The Cadaver Cafe

Prep for the Zombie Apocolypse with ‘ZOMBIES, RUN!’ A running game & audio adventure

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Zombies, Run!, for the iPhone, Android & Windows Phone at $7.99 is a fun game that turns a jogging routine into a game of survival.

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It’s mildly sadistic, but it has masochistic twist to help you run using interval modes. Interval training forces you to run as fast as you can for short bursts of time, helping you up your calorie burn and improving your overall performance. The app will inform you of a zombie chase, and you have to run as fast as you can to get out alive. If you don’t make it, it’s game over, and you lose the supplies you’ve gathered. I had my doubt’s but its actually fun and distracting from the truth that you are just really running to not be a fat-ass.

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All in all, its pretty fun to use and you can check of Zombieland’s Rule #1: Cardio.

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I Always Follow the Zombie Rules

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Wilmington’s 5th annual Zombie Walk 2012

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It’s been a few years since I have had a free Saturday that coincided with Wilmington’s Annual Zombie Walk, but the stars aligned and yesterday we were able to take a late afternoon shuffle in Downtown Wilmington with several hundred other people dressed up in rags with gory zombie make-up in order to raise money, and food for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

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People started showing up at the soapbox, a local bar downtown, around 1pm to get makeup put on them for s small fee to cover supplies. At 5:30, they still had a line of people waiting to get seen by the 5 make-up artists donating their time. This is a fun experience, which has become more kid friendly over the years from its earlier pub crawl days.

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I’ll post an update later this week once I find out how much money and food was raised, in the meantime, take a look at the Slideshow posted by the star News of Wilmington. And you can check out their Facebook event page here, although I hope they grow into a fan page before next year. Message them about t-shirt if you are interested. I bout mine already and will post it later. :)

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Scarowinds XIII

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Carowinds is located in Charlotte, and is an awesome amusement park located directly on the state border of North and South Carolina, but from mid September though every weekend in October, the park is revamped at night into a haunted attraction extravaganza. ‘Scarowinds‘ is currently in its 13th season and it gets bigger and better every year.

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There are eight haunted attractions to go though supported by four more walk throughs with monsters that also lurk throughout the park creating a creepy ambiance just to put you in the mood. The set dressing is light in some areas and very well done in others, but there are monsters everywhere.

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A favorite park stalker of mine was a plant…YES a plant. It looked like oddly placed Halloween topiary that I walked by. Robin saw it move and said as much, so I turned around to investigate and even took a close enough look to STILL think it was a plant and then it jump at me. Then it froze again for a moment, waited for some girls to pass, picked up its planter’s pot and followed them only to drop it and freeze when they turned around. well done sir…well done .

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I have to commend the creators of the attractions because there were no real overlaps in themes or characters. Pick a theme or a genre at random and they seem to have it covered.

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‘Camp KILLaUel’ is your standard 80’s summer camp slasher movie setup. Sets are simple and there are startle scare galore with one really unique scare that I don’t see used often at all. I’m not sayin’ what it is either.

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‘Defex’ is an industrial haunt with a lot of messed up half toy experiments wandering around. We hit this one later in the evening, yet the characters still maintained a decent level of energy. The flow was a bit cramped but I still enjoyed it and saw a few things that were really unique along the way.

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‘Last laugh’ is a clown haunt with the option to buy 3D glasses for 2 dollars. chroma-depth glasses are not new to haunts, but they still are few and far between. They work brilliantly with day-glow colors and they distort your vision enough to make it really fun, but not dangerous to walk around in. You don’t need to be a 3D artist to use this in your own haunt, but it can get cost prohibitive. I have never seen a ‘pay for’ business model for these glasses before, but I expect it to gain popularity to offset the cost of buying and replacing reusable chroma-depth glasses. *note: Not having the glasses does not ruin the haunt experience, but the glasses certainly enhance it.

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‘Fury’ was the last haunt we hit just before midnight and it seems to be a military experiment for super troopers gone wrong. . ‘Dead Inn’ is a haunted hotel with plenty of jump scares and detailed rooms, drop windows and hidden laces to jump out from.

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‘Cornstalkers’ was the longest haunt in my opinion and was lined entirely with corn stalks on all walls. Lots of people jumping out, some unique props and the obligatory chainsaw. Still a very good time.

