View Full Version : Advertise? Cost per patron

07-26-2012, 07:02 PM
I understand $0.0 spent in advertising per patron would be perfect but of course we do not live in a perfect world. Does anyone have a range of cost per patron? $1.00, $2.00..... I am looking at almost $1.00 per patron, hopefully. Thanks!


07-26-2012, 09:04 PM
In the industry I've heard $3-$4 per person. So at least $60-$70k for 20,000 guests. No real formula that one theory I've heard.


07-26-2012, 09:30 PM
I understand $0.0 spent in advertising per patron would be perfect but of course we do not live in a perfect world. Does anyone have a range of cost per patron? $1.00, $2.00..... I am looking at almost $1.00 per patron, hopefully. Thanks!


$0.00 per person is actually pretty reasonable if you consider facebook and other social media marketing, and doing flyers and whatnot, not to mention other innovative methods of viral marketing and word-of-mouth. The cost is either free or nominal . . . too little to chart on a person by person basis. For instance, what if it costs $1.00 to get one person, but then that one person tweets 40 of their friends, 20 of who actually show up the following week? In round numbers, how would you reckon that cost? $0.05 a person?

What if you capture email thru an opt-in, or they friend one of your icon characters on FB or follow them on Twitter, and get updates and tweets thru-out the year? What if you offer a free hot dog and drink combo for every person who emails 10 of their friends and invites them to your haunt? For $0.25 worth of concessions (your actual cost), you have one guaranteed show (coming additionally for the free combo) and reached 10 more. That's like $0.025 per word-of-mouth impression and invite. While we're on the subject of tweeting 10+ friends at a time, what about group rates? 5 or more friends? 10 or more friends?

What about hosting a zombie walk for charity? All the materials needed can be donated, including a banner that can be donated the first year and then used each following year. All the people who would participate in a zombie walk would probably also attend your haunt, and if it happens in the spring or fall, that's plenty of time for people to get the word out and attend, and learn about your awesome haunt. Again, pennies per person, if that.

On the other hand, based on the cost of a billboard, or a radio or tv ad, you could spend big bucks in advertising, calculated at $4 a person (accounting for projected population, estimated reached, likely return on that advertising in terms of people showing up, and so on), only to actually have no one show up.

Whenever you see all these numbers thrown around about $2 per person or $3 per person in advertising or $4, and so on, that's usually traditional methods of advertising which do not represent the same return on investment that they used to.

Also, I wouldn't dream of touching any of the traditional marketing methods unless you are 100% solid on your marketing message, and what it is you offer, and the best way to sell it, your brand, likely audience or customer base, and so on. If you pay big bucks just to say "oh, look, we have a haunt! woo-hoo!", then you may not see that big a return on your investment. Of course, in your case, you are more remote, and for your immediately surrounding population centers, it may be enough just to get your name out. But if you are looking for people in DFW to think of you as a destination haunt, that would probably require more work, methinks.

What specifically was your goal? To solidify a position as the local haunt of choice, or to pull from population centers farther away as a destination haunt?


Greg Chrise
07-26-2012, 10:42 PM
Oh I know! I know!

07-26-2012, 11:00 PM
We are at .46 cents per person last year.

07-27-2012, 12:00 AM
We are at .46 cents per person last year.

Really? Do tell!


07-27-2012, 10:24 AM
In the industry I've heard $3-$4 per person. So at least $60-$70k for 20,000 guests. No real formula that one theory I've heard.

Maybe a little bit stong but very close to actual spend per person..

07-27-2012, 11:46 AM
In my state they have this organization called the Guild. It is a haunted house owner/owners and he has a advertising package. The package includes ads in the paper and a magazine called westword thats pretty popular in the state. also he gets my coupons in the wendys in my state and I do believe the game stops out here also. He also puts ads on those advertising boards that are in the bathrooms of local bars,restaurants and clubs[ I think on fifty of them I could be wrong]. He also gets your ad on two bust stops that are close to your haunt. He also has a web site called scared.com that has maps to show exactly were your haunt is and story plus a direct link to your site. The package costs 8k and the guys who I bought the haunt from said it really helped there numbers out. I am not sure if it really did. I will use them for this season and have some one at the exit of the haunt to ask them were they heard about the haunt just to make sure the money was well spent. I also plan on handing out flyers out at the local schools by my haunt[ I got lucky there is three high schools, three middle schools and a collage that is two blocks from my haunt]. There is also a huge theater that is not even a five minute drive to my haunt. All those places will get flyered to death[the theater every weekend from sept. till closing weekend]. All this I have figured will cost around 10k.

