I think we are going off topic. The thread is about cheap advertising for a Haunt. Please stay on topic. Thanks
Put another way, marketing isn't a form of advertising, but advertising is a form of marketing.
Also, most all of the stuff Jim just listed is free, or at least dirt cheap.
Think about the response he got with his car. People didn't just notice and say, "oh, that looks nifty". They actually followed him back to his show. It was that engaging. That kind of thing is pure marketing gold.
Also, the poem contests at local taverns? That has more stickiness and staying power than all the radio and tv spots that you could imagine, and doesn't cost a dime!
I think we are going off topic. The thread is about cheap advertising for a Haunt. Please stay on topic. Thanks
When people ask about "cheap advertising", whether they know it or not, they are really asking about cost effective marketing. Cheap advertising is merely a function of how to get the lowest rate on radio, TV, and print ads. There is definitely merit in that conversation, but the greater concept is cost-effective marketing (of which cheap advertising is just one part), and, besides, you shouldn't pay a single dime on advertising until you have the other key aspects of marketing in place, and until you know for drop-dead certain what your key message is.
If your message is simply that "We have a Haunt! Woohoo!! Here's the address", then that might get some traction; but if that Haunt happens to be a Slaughterhouse type haunt with blood, guts, sinew, and ripped-out spines strewn all over the walls - and your ad runs in venues that cater to a family crowd - well, the last thing you want is to have families of little 'tweens and younger ones going thru a haunt with people getting violently ripped open, vivisected, mutilated, disemboweled, and otherwise tortured, with torrents and fountains of blood spewing everywhere. Not only would your ad spend be grossly misappropriated and squandered, but you also just bought yourself a whole ton of bad word-of-mouth.
Likewise, what if your ad plays in the more church-friendly venues, and your ad copy looks rather innocuous, and you have a bunch of church types show up only to find out that the name of your Haunt is "Satan's Lair", and you have tons of Satanic and anti-Christian imagery, with Satan triumphing over God, virginal Sunday school girls being defiled, and so on? Well, again, that can be a problem. As Wicked Farmer recently pointed out, moderate church groups of the non-evangelical and non-fundamentalist variety can be a goldmine as long as you don't include anything in your show that happens to be patently offensive to church types.
Then, of course, there's the classic example of a haunt doing fairly well using an orange-with-black-font-type billboard that lists the hours and location of the haunt, and then one season they get the idea of really making the billboard "pop" so as to compete with other haunts, so they include gory or grisly images, like a psycho clown chainsawing a coed, and suddenly they have a hard time getting corporate sponsors, or charities to partner with.
You have to know your brand inside and out, and know what your show is about, and who you are specifically appealing to, and you need to know that solid before you spend any money on advertising, cheap or not. All of that falls under the category of effective Marketing, and the more cost effective, the better.
Last edited by BrotherMysterio; 05-11-2012 at 02:39 PM.
Excellent point about keeping your theme prominent and consistent throughout your marketing; I have achieved great success in my massage clinic by using these statements "No FLUFF. This is not a day spa." People instinctively know we offer deep tissue and none of that aromatherapy stuff. A simple message brings in business.
As a haunt CUSTOMER, I will say the same holds true. Im 30, and I want extreme violence and depravity. Intense scares too. I've interviewed 15 high school kids and counting, and the common words were "intense, actually scary, not for little kids, no cheesy stuff." I would expect the college kids to be somewhere in the middle of that, and my own depraved mind. A simple flyer would be gold IF worded appropriately.
Im successful in business so id like to chime in on the university email list, since it is very cheap for so many PRIME candidates for haunt customers..
Its always smart to view things in the mind of customers. As a customer, I don't like email spam. But WHY? Because I have to delete it. The key here is im not mad, more like "wtf where'd THIS come from?" If it continues to happen, then I become frustrated. Its especially frustrated when its something I already know is out there... "Duh I know Viagra makes me hard and I can get it over the net for cheap!" It gets annoying. The same would happen if I constantly pushed out stuff about my clinic, which is why I don't do that.
HOWEVER, for a seasonal event in the ENTERTAINMENT industry, the rules change. Especially for a first year haunt. As a CUSTOMER, I wouldn't be offended or annoyed by an announcement of an upcoming, NEW event. Take an example I would never go to since a haunt I am biased toward... I get an email "RAINBOW PRIDE PARADE! Oct 30th, $8." Now, I could receive that email once a week for the month, and not get mad; everyday is another story.
So that's how I would feel as a customer about an event I don't care about. If it was something I DO care about, then id actually be appreciative to know there is another choice for haunts this year. Here's where Brother M's specificity advice comes in... personally id be ECSTATIC to get a spam email saying a "Brutal, Intense and 16+" haunt is opening this year.