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‘Silver scream SINema’ was based entirely on old horror movies and had the best set dressing, but only because the nature of the other haunts are supposed to be chaotic and distorted.

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‘The Asylum’ is..well.. an asylum. The theme is not surprising, but the actors are. two severed thumbs up!

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These haunts are designed for a high volume of patrons and was entertaining, even with a steady stream of people walking through. This was primarily actor driven as opposed to animatronics and there were A LOT of them. One monster could scare the people directly in front of you and another would come for you because you were distracted. . The lines are much shorter in early September but it was still about a 15 minute wait to get into each haunt. It took us 4.5 hours to go through them all, so plan accordingly or you won’t finish in time .

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By the end we were tired and sore and so was everyone else. Getting out of the parking lot was a nightmare in itself. If there was one thing I could request to make the night better would be to have a sufficient amount of staff helping the cars get out of the park. Two cops on bicycles and two guys with flashlights are not enough for 5,000 cars and one traffic light. By 2am, people had already had it and were driving over cones, grass medians, and through parking spaces just to cut the line.

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Just so you know, you can take pictures with the walk through monsters and park stalkers, however photography is prohibited inside the haunts themselves. This is just common sense and something I support. Its kinda douchey to give away the ending of a movie right? It also applies to giving away the scares in a dark attraction, even if it was only because you wanted to say it was the ‘best haunt ever!’

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Go to Scarowinds XII. you won’t regret it!

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My response to “Top 10 Reasons Why ‘Twilight’ is Better Than ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’.”

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I was horrified to come across the title of this article and was compelled to read it. I’m a fact checker myself. It became apparent that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about at all. I hope she was being tongue in cheek. The article is linked at the bottom. Don’t be a hater though. She’s just misguided.

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10) it appears magically as well. Its either a parlor trick or Magic and I lean towards dark magic. Get over it

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9) You were supposed to notice this. .. Its Cheech Marin. …That’s the point.

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8) El Ray is Hell on earth. It referenced in other movies as well. Even if you didn’t know this, they explain that its where bad people go to live and do anything they want. Its just a vehicle of the plot to get them to the bar.  Just accept it for what it is. We put up with Vampires who can go out during the day and sparkle like a disco ball, but you have no problem with this?

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7) I don’t know about your world, but the planet I live on doesn’t always wrap up things in a nice little bow for you. Life is messy, especially if you are a bad guy or associated with bad guys. Back on pretend earth, it may be different so I digress.

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6) Edward is not 17. He’s around 100. He only looks 17. He’s a real undead Pedophile. Nothing like romanticizing a relationship like that. At least FDTD puts it in it’s proper perspective.

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5) They loot the trucks to pay the bills. Its called inventory. As for a crossbow, better to keep it off the streets, right? What better place to keep it than under lock and key?

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4) Salma Hayek is Santica Pandemonium. Kind of a demigod of sorts. Not your average transformation from human to vampire, but maybe the other way around? She’s near the top of the food chain in any case.

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3) I got nothin’ on this one other than “you’re reaching at straws.”

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2) Stake-o-matic is ridiculous, but cool at the same time. Its a horror movie preference to see absurd weaponry in an absurd movie. Jason uses a spear gun in Friday the 13th 3d and it was AWESOME!!!

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1) Its just as unacceptable as a hundred(ish) year old Emo with quaffed hair, who is covered in body glitter and dates high school girls and who’s primary audience is tweens and middle schoolers. And YOU are OK with this????

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eww, seriously? so gross…

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The Original article is below:

Top 10 Reasons Why “Twilight” is Better Than “From Dusk Till Dawn”

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*My addendum to #2: I decided to re-watch ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ Last night. About 47 minutes into the film during the first vampire Bloodbath, the band’s guitars transform into decapitated  bodies with no arms or legs and strings attached to them. It reinforces my assertion that “we understand that this is ridiculous, but we were not expecting anything else.”

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Entertain your patrons before they go into your attraction!

These are my line entertainment for ‘Pandoras Psykotic Circus’ it helps to keep the queue under control when it gets a bit long.

