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What's the best way to promote a new escape room?
(time of reading 11 min)

Building an escape room is only the first step of running a successful business. You have to run it properly to reach the point of break-even and start getting income one day. Your marketing strategy is crucial at any point but especially at the beginning as it is the main instrument that creates an integral part of the customers flow. Escape room marketing plan includes both free and paid instruments as well as actions, which affect the bookings amount directly or create brand awareness and build loyal audience.

Note that the marketing instruments vary depending on audience they target (for instance, tourists or local residents) – we will cover such instruments in other articles; here you will find the instruments and escape room marketing ideas you will have to use regardless.
Creating brand identity
Brand identity includes the name of your escape room business, the concept, color identity and logo. This process should begin as soon as the first construction stages start so that you will be able to launch your marketing activities at the appropriate time. Do not mistake your brand identity for your game identity – it is not the same and you can understand that if you have considered launching two escape rooms at the same time. While creating the identity, try to be imaginative and carefully think how you want your business to be taken as by your potential clientele. Do not try to create something that will appeal to everyone – it is impossible, much better is to try to target a certain audience (which might be broad) while doing so.
Website & booking system
Both these starting points are crucial for your escape room to function well. Your website is where people would be able to learn about your project, find out why it is interesting for them and decide if they want to pay you a visit. At the very least it should include the description of the project, photos or your location, contacts, a map explaining how to find your escape room and photos of the teams that completed the quest.

Booking system is a convenient way to find out what day and time is available for the game. Note that you can run the booking system in different ways: completely pre-paid, pre-paid depending on circumstances, (i.e. using pre-payment during high season – for instance, during holidays) completely free booking. You can also include booking by phone. You can use ready-to-go services, such as Bookify, Bookeo, SimplyBook etc. Note that those services mostly function on paid subscription basis so make sure to add this matter to your operating budget.
Pro-tip: Do not forget to enable various types of confirmation for your booking system (e-mail, SMS etc.) and the possibility to cancel the booking. This timing is especially important if you are going to work on pre-paid basis.
Social media
Creating a Facebook and Instagram pages is completely free and totally necessary. The same goes for Twitter and LinkedIn.

You can use Instagram for:

  • Uploading photos from everyday operations: building your ER, photos of your customers;

  • Announcing discounts and specials;

  • Conducting contests and giveaways;

  • Increasing brand awareness;

  • Posting quizzes and interesting facts regarding the escape room industry.

Running Facebook page requires pretty much the same, except that it gives you're a bit more functions and options (polls and opportunity to get shares, which could be used as a useful tool as well as understanding the segmentation of your audience).
Pro-tip: do not forget to add a link (on Instagram – in page description) to your booking service.
Paid targeted and contextual advertising
This instrument is one of the best to increase the customer flow and brand awareness though it might be necessary to invest significant sums. You can use different platforms for that (Google AdWords, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest), ensuring that people visit your website and/or social media pages.

It is perfect for your business because you can target specific audiences, which is absolutely what you want to do. Usually the conversion mostly depends on budget and the target audience. You can try it out on your own with smaller budgets or hire a specialist. We suggest to do the latter in the bigger markets, where you have to consider your rivals' activity.
Marketing platforms
Business Directories

This category might be divided in two sub-sections: dedicated escape room directories and general business directories. For instance, the former are such services as Escape Room Hub, Play Exit Games, Escape Room Addict etc. The latter include Google business, Yelp, Trip Advisor and so on.

Trip Advisor is a free instrument very important because of its popularity amongst the tourists. We suggest stimulating your customers leaving a review – tourists usually decide which entertainment facility to visit depending on the reviews and the information at your location page (photos, description etc.). It might be done, for example, by offering a discount for the second escape room game, if your location includes more than one.

Opinion Sharers

You can turn for advertising to bloggers and reviewers. Free game for them lands a review plus additional feedback for you, which is a win-win situation for both parties.

Internet forums

Posting comments and questions and answering them on services like Reddit or Quora in dedicated articles keeps you involved in the industry and gives you an additional option to advertise your business for free.

Discount sites

This proved to be an important and effective instrument to attract new customers and to get new people to try escape room games, though for discounted price. One of the most popular sites of such nature is Groupon.
Search Engine optimization (SEO)
This instrument empowers you to place the link to your website(s) as high in the search engines (Google, Yahoo etc.) as possible. To maximize its effectiveness you need to do the following:

  • Use right keywords on your website, Google Business profile, TripAdvisor profile etc.

(The bulk of search queries includes 'escape room' or 'escape game'). Think of it like what your customers are going to search for;

  • Use best available photos

Try to avoid logos and pictures of poor quality. Show off what you have;

  • Add a description

It also enables your website or profile to be listed higher – the more information you put in, the better it gets;

  • Post your local phone if there is one and make sure to include the right address

This actions allow Google to list you as a local business so that your website will pop up when people search for [cityname] Escape Room.
Offline activities
There is a range of promotional activities that might be done outside the web:
  • Giving away flyers at malls, campuses and movie theaters – cheap and fast instrument to ensure your audience gets to know about your business;

  • Partnership with local restaurants and cafes, movie theaters, hotels, hostels etc. – you leave your flyers on their counter and they leave theirs at your ER thus creating a network of client exchange;

  • Outside advertising (posters, billboards, public transportation adverts etc.);

  • Running various offers – it is especially important during first couple of months of operation: discounts for your first customers, discount for the friends of your customers with a flyer or a promo code, birthday and holiday discounts etc.

  • Souvenir giveaways for the players, such as rubber wristbands, fridge magnets, pins etc.; they primary serve as a means to retain clients (in case you run multiple escape rooms giveaways can make people come back just to get the full collection of them) and/or additionally promote your business, as the souvenirs always come with the logo. You can learn more about the topic in our dedicated article: http://a-props.com/souvenirs_article.

    You can run your marketing policy on your own or with the help of a specialist, but the main principles are the same: pay a lot of attention to it because it directly affects your profits and do not hesitate to invest into marketing activities – if everything is done in the right way, you will get your money back with the profit.
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