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From The Queen of Local SEO, Bernadette Coleman

What You Can Learn About Local Business Marketing from a Zombie Escape Room

So those of you that follow my writing know that I’m always talking about how local businesses can engage their local customers to expand their reach and brand awareness. Today, I’m going to give a real world example of a local business that is doing a good job of engaging their local customers when they arrive at their business, before they leave and after the fact.

How The Advice Team Ended Up in a Zombie Escape Room

As the CEO of one of the leading local presence management and digital marketing agencies in the United States, I realize that as an organization, we are only as good as our team. Because of this I make it a priority to get our team members to know each other. Building these types of relationships within a company creates camaraderie and increases productivity, as well as the success of the business. It is because of our team members that we have grown into the organization we are today. And team building is the key.

Zombie Escape Room

Yesterday we brought together the various Advice teams and took those interested to participate in an Escape Room. For those of you who haven’t experienced one, it’s literally a room where participants are locked inside. To escape, the group must complete a series of challenges, and to succeed in this effort the team must work together to solve the riddles, find clues and eventually break out of the room. Our room had a zombie on a chain, and every 5 minutes for up to one hour, that chain got longer. If touched by the zombie you had to go to the “dead area.” Not only was time limited, but we had to work together as a team to warn the others the zombie was coming for them! Working together to solve the challenge would also reveal other clues to solve another challenge.

So, is this local business doing a great job to engage customers? Let’s explore it now.

Local Business Marketing in Action

1. Timing is Everything

One of the first things: I must award kudos for leveraging the time of the year to attract customers! Using holidays, seasons, and all the way down to people’s mindsets to get customers in the door is smart, smart, smart. They do a great job of this. What we experienced was a Zombie Escape Room. Halloween is right around the corner, so it only makes sense for them to tie the focus of this adventure to the time of year. Many local businesses actually plan to do this but then fail to follow through, or they wait until it’s too late and don’t fully achieve the benefit of a solid plan. I scheduled this adventure, and we have been on their calendar for over a month, so you know they planned on providing the Zombie Experience in October long before now.

2. It’s All About the Greeter

From the moment they walk in the door the customer is greeted with questions and information. You are immediately welcomed and given information about what you are about to experience. Believe it or not, there are lots of rules that come with a Zombie Escape Room. That information is provided via a host, but in a fun & informative style.

The takeaway for SMBs? Make sure the face of your business is an image you want to portray. This is someone happy to be at work and happy to be doing their job! They must be able to connect to the customer so the customer stays engaged throughout the experience.

3. Grow Your Email List

They did a great job here. Part of the process before entering the escape room was signing a release, and when a person signs this release digitally, they are asked right then to join the company’s email list. This box is automatically checked, so the customer must uncheck the box if they don’t want to be added.

I would recommend that the company take this one step further: set up an autoresponder that sends the customer an email providing them with social media links to follow. Then the next day it would send a follow-up email asking about their experience, and directing them to sites where they can provide an online review.

4. Help Them To Create Memories

Before entering the escape room, the host gathers all team members together to take a “before” group picture. The before picture is taken with the business’s tablet for sharing online later, and with the phones of the customers who would like to capture the experience and share on their social media accounts.

5. Get Them Relaxed

Another thing this business did well was getting the customers to talk with each other and the host. Small talk is one way of doing this. That’s right, the host makes small talk with the customers while waiting for them to take their turn signing the release. Anything from asking them what they do for a living to learning about what they do for fun. Getting the team talking to each other and the host increases their comfort level with each other, and with the experience.

Local Business Marketing

6. After-Event Wrap-Up

After you escape the room, the experience doesn’t end there. And they are pretty clever here – the host made notes while all of the customers were in the escape room. She documented a quality about each one and highlighted how they contributed to the team during the experience. These actions further solidified the team and how they worked together, and therefore managed to escape!

I was certainly impressed with the fact that they had fun signage, so the customers could each pick a sign and take photos individually with the zombie, and together as a group.

Again, the host would take these photos on the business’s tablet and on customer phones. We are a social people, so you know these photos were hitting the web with check-ins, sharing, and tagging before they even left the facility.

team adzombie

7. Keep Them Coming Back for More

This business closed out the experience for their customers by later posting the group photos on their Facebook page. This approach has three big benefits:

First, people that are following the page (but have not yet experienced an escape room) are going to like the fact that they see people having fun, and will be more likely to invest financially in the adventure real soon. Second, customers who have experienced the adventure in the past are going to enjoy seeing that others are having fun too, and comment and like the photos. And third, customers who just experienced the adventure are going to visit the Facebook page to find the photograph of their group. They are going to tag themselves and their friends in the photo, comment on the photo, like the photo, and click share. When they complete these actions all of their friends who haven’t heard of the business before are now curious, and are going to check it out. Most likely, they will click “Like” on the Facebook page so they can follow it, and think about visiting sometime soon with their group of friends.

So what do you think about this local business? How can you integrate some of these ideas into the customer’s journey when they visit your location? Customers want an experience! Give it to them, and you’ll win them in that moment and all the moments after.

Come back next week as this #QueenofLocalSEO brings you more insights into local and mobile.

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