Queue entrainment is very important to a haunted attraction because if people get bored in line, they will have a bigger chance of going into your attraction with a negative attitude. This will translate into a negative review and no one wants that.
Taking the extra time to make all of your patrons happy, even while they wait, should be a very important aspect of your haunted attraction

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Get Your Haunted Attraction Noticed on Facebook! – Part 2

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Facebook is a great tool, but only if it’s used correctly. In the previous article, we talked about choosing the right type of page for your Haunted attraction. This included some of the advantages and disadvantages of each. But that was then and this is now.

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When building a facebook page, there are certain thing you need to do and be prepared to do. Make it stand out, have content, be interactive, and most importantly be interesting. If you can’t do this, you need to figure it out FAST.

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Important note: Fan pages have to be owned by a personal page. If you don’t have a personal facebook page, you will need to set one up, or find someone on your staff (that you trust) who does. they can set up the initial page in a few minutes.

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Your Avatar: An Avatar is your profile picture. Facebook allows a maximum size of 200×600 pixels. Take advantage of this. it will be the first thing people see and it will be on every page, from your wall, to your photos.

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Install Static HTML-  iframe tabs: I have worked with a bunch of them and for beginner’s and I like this one for beginners as well as advanced users. Static-HTML application allows users to set up a custom tab on their facebook page. This is a neat application which can store the code to display custom images, text, form fields and anything basic HTML can do. The only limitation is the size, which is recommended to be 520 pixels wide, by 650 pixels tall. This is not enforced but your iframe may have unexpected results and I’ll leave it at that. We will use this app to build a ‘Like-Gate’

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This is the HTML generated code for the non-fan

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Like Gate: It’s not enough to have that little ‘like’ button on the top of your page. A viewer needs to feel compelled to click on it. A Like-Gate allows fan pages greater control over how to define their presence within Facebook than a personal page ever could. This is broken down into two entities based on the status of a viewer. Fans receive one type of content and non-Fans see something else completely.  Using the Static-HTML application I mentioned earlier, A gate can be created  for both the fan, and the non-fan. The non-fan gate should receive a compelling reason to like the page, while fans can be rewarded with extra content, coupons, discounts, sneak peeks, and other offers.

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This fan-only content is richer and has more content

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Note: You will need to know some HTML to use this app.

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Setting the default Tab in Facebook: It’s not enough to have a gate. Facebook sets its default landing page to ‘Wall’. No one will see your amazing new page and that is simply not acceptable. Click ‘Edit Page’ on your fan page and look for ‘Default Landing Tab’ and select your new tab in the drop down. Save the changes and you are finished!

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Short URL:  Once a page has 25 fans, facebook allows for a short URL. Mine is Facebook.com/CadaverCafe. Keep it short and clean. Use no special characters other than numbers and only when necessary. example: facebook.com/The13thHour. make it as easy as possible for fans to find you and they will come.

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Content: Now that you have the basics set up. Content needs to be added, preferably content owned by the attraction. scan in all those old pictures. post video, share ideas. This is now ongoing relationship with your fans. The worst thing you can do at this point is ignore them. It will turn your facebook page into a ghost town and that is not a good thing, even for a Haunter.

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Look for specific code to make a fan-gate HERE

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Get Your Haunted Attraction Noticed on Facebook! – Part 1

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Facebook is the juggernaut of social media in 2011. Facebook boasts on its own page that there are more than 750 million users and 50% of them get on facebook every day spending more than 700 billion minutes a month on the site. The average friend list size is 130 people. Most importantly, the basic services are all free and there are a lot of them.

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This is both a blessing and a curse. The good news is everyone and their mother is on facebook, the bad news is that everyone and their mother is on facebook. With all that traffic on this social super-highway, how does one person get noticed?

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Let’s get something clear right off the bat. Your haunt should NOT be a personal page. Although facebook doesn’t tightly monitor this, you can have your personal page scrapped after putting a lot of work into it. Besides, it’s a free service. Get into the habit of playing by the rules. then you never have t o worry. Personal pages also have limitations. Facebook limit on how many people you can friend and how many business pages you can fan. The magic number is 5,000 combined. Yes…you should worry about that maxed out number because you will hit it and be screwed. Don’t say i didn’t warn you…

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The other two choices are Fan pages and a facebook groups. Fan pages are visible to non fans and even people who do not even have a facebook account. Groups are private entities and are only available through invitation, however, group pages allow the sending of bulk invites. This means facebook user can easily invite their friends to join the group. In turn, any group member can also send bulk invites their friends. The epitome of viral marketing.