Greg Chrise
07-27-2012, 12:01 PM
The formula is dependent on how many people you want to see. If the population is 80,000 people, you should spend $8,000 and probably will see 7500 people. If you have a population of 240,000 you might spend $25,000 and that could lead to seeing 24,000 to 60,000 people if you have enough haunts to service that many.

So the other match is how many people can you actually handle at your facility. If $5,000 is a lot for the number of haunts you have and the parking situation, spend $5,000 and expect to see 4800 people. Want to increase wht seems to be achievable easily of a 30% increase, throw in $30% more money.

Spending a blantant $25,000 might be the formula for a place that is popping into a town and might not be a permanent location, making sure you get close to seeing 8,000 per year with not planning a second year even in that town. Permanent locations just have to experiment with more the issue of what media actually works in that area to be efficient.

Maybe 3 radio stations at $1000 each, fliers posters vehicle wraps $1000 after that it is hard to determine what is being spent effeciently. Yet advertising spending might include costs of kiosks promoting your haunt at local seasonal halloween stores and malls or even some walmart entry ways. It may include a billboard or two and advertising in the local theaters in the preview real if they still have that service running in your area.

Then it is every free listing known to man which all combined might bring in 10% of the patrons.

It's not a formula with a given answer, it is a flowchart of you have done what really works. For a couple years experimented with what gets to people in your area or proven that it doesn't. So much can be done if you have video trailers of your characters or story lines and characters at your event and get away from just the matter of fact thing on a piece of paper that we are open on such and such hours.

Once you get over $1 a customer in spending I think you are just not working all the free word of mouth and spending foolishly. It seems to be some kind of power trip to say you spent $50,000 or $150,000 and went out and whined and dined each individual and their families that have anything to do with some media, you know their kids names and send birthday presents and christmas cards. To me that sounds more like the blowhard uncle that won't go away than someone you are now obligated to put 100 hours into making their event successful.

The old $25,000 minimum numbers might have worked 10 years ago when TV channels were not as fractured, there were 3 per town and not 400 channels. You could spend $2,000 at a TV station and it would only result in 400 people showing up. So that is $5 a customer and does not meet the model of we want to spend $1 per customer so you don't do it. Oh, it all balances out to 2 to 3 dollars per customer in the end. NO! you are blowing another dollar to two on each customer inefficiently and being a blow hard.

Set a price and budget relative to the customer number you want and what the population really is. Oh if I spend another $50,000 5 people might drive in from 200 miles away. Go ahead and spend $10,000 per customer.

Bottom line is the best way to spend money is on the haunt and the experience itself and not rely on other magical services that are going to make everything happen. The media is a service, it is not the be all to end all thing that means you made it. Each possible thing you can do with any media might represent no more than 2% to 10% attraction of the customers you need. So you need 10 to 50 different types of media approaches working for you. Unfortunately it takes some amoung of time to wrangle 40 to 50 contacts arrangements or you can just up and pay someone's salary for doing it for you at $100 per hour.

Sometimes you get a free TV segment mention and $1000 in flyers or posters and see 1000 to 5,000 people depending on how bad your town needed additional entertainment or community events. If your town is aggressively making park recreation you have to work, they are your competition and have the tax payers money to do this. At that level you may have spent only 20 cents per customer. On the other end of the scale if you spent as much as $3 per customer it comes in to play of did you make a profit or just give away 15% or 30% of your money that proved to be a waste.

All these media people are going to tell you that you are great. Or your business will grow if you do this. Maybe you don't want it to grow. Maybe you only want a managable amount of wear and tear on your facilities, maybe you don't want to up the percentage of people dieing on the highway trying to get to your event.

Maybe your facilities can't or shouldn't ever be expected to handle 20,000 people. So you shouldn't spend the money like that is your goal. I'm into every customer that did bother to show up is wildly satisfied and that is where the money goes. Then you don't need any media beyond 75 cents to $1 per customer. And eventually you will intentionally limit how may people you invite to your facilities. As opposed to how effective some form of media, how much it costs, is was the limitation is.

