Startup Tuesday: What Trick-or-Treaters Can Teach Entrepreneurs

Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Business Start Up Advice [ 0 Comments ]

startup advice from trick or treatorsIt’s Halloween time everyone! Get out your ghoulish masks, scariest costumes and start blaring “The Monster Mash” at a volume that starts to annoy your employees. Most importantly, start preparing yourself for the sales tactics of the little entrepreneurs that gouge your candy bowl and leave you empty-handed at the end of the night. Trick-or-treaters are selling a service and they want something in return. When you hand them the sugar-drenched “money” they spare you the dealing of a wicked “trick”. These might be the most effective salesman roaming the streets- as none leave a doorstep empty handed. Sure, you’d be a bitter person for turning away a cute child without giving him candy, but entrepreneurs can learn a few things from these costumed kids this Halloween:

1. Get creative with campaigns

Admit it: you’re more inclined to give children an additional amount of candy when they’re wearing an adorably creative costume.  The ghost-kid wearing a sheet blends in with all the white-faced scream masks. Both don’t stand a chance against the little kid who is portraying Elvis or the one with a DIY owl costume. The same goes for most startups. According to the Labor Bureau of Statistics, about 40% of start-ups don’t survive to age three. Just like the kid in the dirty white sheet supposedly a ghost, startups they get overlooked among the sea of shiny new ads, products, and services. How do you compete with the kid dressed up as a dinosaur?

Both kids and  their parents know their target audience is vulnerable to a cute kid in a clever costume. Do you research and know what your audience needs, wants, and in short, are suckers for. Dollar Shave Club was a startup that differentiated itself from the get-go with a video that went viral. Setting himself apart, CEO Mr. Dubin  received 12,000 orders in the first 48 hours. Why did it work? The video is funny and it caught the attention of his target audience.

Related: Marketing Fun Friday: Make Your Video Stand Out in Search

2. Don’t be afraid to expand your reach

Expand your reach into new candy bowls. You ever know the amount of king size candy bars that await you in that dark and scary neighborhood. Although an adult would steer clear of a darkened house at the end of the cul-de-sac, the promise of more candy drives these kids into frightening new territory.  Have you reached a stale-mate in your current business channels and feel the stagnation if your marketing campaigns? Maybe it’s time you do your research on which neighborhoods have the good candy. Have you expanded into mobile e-commerce and mobile marketing? A recent study has shown that retailers who don’t expand their reach into mobile are likely to lose 20% of potential revenue this year. Still slow to the social media show? According to eMarketer, 21% of small to medium-sized businesses plan to increase their social media efforts this year. The more neighborhoods you hit, the better reach you have. The more social channels you use, the faster your reach will grow in potential customers. Have you tried and tested your current startup idea and felt like it should take a different direction? Step outside of your comfort zone and try a special offer, promotion, or event to test the waters of your new idea. If it works, implement across all channels- if not, go onto the next creepy-looking house.

Related: Diversifying Your Content for Greater Reach

3. Communicating Effectively

Would you give children candy if they just walked up to your door and knocked? I hope not. That’s why, even as you start to turn the doorknob, you’re bombarded with shouts of that simple phrase “Trick or Treat?!”  These tiny business-people know their mission, believe in it wholeheartedly, and can communicate it effectively. Do you have a clean and streamlined mission, purpose, and sales pitch? Or do you get side-tracked easily? Make sure you’re able to communicate with your potential customer exactly what it is you’re selling. According to the Harvard Business Review, decision simplicity in the purchase process is the #1 reason why consumers are likely to buy your product, do so repeatedly, and recommend it to others (Tweet This!). Trick-or-treaters aren’t side-tracked with any other products or services. The costumed penguin doesn’t offer to rake your lawn or sell homemade lemonade in exchange for more candy. He knows his mission, sells it simplistically, and his customers know exactly what he’s selling.

Related: 3 Ways to Improve International Communication

Although we don’t condone nonchalantly threatening customers that you will “trick” them if they don’t give you a treat or money in return, try to take heed from these little door-to-door entrepreneurs. Craft a creative costume, reach into other candy bowls, and give them an offer they can’t refuse.

(Image: via

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