I have been to quite a few non exceptional haunts and still considered it loads of fun. But I'm weird and travel to jobs as regular routine 30 miles or 50 miles just to get to a few week long project. To listen to younger people they are pretty much illiterate about distance and something 30 miles away is just minutes away. Yeah like 60 minutes with all the traffic lights and speed trapps and school zones, maybe 45 minutes if you in some kind of flow.
The key seems to be exceptional advertising. One of my haunts is 80 miles from this town and they can't seem to get anyone from my town with a news paper ad and a web site that is one page and has Halloween gifs on it. They do alright with attendence as it is so really haven't tried. Or in reality the amount they would need to spend would be astranomical and it might bring 300 or 500 total people. I think I advised not to spend the money or to worry about that town when higher population towns are coming from even father away.
There is some kind of culture thing where people like the opportunity to leave the big city and the hussle and bustle and go out into the country but the medium sized towns tend to hunker down and not want to go anywhere. Nothing to excape from as it is already somewhat relaxed and has the theaters and things to do if you really insisted on having some entertainment.
Infact the rural 80 mile away group come to this town if they want to have dinner and a movie. These trips might be once a month or once every other weekend. There is nothing between here and there and it is more comforatable here than heading into big city traffic, parking problems and chaos.
There seems to be an old school and a new school way of promoting and it looks to me like the new school way is sort of winning larger numbers of customers. The older haunts might not be tremendously detailed but have a certain character that is still cool. The marketing plan is not to show everything inside the place as it might not equate to jumping up and wanting see more. The new school way is compiling years of pictures of here is a visual sample of what this place is about. Here is the type of things that are here and you are looking at 10 feet of something that is 100 times that much more of things like this, props, well developed actor costumes and so on.
It seems paying either extreme, you can't see anything until you buy a ticket or here is what ever one is talking about and here are pictures of actual people inside the place, are both successful to a degree. A lame haunt starting out has to go old school and may work toward being new school. The difference in both spectacle and attendance might be as dramatic as seeing 6,000 people to seeing 60,000 people.
In the beginning you will have to do some stunty things like have bands on site from Mineapolis St Paul or popular DJs that are national appeal and pay them $1000 or $2000 to show up and this might seem pointless because only 50 people made the trip to see them and 20 of the people seem to be only their own groupies but, The word of mouth from this spreads tremendously on social networks to an organic and entusiastic level that really can't be purchased by hiring overweigh ad guys who have no personality and every time you see them they are eating something doing brainstorming on a couch.
Even a brand new venue can have things that sound like there is a lot happening and the new vibe is more like what a music festival has. Face painters, car shows, bands of different styles. There are ways to have vendors there and you just have them and not necessarily make money from the add ons, they get free tickets and pay no space rent just to make the party really happen. Some bads will show just to have people to play for. Not many or they will be intrested in selling their merchandise and having a crowd and only ask for expenses to move all their stuff there. Several years down the line you can ask for minimal fees to cover electricity and hook ups but in the beginning you don't want any vendor to have a burden or scratch you off their list because they had to pay money and just made that back and worked days and days to do it. If it was free to show up and they made $20 they can't say anything bad. Where esle were they going to be in October.
So there I just added another 3 types of groups that might have 1500 followers and fans, even some french fry trailer guy has been doing the social marketing thing for years and has 600 followers and some percentage will come. You can make $40 off such a dude or turn him into a diciple for how much fun a halloween event is for years and years.
The end result I have heard from gatherings that were destined to fail were things like, they just charged me $10 to stand in their yard. I can stand anywhere for free. What kind of shister crap is that. Or I just spent $40 in gas and $20 to get in for and that's it? You can avoid this buy at least providing an environment. Well it looked like everyone was having lots of fun and there were lots of people there, maybe it just isn't my scene, they still got my $15. Looks like they earned it, it's me it isn't them.
Not just think about bill boards and upgraded web sites, do it. Produce trailers for your event. There are tons of people that will do exciting things just to be part of it and try their hand at completing things or adding a line to their resume of what they have done. And every pre advertisement or contact for every aspect of these things that are outside of the haunt itself are in themselves a personal invite to the event. Even if you get a no, you will have that person wonder about it to 5 other people if they should do it or not.
It's an all year campaigne and although we see things on this forum, you aren't promoting to other haunters, maybe in a FYI kind of thing of what you are doing out in the real world but you have to contact the real world in addition to all the other haunters.
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