Sue, for your event, Ryan at Terrornights is a GOD when it comes to realistic advertising suggestions and he is at or below $1 per customer. He basically has had 7 or 8 years of going from an advertising career to being a haunt owner full time. He has figured out over that time what has changed from year to year in strategy and understands what to spend it on when it is your own money. What ever he has said you should listen to. I know he is all dumpy looking and shit but he is the only one for 2,000 miles that actually gets it because he has done it. It is so easy to overlook people in the immediate vicinity as "what the hell do they know". Even the local boys never listened to me until I spent most of the time talking to them at a national convention. The whole situation was just stupid and I have supported them any way I can. Together we have been able to regularly predict exactly how many people this area will see from year to year, know the flatline level it will be at and at that point it is time to begin to be frugal with money and actually eat. It will bounce give or take 800 to 1000 patrons per year and be limited by who actually cares and how much parking can be achieved. It wouldn't matter if there were 10 haunts there or not. Another one might make people funnel out a bit more or per customer increase ticket income, which is on the other corner of the flowchart spectrum.

Every event I have done has come down to parking facilities being the limitation. If you can only park 20 cars and people are there for so many hours or minutes, how many can you fit in there and entertain. So there is yet another leg of the flow chart, once you have too many people coming you actually have people drive past not wanting to pull thier car in line ups. So at that point you are wasting money per customer. There is nothing wrong with hovering between 5,000 and 10,000 customers and turning a serious profit. Sometimes giving 110% means that long term you are creating a debt you will never shake. In my mind, it is better to make a million over many years and be able to keep it than to make it all at once and have some 2 million dollar concequence take it all way.

So yes, $1 per customer is the modern number. What you saw last year plus 30% is maximum spending and even that needs to be scrutinized as to how effective that spending actually is.

07-27-2012, 01:22 PM
[QUOTE=Greg Chrise;138598]The formula is dependent on how many people you want to see. If the population is 80,000 people, you should spend $8,000 and probably will see 7500 people. If you have a population of 240,000 you might spend $25,000 and that could lead to seeing 24,000 to 60,000 people if you have enough haunts to service that many.

So the other match is how many people can you actually handle at your facility. If $5,000 is a lot for the number of haunts you have and the parking situation, spend $5,000 and expect to see 4800 people. Want to increase wht seems to be achievable easily of a 30% increase, throw in $30% more money.

Spending a blantant $25,000 might be the formula for a place that is popping into a town and might not be a permanent location, making sure you get close to seeing 8,000 per year with not planning a second year even in that town. Permanent locations just have to experiment with more the issue of what media actually works in that area to be efficient."

I don't know about this. I've seen some honest figures and there aren't even that many established haunts that see 24000 people, I believe getting 24k guests will put you in the extreme upper tier of haunts for TRUE NUMBERS not the pissing contest fake numbers. I would be shocked to hear of a haunt that spent only $8k and saw 7500 customers. Maybe a haunt that's been around 20 years but even those guys dominate the market in advertising. HHN spends hundreds of thousands if not more and they are HUGE!


Greg Chrise
07-27-2012, 03:18 PM
I'm not going to even consider what Six Flags or Universal studios is doing. In Texas there are quite a few haunts doing 10,000 to 30,000 and some 60,000 all within about 130 miles of me. They are all freinds and I have had these conversations because I have helped everyone as I could with no compensation. So I kind of know.

Yes, some of these places have been around for 20 years but they had a regular successful progression and I have been talking to everyone regularly for that same 20 years. So your point is only that you don't know.......That's why I'm telling.

Yes, there are ones spending $150,000 and $250,000 on advertising. So what. And yes, you can with lots of diligents see 8,000 people on $3000 or you can suck and see 2800 on $500 on fliers at the BBQ stand. Or you can have 5 loactions and see in total about 80,000 customers at $20 a pop but it all started somewhere.

The reason you can see 4,000 or 7500 people right out of the box is because the ones that have been around for 20 years carved out a market. They no longer have to spend the kind of money they do and in many cases the ways they used to advertise no longer is viable so they all flatlined in attendance. I'm only stating facts for this area.

I also happen to be one of the people that spent everything they could spare to establish the local market for decades so I have a stake in who continues and making sure SOMEBODY actually succeeds from what has been done in the past. Not knowing doesn't cut it.