As a business owner, i agree with the consensus that spam is bad, but only if overdone. This isn't something to do the entire year tho for sure because its not relevant the whole year, and it would get annoying. Bottom line, if done tastefully once a week for four weeks... its a gold mine with no negative pr.
I'm not adverse to a little bit of gray-hat every once in a while, but I would prefer to have a much more targeted ad send than, say, blanket-spamming the entire student body; and whatever was sent out would have to count as a seriously value-added email, say, with a coupon for either "a half-off ticket or free speed pass upgrade, plus a free t-shirt (which, naturally, has your marketing material printed on it) if you bring a copy of this email with you, plus first 50 patrons with college ID get a free combo meal from the concession stand" and so on. You could also present it as a press release type thing. There are possibilities, but just sending out spam-fodder isn't as productive as some might like to think. You're not doing yourself any favors just by sending out an email saying "hey, look, we have a haunt! Ain't that something!?!"
Also, there are tons of awesome opt-in opportunities as well, such as visiting the website and joining the "holiday event planners'" newsletter for free, or whatever, and getting a guide on "how to have the most awesome holiday (*cough*halloween*cough*) parties ever", and so on. Iow, you want to grease the skids with value whenever possible . . . especially value that you can freely supply.
For instance, one idea for as you get closer to the season, and your haunt is built out, is that you could sponsor, or at the very least host, a mixer for the college, or perhaps some of the fraternities or sororities. That sort of thing. Get the social trend-setters at the school interested. Things like that. (You provide the venue and some swag; they provide the food and beverage, etc.)
Not that I would take this approach, but if you were to follow the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act to the letter, and just do one or two mailings or whathaveyou, then you'd want to make that mass mailing count, and to that end you'd want to have opt-in options at your site, or have the email be a coupon of some sort. Iow, give it significant value, vs. being some random email that might get blocked by the spam filter and that even if they did want to keep it, would have to keep track of it, and remember where they stored it, and so on.
But then again, it sounds like the kind of haunt you would go for, and one you would produce, would be like the Slaughterhouse style I outlined above, and if that's the case, even in that I'm not sure a mass-mailing to the entire student body would produce favorable results. Only a very small demographic would go for that. And if there were links to the past events gallery on your website with all of the bits about "people getting violently ripped open, vivisected, mutilated, disemboweled, and otherwise tortured, with torrents and fountains of blood spewing everywhere" like I mentioned, then that could actually have a very negative backlash. All the more sensitive types would be greatly offended.
Of course, that negative kind of publicity could be what you are looking for if you want to play the shock card in a big way. Kinda like the line from P.T.Barnum, "Say whatever you will about me, but make sure you spell my name right!"
Btw, I have nothing against Slaughterhouses. I think they're great for those that enjoy that sort of thing. It's not my style, but if it works and you can sustain your business model with it, I say "go for it".
PS. - if the "any publicity is good publicity" ethos is your thing (and there's definitely nothing wrong with that), you could also write a scathing review or guest editorial of your haunt under a nom de plume, talking about the abhorrent moral turpitude of your event, promoting evil, bestiality, carnage, and violence, yadda yadda yadda, and then submitting said article or editorial to all the church campus outreach programs, and on-campus church youth centers, for their newsletters.
Hey, it worked for Ozzy and Iron Maiden (and Alice Cooper, and KISS, and Marilyn Manson, and . . . .). The PMRC's "explicit lyrics" warning label was the best thing that ever happened to Metal, right after Tony Iommi getting his finger tips chopped off, of course.
Not sure if this has been said before, but sometimes full-color printed materials can be cheap, even free in some cases.
Figure out what you're going to get printed first (tickets, flyers, posters, etc). There are places online like clubflyers.com, vistaprint.com, jakprints.com where you can get quotes on printing projects by entering the type of materials you want printed, colors and quantity. Once you know which company you're going to go with, figure out the total price including shipping. Let's say you order 5,000 flyers at a cost of $250 plus $50 shipping, then you go to one or more local businesses or even a current sponsor and offer them space on your printed materials for $325 (the actual price you offer it to them for will need to be fair according to your previous attendance as well as estimated attendance).
We had double-sided 4x6 postcards printed up and we offered the sponsor half of the back. They took us up on the offer and we got our postcards printed for nothing. If you get the right sponsor they may even help you distribute your flyers. All in all it was very successful for us and it didn't cost us anything to get our materials printed. You can do the same for tickets as well. Hope this helps some.
We offer printing for the haunt industry. Message us or email us about great pricing and fast turnaround.
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