On Halloween night, it’s a hoot to see gleeful ghosts roaming around the neighborhood in search of candy. But what happens when the real McCoy shows up in the break room? Suddenly, the lights are turning on and off by themselves, you’re hearing strange noises, and your eyes are playing tricks on you. Did that coffee cup just slide across the table … by itself?
Are you really dealing with a ghost?
Those knocking or scratching sounds inside the walls may be unnerving, but there could be an earthly reason for what’s going bump in the night. You may have a plumbing problem or some uninvited rodent guests. A strong breeze might be blowing doors open or moving objects. If you’re overworked or overtired and experiencing strange phenomena, perhaps a vacation is in order.
But, if you’ve ruled out rational reasons for strange happenings, perhaps ghosts are to blame. If you, your staff and your customers have had ghostly encounters, there’s no need to run for the hills. So long as Casper is a friendly chap, it could be a boon.
Before you call the Ghostbusters, take a good, hard look at the situation — and turn it into a marketing opportunity. Here are four ways paranormal phenomena can contribute to the success of your business:
1. Tell your ghost story
Use your website, blog or podcast to tell the story of the ghost that haunts your business, and document any sightings or paranormal activity for others to see and share. If you put your story out there, other bloggers and podcasters will be able to use it and promote your business, too. While it may seem silly, customers get a kick out of it. After all, studies show that up to 45% of Americans believe in ghosts or spirits. An otherworldly visitor may be just the unique differentiator your business needs.
In the example below, Muriel’s in New Orleans, Louisiana, does a great job of highlighting its haunted history on its website. Among other curious facts, readers learn about the table that is reserved year-round and set with bread and wine for resident ghost Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan.
2. Serve spirits with a supernatural spin
Are you famous for your classic cocktails? Why not mix up a special one and name that spirit after your resident spirit? The Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California, named a cocktail after its ghost known simply as “The Black Dahlia.” Likewise, the Inn and Spa at Loretto in Santa Fe, New Mexico, dubbed its signature cocktail the Smoking Nun after the infamous cigar-smoking Sister George. She is said to haunt the hotel, leaving the scent of her cigar lingering behind.
Is beer more your poison? You can always be part of a haunted craft beer walk like the Old Bakery Beer Company did in one of the most haunted towns in America — Alton, Illinois. The stroll includes stops at different haunted locations and some wicked-good brews.
If your business serves up ethereal cocktails, don’t forget the branded coasters to go with them. (And for more hauntingly good marketing ideas from Alton, watch Small Business Revolution — Main Street Season 3.)
3. Tap into ghost tourism
Ghost tourism is scary-big business for restaurants, cruise ships, Wall Street — you name it. So, why not get in on the fun? Offering tours of your establishment can be a great opportunity to bring in additional revenue and build mystique around your business. The Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, New York, capitalizes on the creep factor by opening itself up to various ghost tours around Halloween. And widely recognized as one of the “most spirited hotels,” The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, holds a Night Spirit Tour to introduce guests to the active phenomena and folklore surrounding the 100-plus-year-old hotel.
If ghost tourism is one of your main selling points, don’t forget to order customized T-shirts, hats and other apparel for visitors who’ve survived the tour to broadcast their fearlessness — and your brand — to everyone they come into contact with.
4. Scare up new business
Promoting your haunted business will attract a new variety of customers — paranormal investigators. These folks love to research and document ghostly activity and compare notes with their fellow enthusiasts. So, invite them to investigate your business, or partner with them to take customers on a spirited search for the spine-tingling truth. Custom brochures with glossy, ghostly details can help whip up some eerie excitement among the ghost-hunting set.
Connect with the right ones, and your business might even be featured on television! The Thomas House Hotel in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, offers Ghost Hunt Weekends, which include a fully guided tour of the property, ghost hunting training from professionals and a full night of ghost hunting.
In addition to ghost hunters, you’ll attract your fair share of horror fans. There’s something thrilling and mysterious about visiting a business where the lights flicker, glasses fly off the shelves, and you can hear disembodied laughter. People with a penchant for the paranormal will flock to your establishment to catch a glimpse of your ghost.
You’re not alone
While other business owners may turn a blind eye to the cryptic shadows that haunt their halls, you can rest assured you’re not the only hauntrepreneur on the block. It’s up to you whether you promote your resident spirit with subtlety or fervor. Whatever you do, remember that ghosts were once people with hopes, dreams and lives of their own. If you put them to work for your business, they may ask for a raise.