resurrect engagement with your brand. We’re also fans of Google Home for a more automated, self-guided experience.
- Pumpkin carving: a perfect example of an individual activity made more enjoyable in a group setting. Be careful to keep your eyes on the task at hand!! Share participants’ creations on a photo wall in the tasting room and online in gallery format. Bonus: make branded templates available ahead of time, like this example from La Crema Winery.
- Streaming concert: have musical talent in your ranks? Consider streaming an hour’s worth of songs from your house band or showing a local entertainer a little love.
- Scary story reading: pick your favorite otherworldly story, turn off the lights, grab a flashlight and start reading. Go for short and dramatic, like anything from Edgar Allan Poe. Or you could just play Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.
If these ideas seem silly or childish, you’re absolutely right! They are! The point is to create an event for people to enjoy together this holiday. Video is a great way to connect with those customers hesitant to visit your tasting room in the coming week. COVID-19 is very scary to many of us, so don’t ever joke about it or downplay its significance. Also, now is not the time to be debating politics – take those conversations offline.
more difficult: to-go sales
In return for entertaining them, customers will buy your beverages. If not immediately, you’ll certainly be top-of-mind when they’re ready. In past years it’s been estimated that adults increase their alcohol consumption by nearly 30% when the holiday falls on a Friday or Saturday. The COVID-19 effect is unknown this year, but chances are good that smaller gatherings of families and close friends will be common. Why let liquor and big box stores have all the fun? Make it easy for customers celebrating remotely to enjoy your craft beverage at home:
- Bundling food: offering food AND beverage options sweetens the deal for customers. On-site kitchens have a huge advantage when packaging food and beverages to-go in one transaction.
- Spooky delivery: offer free, local delivery specifically for the holiday to encourage responsible drinking. Otherwise, for those craft beverage brands available at retail, consider promoting a service like Drizly.
- Themed to-go pack: mix-and-match seasonal beverages with fan favorites for a unique offering only available this Halloween. Pairs perfectly with the virtual tasting options above.
- Merchandise: give customers access to buying hard-to-find items, like work shirts otherwise only available to staff. This will be the go-to costume for years to come, doubling as free advertising for your brand.
- Progressive crawl: how friendly are you with your neighbors? Consider promoting a Halloween passport where a purchase from each of three local producers (think outside of just your niche) earns the customer a special merchandise item or bragging rights around the tasting room.
Still have yet to sell online? We’ve helped clients enable shopping in as few as two days using existing point-of-sale platforms like Arryved or stand-alone platforms like Ecwid. Interested? Let’s talk about it!
guide to marketing during COVID-19
Now is not the time to play dead when promoting your craft beverage brand. Halloween 2020 has been discounted if not forgotten as a holiday for building engagement and capturing new sales, but there’s still have time to put together high-impact, quick-to-market executions to connect with fans and followers. To help jump-start your efforts, we’ve designed a guide with proven marketing tools to empower your team during COVID-19:
- Message COVID-19 effectively
- Design a procedures landing page
- Notify everyone of your hours
- Support frontline workers
- Reach new audiences
- Develop content and events
- Engage customers with video
- And more!
Schedule a complimentary Zoom call to review your digital efforts and receive “A Glass Half-Full: Marketing During COVID-19” (a $99 value). Sharpen your focus on customer needs and keep fans engaged during the pandemic.