View Full Version : Important marketing question

Brighton Asylum
02-25-2013, 01:44 AM
Hi guys. Rich Gonci of Brighton Asylum in Passaic, NJ here. I am wondering, for you haunt owners in or around major cities, about how much is advertising costing you per person brought in? Im asking because in the NY/NJ market, I cant seem to break $10 per person, and I am always hearing about this wonderful industry standard of $2-$3 per person. I would just about roll over for that. I would kill for $5 per person. We have done radio, cable, and sponsored facebook ads. The result is always the same. $10 per person. We have a $20 ticket and of course after expenses, we are barely taking home $11 per ticket so if its costing us $10, that's only $1 of play there. We are considering dropping our cable advertising all together, and focus entirely on internet and perhaps some radio. But the only problem is, radio in the NJ/NY market is RIDICULOUS expensive. A decent campaign STARTS at $20,000 for the month, and you dont get much for it, unless you want to be on a sub par station, that isnt going to bring the customers anyway. We have done every kind of advertising you can think of. Bilboard, flyer, movie theatres, putting fliers on cars, physically handing them to people, even door to door back in the day (this is our 11th year outdoors, and our 3rd year indoors. We have two locations).

Anyway, I am wondering what kind of return you all get on your advertising dollars and what forms of advertising you like best. So far, we havent found anything that we would consider a home run. But we think its because we have the NY market so close to us. Too many things to do in our area. We compete with literally every entertainment event including movie theatres, the malls, NY night life, heck even the newest x box games we are competing against. People are just staying home playing video games. Our attendance was down for 2012 and was the first time we took an attendance hit since we opened our doors 11 years ago. Sure, the weather was a factor but we have actually had worse weather (in 2009 it rained virtually every night and we still did better).

Our fear is that the economy is STILL poor, and will result in more people staying home. I wonder if any of you have thought of a way you plan to combat this with. We dont need a repeat of 2012. Lots of things covered here but I appreciate your comments. Thanks


Terrorable Doug
02-25-2013, 03:57 AM
Word of mouth is the best. If you had past haunts that turned out well you shouldn't have a problem but it does take years.

Forget cable, no one really watches tv anymore.

Facebook targeted to you location should be pretty cheap, do not do clicks do the impressions, much cheaper.

Radio on a popular radio station. Offer to take canned food for tickets as an option and you can get a spot for free because it is community based....Even if you give a percentage to a charity cause will get you in the door.

But really, gorilla marketing with posters and flyers works great!

There is a site on the net that will do posters for 3.00 each, Think it is called shortrunposters.

Brighton Asylum
02-25-2013, 12:32 PM
Thank you very much for the response suggestions. We really appreciate it. We are doing all of this with the exception of dropping the cable, which we are. And our attendance has simply not budged. The NJ/NY market, in our opinions, is just very different from any other market in the country. People here have WAY too much to do, way too many options of entertainment, and trying to break through all of that noise is almost impossible without unlimited funds. If anyone has any secrets to really raking in the people, other than the usual avenues, which just dont work out here, we would really appreciate the advice because even after 11 years, we cant figure it out. And we find marketing people to be sleezy and rip offs. They are after our money, nothing more. Thanks very much for your assistance


02-25-2013, 04:02 PM
Hey Rich,

I understand whe you're coming from! NY/NJ (as well as even CT, now) is just completely different than most other parts of the country. People in this market are too busy, and live a more affluent lifestyle (for the most part, even if their income doesn't reflect that), between Spotify replacing radio, Netflix replacing cable, and so on, the only way to KNOW people see your existence is to put it in front of their face.

If I was you, I'd try advertising with Spotify and/or Pandora, I'm looking into it for this year.

But mainly, I'd drop radio altogether, in addition to cable, and invest that money into signage. Billboards billboards billboards. They're more expensive, but atleast you can GUARANTEE they will be seen! Get one or two along I-95 near you and it will be seen by more people than you can count.

I'd also try to sponsor and/or be a part of local events in your area. I.E parades, get a spot in upcoming ones, get a booth at a fall festival and offer face painting or a cool photo op, even local charitable events like Relay for Life, or other walks for different diseases, the people at those events LOVE to talk talk talk, if you donate to those events they can put your logo on the back of their shirts, on the side of the roads/pathways, etc, plus those events generate their own marketing, and can attract hundreds and even a couple thousand people at a clip, getting your name in there would be a huge help!

