(Or why you must search for your escape room’s target audience at all costs!)
“I want my shirts laundered like they do at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo”.
That was his ambition.
That was Johnny’s aim in life.
And that was how he explained it to those who didn’t understand why he risked his life transporting data in his brain for money.
He wanted to do his job and be paid generously.
He didn’t really care that the information in his mind could be dangerous or unethical.
Johnny wanted to live well.
Dress to impress.
And enjoy the few good things left in that depressing dystopian society in which he struggled to survive.
But one day, the path to his dreams was abruptly interrupted.
A client hires him to get 320 Gigabytes of secret information from Beijing and take it to Newark, United States.
A very dangerous mission that exceeds the 160 GB of data tolerated by his brain implant.
But Johnny wants his shirts to be as well laundered as they do at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.
And Johnny takes a risk even knowing that the overload will kill him if he doesn’t extract the data from his mind within 72 hours.
Suddenly, the door gets violently knocked down and a group of yakuzas interrupts the transmission of information in Johnny’s head.
He manages to flee in time but without knowing exactly who the recipient of all that data is.
A desperate search begins to find the only person who has the password that will allow him to extract the lethal information he has stored in his mind.
Johnny begins a desperate search to find his client.
A search that could cost him his life.
Nope! As an escape room business owner your life doesn’t depend on a life and death kind of search like Johnny’s!
(Or perhaps it does? :))
And no, you don’t have 72 hours to find that unique person who has the key to your escape rooms business.
But, you MUST you find him or her.
Search high and low for them as your clients do in your immersive games!
And when you find them, make sure you get to know them as well as the palm of your hand.
Because only he or she hides the secret code to open the door of your dreams (which hopefully will be slightly different from poor Johnny’s!).
Why it’s so important you find your escape room business’ target market at all costs
Sometimes in life we experience what is known as “Love at first sight”.
Sometimes in life we experience what is known as “Love at first sight”.
You’ve lived it and you know how it feels! It’s madness!
An inexplicable chemical reaction that immerses us in a trance of emotions and sensations compelling us to do anything to be with that person who has stolen our hearts.
It’s pure chemistry.
A totally uncontrollable experience.
Well, in digital marketing we also look for that instantaneous and uncontrollable crush.
We want the customer to go crazy for us when they arrive at our website!
We want to make him or her go head over heels about us!
We want them to look at our website and/or brand and say: yes, indeed! This is the copywriter/web designer/escape room I’m looking for.
But in digital marketing we want a little more than a one-night stand.
We want to go beyond the initial chemistry and infatuation.
We want to develop a real and deep connection with our visitors, potential customers, customers, subscribers, fans, etc…
For your (virtual) client to “love you” we have to do exactly the same thing that we would do with our real-life partners, with our children, with our mother, with our friends: we have to spoil them, empathise with their feelings, listen to them, respect them, spend quality time with them, nurture them, and feel happy to be part of their lives …
We want, in short, to maintain a respectful, attentive, cheerful and lasting communication.
Easier said than done, right?!
How do we usually do it?
How do you convince that special person in your (real) life that you value them every single day?
You use your language.
Your words and your body language.
To a large extent, your words show that the connection is alive, for the good and for the bad.
The same happens if we extrapolate this concept to the world of digital communication.
Your words, your tone of voice, the content of your message, your story, the emotions you generate…
That’ exactly what makes you connect with your customers.
And that’s precisely what Copywriting for your escape room will help you achieve.
The problem is that there are few entrepreneurs who take the effort to know their digital partners in depth.
How do we know?
We know because for years before starting a Copywriting or Content Marketing project, we’ve sent our clients a form to be filled.
This form helps us get to know them better, as well as their business, and especially their customers.
One of the sections is called: “Tell us about your clients”.
In it, we ask some very simple questions such as:
Ø Who is your ideal client?
Ø Where do you find him/her?
Ø Where are they located?
Ø What problems and challenges do they face?
Ø What can you do to help solve their problems?
Ø What are the benefits they pursue?
Ø What do they care more in life?
And so on.
Simple questions that generally don’t get answered.
In 90% of the cases we get a description not too different from this:
“Man, aged 30 to 45 interested in digital marketing” or “Woman over 40 wanting to launch a new business on the interwebs 🙂
to become independent and have more free time” or “young guys between 18 and 30 passionate about video games, sci-fi and immersive games”.
This type of superfluous information doesn’t tell me, the copywriter, much.
Nor is it very useful for you, the entrepreneur.
In fact, a study prepared by Edelman Group supports my anecdotal evidence, confirming that most brands don’t understand their clients’ motivations and concerns.
