Hey, and welcome to the third special edition escape room marketing blog, where I aim to provide advice and support to escape rooms around the world who are having to (if they haven’t already) shut down their escape room temporarily.
One of my biggest goals with these blogs is to provide hope and some positivity in this difficult world. Sure, things are bad now – but one day the world will return to normal and you can reopen your escape room and continue with business as usual.
I know it feels like a long way off – and it might be, it’s true. But it’ll come, and today I want to help you prepare for that day. There’s no point waiting for that day to come, and then thinking about how to market your escape room and bring in your first customers. You need to think about that today, and you need to arm yourself with the marketing needed.
There are many ways you can prepare for the reopening, but for today I’m going to cover 5 that I strongly believe will have the most impact. They’ll be brief ideas, but in future blogs I’ll cover each in much more detail so you can follow them step-by-step and get them ready to reopen day.
The situation changes all the time, and in different ways around the world. Some countries may get back to normal sooner, and thus escape rooms in those countries can reopen sooner. Others may take longer.
But right now, nobody knows. So reopen day is TBC – to be confirmed. So your schedule of implementing these marketing ideas will change, but by being fully prepared you can kickstart your reopening and start getting customers as soon as possible.
ACTION is so important right now. It can be tempting (trust me, I know!) to use this situation to feel sorry for yourself or to watch too much Netflix. But by taking action, and in this case preparing your escape room for its glorious reopening, you’ll have stopped this truly awful situation from damaging you and your loved ones even further.
That said then, please take note of each of the 5 ideas and please, please, PLEASE, make a decision and commitment to put at least 3 ideas into practice before you reopen. It will be worth it, I promise you.
But before I dive in, there’s a few things that you need to think about first…
Things to think about
This situation is unique and hopefully will not repeat itself. That said, when it comes to marketing your escape room and getting ready for its reopening – you can’t treat it like nothing has happened. You can’t copy, paste and reuse your previous marketing.
Things have changed, the world has changed, people have changed. So here’s some things to consider:
- Firstly, consider offering a discount when you first reopen. This situation has not just impacted everybody medically and mentally, but also financially. But I know I don’t need to tell you that, because you too have suffered. That said, it’s important that you start to make some money again and attract customers, but balance it in such a way that you don’t put people off from booking a room because you’re too expensive. Plus, it’s just generally nice to help people as much as possible by offering a discount for say – the first 6 weeks after reopening. We’re all in this together.
- Secondly, even when your escape room is able to reopen the world has still changed. People are and will continue to treat hygiene, social distancing and various medical precautions are absolute critical priority for weeks and months to come. To help accommodate people, and thus not put them off from booking with you, consider implementing extensive hygiene and social distancing measures. For example, give additional space between groups so you can thoroughly clean each room and minimise contact between groups.
- Thirdly, it’s really important to understand that getting back to normal levels of customers and revenue will take time. But by slowly getting trickles of customers in, you can start to balance your cash flow and get back to normality over time. Don’t be disheartened by this, it will take time but you’ll get there!
- Lastly, let’s talk paid marketing vs free marketing. Each idea I’m going to share can be carried out for no additional cost. But, there is a strong argument (and one that is genuinely proving to be true) that it’s easier to advertise using paid channels (Facebook ads for example) because less businesses are advertising in this situation. That means your costs for running paid channels will be less than normal. But it’s still a cost, and thus a risk. Only invest in paid marketing if you can definitely afford it and remember my last point – it will take a while to get back to normal levels of customers. Take that into account.
OK, now I’ve gotten all that out of the way lets dive into 5 ways you can prepare for your reopening 😊
As I’m sure you already know, reviews are an essential tool in your marketing arsenal. People look to reviews to give them the confidence to make purchases – and that’s in a normal world. When the world is back in business, people will look to reviews more than ever to ensure they spend their precious money wisely.
I have no doubt that you already have many, many positive reviews for your escape room. However historically, many escape rooms and their owners have struggled to find the time to invest in marketing and in putting their hard earned reviews to work. It’s understandable, running an escape room is time consuming!
But now, whilst things are quiet, it’s a great opportunity for you to organise your reviews. Here’s what you should do:
- Collate all positive reviews (4-5 stars) from all different sources – I’m sure they’ll be 100s
- Next you need to organise them and pick out the best;
- 5-10 of the most detailed reviews from groups of friends
- 5-10 of the most detailed reviews from families
- 5-10 of the most detailed reviews from businesses and corporate groups
- Plaster them on your website, social media, anywhere where potential customers can see them
By doing this, you’ll be able to attract more customers when you reopen than if you took no action!
Video has become a very popular form of medium, with many people more likely to engage in any advertising or marketing if there is a short and entertaining video for them to watch.
