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Dark Lord
02-19-2008, 03:26 PM
Greetings Mortals.

You put hundreds of hours, and thousands of dollars into your haunt every season in the quest of terrible perfection. You rehearse your actors until everyone knows exactly how, when, and what to do to raise the "Tinkle Tally." You revise and refine until it's right. Only then do you open the doors to the paying public.

Why, then, does "Billy-Bob's Haunted Double-Wide" routinely kick your butt every October 31st?

One Word: "Marketing."

Want to know how to put your haunt in everyone's head? Which media really deliver? Or just have a question about haunt-marketing and advertising that no one else can answer?

Perhaps you've heard me on Rotting Flesh Radio...if you're wise, you've been to my haunt advertising/marketing site, www.VoiceFromHell.com. As Master of Macabre Marketing, and Evil Avatar of Advertising, I stand ready to assist.

All you have to do...is Ask The Dark Lord.

crazybob
02-19-2008, 05:12 PM
As someone who is running a haunted house for charity, and relies solely on sponsors for advertising... who or what would the best companies be to contact, and what exactly would you ask for?

Jim Warfield
02-19-2008, 06:29 PM
I bet what's coming next will be:"Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies."

When Billy-Bob's ticket sales begin to take a scary droop,
You find his old customers at Hank & Elmer's Haunted Chicken Coop!

Their techniques that work weren't very hard
It had something to do with a can of White Lard!

"Slippery" for one and all, Peter, Pat, Mary and Paul
No body gets caught in the maze,
That fun could continue for days,
Sliding up, down and sideways.
But they are shot out rather quick
Free from the coop and it's ick.
They need more tickets to do it again
Satisfy the need to punch that smart-azz hen!
(It was really a raven in a hen costume, that explains alot!)

Dark Lord
02-20-2008, 11:17 AM
As someone who is running a haunted house for charity, and relies solely on sponsors for advertising... who or what would the best companies be to contact, and what exactly would you ask for?
The Dark Lord commends your excellent question and its succinctness, Crazy Bob. The answer...is not so succinct.

First, find out what business owners in your area support the same charity. Your local charity affilliate should be able to help you there. This will be your list of Prime Prospects.

Is anybody on the list a fast food franchise owner?

Is anybody on the list in management or on-air in local radio?

Soft-drink distributor?

Move these people to the top of your list, and prepare to approach them first. These are the three "classic" sponsor prospects. You'll be asking them for three kinds of sponsorship:

-Corporate.
-Media.
-Vendor or Supporting.

Let's say you plan to advertise using Radio, Cable TV (NOT "Broadcast"--more on that later), and Flyer/Coupons to drive people to your point-of-purchase, which is hopefully your website.

Your Wendy's-Burger King-Taco Bell-Dunkin Donuts-McD's franchise owner would be a "Corporate" sponsor. (You want to get franchise owners--not just individual store owners--because they deal with more locations, and have bigger budgets.) Their name and logo will be in and on every ad, and on your home-page--perhaps with a "click-to-print" coupon. Assuming you are in a small to medium market, you will ask for a $1500-$2500 donation and flyer/coupon distribution in every store.

The Radio Station is your "Media" sponsor. Again, assuming a small to medium market, be prepared to spend anywhere from $1000-$3000 in paid advertising--with an equal amount of spots in return for the exclusive media sponsorship. The station's logo will also be on every ad, and your home-page. Ask them for a link to your site from the station's home-page. Ask if the nighttime DJ will do his show live from your haunt one night (or more) in October. Radio stations are always looking for prizes...include some giveaway tickets to your haunt in the package.

Ask your local soft-drink distributor for a $1000-$2000 donation (should be a lower amount than your "Corporate" sponsor). In return, they have exclusive vendor rights to sell refreshments at your haunt. Pepsi, SoBe, Mountain Dew...whatever your customers are drinking. They will also be placed in all advertising.

