Fall is in full swing, which means a lot more than pumpkin spice-flavored drinks and chilly weather — it also means Halloween, haunted houses, ghosts, and ghouls. And if you’re in a city like Atlanta, Denver, or Philadelphia, then you’re probably familiar with haunted houses like Netherworld, 13th Floor, and the Bates Motel — three of the top five rated haunted houses in the country.
As marketers, we can appreciate the difficulties that accompany marketing a haunted house. After all, October is only one month of the year, which leaves eleven months where haunted houses are faced with lackluster profits. And yet — haunted houses are seeing more and more business every year, in part due to increased PR, year-round grassroots marketing efforts, and a dedicated following of brand evangelists.
Let’s take a look at how some of the country’s most successful haunted houses run their marketing, and see what we can take away as B2B marketers.
Find a Way to Stand Out
When it comes to haunted houses, there’s a lot of competition — which means it’s imperative that each haunted house have something that sets it apart from the rest. For some haunted houses, like the 13th gate, it’s the level of set construction. For others, it’s custom monsters or aged props. Whatever it is, it should be unique enough that it attracts visitors to one haunted house over another.
Brands should strive to imitate this principle in their marketing by developing a unique positioning statement, something that sets them apart from their competitors in one way or another. This can be specific to their product (perhaps it addresses needs that competitors’ products do not) or more of a cultural advantage (maybe your company’s culture is fun and exciting, while your competitors are stiff and corporate). Just identify one thing that makes you unique, and develop your marketing message around it.
Keep It Fresh
Every year, Atlanta’s Netherworld re-themes their attractions to give their visitors a fresh experience, making sure that any repeat visitors have something new to look forward to when they return the following year. This means redesigning the costumes, creatures, sets — as well as updating advertisements, billboards, and more — to create an entirely new, unique Netherworld experience for their guests and for the press.
“Keeping it fresh” is a great takeaway for marketers, too. Buyers and consumers are always looking for the latest and greatest content, and if your marketing campaigns aren’t offering it, they’ll turn to your competitors instead. Keep your audience engaged by supplying them with fresh content on a regular basis, and make a conscious effort to prevent your marketing from getting stale.
Because haunted houses are so seasonal, there’s a lot of work that goes into the rest of the year to ensure that the event will be profitable. Grassroots marketing campaigns take the haunted house actors and actresses (in costume) to local events like field days, movie premiers, and more so that they can continue to build relationships year-round. Not only do they focus on relationships with their existing networks, but they also actively reach out to potential new visitors, businesses, and promoters to make sure their haunted house is successful when October finally rolls around.
This proactive approach to relationship-building is something that B2B marketers should be practicing as well. With so much competition in the marketplace, buyers won’t waste time on companies that they don’t see themselves meshing with, which means that it’s your responsibility to build and nurture these relationships over time. And while this may sound like a lot of work, it will be worth it when you have a devoted group of followers behind you every step of the way.
What other parallels do you see between haunted houses and marketing? Let us know in the comments!