It really makes no sense at all, I build people up to $200,000 per year plus and all I get is a black T-shirt that doesn't cut it out in the Texas heat and sun but, at least I know.

Greg Chrise
07-27-2012, 04:15 PM
A market area only has so much in the number of customers and the amount of money that can come your way. Someone that sells media is going to obviously tell you what it could be from some general formula rather than they did it personally. You are being sold as opposed to informed.

Sure a media guy wants you to see more and more people because they make more money reguardless if you can handle the numbers of people or can afford the wasted percentage of marketing money that has been spent.

You have to know your limitations. What money you bring in in ticket sales is all you have no matter how much of a dream you have. Sure 50 years from now you could be Halloween Horror Nights and spend millions on advertising someday if you start right now. Hurry up! Do something! Like that is some kind of achievement. Theme parks that also happen to have a halloween season event are not by any means the measure of the typical haunt. If there is some consultant rattling of numbers of how such a thing does operate, it is to somehow impress you that he knows something you don't and then somehow he must know how to make a start up attraction work too! Then it fails every time. EVERY TIME!

And these consultants suggestions were to spend some dollar figure. This dollar figure equates to you seeing enough customers to pay the consulting fee. If you didn't make those fees you still owe him his fee, you just didn't do what he told you. The median haunts are seeing 4,000 to 7500. The survey for that was developed right here. And that is what we are talking about in this area. Many are hovering around 10,000 but that wasn't their first year, maybe 3rd or 4th year with 25 to 30% increase per year. If there is no increase organically per year, you suck or have maxed out the market that exists and there is nothing you can do about it. It doesn't matter how much you spend, how many people you hire to do things, in what way you do things or in how wonderful you present things. Markets have limitations. Facilities have limitations. The only way you can actually know is not to just be a researcher reading into information that no one thinks is any of your business. You have to do it. Then you know.

07-27-2012, 11:46 PM
Honestly it should be around $3.00 per person maybe more maybe a little less. But in that area... Larry

07-28-2012, 12:50 AM
I say it again, Greg is the man. He gets it right a lot of the time, even if what he says is not what you want to hear. (once you figure out what the hell he just said).

For my part, starting in a market without ant current haunts, it ran about $1.75 per customer the first year.

07-28-2012, 01:10 AM
I'm tired, so bare with me.

Since we're on the subject, and I've been a little worried, let me post some info and get some chimes from the knowledge guys.

My town: 26,000 people. Small branch from ASU University. Lots of kids and rednecks. NOTHING to do. have to drive out of town to do something. No put put, no go karts, barely have a theatre.

Next town: 70,000 people. ASU University, lots of kids, go karts that I THINK is shut down, 1 put put place, 1 nice theatre. No paintball or anything like that. There's a smaller haunt there that if I had to guess constantly pulls thousands and all they do is radio and a billboard or two. I consider it an Ok haunt, but last few years have been bland. Hoping they get it going great again soon tho.

Money I've spent / planning to spend:
$1,500 hearse wrap and extra signage
$ 500 to The Merchandiser, goes tri state area to many different towns, such as Kennett Missouri or the general Bootheel of MO, Jonesboro (70,000), My town (Paragould, 26,000) etc 1/4 page, full color!
$ 500 Radio to 2 stations
$ 400 Flyers in all surrounding towns in every store I can tape them up in
$ FREE* 6 On-Sites like at Murphys gas stations handing out flyers and pumping folks gas for them, giving water out etc
$ FREE* Corner Standing at 10 different locations on 4 seperate days
$ FREE* Street Cruising with monsters hanging out the windows yelling at folks as we all cruise town in the hearse
$ FREE* Donating time at charity events to help set things up to get our name on the Thank you list at the event

Now, It's my estimation, rough one anyways, that we'll need 2,400 to pay rent and be ok till next year. Do you guys think we got this? The only other "big" haunt is in a much more remote location with MUCH smaller towns and they're easily hitting 25,000 for the season. However, they did have a big jump with doing a pumpkin patch prior to the haunts, they're 3 element. The other haunts, I hope I'm right in saying, won't be the caliber of us even in our first year. We got detail rooms, lots of heart and attention put into it, lots of public appearances etc., we got well thought out scares, phobias, we'll have concessions and line entertainment. Heck, even when we go to walmart, out to eat, it doesn't matter, once they hear us mention "Haunt" or "Hearse" ... people pop up and say something, letting us know they've seen it and know about it and tell us they can't wait till season so they can come out.

