Scaring Up An Audience

Halloween is a lucrative season. In 2013 the holiday generated around $7 billion in revenue. Most of this get split up between costumes, candy, and festivities, including haunted attractions. Haunted houses bring in over $300 million every year, and it’s no surprise that such a profitable market would invest in integrated marketing communication efforts.In order for haunted houses to stay competitive every year they have to push themselves to darker and scarier extremes, Blackout: Hell at the Armory is a prime example. “I personally found this to be one of Blackouts best shows…It is a relentless bombardment of images, notions, experiences, sounds, lights and sensations that is designed precisely to have a lasting effect on your psyche. Not a haunted house, but a haunting one (HorrorBuzz.com).” With a customer base that desensitizes themselves more every season, marketing efforts needs to be enticing without giving away the big scare.

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Haunted Houses represent a niche segment of consumer goods yet are successful in generating a respectable amount of hype for being such a  specialized product. Haunted houses must keep up with products that are relevant year round, even when their product only appeals for less than two months to audiences whom acknowledge the Pagan tradition. Experienced haunted house brands and experts who have thrived in the industry have confirmed strategies that work to showcase haunted houses, taking advantage of the entertainment, and community gathering aspect of the industry. We have compiled a list of those tips that stood out as most effective.

Tips for marketing a haunted house:

  1. Free stuff! People love free stuff and it is a fast way to grab the public’s attention because their is no risk involved. Stickers, buttons, t-shirts with the haunted house advertised on them are just a few ideas!
  2. Local advertising through as many mediums as possible, whether that be radio ads or local television promotions. This encourages the community to unite to support a local business rather than traveling hours to pay for one that has no ties to the community.
  3. Paper advertising can also be an effective way to promote your haunted house. Come up with a logo, a print ad or brochure to market yourself and hand it out everywhere you go. Become a walking advertisement for your haunted house.
  4. Save a tree and start a blog. Social media is an effective way to reach a large audience.Take charge of these opportunities! Make a youtube channel, a Twitter which constantly teases the attractions highlights, and facebook facebook facebook. Facebook in particular has proved especially useful for promoting haunted houses through creating event pages and inviting friends which leads to a domino effect of community hype.
  5. Attention to year round marketing! The attraction may be once a year but that doesn’t mean the marketing gets to go into hibernation along with the house itself. Make sure to keep your audience’s attention year round by asking for them to subscribe to emails or social media updates that  build anticipation for the upcoming haunted house. This can also be done by updating the website and social media with monthly clues for new themes or mini contests that reward participants with discounted entry!

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What are your Halloween plans? Feel free to check out the Museum of the Bizarre located in the heart of Downtown Wilmington. It is open all year round and offers a similar atmosphere to a Ripley’s Believe It or Not according to tripadvisor.com. Pick any spooky night in October to see the store transform into the Museum of Nightmares. Filled with special effects and actors, you will be sure to get your money’s worth for 20 dollars to visit this local attraction! Visit their Facebook page: Museum of Bizarre to find out more information!

By Aki Suzuki, Carrie Poniewaz, Carey Shetterley, Lexie Trimnal, June Wilkinson

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