View Full Version : another weird ad question

07-09-2008, 10:15 AM
well, with the helpful and thoughtful responses to my radio ??
here's a new one for you.

So, we do this horror host show . getting ready to start our 3rd season.

last year, as the economy started to be weird, we were actually up a bit.

At the time, we were only on a local cable station, 30k homes max.

so this feb, we have added stations and are now on in 1.5 million homes in parts of 4 states, each week.

so now we get invited to local horror conventions, and memorabilia conventions as guests.

I spend all weekend talking to folks of all ages that watch the show.

here's the topic for debate.

this will be my 16th season. I have spent so much on advertising it makes me sick.

at these pittsburgh conventions ( and I am less 45 min south of the city) over 75% of the people who love the show, have never heard of the haunt.

not, have never been, but have never heard of.

do con goers, not pay attention to haunts?

is it a totally different and perhaps untapped demo?

the contests I run, and the emails I get, prove to me that I have all age groups watching

does it just mean that TV rules above all else and I'm gonna do a million people this year?

or hopefully, my new fans will come out in numbers enough, to offset the high gas prices that may keep some home.

I've told this to long time industry 'leaders'
and they are dumbfounded as to an answer, other than, my current advertising may not be working for me.

does the experience of watching spooky things on TV not overlap in personalities, of people, with those going to a haunt

07-09-2008, 02:15 PM
I have had a booth at the Horrorfind Convention for the past two years to promote our haunt. To be honest, I donít think it really paid off, so Iím setting this year out. Horror convention goers really donít seem like they necessarily translate into haunt goers. Iím not sure why. Perhaps horror convention goers are hardcore movie/tv fans, and they like that pre-packaged video or dvd that they can watch over and over again in the comfort of their home, apartment or basement. I have talked to lots of people that say they donít like haunted houses, but love horror films, and I have met people who are the opposite. I always thought fans of one would naturally be fans of the other. Maybe that isnít the case.
Also, the Horrorfind Convention is in the middle of August. Attention Deficient Disorder runs pretty high among that target market, so pitching them something in August is a little too early for them to remember it at the first of August.
Also, I think that a lot of them havenít realized how far haunting has come in the past decade. I know, especially in my little neck of the woods, most people still think haunted houses are strobe lights and black plastic. That use to be the first impression most people would get of a haunted house, and you know how hard first impressions are to over come. I try to emphasize in our marketing that we use movie quality sets and make-up, and one of my favorite tag lines for some of our flyers is ďThis isnít your fatherís old spook houseĒ lol

07-09-2008, 03:58 PM
I agree!

Those who go out to haunts are seeking adventure - they are going down those dark winding roads in search of a thrill. Often they are not even horror fans, but they are thrill seekers - they might be as likely to go to sporting events or theme parks or nightclubs. Many horror fans might not be the sort to venture out, and be just as happy to stay home and watch TV. There are tons of crossovers I am sure, but most Haunted House patrons don't even think about creepy stuff until mid October, and forget all about it in November. I would think the show should get some fans out to see you who might not normally come, fans who might actually want to see the characters.

A million years ago when I was a horror host I had fans come out to see me at my haunt (Dr. Speculo's Dungeon of Horror), and they were really into it, but most of the crowd just wanted to get scared!

As to why you haven't seen more guests for all of your advertising I would say look for the bottleneck.

There is always something... marketing choices, marketing message, location, throughput, show quality, does the event change year to year, etc. Somethings you can't change somethings you won't change, and sometimes you can figure it out and get more of em to come... Its always a mystery!

I think your TV show will be a factor, every extra person you can get helps that is for sure.


07-09-2008, 04:13 PM
Thanks Ben,

I was hoping you'd post, as I'm not sure that anyone else has the same background.

I'm constantly amazed that no matter how long any of us have been doing this, we can never let up, and never stop working to get that extra person to come out.