Anyways, just hoping for some response to let me know if we need to do more or w/e.

To the OP, I've always been told between $2-3 per person. Larry's about on the head of the nail I guess. It really depends on everything though. I mean, $700 in flyers ain't crap if they get given to all the people who don't give 2 cents for it and throw it away. Or $700 in radio on a country station probably isn't going to do prime results either.


07-28-2012, 09:35 AM
Here is the deal marketing is really tough... if you live in a town like New York City or LA or lets say Chicago you will spend a lot more money to make a dent than if you are located in Springfield Missouri or even lets say Tulsa Oklahoma. You also might be charging more to get into your haunts like some haunts in Philly area might be getting 30 bucks, but they might also be spending $4 or $5 per person on marketing.

Now you say you are in a very small town... yes marketing is going to be cheaper overall but that doesn't mean you should spend as little as you just pointed out. It should be easy to reach 100% market awareness and you should shoot for that... in small towns like that there isn't much else to do so why not go for every last person in the area.

Fact is a lot of haunt owners don't know how to run a business, but they know everything about making an animation, or painting a scene, while some haunters no everything about marketing but nothing about scaring people. Its all over the board really... the haunts that understand marketing, scaring people, detailing their haunt, haunts who invest like Nehterworld do the big numbers, those who run their haunt likes its in a small market don't. Look at 13th Gate this guy is in a small small small city and he's doing 50 plus. So it can be done but you have to be willing to invest...

The best places to spend your money are the following: YOUR WEBSITE - YOUR URL - YOUR LOGOS - PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS - PROFESSIONAL VIDEOS ... wrapping a hearse has no candle to the before mentioned none. You are trying to sell how cool your event is however your photos suck, your videos suck, your logos suck, your website sucks so guess what your business will suck and this might be despite the fact that you have a GREAT HAUNT!

All the marketing you do from radio, to web marketing, to yes wrapping your hearse all goes to promote those AWESOME VIDEOS, AWESOME PHOTOS, AWESOME LOGOS and your OVERALL AWESOME presentation on your website.

This all takes money... money most of you are not willing to invest however you'll invest $10,000 into ONE prop... this is nuts. Look just my opinion even though this opinion is a fact I guess that makes this an opinion of fact. LOL

I don't care how small or how big your town is make sure those things are done and done right and you have something huge to build on well into the future.


Greg Chrise
07-28-2012, 12:11 PM
I'm going to just decide Larry is a success and what he says is where you want to end up. It is very easy to get clouded because you see your haunt every once in a while and don't communicate to the rest of the world if it is awesome or not. If a web site looks like it is gif art from 1990, I hear people complain that who cares that the web site only attracts 2% of the market so again who cares.

Yet right down the highway, one with awesome videos, photos, websites and logos and well chosen URLs are seeing twice the numbers when the haunts are actually comperable. Yet there is an over all vibe of success and they literally double the attendance of the more lame one. A 4800 customer haunt has a crappy web site and a 11,000 customer haunt has a wonderful web presence. Same customers in different identical kinds of towns, in fact the 11,000customer haunt is in a town where it is more affluent and getting people to leave their big screen TVs is more of a problem and just doesn't happen. 50 miles apart, same populations.

Yet neither one could handle 50,000 cars per season. One parks in a horse field and closes if there is the slightest rain and the other is most likely at capacity with parking in the ghetto on those last few nights of the season. So I have seen this actually happen in real numbers. Actually more than double is possibly the difference in good marketing.

Still, it is tough to spend $3 when you only have $1 and at some point a few years after start up, you have enough haunt that you have to stop spending money and time on and sell, changing your buying spending habits as you actually get some cash flow and not always doing the same thing, focusing on the same skills.

What I have ommitted or overlooked is how that extra $2 can be saved if you actually become the media professional because in a way that is what we do as promoters. Or we are basically getting paid on the back end because I want $2 a ticket and will go as far as providing all the walls and costumes and let it run. There are a number of ways just like building walls with the help of friends to achieve this $3 marketing value as friends also do web sites and need one to show off for a profile, friends do logos, freinds do copywriting, freinds do independent films and want to experiment and see things play out successfully as a trial.

