Welcome to the February 2018 edition of The Celebration!
Here's what you'll find inside:
BEHIND THE BRAND
Featuring Sweet Midnight
IT'S YOUR STORE
3 Tips on how to use social media to drive attention and sales to you store
HIA NEWS & NOTES
HIA launches consumer initiative
HALLOWEEN & PARTY EXPO SHOW UPDATES
In case you missed the Show, view the Post-Show Wrap Up!
BEHIND THE BRAND
For this month's Behind the Brand, we spoke with Renee Harper, an exhibitor at the 2018 Halloween & Party Expo, about her company Sweet Midnight. Sweet Midnight was a winner in this year's Featured Porduct Showcase coming in second place. Check out the full interview below:
Halloween & Party Expo (HPE): Tell us about history of Sweet Midnight.
Sweet Midnight (SM): My company is Sweet Midnight. Our tagline is "the dark side of cute." We make cute, spooky goodies, from clothes and shoes to coffin bags.
HPE: Tell us about the product you featured in the Featured Product Showcase at this year's Show.
SM: We featured our Coffin Bag, Black Cat Bag, boots and shoes in our Featured Product Showcase.
HPE: How does the Halloween & Party Expo help expand your business?
SM: It was an opportunity to introduce new, potential customers to our line.
HPE: What are your upcoming company plans for 2018?
SM: Our plans are to design more unique artwork to be applied to our skirts and Haunted Handbags.
IT'S YOUR STORE
The Halloween & Party Expo spoke with Gary Glandon from Stagecoach about the history of his business, trends they are seeing in the industry and more!
HPE: Tell us about your business history.
Gary Glandon (GG): My parents started the Stagecoach in 1973 as a gift and souvenir store. One day I decided to put on 2 or 3 old Don Post masks just because I thought they were neat. At the time I wasn't even thinking about Halloween. These masks sold right away and we kept adding a little more. Over time we evolved into the main costume store in the area. Today we still sell souvenirs and specialize in handmade jewelry. Once September hits, however, we transform more than half the store over to Halloween. I'm sure we are the only store in the country that sells high-end gold and silver jewelry on one side of the store and ghosts and ghouls on the other.
HPE: What brought you to this year's Show?
GG: We've been attending the Halloween and Party Expo for many years. Since most of the year we focus on our gift and jewelry business the Expo helps keep us on top of new products and trends in the Halloween industry. We always find new items to feature in our store for the next year.
HPE: What were you most excited to see at this year's Show?
GG: In our area we are seeing a number of new trends that bring a demand for high-quality costumes and accessories. At the Expo we were excited to find items that would work for cosplayers and drag queens, both segments that demand high-quality products that we are excited about selling.
HPE: What trends are you most excited for this year?
GG: The trend towards more DIY costumes is continuing and we are looking at ways to reorganize our store in order to emphasize this. We may cut back on our costume inventory so that we can more prominently display individual pieces and accessories. I believe this trend helps differentiate us from online store who may sell the same full costumes.
How Social Media Can Bring Your Store Attention & Sales
By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle
News flash, folks. Social media is not just about sharing. It is about connecting, engaging and capturing dollars - a goal any retailer can appreciate. The catch? In order to do this, you must deliver consistent efforts via social media to truly gain an audience that wants to connect with you.
Ready to begin?
As one of the most valuable marketing channels available for retailers to leverage and reach both existing and potential customers, social media delivers a cost-effective way for independent retailers to reach customers and influence purchase decisions. Like their big-box competitors, these same business owners want to stay top of mind with consumers and build brand loyalty - yet unlike many of their competitors, they don't always have the budget to reach all their marketing goals. This - fortunately - is where social media can help merchants more so than ever.
With tighter budgets, limited employee bandwidth and time always a struggle to find, retailers need to evaluate their social media best practices in order to maximize their social media results. Bringing attention to their store should remain top of mind, as should understanding how this attention can lead to sales. To help? Consider the below.