Now, if all of the above say "Yes"--and I'll help you with that in a minute--you've got between $2500 and $4500 in cash donations. You're spending $1000-$3000 of that on the radio, and getting twice the spots, plus promotional exposure, which is huge.

Continue going down the donor list of business owners, asking for Supporting donations of $150-$750 each. At the very least, ask if they will distribute your flyer/coupons in-store. (Use discretion...a Christian Bookstore may not want your blood-dripping horned-fiend logo on their counter.) What you're doing with these donors is raise another $2500 for your Cable TV advertising. PLEASE NOTE: Do NOT stop at $2500 if you're on a roll.

I know for a fact that you can get a boatload of Cable spots for $2500 in a small-medium market. Go for as much placement on SciFi, the CW, ESPN, Comedy Central, and Cartoon Network (nights) as you can. It's pretty standard practice for them to "throw in" an enormous amount of "no-charge" spots, which they need for filler on other networks for unsold breaks.

Why Cable? You can't afford Broadcast TV. Your budget would be gone in one spot. BUT...make sure you invite the coolest reporters or "wacky weathermen" on all the Broadcast channels to come to your haunt. Maybe even "challenge" them to go through it...and survive. If even one of them says yes, they're GIVING you prime exposure for FREE.

Here's how to make them say "Yes":

Again, homework. Don't just walk into Burger King and ask to see the manager. Find out who the local franchise-owner is, and how to contact them. Get the same information for the Radio Station General Manager, Sales Manager, and Promotions Director, as well as the Soft-Drink Distributor.

Create a simple, clean, professional one-sheet for each level of sponsorship.

Call and ask if they will meet with you for 20 minutes sometime this week. (If not this week, nail down the soonest possible appointment.) Tell the potential sponsor that you are organizing a professional haunted attraction to raise money for the charity, and you'd like their business to be involved. Do not discuss money on the phone. Just get the appointment.

When you get a meeting, don't waste time. If possible, bring someone with you, perhaps from the charity. Tell the potential sponsor that you're doing this to raise money for the charity, and have had great success for ____ years. This year's goal is $______. Every year, _____ of patrons go through our haunt, increasing by _____% every year. Here is where you tell them that you rely solely on sponsor donations to advertise and promote the event. Now pull out your one-sheet and ask for the donation.

And what if they say "No"? Some will. Thank them for their time, and make an appointment with their direct competitors.

Other good prospects are GameStop/Circuit City type stores, Blockbuster, and Laser Tag arenas. You probably won't get cash, but they're great for flyer/coupon distribution.

Here are some "DON'Ts":

DON'T go to the meeting in costume. Go in well-prepared, and present yourself professionally. You represent a business.

DON'T let the radio station produce your paid commercial. Hire an agency, or an industry professional (I can help you with that at www.VoiceFromHell.com). They can produce promos for ticket giveaways, or promos for the DJ appearing at your haunt...but DO NOT let them produce your paid commercial. Among the reasons why is that you don't want the same guy on your commercial on the furniture store, used-car dealer, and nightclub spots that will be surrounding it. And because radio stations are notoriously cheap, it probably IS just one guy doing all the work. Same goes for your Cable TV commercial production...talk to me.

DO NOT approach newspapers, TV Stations (with the possible exception of local Fox or CW affilliates), banks, or sit-down restaurants for Corporate or Media Sponsorship. They won't do it. I'd be delighted if you could prove me wrong, but you won't.

And again, DO NOT ask for or discuss money on the phone. You've got to do it in person.

So...that gives you plenty to chew on. And here's another important thing: GET STARTED NOW. In addition to the fact that businesses typically have more time to talk with you before spring really kicks in, there's this pesky Presidential Election coming up that will suck up all the available airtime the candidates can afford. Get the money, place the media buys...NOW.

If I can be of further assistance, you have only...to Ask The Dark Lord.

DarkLord@VoiceFromHell.com

Empressnightshade
02-20-2008, 12:47 PM
That's some good info and it was....FREE! Thanks!