According to this company, 51% of the 11,000 consumers interviewed in 8 different countries indicated that they believed that companies didn’t make an adequate effort to understand their needs.
And only 10% said that most brands did what was necessary to know them better.
That is, this study shows that there is a very important gap between consumer expectations and the ability of a business to satisfy them.
34% of participants in a Responsys survey of more than 2,000 US consumers said they “broke up” with a brand because they were fed up with the irrelevant and poor messaging they were receiving.
In other words:
The consumer is fed up of advertising messages that don’t reflect their problems and don’t solve their needs!
The consumer had enough of advertising messages that don’t speak their language!
Of narcissistic brands that only think about generating traffic and satisfying Google!
The consumer wants you to make an effort to understand him or her better.
That’s why, as an escape room owner your mission is to develop a message that aligns with your clients’ immediate and urgent needs.
It’s not about manipulation.
It’s about establishing a respectful and beneficial relationship for both parties that lasts as long as humanly possible.
Yep! That principle applies to escape room businesses too!
But my customers only come once? I hear you say…
And what if you launch another room? And another? Or a chain of rooms?!
Don’t you want them there?
And don’t you want them to become your best ambassador in social media?
Don’t you want them to become your best ambassador wherever they go?
There you go.
Your client is one of the pillars of your business.
To communicate your stories, you need to know them, understand them and learn their language.
Convert the knowledge you have about your client into different “Personas”
The concept of Personas is not new.
It’s a product of the prodigious mind of the American programmer and software designer Alan Cooper, the “father” of the Visual Basic programming language.
In his first book, “About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design,” Alan mentioned there was something very disappointing about his industry.
The creators of software, according to Alan, we’re not asking themselves a very important question:
How does the user interact with the product that I’m developing?
In 1992, and parallel to the rapid growth of the software industry, Cooper began to collaborate as a consultant with other companies in the field, helping them design their platforms so that they were much user-friendlier.
His design methodology, surprising at the time, advocated always putting the needs of the users first.
In a few years, Alan Cooper began to develop some of the principles that today have become the foundations of digital design.
Among them, the concepts of “Interaction Design” (ixd) and “Personas”.
According to Alan:
“The worst mistake developers can make is not to test their products on their future users because the perception that the developer has of the product is very different from the users’ and therefore there is a risk of making a product that is tedious and complicated for users.”
Alan suggested interviewing future product users and identifying what made these people happy.
Soon he was grouping them according to what he began to call “Personas”.
His first book, “About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design“, her presented a whole lot of practical design principles, including a taxonomy to guide designers when creating software.
Cooper was forced to write a second edition in the face of the rapid evolution that the design sector was experiencing.
On this occasion, the basic message of this book was addressed to programmers.
Do the Right thing. Think about your Users.
But it was in his next book, published in 1998, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity where Alan introduced his most revolutionary concept (although it might not seem revolutionary to us today!).
The message of his second book is clear:
Business man or woman:
Try to find out your users’ objectives and do everything possible to help them achieve them.
So, really, until Alan hadn’t come up with the concept of Personas, the end user was irrelevant.
Thankfully, things have changed.
Today, Alan’s Personas are one of the key components of any marketing strategy.
According to Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions:
“A PERSONA in the context of marketing is a written portrait of a key segment of the public of a company.
It is necessary to have personas to share content that is relevant and useful for the target audience.” 
According to Tony Zambito, founder of Buyer Insight and Buyer Persona Development:
“A Person is an archetypal representation of our buyer: what they are trying to achieve, the objectives that drive their behaviour,
their way of thinking and buying, and the reasons that make them make purchasing decisions”.
So, we are talking about representations in form of characters of the different segments of our market created according to real data that reflect their real behaviour.
The objective of the Persona is to be able to get us, business people, in our client’s skin.
But there’s a problem.
As Ardath Albee says, most people rely on fictitious data.
And create what she calls “Ghost Personas”.
Ghost Personas are irrelevant.
And they can be quite damaging to our business.
Can you imagine if Johnny Mnemonic became obsessed with a person because he thought he was the client he was looking for, but he was not?
To him, that obsession will surely cost him his life.
To you, the escape room owner, it will cost you time, effort and money.
Imagine that you want to create your escape room’s personas.
You could say that Kirby (yes, always give him or her a name) is a young, creative, independent person, a video gamer intrigued by sci fi and horror stories…
But how are you going to ratify it?
You believe this information to be real.
But, are you just making it all up?
What if as a video gamer considers escape rooms not to be as exciting as the virtual games she is used to?
