5 "Spooky" Suggestions for Your October Marketing - Originally posted to AppFolio's E-zine www.propertymanager.com

I adore Halloween.  I love it almost as much as I love Christmas, and I am one of those weird people who has multiple Christmas trees in their house.  I started decorating the other day for Halloween, putting up my glow in the dark skeletons and using that black light sensitive spider webbing to coat the stairwells in my townhouse, and I convinced Alan to invest in this very cool little machine from Target that blows bubbles filled with fog.  I'm not alone here.  According to Marketing Charts and the National Retail Foundation, the average American consumer will spend almost $57 per person on Halloween this year, and that number is down from the peak in 2008 of $86.59.  It's a 5 billion dollar a year industry in the United States, that number up 58% since 2002, according to a 2007 Forbes magazine article by Lisa LaMotta. Despite the economy, Halloween's popularity as a holiday is still growing, and why not?  Whether it's getting to be someone else for a little while or it's just not having to be yourself, the appeal of a costume is somewhat irresistible. On top of which there's candy, and you can just never go wrong with candy. In Lisa LaMotta's article she says that 90% of parents swipe candy from their kids trick or treat bags.  Or maybe it's the fact that we're honestly scared so much of the time right now that it's fun to be scared by something that isn't real or seriously threatening.  Whatever the reason, Halloween is hot.

Halloween opens up the imagination, which gives you a great chance to pulls some marketing magic with your current residents and with potential new neighbors.  Here are four ideas to get your creativity flowing for the season:

  • Don't neglect the Nose! Science has shown that smell has a great influence over sales, and in the fall we have all kinds of fun smells to play with like spiced apples, cinnamon, pumpkins or pecans.  Why not choose a scent as signature for your whole portfolio this season?  Remember the cardinal rules about keeping the scent light in the air and not skimping on the price.  Pumpkin pie smells great, but pumpkin pile, not so much.  Go for quality!
  • Turn your Cabana in to a Haunted House this year!  Not only will it be a lot more fun for your community, but hosting an open haunted house can bring a whole new source of traffic in to your property.  Plus, for once you get the fun of scaring your residents without bringing up their renewal rate!  Get your residents involved with manning and decorating the house, and you not only have a great new source of traffic, but you also have a community building experience, and a chance to see the hidden, and sometimes frightening, talents your residents have.
  • Host a BYOP Party - Bring your own Pumpkin for carving or painting.  I personally host a BYOP party every year at my home and it's become one of those events that my friends all look forward to (All of them, except my friend Mike, who really hates carving pumpkins.  But we think we might have won him over this year with one of those pumpkin lite-brite kits, so woo hoo!).  I open up the table and coat the top of it with garbage bags or newspaper, and I set out bowls for the pumpkin guts.  Your property can even keep the costs minimal by downloading free stencils for the pumpkins off the Internet.  Holding a competition for scariest, funniest, prettiest, etc, is a good way to end the afternoon on a high note.  And what to do with those pumpkin guts?  Well that brings us to activity #4...
  • Fun Fall Cooking Classes! Holding cooking classes on how to make fun fall foods like pumpkin cookies, Popcorn balls, caramel apples, and those roasted pumpkin seeds from your BYOP party can be a great way to get your residents together and get them to bring their friends.  If you've got a teaching kitchen on your property, make use of it this fall.  If you don't have a resident or staff member who would feel comfortable teaching the class, talk to a local chef or restauranteer.  There have got to be at least 100 different things you can do with a pumpkin this fall, and in a single class, a skilled chef can show you about 15 of them!
  • Use Fall's Attributes to Your Advantage! Grab a print out of your company or property logo and a speed ball cutter set or X-acto knife set (careful, careful, CAREFUL!!!).  Transferring the outline of the image to your pumpkin, with a lino cutter all you have to do is cut away the negative space, leaving the image to pop from the exterior, without ever having to cut open and empty out the pumpkin guts.  Lining your walkway with these festive gourds and brightly colored leaves can make a huge impression in the memory of your potential residents, and gives you a creative asset that makes your property remarkable!

What do you do on your property to celebrate the change of the seasons and enjoy the merriment of mischief that Halloween brings with it?

I give you a FAIL WHALE

Does Size Really Matter? - Originally Posted with Appfolio's Property Manager E-Zine