Jim Warfield
07-09-2008, 06:49 PM
Those "Customer" things?
Sometimes I get bummed out when I consider ALL of the people who have seen my place and seemed to terrifically enjoy it (over 20 years being open every night!)and I consider all the people who know somebody who has been here (and some of them have a compulsion and can't stop talking about their time here)
When I consider all the free advertising over the years from even major market sources,...then I wonder why, on a given night, sometimes a weather-beautiful night...nobody shows?
I don't really know, but maybe as many as 90 to 100 thousand people have been through my house...so shouldn't there be at least 10 to 20 people showing up here every night (except in a blizzard or tornado)????
Something like maybe 280,000 people live within 50 miles of my house.
Chicago is 3 hours close....???
Keeping a customer-track from various types of ads has never shown me that spending that money was usually worth it, buy Lotto tickets instead!
Word of Mouth, happy, impressed customers become patrons and sell the place for you over and over.
The Fall, October, will get most of them thinking ""Halloween and Haunted Houses", then November 1st, "GONE!" Although if the weather remains predictable (not necesarilly "Good") I have had some very good Novembers, at least twice as good as the best summer months but far below October.
I have never lost a customer by informing them before they buy their ticket that there will be no "Chainsaw Ballet" in my house, quite the contrary, this fact has brought customers in.
Every style of haunted venue will have it's fans and fans can certainly be developed and catered to, I have proved that many times.
I think the majority of people just want and need a good time, laughs, a few screams, situations invoking some fear in the people you brought with you, ending in everyone having some hearty laughter and shared experiences that are fairly uncommon, theatrical and maybe even awesome or mysterious.
It is all a thinking game, hunter versus prey, "What is going to happen next?"
"How will I respond?" (Coward or hero, or azzhole?)
Females as customers here outnumber males and I think they always have, they like those strange thrills and anticipation whereas guys think that they have to always be in control. Their ego and manliness is on the line!!!
I have learned much from what my customers have told me, this is why I always try to spend some time talking and listening to them at some point of the night.
We are all just "Students" afterall.

Greg Chrise
07-09-2008, 11:36 PM
Maybe One segment on the show is The Castle Blood people knock on a door and ask what kind of horror movies they like. In a later segment, those same people are tied up and gagged in chairs, either taunted or just there but, captured and neglected.

The Tv audience is compelled to wonder, where did they live, where is Castle Blood, Do I know them? If I do what happens, where is the place? How did you get there, what happens there? I thought it was just for the TV show?

A combination of Romper Room with the kids being right there on TV with copper Penny and the Six Flags old dancing guy with an old bus commercials making you get on the bus instead of living your boring life.

Every week new victims from different towns and suburbs, is it my town? How would you get there? How would you get back?

07-10-2008, 12:57 AM
I have some friends who are part of the comic/horror movie circuit, and have noticed that it's definitely a tricky audience to crack.

Most of the attendees are either interested in hunting for new talent and/or possible distributors for their projects (comics, artwork, or zombie movie that they made with their own $) or are seeking out comics, toys, and other collectibles. I hate to stereotype, but it does seem as if most of these folks don't really venture too far out of their comfort zone... and most of their $ is spent on video games, collectibles, and dvds.

Jim Warfield
07-10-2008, 09:35 AM
With "age" comes seeking that comfort zone and maintaining it at all costs.
Control is what life is all about for most people and submiting yourself to a stranger's idea of "entertainment" is such a scary concept for them.
For such an audience changing one's whole haunted attraction around might not fit in with their expectations?
I see people returning here because they think they know what is and isn't going to happen here to them. I fool them though and try to create fun for their newbie friends by adding new subtle features to that same-old, same old room that the returning person thinks they know.

damon carson
07-10-2008, 01:03 PM
Personally I would want to come to your haunt if I had just seen your television show only. I think both people that are into horror movies ect would be interested in visiting a haunted house as well. You wont get everybody but you will see probably a great few. Good luck on that million though!

07-10-2008, 02:24 PM
I did Horrorfind for the first couple years, Ricky and I even shared an area together at Horrorfind several years back. It really does not pay off for promoting your haunt from my experiences. I actually think that many of the hard core horror fans do not even come to haunts, they just don't seem to be into them and would rather stick to the Horror, not Halloeen, scene.

In your case Ricky I m sure you will get new guests this year with the broader audience you are now reaching. You guys are so unique and interesting people will want to check it out. When you hit that many people as you now hit with your show, there's bound to be several thousand new guests who want to experience Castle Blood. I think you'll have a big year!

Good luck,

Jim Warfield
07-12-2008, 06:58 PM
I was shown a copy today of a book "Wild Chicago" the Companion to the Wildly Popular TV Show". Many years ago I was on their show and now mentioned in their book.
The episodes were voted upon by the tv audience as far as which episodes they wanted to see again. The Ravens Grin episode was alot of fun and you could tell from the show, so people kept voting to see it again, and again, and again.
It may have been aired as many as 35 times in three years.(The Producer told me)
They had me sing a little song three times so they could get it recorded right, then somebody lost their nerve in the cutting room and my song never made the cut.
When people used to crawl through a carpeted tunnel I would sing my version of "Getting to Know You", now "Getting to Nose You!"
Or maybe it was my take off of the Beatles song:"I Should Have Nosed Better with a Girl Like You!"
One mistake in their book article about me is when they state:"Jim is a one-man scaring committee, taking your tickets, serving as tour guide, and occasionally ducking out of sight only to reappear out of nowhere in a gruesome mask."
I almost NEVER wear any masks, that was my face!