Just like solving an escape room puzzle itself, figuring out the best marketing strategies for your escape room business can be tricky. After all, there are hundreds of techniques you can use, such as boosting your website’s SEO, distributing traditional flyers, and inviting influencers.
Plus, as more escape rooms continue to open up around the world, you’ll definitely want to stand out from the competition. With a solid escape room marketing strategy, you can cultivate your brand presence, connect with your escape room target market, and reap maximum profits. But how exactly do you get started?
In this guide, we discuss everything you need to know about creating your escape room marketing strategy in 2022— how to begin, unique challenges in the industry, tools you can use, and successful brands to take inspiration from.
First things first, what is a marketing strategy?
There’s a lot of jargon in the marketing world, and terms can often get mixed up. But essentially, a marketing strategy is your company’s plan to attract customers by communicating the benefits of your business and what makes you different.
It entails more than just posting a few photos of your escape room on Instagram and calling it a day. You’ll need long-term and short term goals, key tactics to help you get there, promotions to sustain people’s interest, and so much more.
Why do you need an escape room marketing strategy?
When starting an escape room business, it’s not enough to offer the trendiest, most popular games. You still need people to know that your business exists, and why they should bother visiting. That’s where your marketing strategy comes in.
A core piece of your escape room business plan, a marketing strategy allows you to reach your audience — from hardcore game fanatics, to newbies who have never heard of the concept. Without a defined plan of action, you’ll be wasting time and resources on half-hearted tactics that don’t yield results.
A good marketing strategy will help you:
- Keep team members aligned on your goals.
- Translate virtual likes to profits and business-oriented results.
- Determine what works and what doesn’t resonate with your target market.
What are the challenges when marketing an escape room?
Escape rooms are a relatively new concept, and it was only in 2007 when the first Real Escape Game launched in Japan. Today, there are still many people who are unfamiliar with escape rooms — but it doesn’t mean they can’t be potential customers. The challenge now is finding and convincing them to ditch their movie night for an hour at your escape room.
On top of this, another challenge is that many players will likely try a single game just once, making it hard to rely on repeat visitors. And because part of the allure of escape rooms is its mystery, you’re also challenged to get creative with showcasing your business.
How can you keep customers on their toes without giving too much away? These are all questions you want to answer.
Steps to create a marketing plan for your escape room business
1. Define your marketing goals
When crafting your escape room marketing aims, keep it S.M.A.R.T.:
- Specific – No, ‘grow your business’ is not a good objective because it’s too vague and difficult to measure. Instead, ensure that your goals connect to a concrete aspect of your business.
Example: Grow the number of monthly visitors of your escape room by creating targeted escape room marketing campaigns.
- Measurable – Having concrete goals is a great start, but quantifying and making them measurable ensures that you can track your progress and know when you’ve crossed the finish line. But how can you make your specific goals more impactful?
Here’s another example: Increase the number of monthly visitors in your escape room by 1,500 by creating targeted escape room marketing campaigns on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
- Attainable – A little ambition is good, but make sure that your goals are actually feasible for you and your team. Don’t set yourself up for burnout by biting off more than you can chew.
Now here’s a better example: Increase the number of monthly visitors in your escape room by 1,500 by creating targeted escape room marketing campaigns on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.
Notice how we eliminated YouTube and LinkedIn from your goal. Is your ideal customer even on LinkedIn? If you’ve got a small team who can only handle so much, assess which platforms are actually valuable to your strategy. You might be better off directing your time and resources to other marketing efforts.
- Relevant – Okay, so you’ve got your goals. This time, think about why you’re setting them and what their importance is to your business.
For instance, you know that social media marketing campaigns can help build brand awareness and entice new customers. Let’s reflect your goal to incorporate that bigger picture.
Example: Increase the number of monthly visitors in your escape room by 1,500 by creating targeted escape room marketing campaigns on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. Because potential escape room customers tend to find new experiences on social media, having more targeted campaigns can help expand customer reach and translate to more profits.
- Time-bound – There’s nothing like a deadline to push you to achieve your goals. What does your timeline look like? When should you start and finish tasks to reach your objectives?
Example: Increase the number of monthly visitors in your escape room by 1,500 within Q2 of 2022 by creating targeted escape room marketing campaigns on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. Because potential escape room customers tend to find new experiences on social media, having more targeted campaigns can help expand customer reach and translate to more profits.
At the end of the day, S.M.A.R.T. goals aren’t a one-size-fits-all, and they can definitely evolve over time. Be prepared to revisit and reassess your
goals, and know that this is perfectly normal. Just be sure to keep them S.M.A.R.T., so you’ll always know when to slow down or hit the gas pedal.
2. Know your target market
If you want to reach your target audience, you need to speak their language. This means studying their demographics, where they like to hang out, what makes them tick, and how they like to spend their money (among other things). That way, you can strategically align your escape room offerings with the interests of your most valuable customers.
At this stage, you can also start creating buyer personas. A buyer persona is defined as a research-based profile that depicts a target customer. They’re fictional, but they allow you to build a stronger connection with your customers.
To gather information for your buyer persona, you would have to comb through social media platforms, visitor reviews, interviews, feedback from customers, and website analytics. This is an example of a basic buyer persona to help you get started:
Name: Jessica, Persona 1 who has never tried escape rooms
Age: 21 years old
Location: Brooklyn, New York City
Occupation: College student
Interests: Sci-fi movies, sports, traveling
Media consumption: Frequents Instagram and TikTok
Source of income: Freelance gigs and allowance from parents
About: Here, you could outline a few sentences to elaborate on Jessica’s lifestyle and preferences. How much is she likely to spend on recreational experiences? How often does she go out to do activities with friends and family? What themes would she enjoy in an escape room? The more details you add, the easier it will be to target your future Jessicas with specific marketing initiatives.
