View Full Version : Looking for marketing suggestions - specific situation
07-28-2011, 04:28 PM
We are located halfway between Indianapolis, IN and Louisville, KY right off the interstate. About 45 minutes either way.
We are one hour from Bloomington, IN (Indiana University)
This is our eleventh season, we are well established but our attendance growth has flatlined the last two years
We have saturated our local market.. by census data, our attendance was 31% of our zipcode's population last year
We have done billboards, radio, television, you name it, but mostly in our local (25 miles) markets
The last two years we have done Facebook ads with some success have 5000+ on the fanpage and keep it fresh
I just set up a text marketing program 'text fearfair to 545454' and it seems promising, so looking to grow that..
We've always had a pretty good web site and the new one we are about to launch should be a step above the past.
In order to break our growth plateau, I have to get more penetration into those larger areas, but conventional radio/tv are too costly for the most part. How would you attack this problem from a marketing perspective.
I am thinking about doing a lot of yard signs, put the text thing on them, target high traffic streets/intersections.. maybe trade tickets for placement to people in prime spots..
I haven't done billboards in several years.. should I go back that direction
What about flyers, any ideas on how to get them distributed.
What about Google Ads... is is worth it, or stick to FB?
I'm all ears and looking to learn from those who have been there done that.
Haunted Prints (EOM)
07-28-2011, 07:08 PM
Congrats on 11 years of fear, that is an accomplishment to be proud of. A few ideas that might help push you through the plateau.
Living Social Indianapolis and/or Louisville
GroupOn Indianapolis and/or Louisville
Billboards placed strategically along I-65 close to and within the city limits of Louisville and Indianapolis.
Place ads in college paper and place poster and flyers at business around college campuses. University of Lousiville, University of Indiana and any other populated colleges in the area.
Reach out to fraternities, sororities and other school groups to book social and outings.
Place ads and flyers at movie theaters in either metropolitan area.
Haunted Prints (EOM)
07-28-2011, 07:14 PM
You could also post/advertise with HauntedIndiana.com if your not already.
07-28-2011, 07:35 PM
If you are trying to pull outside your normal area the obvious answer is to branch out...but make sure you use what is working for you now to do so. If you need some suggestion though, there are a couple suggestions below. Decide which areas you want to hit the most and establish budgets for each, and if you need sounds like you might be able to pull just a bit off your local marketing if you have a solid fanbase there.
I would look into these areas for flyer distribution services, or hire some high schoolers and/or some of your staff to canvas the areas with posters, flyers, point of purchase displays with coupons etc... Hit hangouts like coffee shops, record stores, concert clubs, bars, movie theatres etc. As long as you ask first most places have no problem letting you leave flyers at their location for free. Some may want some kind of sponsorship deal...but this kind of guerilla marketing can lead to those discussions as well if you arent actively seeking sponsors.
Give the locations a visit once a week to check if they need refills. Another great method is contacting larger concert venues and asking to flyer the patrons as they leave. Again most will let you as long as you ask first. It is always best to personally put the promo into their hands in my opinion, that way you know it is getting to the people. If interested they will hold on to it, and if not it will get tossed, but at least you in a way forced them to look at it. Even using something small like business cards or our custom Favicards can be a super effective marketing tool.
Other creative marketing methods include making arrangements with places like pizza shops where you can supply them with box toppers in exchange for their logo or product at your location. Then every pizza that goes out the door has your advertisement on it. In similar avenues I have seen this done with soda companies, local fast food restaurants, and more. Most area hotels also have the built in travel centers that are made to hold flyers of local attractions...again ask around and see what you can get placed at for free. One that might be a tad more costly as well is the theatres that play ads before their features, you can get a video or slideshow commercial shown before the movies.
These are just a couple idea you can run with....if you need any help with printed materials shoot me a message or check out our website (www.jakprints.com/haunt)
Good Luck, would love to hear feedback on anything that worked or did not work...keep us informed!
Mike "Pogo" Hach
There may not be many more this year, but parades outside your area are also great, you can both advertise with characters passing out flyers/coupons, and banners or a float.
07-28-2011, 07:39 PM
First thing that popped into my mind is the QR codes. They are free and really seem to be popular with the teenage and twenty somethings set...usually at least in my area, the most popular aged attendees. Here's a link:
What about targeting locals malls and handing out free tickets to a few of the teens in the herds that frequent them? You might lose some $$ when you hand out some free tickets, but they always have to bring their friends.
Local parades are a great way to hand out flyers as well as free promotion, if you haven't already looked into that. Handing out stickers with your website on them somewhere work great. Kids stick them everywhere and it's free advertisement. :)
Also maybe local farmer's markets that do a little extra something for fall, like a fall festival? Offering to come and set up for photo ops or do a skit etc. might bring in more people and also form some good networking as well. You could host a pumpkin carving contest with a prize of an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the haunt or something.
Our local radios hand out passes to certain callers. You donate the passes, they do the rest for free. Possibly they might offer this as well in your area?
Being in the corn belt, I also envision lots of scarecrows. What about enlisting high school art students to make some cool scarecrows for you and add them near your signage when you put them out. The students would feel like a part of your haunt and bring their friends to see the haunt they helped promote.
good luck... hopefully one or more of these ideas will be what you are hunting for. :)
07-29-2011, 03:25 PM
I'm a firm believer in billboards as long as you get to choose the location. They are constant reminders seen by thousands of people each and every day, as opposed to radio, TV, or newspaper ads that are seen or heard for a fleeting moment in time. Repetition sells, and billboards are great at that.
