Merchant Business School: Grow Your Business with Digital Marketing

In the present era, using digital marketing to grow one’s business is a necessity rather than a luxury. Digital marketing is not as expensive as it used to be back in the days, so even a relatively small business can afford it and benefit from it if a right approach is picked.

A/Maze was not the first company to open an escape room game experience in Montreal, but they managed to quickly become the most well-known and stood out among their competitors.  We interviewed Alexander Reverse, the owner of A/Maze, and asked him to share his expertise with us and our merchants.

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Tell us about how it all started. What was the first step?

Alexander: When you start a new company and nobody knows who you are, your goal should be to launch an awareness campaign even before your product is ready. You want to create a buzz, you need that critical mass of people to learn about you and start recognizing your brand even before you enter the market.

Facebook is the best and the cheapest method to reach a large number of people fast. Facebook makes it easier to target very specific audiences – your potential client pool. Google Ads comes later because keywords can get pretty expensive and the cost per click is much higher. You don’t need to spend this kind of money when you are just starting out.

How do you select audiences using Facebook?

Alexander: With Facebook you can target using a specific set of parameters like location, demographic factor or a custom parameter set. For example, Lookalike Audiences help you reach people best matched with your customer’s interests and lifestyle. Facebook can find similar people based on your list in different locations and much more. It’s really a great platform for new and growing businesses.

You mentioned you approached influencers. How did you find them?

Alexander: We searched for influencers/pages with large audiences located in Montreal. We made sure their content was relevant to our audiences and we then gave them free tickets to try the experience with their friends. We approached somewhere around 20-30 people and some of them came through and posted about us. MTL Blog posted a short article about A/Maze and we were fully booked every single day of the week for around three months after that.

Interestingly enough, when we first approached the media and influencers, the majority of them already knew who we are and what our product was. It means that our Facebook campaign performed very well and managed to create that buzz we were hoping for.

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How much money were you spending on digital marketing in the beginning and how much money are you spending now?

Alexander: With Facebook, we used to spend around $300 per month when we just started out. Now we spend around $3,000 a month on Facebook and there’s a separate budget for Google Ads as well.

Now that A/Maze is a well-established business with multiple locations, what targeting parameters are you using?

Alexander: We have multiple ad campaigns running at the same time targeting different audiences. For example, we are still targeting new clients who haven’t heard of us yet. Therefore, our main goal here is to increase our outreach and introduce ourselves to new people. We want them to engage with our content and we have a few different ad sets running for that. For instance, at times we advertise a specific location based on where the potential customer is located. On the other hand, we also advertise a specific game/room or show them a general birthday promo based on their interests.

Simultaneously, we also advertise to friends of our existing fans and clients. Very often people pick friends based on similar interests, so this campaign works very well for this particular target audience.

We also use remarketing and target people who visited our website or web pages similar to ours. We usually target them with a limited-time promo or a similar strategy. There are numerous ways!

What else would you attribute to your success?

Alexander:  Knowing our audience is the key to success. You must know who your customers are. For example, when we needed to figure out who were the decision makers placing reservations for corporate events, we sent out a survey to around 20 of our corporate clients and we were very surprised by the results. You see, if we never asked our customers, we wouldn’t discover this information, information that is vital to our sales process when it comes to corporate sales.

That’s what we are doing on a regular basis – we learn about our clients and make adjustments to our processes and product based on what our clients want. For example, we know that some clients come and play once every two months, so if they recently played the game, we won’t reach out to them until it’s been two months. It all adds up to great customer experience.

We also create cool events, send newsletters and take beautiful professional photos of our clients that we post on our social media. We use a variety of ways to make sure our brand stays relevant to our people.  We started using “memories” as notes to our existing clients written with a very crisp and nostalgic message like “hey, one year ago, you escaped from prison!” it’s a nice way to remind our clients about our brand.

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You used to create content for other businesses before you launched A/Maze. How is it different to be a business owner and do it for yourself?

Alexander: The difference is that as a business owner you get to see how your content performs rather than just submit a project and not know what happened to it after and if it helped with the set goal. It’s important not to get fixated on something that you created and got attached to. If you spent time working on a beautiful video, you posted it and it’s not performing well – let it go! Move on to something else.

All our ads are trial and error. We post them and see which ones work and which ones don’t. We get rid of those that don’t work, no matter how much time and resources we have invested in creating them.  My suggestion – test, test, test!

How many competitors do you have in Montreal?

Alexander: I’d say there are 25 companies who offer a similar product, but because of our digital marketing strategy and our impeccable customer-centered service we are the number one choice.

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