Different videos can work well for escape rooms, but for now let’s talk about video trailers. You’ll be in one of two positions right now:
- You’ll have one or more video trailers already, or
- You’ll have no video trailer
If you have a trailer already, you need to;
- Ensure the trailer is everywhere potential customers can see it – your website, social media (all channels).
- AND, ensure you use the trailer in all reopening promotions you do – combining them with the other ideas covered here
If you don’t have a trailer already, you have 2 options:
- Record and create a trailer yourself in house, or
- Hire a freelancer to create a video using footage you record – sites like www.fiverr.com are great
The great thing about this situation is a lot of us have more time now – what a great opportunity to learn a new skill – like editing and creating videos! But of course you need certain software, which may be expensive.
Whether you edit and create the video yourself, it’s down to you to record the footage. And I’m pleased to say you don’t need expensive hardware to do it – in fact, your smart phone will more than suffice.
If you’re happy to hire a freelancer then go for it – there are many talented video editors around the world who are very cost effective. But consider offering them a tip if you enjoy their work, to help them in this difficult time too. Remember, we’re all in this together!
Running competitions on your social media, your website, etc. is a fantastic idea for so many reasons:
- People love competitions, so you’ll get a lot of engagement and activity from people
- Reopening your escape room is an amazing thing to celebrate and competitions are a great way of doing that!
- It’s nice to give back to your local community
I strongly recommend that you giveaway a free group escape room in the competition and not just a discount. I know that some escape rooms may be hesitant to give away too much especially as their revenue would have been none-existent for so long.
But by offering one or more entirely free escape room groups in your competition, you’ll get more engagement and you can utilise them for reviews. As I’ve already covered, reviews are so powerful. But imagine if you could get some reviews specific to this situation. Reviews that read:
“Wow, visiting XXXXX Escape Room is just what me and my friends needed after being stuck at home for so long – thank you so much!”
These would truly increase customers significantly, and people would be happy to give you reviews like this normally, but even more so if they won the trip to your escape room in a competition!
Past customers – those who have booked and visited your escape room before, are a great source of future customers and bookings too!
You may have heard me say this before, but I’ll say it again – I hate to say it, but the fact is not everybody in the world wants to visit and play our escape room. Sorry!
That means it’s always a challenge to market your escape room and get new customers all of the time. There’s only so many people locally who would be interested.
That being said, it’s always a great marketing strategy to specifically target past customers. Why?
- You know they’re interested in escape rooms and love challenges like those that you offer
- They’ve had contact from you before, so they know you, trust you and even like/love you!
- They would have had a great time last time they visited, so they might be up for a return visit
And you can even sweeten the deal by offering a past customer discount too!
Depending on what data you hold on past customers, you can market to them in different ways:
- Text messages
- Direct mail (safety depending)
- And more
And your marketing to past customers need to include 3 vital parts:
- You’re a valued past customer of ours, we love you!
- We know you’ve had a hard time recently and might want to escape from the home you’ve been stuck in for so long
- We’re reopening on XXX, it’d be great to see you again and as a thank you for being a past customer here’s a discount if you book one of our rooms in the next 6 weeks. P.S. really hope to see you soon and we hope you and loved ones are healthy!
Escape rooms have 3 main audiences:
- Groups of friends looking for a challenge or a fun time
- Families looking for a nice time together
- Businesses looking for team building activities
And I want to focus on that 3rd audience here. Many local businesses will have either had to close or work from home. So even when things are back to normal, their teams will have been apart for a long time. This will impact their performance and efficiency, and they’ll need to re establish relationships with each other – something that is sometimes easier said than done.
On the flip side, businesses that have kept open and working in close contact with each other may want to reward their teams for their sacrifice and hard work.
These are just 2 of many reasons local businesses may want to book your escape room for their teams! But a lot of them won’t think of the idea unless you give them the idea – this is where Linkedin comes in!
Linkedin is the corporate version of Facebook, and is not always utilised by escape rooms because they feel it’s not valuable. But the fact is, it’s where businesses hang out, it’s where decision makers hang out – so it’s where your escape room should hang out too!
Connect with local businesses on Linkedin and advertise corporate bookings with messages specifically targeting those local businesses and remind them of everything they’ve been through, and how they deserve to get out and have a bit of fun – whilst also rebuilding their teams relationships.
So there are just 5 ways you can prepare your escape room for it’s inevitable opening. There are many more, which I’ll cover in the future and in greater detail. But there is a lot there already for you to get at.
Speaking of which, have you picked which you’re going to put into place? Remember, now is a time of action and preparation – not inaction and despair.
Before I head off, on a personal note I wish you all and your loved ones all the best in the coming days and weeks. And remember, this is just a hurdle in your escape room business – not its end.
Prepare for its reopening, it’s coming my friends!
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