The Success of Halloween

Halloween is this week, it’s a holiday all about the darkest corners of the world and darkest things our imaginations can think up. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my life full of dark and scary things, it’s hard enough to see the news each day with all that goes on in the world, so it got me thinking about why it’s so successful and able to bring in so much money and continue year after year.

First, let’s talk about the authentic side of Halloween, and that’s the fact that it’s been shown and believed for many years that there’s something beyond the life we live now. Whether you believe in Heaven and hell or not, or believe that there’s something in between here and the future, or you’ve had an experience with a ghost or other spiritual being, a large majority of people will say there’s more to the world than we see living on this plane with us. But while ghosts are something we talk about at Halloween, there’s so much more to the holiday and to all things spooky than just ghosts.

One of the reasons Halloween is successful is because they’ve managed to connect it with one of the legal forms of an addictive substance, and that’s candy. So many of us around the world have a sweet tooth that it makes it very easy to get us excited about anything that involves candy. You then add in pumpkin (spice) flavor to some of that candy and you’ve got a second winner. It’s also very easy to come up with alcoholic beverages/mixed drinks that are of the orange or black or neon or spooky color, not to mention all the ways you can craft food to resemble all sorts of haunted things. So Halloween is an easy win when it comes to our taste buds and stomachs, which is often all that something needs to be successful.

Then you’ve got the fun of dressing up and being someone else. This is traditionally something the kids do, but college kids and adults often will dress up and attend parties as well. There’s something magical and refreshing about being able to pick out a different costume each year and be someone else, be someone that you aren’t or can’t be in real or daily life. Dressing up is a chance to escape the responsibilities of our daily lives and try on someone else’s life for a little while, as well as hang out with friends and have fun (something else not everyone makes time for either).

It’s also successful because those who commercialized it knew to tap into the adrenaline that people experience when they’re surprised by or dealing with something scary. That rush is also an addictive feeling, which is why year after year we are willing to visit countless attractions and even sign health waivers to be allowed in and face something that might scare us.

Ultimately though, Halloween is so broadly successful because it taps into those who like the more extreme side of the holiday and getting scared out of their minds as well as those that like to make and enjoy cute little spider cookie or cupcake treats. It’s something that both children and adults and even seniors can get involved in and enjoy (some seniors find handing out Halloween candy to be one of the highlights of their year). Sometimes success is as simple as creating something that a large number of people will find fun, adding variations to make that audience even broader and making sure that there’s a reason to keep coming back year after year.

Are you into Halloween? What makes it a holiday you celebrate each year?

Halloween Lessons

Halloween is Wednesday so today I thought I’d share a few thoughts on lessons you can share with your kids for Halloween, and you might find they apply to you too.

Tricks: sometimes life sends you tricks. Yes, sometimes you can choose if you want the trick or the treat, but often you don’t get a choice, life chooses for you.  It’s really a question of how well you’re going to deal with the trick you’ve received, the attitude you’ll work through it with and what you’ll do after you’ve survived.

And Treats: Halloween is a bit of a catch for those who watch their sugar, because it’s really a celebration of treats and sweets. It’s a reminder that sometimes life is short and treats should be eaten and enjoyed, especially in moderation.

Costumes: the other big thing about Halloween is everyone dresses up. Yes, sometimes its good to try new things and see if they could be the right direction for us, after all, if we don’t try new things we can’t know if they would be right for us. Sometimes it’s just fun to be someone else for a little while, even though we’re satisfied with our lives.

Community: the whole concept is based around going from house to house around your neighborhood, and expecting those homes to open up and share candy or other treats. It’s not something we do with any other holiday, only Halloween.

What has Halloween taught you?

The Business of Halloween

Halloween is on Wednesday, it’s the day that kids dress up in fun costumes and visit around their neighborhoods to gather candy and other treats.  Celebrating or recognizing Halloween in your business can be a way to welcome or begin the 2018 holiday season and get things started with a bang, or it can just be a way to have some fun and more personally connect with your customers.  So today I’ve got a couple of ideas for how you can incorporate Halloween into your business.

Your marketing: One fun thing you could do would be a play on the “trick-or-treat” fun and offer a trick or a treat in your newsletter.  You can also ask customers to share or submit their Halloween photos and do a photo contest of pumpkin carving, costumes, lights or other topics on a specific theme that relates to your business.

Limited time offerings: Holidays typically are associated with special treats and Halloween is associated with candy and other sweet treats and pumpkin too, so businesses in the food industry can incorporate popular candies or pumpkin into their offerings for the weeks/days surrounding Halloween.  Clothing businesses can incorporate costumes into their lineup for the season and also offer ideas for how customers can incorporate their clothing into costumes or Halloween party attire.  Travel agencies can share a list of haunted locations and/or Halloween activities near their customers and/or sell tickets/arrange trips incorporating those locations and activities. And of course home decor businesses can include some traditional pumpkins as well as some more magical or mystical decorations and decoration ideas to help their customers have the spookiest house in the neighborhood.

