Developing a Comprehensive Camp Marketing Campaign
As a summer camp director, your job doesn’t end when the school year begins. The year-round responsibilities of an administrator include preparing for next summer’s program, recruiting and training new staff, addressing parental concerns that crop up weeks or even months before or after camp, maintaining the facilities and equipment, and much more.
Of course, none of this hard work pays off without a campus full of excited kids. In order to attract new and veteran campers alike, your team will need to develop a comprehensive marketing plan that moves beyond passing out a few flyers. The tried-and-true strategies below will help you communicate your message to your target audience and ensure a successful summer.
• Early Marketing
For most parents, enrolling their kids in summer camp requires a commitment of time and money. People often plan vacations months in advance, and families on a tight budget need to save up for registration fees and related expenses.
By advertising early, you guarantee that families will have enough time to make a decision and will prioritize your camp over other options. Consider offering early bird incentives, such as discount pricing or first-come-first-serve roommate selection. Promoting early registration also gives you a rough idea of how many kids will attend, allowing you to better prepare.
Encourage current campers to sign up for the following summer by opening up registration while camp is still in session. All the memories and fun experiences of camp will still be fresh in kids’ minds, and they’ll beg their parents to reenroll them.
• Word of Mouth
One of the most reliable marketing tactics is word of mouth. Satisfied families will advertise your camp for you by reregistering their own kids as well as referring neighbors, friends, relatives, and other parents at school.
Obviously, the most important step in implementing a referral program is creating a great camp experience. Beyond that, include a "Tell Your Friends" message on all advertisements and make it easy to share information. When parents arrive to register their kids or to pick them up at the end of camp, distribute stacks of brochures that they can hand out to anyone they know who's interested. In addition, use incentives to encourage referrals, such as a discount price or a free T-shirt.
• Meeting with Parents
Seek out opportunities to meet with groups of parents where they normally congregate, such as school functions, high school sporting events, drama club rehearsals, holiday festivals, churches, and community centers. Sending one or two representatives to each of these gatherings will turn your camp into a staple of the community. You can also host special "parlor meetings" for parents who want more information. Set up a professional, detailed presentation with a time for questions, and allow parents to meet and mingle with the camp director, staff members, and veteran camp families.
• Camp Fairs
Camp fairs are a great way to show off all the unique aspects of your camp, and some friendly competition can drive families to your booth. Start with good information in the form of flyers, brochures, lists, and banners that feature exciting descriptions of the camp, locations and dates, pricing information, activities available, and details such as a packing list.
Most importantly, set up a dynamic display that draws the eye and presents your camp's best face. A nature camp might have a fake campfire or a life-size tent, while a skateboarding camp could have a demonstrator. Match the design with energetic presenters who can answer questions and effectively advertise the camp's highlights.
Note that many colleges and universities also host camp fairs for students looking for a summer job. These events can be great places to hire additional staff.
• Unconventional Marketing
Don't limit yourself to printed ads. Find unconventional marketing opportunities such as a TV commercial, radio broadcast, new social media website, or public demonstration. Brainstorm unique ways to advertise that reflect the style of your camp. For example, an art camp could host a Christmas craft fair, while an outdoor camp could enlist volunteers to clean up the park.
With these strategies in mind, you and your team can implement an effective campaign that appeals to campers and their families.
• Social Media
Online promotion reaches a wider audience than more traditional marketing strategies. Families might discover your camp through a web search, while a Facebook page makes friend referrals easier. During camp, post photos and continual updates to keep parents in the loop, and in the off-season, use social media to promote registration.
The variety of social media ensures that you can reach as many people as possible. Facebook is a great tool for posting photos, videos, and status updates as well as "friending" campers and parents. Twitter allows you to post quick messages and links, while a blog or website gives you a space for more detailed information and forms.
• Online Directories
Another aspect of your marketing campaign that should not be overlooked is utilizing the wide spectrum of online camp directories. By promoting your camp program through a successful online directory you can leverage the broad reach these directories have into various online communities, multiple geographic areas, various socioeconomic groups, etc. Such exposure would open up new doors for your organization and can increase your numbers exponentially. Utilizing such directories is simple and provides great results with virtually no effort. CampsUSA.org offers free & featured listings and is guaranteed to help you succeed.