Like you Brett, not quite eleven, but after seven years in the same location we are well anchored in our own community, but we wanted to break into neighboring areas within an hour drive time from us. So last year we decided to go with a new 50,000 watt radio station that covered our new target audience, and it did bring in new customers. But we also tried a fresh approach (for us anyway) by putting together a pre-season sales team. I contacted an old buddy of mine that is a Boy Scout Master in the target area, about working together for a fundraiser for his troop. We had custom pre-sell tickets made up and his troop sold them in the month of September. We discounted the tickets by $2.00 each and offered the boy scouts $2.00 from each ticket they sold. So we worked a double incentive, so to speak. The upside is that we got the word out early by the scouts hawking the tickets in an area where they may have never heard of us, and the scouts made much more money for their troop than their annual pop corn sales ever made for them. BTW....that pop corn money gets sent to the local counsel and then divided between several troops rather than this plan where all the sales monies going straight to the troop that sold them. The down side is that we are taking a $4.00 hit on each ticket they sell. BUT, and it's a big but...we found out last year that even though the kids sell the tickets, only a portion of them were redeemed. Flash back to your own school days when you had to sell any kind of fund raising stuff. Of course you would hit up Aunt Sally and Uncle Bill, and no doubt Grampa and Granny would be happy to buy from you. But even though they shelled out the bucks, they never really had any intention on using them, they were just contributing to your cause. And the scout tickets that were returned last year almost always brought full ticket price customers along with them. We plan on doing this again this year and even expanding to a couple of other troops in the area as well. A fund raiser for a group like the scouts have the ability to sell in places where you can't. Setting up at the front door of Wal-Mart for example.
Although it's getting closer and closer, check out any upcoming zombie walks in the Louisville and Indy areas. We sponsor our own in Owensboro each year, and even though we get a lot of non haunt participants that join in, we have as many of our own actors involved as we can get. We will put a sandwich board on one or two actors that touts the haunt, plus we always have a few zombie handlers along that pass out flyers for the haunt to bystanders. We found that folks will take the pass outs from the more straight looking handlers where they may not take one from a drooling bloody zombie. Besides....what kind of zombie would be passing out flyers???
Like a lot of other haunts in the mid-west, our Friday nights are slower than they should be because of local high school football games. We have FOUR high schools in our town, so there is ALWAYS a home game to compete with. After years of trying to compete with this in some way we simply decided to turn this negative into a positive by taking out ads in each schools football program. The ads were also a $1.00 off coupon, and each person that walked through their gates got a program. The ads are dirt cheap ranging from $40.00 to $60.00 for the entire season. Not only did this boost our attendance, it made for great PR from the school and parents by supporting their team.
And last, at least the last one I can think of right now....is to always have a few Golden Tickets with you. Any time we go out to an event or any place that has a crowd, I will pass out one or maybe two Golden Tickets. These are FREE passes. I know, I know....why give away tickets? Well, if you give them out very sparingly, I'm certain that you will find that they will pay you back ten fold. After all, how many times have you seen one person come alone to your haunt? Not many I would guess. Every one of these I've handed out has always come back in with four to five full price customers with them. I can handle those numbers.
One last note....the scout tickets, and the Golden Tickets are all coded with UV reactive invisible ink. With nearly everyone now having a scanner/copier in their home it's best to take precautions.
Mad Wax Sculptor
07-30-2011, 02:09 PM
Maybe try and sell the idea of big corporate party nights to a few local business . see if you can sell out a night to host a corporate party on a very slow night
07-30-2011, 05:26 PM
What about reaching out to Indy and Luavull by promoting package deals for groups - even bundle a charter bus in or something to get large groups in one hit.
I'm sure you have a group rate, but I'm talking about actively calling on accounts that may be interested - college activity boards, fraternities, sororities, etc. If you can sell them on the quality of your show over local haunts and promote the idea of an all inclusive night of entertainment it may fly.
08-11-2011, 10:31 AM
Im going to speak from the creative aspect of your marketing. It sounds like you have worked every avenue out there to deliver your advertisement, but lets take a step back and look at what you are throwing out there to people.
I have not seen any of your advertising so I cant speak on if it looks professional or not. I do know first hand that marketing is HUGE and to me it starts off with your image.
What works in advertising is creating a clever marketing campaign. Sometimes its not just about creating some scary character and the name of the haunt. Its doing something clever with it. Get people talking about it. This can be delivered through the imagery or message without physically adding something inside the haunt. We all know your goal is to get people out there and sell tickets.
If people expect the same show every year from looking at your marketing, then maybe the marketing itself might be a little stale. Bad advertising will do nothing but keep people away from your attraction. Its just a fact. Poor imagery on your website, even a bad logo will do nothing but harm your business. You are better off showing nothing at all than bad images that tells people what to expect from your haunt.
Maybe its time to start putting out nicely, well done, professional video for online marketing IF You havent done so already. Great 'CATCHY' graphics so people will think 'WOW' this is different! And overall, a clever marketing campaign. Dont just tell people, "Hey we are *blank* haunted house buy a ticket". Come up with a very clever campaign and work around it. You want to tease people with your haunt so they will want to come out and experience it.
You dont just want to keep up with the trends, try to stay a few steps ahead of it.
Hope this helps!
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