October 31, 2016 | Sarah Danks

How Trick-or-Treating Kids are Good at Marketing

For kids, Halloween is a one-night, give-it-your-all attempt to collect as much candy as humanly possible. While marketing is a much longer — and more involved — endeavor, there are “sales” tactics I think we marketers can learn from these kids.

What do I mean? Take a look.

1) Make it Count

Kids know they’ve got a strict window of opportunity: one night. One costume. They realize they’ve only got one shot, so they need to be on their game to make it happen! Ready? GO!

There are no do-overs on Halloween.

2) First Appearances Matter

Halloween-Costume-CoinLike I said, Halloween is a one-night event. Yet kids start planning their costumes well in advance — take my nieces, for example: they’ve had their costumes for TWO MONTHS. Two months’ preparation for one night of hoarding candy. That’s pretty ambitious!

Plan ahead much? And another thing: kids don’t ever, EVER, want to be out on the town and run across the same (insert most-popular-costume-of-the-season here). They know they need to stand out.

Plus, they know if there’s another (monster/Frozen character/princess) working the same neighborhood, they COULD get turned away — will the people handing out candy say, “Wait, you’ve been here before!” and think they’re getting tricked?

Being original — and first — is key!

3) Timing is Crucial

Most often on Halloween, trick-or-treating starts before it even gets dark. Of course, the littlest kids go first, with their parents escorting them every step of the way.

Then there’s the sweet spot of the evening: when the little trick-or-treaters are winding down but before the much older kids — you know, the ones who barely dress up (or don’t at all) and still expect to get free candy — arrive.

The kids who’re serious about trick-or-treating know there’s a time and a place to hit the jackpot — and they time their route accordingly.

4) Strategy, Strategy, Strategy

The most successful kids strategize the entire night before it even happens.

Which houses give out the best candy? Do any of them give out MONEY? Which houses give out candy the kids don’t like (like those gross orange-and-black-wrapped peanut butter things)?

And, the biggie: which houses in the neighborhood aren’t even open for business? It’s important to stay away from those; wasting time knocking on those doors takes precious time away from jackpot houses.

In order to get a feel for the big night, kids scope out the houses in the days before the big night — houses range from 120% decorated to the creepy ones without even a porch light on. Kids understand the need to know the neighborhood — which houses to hit up and which ones to skip on the big night!

5) Know When to Throw in the Towel

halloween 2010 2And, the good trick-or-treaters (let’s be honest, their parents, too) know when enough is enough. They’re not about to waste their time running around at the end of the night, searching fruitlessly for any remaining houses that still have one measly Tootsie Roll to hand out.

When the night’s over, they know it. When they’ve gotten as much as they can, it’s time to head home to enjoy the spoils. Why throw effort after foolishness, after all?

After they’ve gotten home and taken off the Halloween costume and make-up, the kids then check out the loot.

And: Know What Success Looks Like

Last, but certainly not least: trick-or-treaters know immediately when they’ve been successful. The best-planned routes, strategies, costume…

…these all combine to reap the best rewards. If, at the end of the night your pillow case is full, you know you’ve done a good job.

Plus, you can learn from what works and what hasn’t so as to start planning for next year!



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