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Each have their advantages and disadvantages. I tend to like fan pages better because of the nature of how i advertise. Although my events are short in duration and seem to fit the criteria of a group page, I look to retain my fan base from year to year and recycle them because repeat-business is good. Plus I can reward fans off season for spreading the word because every day is Halloween in the Haunted Attraction business.

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While fan pages annoyingly lack the ability to send out private bulk messages, they make up for this with public updates, just like a personal page. There are a many of other features that make fan pages the better choice for long-term relationships with your fan base.

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Things fan pages can do that group pages cannot:

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The ability to clean up ugly URLs: if your fan page has more than 25 fans, then you can register a custom URL short-name. Mine is facebook.com/CadaverCafe. It reads well and prints better. Easy is goof for advertising. No one wants to see the link as facebook.com/the-Cadaver-Cafe+12827898723480524/

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Add extra applications: Keep this in mind because we are going to cover this in part two of this discussion.

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Visitor statistics: Page insights has a wealth of information about your fan page, including your fans age, gender, ‘Likes’, clicks, what town they live in, and many more bits of data. All useful for future marketing.

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‘Related’ create event invitation: Set your dates for your haunted attraction in an event and invite all your fans. Make it a public event and other people will click on it and be linked back to your page, potentially creating more long-term fans.

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Overall, I’m a fan of fan pages. It works better for my business and i believe it will work better for you too. In my next segment of this topic i will cover how to format your fan page to boost traffic and encourage ‘Likes.’

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Queue control and The Scare Forward Technique

 

 

 


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Have you ever been going through a haunted house and bumped into the crowd in front of you? Is it because they have stopped short because of a group in front of them? Haunted houses are dark and, well.. scary. The scared walk slowly and with trepidation and the brave tend to linger a bit longer to take in the scene. Both have the potential of jamming up the flow. This can mess up the timing of the actors, the resetting of scenes, and take people out of the moment when they run into the group in front of them. Although this cannot always be avoided, there are certain measures that can be employed to decrease the chances of such a problem happening.

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1) limit the number of people going in at one time: People like to go in groups because they came with their friends. They will try to convince you that a group of 6 or 8 will be just fine. This is simply not the case. Large groups are too big to observe any scene in a simple ‘startle scare’ haunted house. No matter what happens, someone is missing a key element of the scene and the gag will be lost to them. If this happens enough times, then they will come out of the haunt being bored. They will then tell all their friends what a waste of time it was. You do not want this happening. Try to have a MAXIMUM OF FIVE, but i would seriously break a group that large into two and three.

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2) Odd number groups are better: Some people come in groups, some in couples, and still others rock it solo. If you can stage it, try to send odd number groups into the attraction. The odd man out prevents the ‘coupling’ dynamic from happening and makes people fell less safe. Other than that, I don’t know why. It just works.

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3) Wait for the third scream: Once your attraction has establish a tempo, you will be able to guess where people are in the attraction based on the screams. Have your queue attendant listen for the group they just sent in. You should be able to establish how far they need to be in the haunt before sending the next group.

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4) Line entertainment: Hopefully you will have a problem with the line being TOO LONG to get into your attraction. Be prepared for this with line entertainment. You ticket taker should be in costume and be able to talk and improvise with the crowd. You should also have costumed line lurkers stalking the crowd. If the crowd in entertained in the queue, they will take that in as part of the overall experience and improve the reputation of the haunt.

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Once inside the haunt…

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So… now people are actually going through the attraction and things can still bottleneck at this point. People can be scared to the point of be frozen in place or they can run through the haunt in fear for their lives. This is going to happen no matter what you do. Here are a few tips to help this situation.

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1) Scare Forward: When a group of 3 walks by, wait for the first one to pass, and come after the second one as they pass so they jump forward and the third will rush forward to be with the group. It is that simple. Going to early will make the who group stop, or worse, back up.

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2) Chicken exits: Your characters are NEVER to break character. However they can alert someone behind the scenes that you have a person who is not capable of going forward anymore. This can be done with code names for the patrons, which i will cover in another article next month. Simply yell “CATATONIC COPRSE” in a sentence and the behind the scenes man will come running to help them get out of one of the emergency exits. This is a last resort. most people will nut up and continue, but for a Chunker or Whizzer, this may not be the case.

