IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME… BUT FIRST, YOU NEED TO ADVERTISE.
You may have Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other 7 infamous White Sox players, but no matter how exceptional or how perfectly thrilling your new attraction promises to be, people simply will not line up to experience it if they do not know it exists. You have to tell them and you have to tell them in a way that captures not only their imagination, but their attention. Even the biggest names in the industry who get a throng of daily visitors and have crazy brand recognition, market their new attractions. To borrow from James Archer, CEO of Forty: “Marketing is food.” Marketing is what sustains a business and ensures its future. And, while it does not take a Universal Studios® sized budget to market a new attraction and market it well, it does take a bit of planning.
Here are 7 steps to follow:
STEP 1: FIGURE OUT YOUR BUDGET
Determine your budget early on. It should be included in your total spend as it is an integral part of ROI. Allocating dollars towards marketing in the beginning will help ensure it is not an afterthought and save you from having to strategize a plan during the frenzy often surrounding installation. Your budget will also guide the scale of your opening, making planning easier.
STEP 2: MAKE A PLAN
Once you know the amount, think about where and how you want to spend it. Are you going to host an event? If so, are you going to provide additional entertainment and catering? Do you need to print and design signs? How much money do you want to invest in online advertising? Do you plan on doing a print campaign along with an online one?
Establish when. When do you want to start your campaign? You should plan on beginning to market your attraction at least 1-2 months in advance of your opening date. Give yourself plenty of time to get signs and flyers printed, secure permits if applicable, and to map your online roll out plan.
STEP 3: CREATE SIGNAGE
Whether your new attraction is going into an existing center or a new location, signs and billboards are an essential and effective means of promoting a new business or a new product. Signs drive awareness, introduce passersby to your brand, and help them connect with your image early on. Use “Coming Soon” signs to get people buzzing and excited. Construction sites can be cleverly marketed to provide behind the scene “glimpses” or clues of what is to come.
STEP 4: ALERT THE PRESS
Send a Press Release. Once you have locked in the agreement and know enough to paint a picture of the attraction experience, reach out to the media. Send your Press Release to any relevant online industry publications and local news sources. You do not need to have all the specifics nailed down, just enough to get the release run and to entice them to do a follow-up story. If possible, include conceptual drawings or promotional pictures for them to print along with your story and any details regarding the opening. Be sure to ask the attraction supplier if they have any promotional images and/or collateral you can use to get started.
STEP 5: PLANT SEEDS ONLINE
“Leak” photos, promo ads, and videos of your new attraction online. Getting promotional material out early and into the right hands can create a powerful firestorm of publicity and intrigue. Wahooz Family Fun Zone playfully used construction photos to get their Facebook followers guessing and checking back often for updates. Virtual tour videos of construction in progress are another smart way to keep your online community engaged. Closer to opening, you can take it a step further and provide a “first look” video of the experience. Check out this point-of-view video Busch Gardens produced for the launch of their new roller coaster- Cobra’s Curse. It puts you in the ride without taking away from the desire to experience it live.
Wherever you are posting promotional content, make sure to direct everything back to your website. Create a simple landing page from which you can post updates and announcements, especially if you are running any promotional campaigns. Include a form interested guests can fill out to receive updates and link from which they can buy tickets in advance. Utilize this captive audience as an opportunity to send promotions leading up to and after the attraction opening.
STEP 6: HOST A CONTEST
Contests are a popular choice for building awareness because they keep people engaged, can be held before and after an attraction opening, and do not need to be elaborate to be effective. On Facebook, you can keep it simple with “Like to Win,” “Comment to Win,”or “Caption this to Win” posts offering swag like t-shirts and tickets as prizes. If you are hosting an event for your attraction opening, consider giving away VIP tickets as a prize or even first-in-line to ride or play tickets. Create a contest hashtag for your users to follow. This countdown from Wild Island Family Adventure Park perfectly integrates the hashtag #WildOpeningDay while building momentum around the re-opening of their waterpark for the season.
STEP 7: INFLUENCE THE INFLUENCERS
Seek out industry influencers (city bloggers, analysts, online reviewers, social media leaders, etc.) and give them exclusive access to updates. Invite them to any opening and/or early access events and encourage them to write a post or review about your new attraction. They will help build awareness and establish credibility around your attraction while promoting your brand on channels that may be outside your reach.
ABOVE ALL, HAVE FUN AND PEOPLE WILL RESPOND IN KIND!
Original Posting Date: May 25, 2016