3. Analyze the market and your competitors
When it comes to creating a successful escape room business, access to information is your superpower. Is the escape room market growing and changing? Yes. Are there new trends that impact the market every day? Also yes.
As such, you need to make an active effort to be on top of industry news and your competitors, so you can immediately pinpoint gaps in the market and find ways to constantly innovate.
Fortunately, you can ditch the binoculars and trench coat; there are several tools that can help you perform competitive analyses and track trends. For starters, Google Trends is great for spotting popular topics, products, and services.
Meanwhile, software like Sprout Social allow you to observe what your competitors are posting, and even benchmark your growth against theirs. You can also use platforms like Brandwatch to study the billions of conversations happening around the internet. Again, information is a powerful thing.
4. Establish your marketing methods
To simplify this step, let’s divide your marketing methods into three main categories: paid, owned, and earned media. These components are critical to your marketing strategy, and they all work together to increase traffic and conversions.
Some may have more impactful return on investment (ROI), while others may entail a higher investment. Whichever you use, make sure they add value to your brand.
- Paid media – As its name suggests, paid media is a type of advertising that comes with a price tag. This includes online channels like social media ads, Google ads, and influencer marketing, plus offline channels such as billboards and TV commercials.
You’re likely to get instant results as soon as your ad starts running, and you can decide what the ad looks like and who it targets even though you don’t own the channel.
(To learn more about how to run successful ads, check out our exclusive guide on ‘14 Google Ads Secrets For Escape Rooms That Will 10x Your ROI in 14 Days’)
- Owned media – Owned media refers to content that you entirely create and control. Thinks of the graphics on your social media, website, ebooks, blog posts, podcasts, and more.
Because of their organic nature, owned media can help you establish trust and credibility with your audience. As long as the content is live, it’s always driving your ROI.
- Earned media – Last but not least, earned media refers to user-generated content (UGC) that helps you gain more exposure and visibility outside paid channels.
As reported by Forbes, this modern form of word of mouth is 85% more influential in purchasing decisions than brand-generated content. Some examples of UGC are reposts, recommendations on websites, shares, brand mentions on Instagram, and retweets.
Try to find a good balance of each media type, and see how you can integrate them into your marketing strategy. For instance, you could create blog posts about what to expect from your first escape room visit (owned media), which customers can share on their respective profiles (earned media).
Or, you could take your best customer reviews (earned media) and compile them into a catchy ad (paid media). You might have to do some experimenting at first, but it’s all part of the process.
5. Choose your tools
As we’ve mentioned, you can use apps and software to stay on top of the competition and track escape room market trends — but that’s not all that tools are good for. Nowadays, apps and software can transform anybody with zero marketing knowledge into a one-man marketing department.
If you’re looking for something to automate social media posting and provide you with analytics, apps like Later, Hootsuite, and Buffer are recommended. For those looking to create stunning graphics and visuals, you can check out Canva, Inshot, and Filmora.
And for teams who are in need of organization and project management, Notion, Asana, and Trello are great for that. Whatever area you need assistance in, there’s an app for that.
6. Map out and execute your campaigns
By this time, you should be ready to bring your marketing strategy to life. To do this, you need to create a content plan, which outlines every piece of content that goes live and their respective channels. Don’t forget to include your goals, topics, posting schedule, and other relevant details that will guide you and your team.
Again, you can use apps to help you schedule your posts so you never miss a beat. Remember to track the performance of each post and stick to a posting schedule that is realistic and sustainable.
Examples of successful marketing strategies from brands
The Escape Game is one of the top escape rooms in the United States. As you can see on their Instagram page, they don’t just blatantly advertise their escape rooms. They also post tips, riddles, inspirational quotes, and fun graphics that help potential customers visualize what it’s like to experience their games.
2. 60 Out Escape Rooms – @60outescaperooms on Instagram
60 Out Escape Rooms is a popular escape room in Los Angeles. One look at their Instagram page and it’s not hard to see why. Aside from sharing photos of their happy customers, they also regularly update their community about new themes, news, and holiday promotions to keep them engaged.
3. Disney Parks – @disneyparks on TikTok
Disney Parks is perhaps the most iconic amusement park in the world. Although they’ve been around for decades, the brand has managed to stay fresh and trendy; their TikTok page is a prime example. There, you can find behind-the-scenes footage of how they make pumpkin spice toffee, funny conversations with crew members, mini tours around the park, and more. You can certainly do something similar for your escape room.
4. Fox In A Box Chicago Blog
A great example of an Escape Room Blog (disclaimer: it’s managed by us). But the reason I want to share it here is that the blog alone contributes to around 30% of the total website traffic. From local tips, and features to escape room topics, corporate team building and even blogging about weird things like “If You Don’t Read This Blog” – There is a good mix for everyone.
(If you have a hard time coming up with Blog Post Topic Ideas, head on over to ‘501 Escape Room Blog Topic Ideas’.)
What to expect after you’ve created your escape room marketing strategy
Building a 360-degree marketing strategy isn’t something that you can do overnight. Don’t sound the alarm if you don’t reach half a million followers or triple your profits in a month. In fact, it can take years and lots of virtual tears before you see the results you want.
More importantly, keep in mind that digital marketing is always evolving, so it’s in your best interest to stay dedicated and patient, and meet your audience wherever they are.
Want to build a fool-proof, escape room marketing strategy that’s guaranteed to succeed? You’ve come to the right place. At SEO ORB, we’ll do the legwork for you using battle-tested strategies that have helped our clients double or even triple their sales.