It was only a few years ago that a marketing agency popped up in the haunted attraction industry that claimed to have the “secret, proven formula” for marketing success…and that you didn’t have to “pay for it”. This agency instituted a profit sharing business model where an attraction would split their profits with the agency in order to pay for the marketing dollars spent. Sounds great, right? You only pay based on the success of your attraction, right? WRONG! Let’s look at the pros and cons of profit sharing marketing plan:
- Good for brand new attractions – If you’re a brand new attraction and struggling to find any money for marketing because you just got your building, built the haunts, bought props, etc…then this style of profit sharing plan may be good for you and jump-start your attraction’s growth right out of the gate.
- OK for “death bed” businesses – Profit sharing plans are also a smart bet for businesses which some consider to be on their “death bed”…meaning they’ve tried everything, nothing is working, and the business owner is looking for his or her last chance of hope for some ROI, and doesn’t have the know-how or capital to market the attraction.
- Lack of service – Most of these profit sharing “agencies” sell their services by calling it “a secret, proven formula for success”…but we’re here to tell you, there’s no such thing as a “magic bullet”. In fact, some of these agencies are owned by attraction owners…which just means they’re already limited on the time they can devote to the constant management, optimization, and strategy needed for any successful campaign.
- Win or lose, you still pay – Confusion is the name of the game. Often, attraction owners are sold on the fact that “we succeed if you succeed”, which isn’t the case. These contracts may include clauses that require the haunt to pay back the marketing dollars spent regardless of how successful the attraction is. For example, if the agency spent $100K on your marketing and you had a down year…you’d still be liable to repay that $100K regardless of bad weather, the local economy, bad news events, other competitors succeeding, etc.
- Lack of experience – Because profit sharing seems like a good idea to business owners, it’s easy to sell the service to people who don’t research the track records of their agency and the people involved. For the marketing agency, it’s great! They can pitch a client with no “out of pocket” in order to make fast money…but lack the experience of managing a holistic marketing plan that blends digital media, traditional media, creative, and service.
Before you sign up with a firm that’s involved in a profit sharing model, be sure to ask a few questions:
- What’s your experience in the marketing and advertising world? What about in the attractions and events industry? In how many markets have you done this?
- What other clients have you been involved with and what successes have they had?
- If we have a bad year, am I still liable for the marketing spend?
- Can I get detailed reports of my marketing plans, data reports, etc.?
- Who owns the data that is collected in my campaign?
When you hear about a “secret formula” or “magic bullet,” be very careful. If it existed, everyone would use it.
At Fearworm, we’ve been around the block more than a few times. With decades of experience in event marketing, we know there isn’t a magic bullet. Each event, market and situation is different, and may require a different approach. We often say there is a Magic Formula: (Messaging + Creative) + (Traditional Media + PR + Social Media + Digital Media + Web Site) = Marketing Success. The varying parts of the formula change based on the needs of the situation, but the formula holds true. There are no short cuts.
Back to profit sharing schemes…if it is your last hope, then maybe you should go for it, as long as you check your liabilities very closely first. If you think it seems like the easy way out, take some time to think that through. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it.