I donate DJ services to a few local Relay for Life events, sure it's twelve to twenty-four hours of straight DJing, but I use the time to train people, and my logo gets placed EVERYWHERE and there ends up being a huge spike of people asking for services because I do those charitable things, obviously I'd do it even if I wasn't getting extra attention, but since your focus is on that, getting involved in these community events may really help you out for far less costs than spending $20,000 on radio.

Brighton Asylum
02-25-2013, 04:27 PM
Thank you very much for your response as well. Its appreciated! I will look into your suggestions about spotify and pandora that makes a lot of sense.

We dropped our bilboard advertising because our customers were not telling us they were seeing them. Im not surprised really. NJ drivers are the worst lol. They barely look at the road let alone anything around them lol. But I didnt try the turnpike. were were on route 3 and route 46. I might give that one last try before calling it on that. Thanks

All the other grass routes advertising you mentioned is fantastic stuff. We do all that to nauseum. Its great stuff because as you said, you practically have to be right in front of the people to get the message to them. Thanks for the the spotify and pandora additions I am going to look into those ;-).

If anyone has any other suggests, please keep them coming. Advertising is becoming very difficult and I dont ever want a marketing firm to do it because i just dont trust them. They never tell you what spots they are running, you never know if you are getting what you are paying for unless you physically are listening or watching.


02-25-2013, 05:03 PM
No problem, glad to help. I'd definitely try I-95 at whatever exit is nearest you......I will be searching for billboards around exit 50 on 95 as well as early 91 exits.

Here's the link for Spotify, https://www.spotify.com/us/about-us/advertisers/

02-25-2013, 05:04 PM
Perhaps this year you need to try maybe 3 ad campaigns with a focus on tracking how each one did. Facebook, Radio/Cable and Billboards. You should focus ads at times when people will likely be listening such as rush hour or the drive in to work. A billboard needs to pop or push the respectable envelope. If you could get a billboard which while tasteful but got some media attention well you're getting free advertising for nothing.

Work on getting some buzz about your ads whether negative or positive. Radio isn't dead and netflix is hardly killing cable.

Brighton Asylum
02-25-2013, 05:21 PM
[QUOTEWork on getting some buzz about your ads whether negative or positive. Radio isn't dead and netflix is hardly killing cable.[/QUOTE]

Much appreciated response. Dont get me wrong, we got a return for our advertising dollars on cable and radio but it was nothing to brag home about. We have whole series of Elswarro commercials that were done before they stopped producing them and they are incredible so we know the commercials create a buzz. We got prime spots and wouldnt stand for anything less. They just didnt bring the people in. We figure that we paid $20 per person and that's just too high. We might still work with radio but we cant do a 3rd year of cable with the return we got.

We always do multiple campaigns and track each. We know the results we have gotten over the past several seasons and by far, cable has been the biggest waste of time, followed by bilboards. Radio has given us our biggest return followed by facebook. Google is a close 3rd which is why we are working on improving our SEO none of these venues has really performed exceptionally, and we have made sure that our creative is exceptional. Thank you very much for the response. We cant put our finger on the problem. We track everything.


Brighton Asylum
02-25-2013, 05:22 PM
No problem, glad to help. I'd definitely try I-95 at whatever exit is nearest you......I will be searching for billboards around exit 50 on 95 as well as early 91 exits.

Here's the link for Spotify, https://www.spotify.com/us/about-us/advertisers/

Thank you very much for this information!


02-25-2013, 07:45 PM
Internet.... Everyone is on it! What do you do when you want to find something? GOOGLE IT!! Google ads are the best! When someone types "Haunted Houses in New Jersey". Your haunt's website is at the top. Here is the great thing. You dont pay until they actually click that to go to your website. So it is a guarantee. You can control how much you pay for everyday or leave it wide open. Google and Yahoo ads (click-thrus) is the way to go.