The only difference is the higher population zones can't possibly individually promote the 100 things it takes to do in a timely fashion or afford to do it over a period of time of growth and pay the rent, so they have to pay and hope proffesionals can pull it off. Having all the skills and the proper mind set is rare. You can't expect some happy people in a print shop to all of a sudden get all spooky and provide anything but happy pumpkins. So this whole forum thing is people that have the skills and the mind set.

And apparently props do sell way before their time at $10,000 and the prop guys have great web sites but no one esle gets paid in the whole industry unless they are the bank or the landlord or organize a tradeshow.

Greg Chrise
07-28-2012, 02:20 PM
So yeah, if you want 10,000 people, send me a check for $30,000, $3 per customer. I will call some people and really only spend $7500 and make $22,500 and live all year long on a stay-cation. I'll be waiting for your check, let you know I'm going to the mail box every day now. You can even make payments! $10,000 down and $1875 per month will get it, don't be late on your payment or your web site goes down.

Greg Chrise
07-28-2012, 02:41 PM
I'm counting on you all sending checks, to really fit in with the promoter crowd I'm going to have to stay indoors all the time and gain at least another 150 pounds, my goal is to double my life long weight and see if I can still walk. I have to get away from that working outdoors in the sun look and get all grey and pasty looking. See ya at Transworld! Burp!

Greg Chrise
07-28-2012, 03:21 PM
Even though I'm being silly, I could see right now producing your commercial for about $1500 and getting the web site and logos done for about $4,000. So we are at $6500 and all I have done is made a few phone calls or emails. I can send you some signature characters, a kiosk display recycled from last year, Only see your haunt from facebook pictures and be too lazy to drive 50 miles. Call the radio stations and spend $1000 each for 3, I'm there at $9500 and I guess we need some fliers for $500. That puts me at $10,000. So if I did my own logos or had my Mexican based guy do it for $100 and had the website crafted in India for $4 an hour, I could pull it all off for about $1000. On account I'm an artist and can just draw up original stuff but the kid in Mexico is the bomb even compared to me and works all digital and shit.

So I'm back down to $7,000. Lordy Lordy what should I spend more money on. I just don't know. How about if I just go into town and start handing out money and cigarettes? Then when halloween rolls around, I'll call everyone from the front seat of my hearse with my pay as you go phone and say "Hey man, remember that $5 I loaned you? It's payback time. You have to come buy a ticket now or you can do it on line". " With intrest it is now $20 and you better bring some people too or I will talk bad about you. Maybe I do have those pictures I sort of mentioned."

Oh, yeah and get on my same phone service so the next call doesn't cost me 10 cents.

07-28-2012, 03:37 PM
I'm counting on you all sending checks, to really fit in with the promoter crowd I'm going to have to stay indoors all the time and gain at least another 150 pounds, my goal is to double my life long weight and see if I can still walk. I have to get away from that working outdoors in the sun look and get all grey and pasty looking. See ya at Transworld! Burp!

Your check is in the mail.


07-29-2012, 01:52 AM
Just FYI... I have been working DAY and NIGHT over the last two days to update my website. That is just how important all this is... I'm having graphics made, making upgrades you name it. I have new videos coming on every attractions, I'm having other logos turned into CGI FX, blah, blah. Well I'm heading off to bed finally... worked all day since about 10am until now yes about 3am updating www.scarefest.com

Its almost done about 85% there right now.

Well I can barely keep my eyes open so off to bed however this is the type of money, time and energy you MUST put into your website.

Zombie Apocalypse
07-30-2012, 12:18 PM
Greg you are now and always will be the man !!! keep up the good fight !!

