Even though a lot of it isn't necessary to operating a haunt, go over board with inviting the actors and helpers to tour the haunt and see what is new. Offer unpaid get togethers where actors can play with make up or discuss character development together as a group.
All of these activities bring a sense of importance and accomplishment and authority over something they probably think is cool if they bothered to show up and now they feel part of the event several weeks prior to opening.
These are the troups of people telling 10 people they know what is happening in their lives. Now the people they tell might not be direct customers you can necessarily tell but the 3rd generation information spreads to those the actually are your customers. You can't talk anyone into coming. It has to be the customers own curiousity to find all the facts and then gather others to come with them.
High schools and college art classes can be asked to give some halloween sketches for ideas if they had a haunted house. None of the ideas might be worth a poop but you just made 80 people in the region think about you for 2 hours or more.
Even putting out ads for employment can be done even if it turns up only one person that will work for nothing, it was an add read by a couple hundred that might go to a haunted house. So you put out any excuse you can to have an add. Go nuts on craigs list asking for coffins. No one will have any but you got a fee add.
Maybe a college even miles away would like to have the psychology department take a survey to see how many people are afraid of clowns? If they want to they can come by and do an after tour survey for their own little research study. It might be high school. A lot of academic departments are strugglng to find real world applications that would be intresting. There again the paper might not want to give you anything for free but a story on how the kids are applying themselves will get written.
Maybe church youth groups need to come and do a mental inventory scavenger hunt game for their own unique studies about death or hell of what ever. Then you have half a dozen church busses all pulling in with kids.
Maybe there is a timeshare or other type of resort near that would like to have a halloween night for all of their members? Maybe the gold courses and private tennis court and swimming pool groups. They can all put the idea up for consideration in a public forum. Even if it is a no we don't want to, sometimes 1200 people were informed that you exist.
The trick is it might not be immediate responce and you might not be able to do all of these things at one time. You keep trudging away at the lists and a few years later the same customers will say hey yeah I heard of that, lets go. It takes years to develop.
If you have cars or hearse, multiply many others with kind of a decorate your car theme to all the actors and helpers. You get a $20 trophy at the end of the season for best car but, again there was exposure.
I would make sure to eat out at high traffic places before going to the haunt, even drive through the movie parking lots on the way. Drive past the CD store or even stop in and look at magazines for a while.
Be sure to pull up in front of any costume stores and visit even if you are only trying to drop off some fliers look around a while and compliment them on their display while you car gathers attention. Sometimes I would get back to the haunt late finding places to cruise and there would already be a big zoo of customers that miraculously showed up even with no other advertisement going on. Think the Blues Brothers driving around to promote their blues review. Enter car shows even though your car is rust. It is free hundreds of people walking buy wondering what the deal is.
Have a garage sale of old props and over stock you don't want ahead of halloween. You might sell something for a total of $5 but 20 people showed up to absorb the information and another 300 accidentally read your adds for halloween decor. Just after halloween grab everything you can from the costume and specialty stores at a discount or even because they don't want to store it you get it all free. This is not your haunted house props, it is you supporting all the home haunters and halloween celebrants. This becomes free to give away as door prizes and helping people decorate their homes on the cheap. Again it is free promotion of your event kind of being your own charity regifting things that only took an hour to load up.
There are tons of other clandestine secret ways to campaign. You have to think like a graffiti artist only not do any property damage, just be a pain in the ass. Instead of spray paint, small magnetic backed plates. Any metal pole or structure becomes fair game. Even being called on it publicly as a nucience is free advertising. Sorry officer our young guys must have taken this secret mission stuff a little too far.
If you can come up with an iconic skull or symbol like an avatar with no written word or web site or phone number, you can put it all over the place even in public parks along trails and picnic areas and only those in the know equate it to your haunts name. The true haunt customer are the type that will ask around about this mystery to be in the know. It is also a gamers mentality. If that was so much fun, imagine what going to the haunt would be like for them. They must know. The young crowd text messages each other sharing the puzzle and it's results.
Once you get a bunch of people together, 20 crazy people can in an hour do what it would take one person weeks and serious resources to accomplish. You might have more people than that but only so many will go nuts because it is fun and a secret mission. Everyone of them has a social network too and it spreads if you just let it all go on the cheap. Just for bragging rights, not for pay. If it was a paid job it would like how the news paper boy would say deliver 100 papers of $15? Nope and then dumps them in the storm drain.
You can only make so many magnets but for a week or so they can infiltrate even big box stores and restaurant bathrooms inside the schools and malls etc.
No one that is really the out and about crowd is listening to the radio or watching TV. They are out and about. Hobby shops, stores that cell games, stores that sell music.
If you do all these things the next question would be, how much parking do you really have?
Last edited by Greg Chrise; 02-13-2011 at 12:11 AM.
Reason: I don't spell much
Another fabulous post from the U.S.Department of Wild Imaginings, now in spectaclar stereo, sponsored by the Adhesives and Sealants Council, suggesting ways to stick things together since the 1800s. Not fabulous in a gay way. Your results may vary. Illinois residents add 8% sales tax. These posts have been made by professional post makers, do not try this type of posting on your own without extensive training, lovely assistants and a trusty clown horn.