What if she really doesn’t really like to immerse herself in horror stories?
You really will not be able to know for sure if you don’t conduct the necessary analysis and research.
So, if you don’t want to have your Persona become an absolute waste of time and have it become one of the characters in your haunted escape room, you must delve deeper.
A lot deeper.
Don’t just rely on made-up adjectives.
What you are really after is what’s happening in that complex head of his or hers that prompts them to book your escape room, love it and talk about it until there’s no end!
Something along these lines:
Ø Name: (yes, you must give them a name! It will help you visualise them better as a real person)
Ø Level of Education:
Ø Income level:
Ø Family situation:
Ø Does he or she have children?
Ø Industry where he/she works:
Ø Are they satisfied with their work?
Ø What is their primary need / interest in life?
Ø What kind of computer do they use?
Ø What types of blogs interest them:
Ø Do they use social networks? If so, which one/s and how often?
Ø How often do they use their smartphone?
Ø What is their biggest expense each month?
Ø What do they like to spend their money on?
Ø What do they like to squander it on?
Ø What bothers them?
Ø What is their passion?
Ø What are they afraid of?
Ø Do they expect certain guarantees?
Ø What do they feel guilty about?
Ø What will make them trust in you?
Ø What will make them leave your website immediately?
Ø What do they expect from an escape room?
Ø What would they not tolerate from an escape room?
Ø Are they looking for instant gratification?
Ø What are they afraid in this world?
Ø What will make them book from your webpage and not from other escape rooms’ and vice versa?
Ø When do they buy? At what time of day or night?
Ø Do they prefer to do it on a mobile device?
Ø Are they worried about digital security?
Ø Do they prefer not to use their credit card?
Ø What will make them lose patience when booking your escape room and give up?
Ø How would they react to the content in your site?
Ø What is their main motivation?
Ø Is there anything that prevents them from achieving your goals?
Ø Who do they usually go to for advice or information?
Ø What is the value that drives them to make a decision?
Ø When do they realise that they need a product like yours?
Ø What doubts will they have before booking your room it?
Your escape room’s ideal customer’s Mental Models
“Mental Models” are thought mechanisms through which a human being tries to explain how the real world works.
They’re not at all complicated.
They’re simply mechanisms that have always existed and that we generally don’t tend to question.
For example: imagine that you are buying a digital book.
You don’t really stop to think about the fact that behind the screens and the wires there is a complicated network that collects your order and only processes it if you enter a valid credit card number or a PayPal account?
Normally, you wouldn’t.
Perhaps you do. But most people don’t.
This is something we all have done for a while now and it has become a mental model.
It’s not an exact image of reality – it’s just an imprecise idea that helps us understand our surroundings.
And what you want to be able to do, as an escape room owner, is to try to identify your clients’ collective patterns of attitudes, perceptions, motivations, doubts, and principles and make them easier for them.
What happens if their expectations don’t match your offer?
His or her mind will not be able to compute it and the consequences for your business can be devastating!
So, let’s think about how might your ideal clients purchase from you?
Let’s have a look at any clues left in their purchasing activities that might indicate their preferences when it comes to the closing the deal.
Ø Are they worried about digital security?
Ø Do they prefer not to use their credit card?
Ø Do they not have patience to go past the second page in your purchase process and easily give up?
Here we’re also interested in knowing how your buyers use the content and the copy in your site and how this affects their buying behaviour.
Ø How do they make their purchasing decisions?
Ø What encourages them?
Ø What makes them doubt?
Ø What worries them?
Ø What’s a “deal breaker” for them?
Ø How do they perceive your services and how does this perspective impact them when it comes to making decisions?
Ø Where and when do they book?
Ø What do you have that will make them book that your competitors don’t have, and vice versa?
Ø How long does it take them to “mature” and end up booking from you?
Ø Literally, when do they buy? At what time of day or night?
Ø Do they prefer to book on a mobile device?
That’s a whole lot of digging into your customer’s brain!
Yep, it is!
And perhaps you think it’s all a waste of time!
But all that information is as crucial to you like the password that will free his gigabyte-bursting mind is to Johnny.
You are still not convinced that you don’t really need to psychoanalyse your escape room’s client?
Don’t think for a second that the client is going to knock on the door simply because of who you are!
Or because of the stories you tell!
Your client is extremely savvy and your competitors pretty fierce.
So, go and gather all that info!
Start creating Personas of your escape room’s clients.
And target your rooms, your stories, your copy, your design and your marketing to the right person.
Need a hand?
Talk to the team at Coco Station.
We love and live escape rooms and immersive games.
We love and live digital communication and design.