As in my case, we are the nonprofit -- no affiliates. So, there isn't a list of companies we can go to. BUT, we are part of the Chamber of Commerce. Should we use the commerce memberlist as our list of companies?

Empressnightshade
02-20-2008, 01:03 PM
Here's another question:

What is the most inexpensive way to get your website on the first page of a seach engine?

Jim Warfield
02-21-2008, 08:51 AM
Learn to hide from Search Engines , repeat after me, "I am NOT Sarah Connor! I am Not Sarah Connor!"
Followed by:"I am NOT Home, this voice is mechainically reproduced!"
Then practise ending this announcement by lowering your voice a few octaves and talking real slow like your battery is under-charged, then resist the temptation, say nothing, hold your breath, hope and pray it goes away.

Greg Chrise
02-21-2008, 03:28 PM
You can be on page number one if you have something contributed to the general public that is indeed looked at every day or hundreds of times a day.

To do this, you need a blog, a very active myspace page the is not about the haunt but relates to it. Such as your activities should be in the bigger world of children with special needs rather than haunted houses that only hit in search 1.5 months out of the year.

In my own relm a charity operation organized by volunteer fire fighters. In the search world, there are 300,000 fire departments each with so many members on line looking at fire related things from incident reports to how to raise funds for equipment. One of those ways is a seasonal haunted house. It is secondary to the way we think here but, the way of search. In comparison there are 3,000 haunted houses. Which would have the most bandwidth devoted to products that actually are being bought by the general public?

You literally go to blogs and sites realated to your cause and post comments there with a link to your site. Even though those individuals will never come to your event, they made you rank high in an organic fashon.

If you use bots to artificially boost your number of hits, your entire site will likely get hit back to page 20 forever. If you pay for a sponsored link, a very low return on investment will be realized even if you specify a geo targeted area. You might as well just drive around town handing out $2 bills.

And so your angle is not only to raise funds for special needs children but to find every possible avenue to help others to rais funds for special needs children and thus you become a star When search time for a haunt occurs.

You can't find MY haunt if you wanted to because it does not have a website specific to it and the locals (120,000 of them) Know the location has had one since 1983 and it is a network of fire fighters, their families, their associates and the fire departments website which devotes a very small and limited space to the fact that they have two fund raisers a year, one of them being the haunted house.

Yet because they have regular news about the latest funding, the new fire truck, the numer of accidents, fires and medical emergencies they attended, they have an established following to their website. They have one guy who maintains that site continuously daily and the rest is magic.

Other wise you just have the cash flow of one of the top 13 haunted houses to become a routinely household name and saved website in a large poplation area.

A decent blog discussing the needs of special children with a little sponsorship and some google advertising could make lots of money per month, I would guess somewhere between $3,000 to $30,000 per month over time. That would make some extra money for the haunt and the cause right? Then you realize that if you are legitimately a charity, there is more money to be made in around your specific cause or charity and the haunted house is a lost leader, just a tool to a means rather than the flag ship of some campaign. Or what's that quote? signature attraction?

Instead of selling merchandise with your hauntlogo, you sell merchandise very reasonably around you special needs cause. Not neccessarily T-shirts, more like books from an affiliate program that exists on Amazon Dot Com. I believe you numbers wold b something like 1 in every 150 children are effected with autism but only 1 in 150 want to pay money to see a haunted house. Okay, that's a little vague. 1000 people locally or 2,000 or even 8000 versus 1 in 150 of a global population of 6.6 billion or actually less as somehow these numbers are not as prevolent in Asian populations.

Search engines are a global market, haunted houses are a local or tri state regional market.

I know a lot more but, this is all I'm saying.

Greg Chrise
02-21-2008, 03:46 PM
And if I had a charity I truely believed in, I would be calling up high rollers to come purchase tickets for $10,000 each like they do on celebrity apprentice. Or finding celebities with little black books to do this for me.