Of course, don’t forget that if you’ve got a local store you can encourage customers to come in if you’re offering a special treat on Halloween (i.e. candy) or special coupon for a future date if they shop with you on Halloween.  Will you be sharing the Halloween spirit in your business, and if so, how?

Life with Loss

The month of October makes people think about things like death and fears. They’re not easy topics to talk about or think about, but all of us are affected by them. Some people have fears that become debilitating, while others of us are mildly bothered by things that we call our fears. What I’m thinking about today though is in the family of the death topic, that of loss.

All of us experience losses over the course of our lives. We’ve heard stories of people and pets who pass away after they lose the person they loved. We’ve seen how drastically the loss of a person in our life because of divorce or separation or distance can negatively impact a person, maybe leading to destructive habits or depression. It’s funny because we’re so insistent upon doing things for ourselves and being able to stand on our own to feet, and yet we are so affected by the ties that bind us.

Unfortunately, with the way that life is right now we are faced with losses. We do get separated from our pets or loved ones or people who we may not really love any more but played a significant role in our lives for a period of time, that’s the reality of life. The question is what will you do after that loss? Will you choose to stop living because they do or because they’ve left you? Or will you choose to see that you’re more than that person, that you can learn from your time together, even appreciate it, and still be able to move on and keep living? Because I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have something they could contribute to the world. Everyone, regardless of age, health, location or any other factor, has the ability to make a difference in someone’s life. Yes, death and loss are painful, and we should take time to process that large change in our lives. But I can’t think of one situation that the other person would want you, or anyone, to give up on life. Loss is part of life’s journey, where your journey takes you is up to you.

Relationships are Scary

As we finish up Halloween I’m thinking about some of the scary things in relationships.  Relationships can be great opportunities to move into an amazing future with someone you care about.  They’re also challenging regardless of how perfect you are for each other.  I’ve always talked about communication as being one key to surviving and thriving in your relationship, trust, forgiveness and love are 3 other very important keys.  Let’s first talk about some of the scary things in relationships that can hurt them.

Our own fears and pasts:  Everyone brings stuff into a relationship, primarily what happened to you before you met that person and the beliefs you have.  You also bring the present into your relationship but for most of us it’s our past that has greater potential for damaging than our present does, mostly because we’re able to do something with our present and can’t do anything about the past.  Our past does make us who we are and does shape our decisions in the present and future. So for example if you were hurt or cheated on in the past, unless you have overwhelming trust and love in your current relationship it will be something that hovers in your consciousness whenever you have to make a decision regarding your relationship or partner.  Fears, however irrational can also affect your relationship. It can limit the experiences you can have together, and hold you back from communicating with your partner.

But what I find most scary about relationships is that some people don’t try them.  Life has painful experiences in it. That’s just how it goes.  You will fail, you will struggle, you will be hurt by others in life.  But I believe that hiding away because you’ve been hurt in the past or are scared you will be again in the future can only do more damage than giving relationships a try could.  Relationships aren’t always easy but every relationship I’ve had has added value or taught me a valuable lesson that has made me a better partner for my significant other.  I may hope that this relationship is the one that lasts, but I know that life has twists and turns you can’t predict that I won’t have to start over again with someone else, whether it’s 50 years from now or just 2.  But rather than fear the future or past, or let my fears hurt my relationship, I’m choosing to step forward and trust that my partner will support me through my concerns and challenges and I can support him through his.

Haunted House Success

With Halloween just a few days away I thought today we’d talk about haunted attractions and what we can learn from them as business owners. To be clear we’re talking about the places that get set up every October with decorations and inspired by spooky myths and legends that people visit. I’m not talking about places that are reported or known to be haunted like Eastern State Penitentiary or Winchester Mystery House. Haunted attractions are very successful despite or maybe because they are only open for a short time. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from them.

Haunted attractions have one goal: to scare people. I’ve met more than one business owner who really has no clue why they’re offering what they’re offering in their business. If you don’t have a purpose how can you know what you’re working towards, and why would people choose you over others offering similar things with a goal?

Haunted attractions have lots of moving parts behind the scenes. Any good business has support systems set up to make it successful. This includes the marketing, financial, customer/client management, and product/service creation/selling/management. The best haunted attractions are those that have great moving parts, and those moving parts work seamlessly with the attraction, they don’t detract from or remind you that you’re at a haunted attraction that’s all fake.

Haunted attractions have a great team. Just about every haunted attraction has people involved, whether just a ticket taker or actors and actresses throughout the attraction who interact with and scare guests. If the attraction is any good when the guests leave they have lots of positive things to say about the “people” they interacted with, which is how it should be for every business.

Haunted attractions take creativity. Business isn’t easy and isn’t straightforward. I don’t know too many businesses that don’t take a little creativity to run, whether in dealing with customer requests and coming up with what to offer, not to mention the marketing!

