At the beginning of this month, the restaurant and bakery industry started selling pumpkin-spiced beverages and baked goods again. I’ll be honest; pumpkin and spice-flavored anything is pretty much my favorite.

I’m also a huge fan of cooler evenings and the changing leaves. It’s fall, and fall brings us Halloween.  And with Halloween comes another opportunity for you to promote your small business. No, I’m not trying to rush you through the season, but now’s the time to prepare.

Taking advantage of the Halloween marketing opportunity starts with your business participating in one of those downtown trick-or-treat events hosted by your city or local Chamber. If you don’t have one or your business isn’t located downtown, organize one. And keep these tips in mind as you get ready for the event.

1. Get the good candy.

Seriously, cheapo candy isn’t going to leave the right kind of impression. Splurge a little and get the good stuff. Maybe something chocolate and big so the kids’ eyes get huge and they point at it. Bonus points if you offer a peanut-free and dairy-free alternative for the kids with allergies.

2. Include branded packaging.

If you pre-order your goodies, you might just have time to include some customized and branded packaging with your company name and logo on it. When your treats make it home to those big candy bowls, that packaging will serve as a nice little reminder of your brand.

3. Attach a discount coupon.

Include a little something for the parents. You can toss them in with the candy or hand them directly to parents. A percentage off for first-time customers is always a good choice for luring in new shoppers, but be creative.

4. Be festive.

Get all of your employees involved in the costume fun. I’m always a huge fan of employees dressing up in costumes of the same theme, but individual costumes are great, too. It’s important to have a little fun while you promote.

5. Let people know you’re participating ahead of time.

Send word out through your e-newsletter or direct mail campaigns. Most business trick-or-treat events include some kind of signage for participating businesses — display it prominently so people come looking for you. Got freebies or a contest giveaway you’ve been planning? Set up registration next to your candy bowl.

6. Decorate your storefront.

Painted windows or spooky scenes erected just outside your shop window are another great way to stand out from the crowd and make your businesses memorable to the families participating in the trick-or-treat event. If you’ve got a creative employee, ask them to lend their services on a special project.

7. Make sure you have enough.

Don’t run out of treats to give away. If this is your first time participating, ask event organizers how much traffic you can expect to see. Then buy a little bit extra just to be on the safe side.

Parents love trick-or-treat events because they’re kid-friendly, safe places to take their children for a little trick-or-treating. Plan ahead, and you can land your own treats: repeat customers and new business leads.

Have you participated in a trick-or-treat event? What treats did you give away?