Dark Lord
02-22-2008, 02:06 PM
That's some good info and it was....FREE! Thanks!

As in my case, we are the nonprofit -- no affiliates. So, there isn't a list of companies we can go to. BUT, we are part of the Chamber of Commerce. Should we use the commerce memberlist as our list of companies?
Empress...

Take the same approach as detailed in my reply to Crazy Bob and approach supporters of autism research in the Sacramento area. Is the Chamber of Torture--sorry, "Commerce," involved in putting on you haunt? If not, MAKE THEM. How could they, as a group of local businesses, pass up an opportunity to have their name all over this?? The Chamber could be a Corporate or Presenting sponsor.

Pull those strings, girl.

Dark Lord
02-22-2008, 02:19 PM
Here's another question:

What is the most inexpensive way to get your website on the first page of a seach engine?
There are so many answers to this question, and some of them depend on your definition of "inexpensive."

You're charging $13 a head, and you're not-for-profit. Expensive could be $100 or $1000--depending on the results. But...let's see if we can do it on the cheap.

First and foremost, you have to have RELEVANT CONTENT. Good content means more visitors, other sites will link to you, more links boost your search engine rating. Get linked to HauntFinder.com (right here at HauntWorld), and the International Association of Haunted Attractions (www.IAHAweb.com).

Make sure you do banner exchanges with your sponsors.

Get a media sponsor.

Also...every bit of advertising that you do MUST GUIDE THE CUSTOMER TO YOUR POINT-OF-PURCHASE, which should be your website.

Your webhost and/or designer should be able to beef up your metatags, but that could result in artificial inflation of your hits. Ultimately, its about the quality and intent of visitors to your site. You'll get hits from "tourists," and you'll never sell them a ticket. What you have to do is make your site totally involving and absolutely irresistible to those most likely to buy tickets.

If I may of further assistance, you have only to...Ask The Dark Lord.

DarkLord@VoiceFromHell.com
www.VoiceFromHell.com

Empressnightshade
02-22-2008, 07:43 PM
There are so many answers to this question, and some of them depend on your definition of "inexpensive."

You're charging $13 a head, and you're not-for-profit. Expensive could be $100 or $1000--depending on the results. But...let's see if we can do it on the cheap.

First and foremost, you have to have RELEVANT CONTENT. Good content means more visitors, other sites will link to you, more links boost your search engine rating. Get linked to HauntFinder.com (right here at HauntWorld), and the International Association of Haunted Attractions (www.IAHAweb.com).

Make sure you do banner exchanges with your sponsors.

Get a media sponsor.

Also...every bit of advertising that you do MUST GUIDE THE CUSTOMER TO YOUR POINT-OF-PURCHASE, which should be your website.

Your webhost and/or designer should be able to beef up your metatags, but that could result in artificial inflation of your hits. Ultimately, its about the quality and intent of visitors to your site. You'll get hits from "tourists," and you'll never sell them a ticket. What you have to do is make your site totally involving and absolutely irresistible to those most likely to buy tickets.

If I may of further assistance, you have only to...Ask The Dark Lord.

DarkLord@VoiceFromHell.com
www.VoiceFromHell.com
Okay, so what I've learned from this is that I need to add my link to every site I possibly can. That's something I have been doing over the past several days. I figured that was the most inexpensive way for us to go. Thanks!

Empressnightshade
02-22-2008, 07:48 PM
Greg,

what you wrote was quite helpful. I had no idea blogging was so popular. I will begin blogging on the morrow. :)

christian14
02-26-2008, 04:14 PM
hey Dark Lord im christian and my friend Jordan24 told me about you. i am new to this forum so i am loking for tips and how too's so how ever you could help me would be greatly apreaciated. Me and jordan24 plan on opening a haunted house in 2009 and i thought i should make an account, talk to some of the pro's and get some tips. i am very excited about our haunted house and i am very eager to get the hole process started.


i hope to hear from you soon


christian14