So as you visit haunted attractions with family and friends this year, see what you can learn and apply to your business from them, and share your ideas and insights in the comments below.

Love and Fears

Today I want to talk about a very Halloween topic: fear.  In all areas of our lives at one point in time or another we’ll probably experience fear. We experience fear when we let our kids go out into the world with new activities (trick-or-treating with other families and not ours), we experience fear when they’re better at things than us (catching Pokemon), we experience fear when our mind gets the best of us (how long our partner is spending at work), and we experience fear when it comes to who we are (am I good enough?).  Maybe you don’t have to deal with a lot of fear in your life because you’re super confident or conquer (smash) your fears really quickly.  Or maybe you’re one of those people who are paralyzed by fear and struggle with it for a long time before being able to even contemplate moving on or next steps.  Some wisdom I read recently has a great insight that not only will help us with our fears but also strengthening our families in general.

“The more we love, the less we fear; the less we fear, the more we love. Sometimes we can address our fears head on and simply dismiss them—or at least manage them. Sometimes love can overwhelm our fear. Sometimes doing some completely gratuitous act of loving-kindness will break through the sclerotic accretions of fear and the fountain begins to flow again.”  Br. Mark Brown

That’s right: love.  I can’t say I’ll be trying love on any of those movie monsters in the near future, but I do know that applying more love to life will help me reduce any fears I have and conquer them quicker and in better form.  There isn’t anything that can make your life, family or relationship perfect.  But there are things that you can do to make them better and healthier, and one of them is love.  If you’ve established a foundation of love within your family and between your partner and you it’s much easier to begin the tough conversations, realize that some of your are baseless, and find the courage and strength to get over the fears that do have foundation.

I believe we can all use more love in our lives, how will you love more this week?

Holiday Helpings

October is really the start of the holiday season in my mind.  These 3 months are when some businesses make the majority of their sales, often led by the “Black Friday”/”Cyber Monday” sales days.  If you’re a summer business it may not affect you (unless you can get on board with “Giving Tuesday” somehow or offer deals for next summer), but for the rest of us there’s a lot of potential in these last 3 months that so many businesses waste.  So today I wanted to address the holiday season and help you kick it into gear if you haven’t already.

To start we need to answer the really big question: why bother?  I believe that most businesses, especially those who change or tweak what they offer on a regular basis, have a great opportunity to participate in the seasons and holidays and offer some really fun and creative options that aren’t available all year long.  Starbucks is really great with this, offering seasonal drinks and treats depending on the flavors and foods that are grown or celebrated at that time.  Also, while they always bring back some customer favorites there are always at least a couple of completely new options they try.  Restaurants, artists, musicians, family care services, cleaning services, event locations, grocery stores, beverage companies, bakeries, business consultants, marketers, travel companies and TV/radio stations are just a few of the businesses that can tap into the seasons and holidays and add a little something special to surprise their customers and interest new ones too.

So, assuming that you’re going to jump on the opportunity this holiday season presents, no later than the 2nd week of October should you have your plan for the rest of the year nailed down and be able to start celebrating the holidays.  This starts with planning the products and services you’ll be offering for the next 2.5 months and, if necessary, getting the designs shipped off so testing and creating can begin.  It also includes sketching out your website and marketing designs and ads for the rest of the year and planning who will make those changes and when, interviewing extra staff, considering special events you’re going to offer or participate in, if you’ll be doing a charity drive of some sort, and any other little things that you and your team can do to make the holiday season a little more unique and special.  Completing this planning stage by the second week of October means that you’ll just have to deal for the most part with serving your holiday specials to your customers for the rest of the year.

Offering seasonal/holiday options are a great way to stand out from similar businesses and let customers and potential customers know that you’re not just about the bottom line, but that you recognize changing needs and desires customers have, and that you know how to have some fun too.  I would love to help you plan the next 2.5 months of your business with special holiday offers, stop by my website and let’s talk!  If you already have holiday plans I invite you to share your ideas in the comments.

Plans with Popcorn

Today I’m sharing lots of popcorn recipes to get you ready for the World Series, scary Halloween movies, or just a yummy afternoon snack.

Chili Lime

Cheesy garlic

Mexican chocolate

Sage

Chocolate almond

Sweet and spicy crunch

Macadamia butter crunch

Kettle corn

Sweet and nutty

Sesame ginger

Aztec chocolate and caramel

Cranberry orange caramel

Herbs de Provence and asiago cheese

Carmel apple monster munch

Slacker jacks

Grandma Paul’s caramel corn

Theater style butter

More Treat Ideas

Chewy caramel popcorn and pretzel bars

Golden popcorn squares

Toffee almond popcorn balls

Gooey Halloween popcorn balls

Candy corn popcorn balls

What toppings have you tried and enjoyed with popcorn?