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Remember that people are coming there to have a good time. If there are too many people freaking out in a bad way, then tweak it or tone it down. save it for the after 10pm crowd.

 

 

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Using Craigslist to Promote Your Haunt: Part 2

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The last post covered the importance of Craigslist as an advertising tool as well as how important it is to create a simple and visually  appealing call to action. This time, we are going to talk about placement of these ads and promotional models that can be employed.

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BUT FIRST… here is a link to the Craigslist terms of use, because it is too darn long to post here.

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There are a ton of promotion models to choose from. Since this is about Craigslist. I will cover three simple ones.

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1) Basic event promotion: “Come to my haunted house! It’s SCARY! THESE ARE THE DAYS AND TIMES!”

2) Promotional Giveaway: “Win FREE TICKETS & Come to my haunted house! It’s SCARY! THESE ARE THE DAYS AND TIMES!”

3) Opt-in promotional giveaway: “Win free Tickets if you register at my haunted house website! Then come to my haunted house! It’s SCARY! THESE ARE THE DAYS AND TIMES!”

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Each of them work differently but all will fall under the same categories in craigslist:

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  • Community>General
  • Community>Events
  • Community> Activities
  • Gigs>Events
  • For Sale> Tickets

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DO NOT put it in For Sale> Free, even if you are giving away for tickets for free. You will be flagged as a spammer. If you do this too many times, and you will be banned. This is never good. In any event, 5 possible places should be enough for you to get the word out.

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Although you can put your advertisement in 5 places at one time, you may have some trouble doing this. I pulled this directly from Craigslist: You may post to one category and in one city, no more often than about every 48 hours.

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If you are submitting a post that is similar to another currently active post of yours on the site, you will get a blocked message. Removing the active post will allow you to post the new ad, unless the active post is less than 48 hours old.

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Craigslist has a program that checks your submission for similarities to other posts you have done in the past 24 hours. If it finds a match, it will block you. This is a protection against spammers and something to be thankful for. Although you can’t post identical advertisements, you can post different versions of your message without any trouble.

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Many people are tempted to post everywhere they can, but should you? I would argue against it. There are several levels of security on Craigslist from admins, right down to regular people who all have the ability to mark you as spam. if you get too many spam marks. POOF… it’s gone.

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I attempted it as an experiment and it lasted about 12 hours before being deleted. I reposted it again and it lasted only 2 hours. This is a dangerous game to play as well as wasted effort that could be better spent elsewhere. If you are only relying on Craigslist to do your advertising, you have bigger problems than being deleted or banned.

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CONSTANT VIGALANCE!: The repost option

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Posts last up to 45 days with the exception of Boston, NY, LA, Portland and several others, so if you are in those markets, you are going to be more with your posts. However, no matter where you are, the post will go further and further down the screen. Just like the phone book, being first is the key to getting attention. Why do you think there are tons of business with AAA in front of it. It guarantees them first placement!

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Check post every day. Manage your account. See if any have been deleted, rolled off, or expired. If you find any with a repost option, select from the account menu your postings and click on the posting title that you wish to update. Select “Repost This Posting” in the screen that opens containing your post and editing options. Then repost it. It’s that simple.

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I use the third advertising model so I collect information to build a contact list for follow up advertisements. With just this little bit of advertising in a town of 100,000 people, This still manages to get 10+ new contacts a day….in July…when very few people are thinking about Halloween.

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If you do it early enough, you will have a large amount of people aware of your haunt by the time September 30th roll around, and then its Showtime!

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Like us on Facebbook to Win free tickets to the Haunt!


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We are trying to promote Poplar Grove’s new fan page on Facebook so we can keep in touch with anyone who is interested in coming to the Haunted attraction this year. SO we are having a daily drawing for free tickets once the Halloween season starts. The winners will be notified/posted on Facebook and they can come to poplar grove to come pick up the tickets.

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We have two pages to promote:

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http://www.facebook.com/CadaverCafe

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http://www.facebook.com/PoplarGroveHalloween

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If you like both pages, your chances of winning are doubled.

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Contest rules are HERE

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