In San Francisco, there was no shortage of options people could choose from in terms of a Halloween party. With almost every bar and major events company throwing some kind of festival, it became almost impossible to break through the noise and win enough attention for one single event to stand out. Yet somehow, against all odds, one company was able to throw by far the most talked about, the most hyped, and craziest Halloween party we've ever seen, Phantasm - A Karnival of Mischief.
Attendees were charged anywhere from $50-$150, not a cheap option by any means. Remarkably, the event sold out two weeks prior to Halloween, causing people to wait outside and sneak in or try to scalp tickets outside the doors.
When you look at how companies make events like "Phantasm" take off, a few interesting patterns emerge. Below, I'll highlight some of the key things Phantasm did to market the event, and point out some factors that led the party to go viral all over northern California.
1. The Use Of Mystery
I personally heard of the Phantasm party from five different friends. Each one talked about a mysterious surprise the event would be having. While I heard all types of guesses, no one knew for sure, but everyone was wondering.
Using the power of mystery as a marketing technique is something many events no longer do. To stand out, typical companies try to talk about as many features their event has as possible. We'll be having so and so dj, food, shows, etc. A risky move that Phantasm used was being secret about some of the benefits they were having. In their case, it caused people to spread rumors about the party like wildfire. This technique turned customers into marketers for the company, making the word spread across San Francisco like wild fire.
2. Mystery Creates Higher Demand, Which Creates Higher Prices
When I first heard tickets were starting at $50 for the event, I thought that the chances of something like this selling out would be nearly impossible.
To my amazement, the event sold out in record fashion. To an extent, the fact that the tickets were priced so high actually worked in Phantasm's favor. Customers only added fuel to the fire then they mentioned how much tickets were to friends. "If I'm paying $50 for a ticket, there must be an amazing surprise." In combination with point one, using high prices to build excitement for "mysterious" benefits is a great way to boost revenue and spread the word for your event.
3. Just Enough Mystery To Give You A Taste
The final piece of marketing brilliance at Phantasm was the strategy to get partygoers to upgrade to a VIP pass once they entered the venue. A VIP pass was $150, three times more than regular admission.
Once regular admission holders entered the party, they walked right by a set of stairs that led to a "secret" VIP area above the general floor. The event was designed in a way where regular admission holders would see people enter this secret VIP session, but was unable to get more than a slight peak due to heavy security.
With all the talk and hype of a secret surprise, tons of regular admission holders started begging event staff to upgrade to the VIP tickets. The result was a massive success for Phantasm and a party that the San Francisco community will remember for a long time.