Brighton Asylum
02-25-2013, 09:11 PM
Thank you for your contribution I appreciate it, and Im glad you brought this up. I recently ran a google ads campaign for my off season event DARK VALENTINE and it really bit the dust. I spent $2,000 and got one sale for $63. The CPC was also really high compared to facebook. It was between $1.60-$5.00 whereas with facebook, im getting .014-0.27 per click. I agree that its great not to get charged unless people click but somehow, google seems to spend the entire allotted amount somehow. If I get 12 clicks google spends the whole amount. If I get 5 clicks google spends the whole amount. Their goal seems to be to take my money although I DO agree with you that everyone searches it, and is on it. I am just wondering if running ads is the wisest thing, or if simply getting better placement naturally on google is more advisable.

I take it that you have had great success with google? How much do you usually spend on a campaign and how long before your show do you usually start? What kind of return are you getting? What kind of targeting are you doing? Sorry for so many questions, I am wondering if I ran my campaign optimally. I targeted based on location (10 mile radius of the haunt). I didnt bother with the age targeting. Thanks again for your imput. Its very helpful


02-25-2013, 10:35 PM
Fortunately, my partner is awesome when it comes to the ends and outs of this. What I know is that we start at the first of Sept. We do a 100 mile radius and spend around $6,000-$8,000 for the season just in click-thrus. We also spend $0.14-$0.19 per click. Sometimes up to $0.25

Brighton Asylum
02-26-2013, 01:05 AM
Fortunately, my partner is awesome when it comes to the ends and outs of this. What I know is that we start at the first of Sept. We do a 100 mile radius and spend around $6,000-$8,000 for the season just in click-thrus. We also spend $0.14-$0.19 per click. Sometimes up to $0.25

Wow, now this is VERY interesting to me, thank you for the information. I have heard that the more you spend, the less per click one ends up spending. And this amount of 6k-8k is strictly with google? Do you do any sponsored facebook ads or promoted facebook posts? I also find the 100 mile radius extremely interesting as well. That's roughly a 2 hour drive. I assume that you survey your customers and know how far they are coming? Right now, the farthest we are advertising is 25 miles. We try to keep it within 30 minutes-40 minutes as we are generally under the impression that only the serious haunter will drive 2 hours for an attraction, and not the average person but I stand to be educated on this. Do you think we might be missing out? We are located in a very very densely populated area so we're thinking it doesnt really become necessary to take the risk on going that far out when we have 800,000 people to advertise to within a 25 mile radius of us. We just feel like we havent even gotten close to our full potential in our own area, let alone a market 100 miles away. But again, I stand to be corrected.

May I ask what kind of numbers you are doing for the month? Are there any other forms of advertisement you are very happy with online? Facebook or twitter perhaps? Thanks very much, this is very interesting to me and I appreciate the info


Brighton Asylum
02-26-2013, 01:15 AM
We also spend $0.14-$0.19 per click. Sometimes up to $0.25

I just checked the campaign I just ran with google adwords, and my CPC averaged $1.62. How you got it so low, I wish I could duplicate. I can get that cost with facebook ads no problem, but with google, the cost is just so high. If you have any advice on how to keep the cpc down, please let me know because I just cant seem to accomplish that. Your numbers are simply amazing. Thanks again


03-09-2013, 11:12 PM
A top dollar market such as Northern NJ, can be insanely expensive, but something definitely sounds off on the effectiveness of your campaign if you are burning half your gross on advertising.

Two things you should re-evaluate this year is your message and your show. If your message is not clear, targeted, and captures your audience it will not be effective. Your show also has to be worth talking about. If you have chatted with your patrons and are not hearing they come year after year you could have a fundamental issue on quality.

Those are things for you to look at, and maybe get some professional help on, and the sales guy at cable and radio is not that help. If you have the people you are buying ad space with creating your advertisements.... stop!!!

Put that aside, you may also want to refocus. Cable and Major radio may have big volume listeners, but it might not be your target. Professionals commuting in cars at afternoon drive is not going to be your target. Target late highschool - early college, they are your bread and butter haunt fans. Target sports fans, there is a major correlation in audiences there. Get your ads in local high school sports events. Programs, cups at vending ect can get you better results at a fraction of cost for a high volume media area. Pulp papers, the kind you find free in coffee shops on college campuses and pizza shops will deliver your message.

There is no magic wand for marketing, every haunt and every show is it's own creature and needs special care. However if you question what you are doing marketing wise (and you always should if your season is good or bad) you need to review 3 things.

1. Message
2. Show
3. Target Market

Best of luck, times are hard out there, but if you can connect with your target market they will spend money on you.