When you exclude the candy apples, miniature chocolate bars and belly aches, Halloween has quite a bit in common with radio. Think about it. It touches all age groups, all demographics and it doesn’t distinguish between the living and the undead.
And when you think outside the box and consider the big-picture similarities, there are a few things that radio can learn from Halloween. So when we sift through the basket of goodies, we have identified three primary lessons:
- Don’t underestimate the power of imagination. Halloween is a great reminder of just how much people enjoy suspending disbelief and playing along. Once a year, adults of all ages enjoy dressing up and become someone, or something, else. Radio stations can do this year-round. Don’t be afraid to entertain listeners with creative theater-of-the-mind programming that goes beyond songs and liners to give listeners a chance to play along. Remember, the original “War of the Worlds” first aired on Halloween.
- People love to show off. The time and attention some people put into their Halloween costumes is often beyond belief. While sometimes they do so for the chance to win a prize, it speaks to a basic aspect of human nature: what most people really want is the attention and adoration of their friends, relatives and even total strangers. Between the airwaves and social media platforms, radio stations can easily tap into the audience’s desire to be a star by providing a platform for them to show off. For example, starting a thread on your Facebook page about the best and worst costumes your listeners have ever had; done correctly, this will reward you with a great stream of free content that requires almost no extra work on the part of your staff. Play to the listener’s vanity and they will never fail you.
- People love free stuff. Now that we’re too old to trick or treat, we’re all jealous of all the free candy that kids get just for ringing doorbells. And even though we could all simply go out and buy a bag of candy at any time of the year—not just Halloween—it’s just not the same as getting it for free. And this is something worth keeping in mind when you consider the value of giveaways for your station. And, taking this analogy a step further, remember how much attention that one house on your block that gave away the full-sized candy bars always got? Now, think about your radio station in that context. In essence, think about making your giveaways full-size and make your competitor’s appear fun-sized.
So while Halloween only comes once in October, the upside for radio in this analogy is that your strategy isn’t limited by holidays or calendar dates. And that means more treats and far fewer tricks.