1. Social Engagement: Quite simply, social media is intended to engage people from a – you guessed it – social perspective. This means in order for it to be effective, it must actually deliver on social goals. Connecting with people online is no easy task, however. After all, in the midst of your own posts and shares on social media, countless other stores and brands are doing the same. So why should a customer stop at your post versus another? Very simply, you need to give them a reason to hit “pause” and want to interact with your brand. Whether it’s “like”, “share”, “post”, “comment” or even simply care, your main goal with anything you share via social media is to engage your audience and give them a reason to want to look forward to interacting with you.
2. Social Sales: The path to purchase is no longer linear, and how consumers are influenced to buy is no longer black and white. From friends and family to celebrity endorsements to social media influence, how consumers react with your store on social media directly impacts their path to purchase. Keeping your store top of mind among their shopping destinations should always be a goal – therefore, consistently engaging on social media should always be a goal, as well. As for that path to purchase? Customers may want to buy online or in your physical storefront, so ideally give them both options.
3. Social Encouragement: Reminding customers to engage in something – including purchases, store events and more – is a great way to connect with consumers. To do this, it helps to identify some achievable actions via social media that can help lead your customers to make decisions that ultimately impact your store visibility and sales. For example, sharing interesting facts that would attract the attention of your customers is one way to do this. An example of this is: “Did you know Valentine’s Day lands on the same day as Single Awareness Day? For all our single ladies out there, consider this your reminder to get yourself something fabulous this February 14.” Expanding on this, consider how adding an image of items from your store can benefit this post. Conclude your post with a simple “in stores now” or provide a link that takes them to an online URL where they can make a purchase. The main takeaway here? Don’t leave them guessing. Show them where they can spend their dollars with you.
When you are evaluating your current social media interaction and aiming to strengthen your overall customer engagement, also consider how often you are posting to social media. Social media expert Louise Myers believes that it depends on your “social media platform” and as a result, you must plan accordingly. Her suggestion for Facebook is to post once a day or no less than three times a week, while Instagram she suggests at least once a day but upward to three times a day to really drive engagement. For those companies utilizing Twitter, Myers suggests three to as many as thirty tweets a day. Finally, Pinterest is comparative to Twitter with a minimum of three pins a day and up to thirty, as well. For more comprehensive insight from Myers, click here.
Finally, remember that social media ultimately impacts your store’s visibility and overall consumer care in it. Collectively, this impacts your store success. To help maintain a healthy business, be sure to consistently make social media a priority. As a result? Gain more attention, more customer engagement and more sales.
HIA NEWS & NOTES
HIA Launches 2018 Consumer Initiative
For many years, HIA has discussed the need for an industry-wide consumer initiative to promote Halloween and year-round costuming. Due to the purchase of the Halloween & Party Expo, HIA established a steady annual income to fund industry initiatives. Currently, our most important effort is a new consumer marketing initiative. The goal is to establish HIA as the voice of Halloween for consumers/general public and increase sales for our member companies. We have developed a specific plan for 2018 that includes several deliverables including a website featuring top costumes for the year, “big idea” with an industry partner incorporating the last Saturday in October, year-round media pitches and a robust social media effort. Only HIA members will have an opportunity to participate in this program. We are currently assembling subject matter experts, learning how each member can best contribute, and preparing for media training of members. This is an exceptional opportunity for HIA members to increase visibility for their companies and drive sales. In 2017 we conducted a mini-campaign to learn more about the market. Our biggest win was a segment on Fox Business News featuring top costumes for 2017 and our most successful Facebook post had 135,270 impressions.
Leading this effort is the Director of Marketing for HIA, Aneisha McMillan. Aneisha has 15 years of public relations and marketing experience with a heavy focus in social media and generating big ideas on a budget. She will be working with a task force of HIA volunteers to execute this program. If you’re currently an HIA member and want to opt-in to this program, please let Aneisha know (firstname.lastname@example.org). For non-members, please join today to take advantage of this one-of-a-kind opportunity!