Jim Warfield
07-30-2012, 11:21 PM
A brand new graduate with a degree in "promotion" offered to pen a letter telling everyone how wonderfull my Haunt was, for nothing.
Sure , go for it and Thanks.
She later told me about all the numerous "Press Releaes" she had sent to "Everybody!" Every newspaper, radio station, school...
I got one call from a High School kid who had his own little radio show from his school, which was a zero.
I began getting people from 35 miles south of here all because of a mysterious "Doctor" who loved my place and was a walking-talking ad service (A big fan!)
A conserge from a popular resort 40 miles away loved my place and said if I could get 1,000 really nice flyers printed,that she would make sure EVERYONE who came to the resort left with one of those flyers in-hand! I did not have that kind of money, I asked a Chamber of Commerce officer (Shaker & Mover there) if they could financially help me to get these flyers?
No they could not. (I had a spy or two within their club and knew that some of them were very much against me having my haunt but this didnot stop one of them from insisting that I must join their club a few years later after I became an "overnight Sensation" and small-town "Hero", Nationally and internationally known (the only such critter in this county) He said I must join because "They Had Done So Much To Help Me!" No they had not.
Then I crafted a letter that got put in the Chicago Tribune Halloween section which brought huge crowds to my little haunt in this village of a "Town".
Then "Wild Chicago" decided that after many years of So Many people writing them, telling them to come see my house, and the producer accumulating so many photos from those fans of the house, that they should come.
They would ask their audience to vote which shows /segments they wanted re-broadcast? They re-showed my segment about 35 times in the next three years. Yes, this helped! People could see the fun we were all having when they were filming here.
Deciding to be a full-timer haunting allowed me so many opportunitys that I would have missed if I had been punching someone else;s timeclock, so grew the business.
The Nationa Geographic World came and put me (the house) on their October cover, a national magazine for kids that saw 3.5 Million copies sold. Their company policy had just changed allowing "Spooky" stuff into their pages, I was right there to answer their call when it happened to ring.
The Chicago Tribune sent a very talented feature writer who stayed in town for three days to write about my odd house and peculair talents at making something from nothing. He even interviewed my Mother without my knowlege!
His story was lengthy and well recieved and read nationally. People all over the USA knew about little Ravens Grin Inn. The Florida issues had full-color pictures of the house.
Then "Extreme Homes" on the HGTV network came here because we do live in this house (A prerequisite of their show) That episode was shown and re-shown all over the USA and Europe for the next many years. Recently a former employee of the local Blackwater shooting range had some phone calls from Europe asking about my house. The HGTV show was dubbed in French, broadcast from an Arts & Entertainment channel in Germany into France where a Mount Carroll native living in Paris saw it. (I wish I had a copy of that, ME speaking French!)
Along the way , most of the Haunt Magazines did stories about my house too.
I have only had a computer for about 13 years. The first time I looked at a computer, in the local library I searched "Jim Warfield" and was made privy to conversations those in the haunt business had had about ME!?
I remember the funniest conversation asked :"Does anybody in the haunt business know how to impart the real fear of physical harm to a customer without using a chainsaw?"
The answer that day from a few haunters was "Yes, This guy in Mount Carroll knows how to do that!"
For the first several years I had my house I didn't even know that anybody was still doing haunts excpet, of course for Disney, I was just doing things that I thought would "work" to scare and entertain the customers.
Now for the last several years , the old media have dried up and sometimes died (or come very close to it!)
We have had major-market Tv appearances generate no response that we could measure. Major newspapers are dinosaurs and worthless (Sad) There are way too many channels on cable.satellite to guess where to spend even that dollar. I tried that , caller I.D. and advance reservations and asking customers that October showed about 10 customers from spending $1,100 and the ad looked very good.
The local State Funded Tourism office began an Oct. program, promoting haunts, pumpkin patches and any, everything else because of my house's success.
Their brochures and website seemed to work very well and cheaply too for maybe 5 years...
I have always tried to give more than a fair amount of time and effort to entertain my customers. I feel that I have favorably impressed enough over the last 25 years that I have a real fan base.
I also feel and think that of 100 haunt wanna-be owners that maybe 10 of them wil have the experiences and skill and ambition to work and struggle the hours that I have (and still do) to make it "work".
Maybe some of my patrons might think that I am fibbing when I tell them that I have done probably 95% of ALL the work here during the last 25 years, but I am not, it is the truth.
Most of us have to make our own "luck", if I was smarter or had more than $1.98 when I started, maybe I would not have had to put in such long, long hours, but then I do enjoy "work"........
I had worked for 15 of my "adult" years for my Father in the Plumbing and heating field (long hours little pay) and from the time I was maybe five years old, everyone kept telling me that I was "Artisitic" or that I just had many strange thoughts...(too many for most)