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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How to Make the Most of Camp Fairs

It's only December but you might be thinking about Camp Fairs. My two favorite things about Camp Fairs are you get to meet hundreds of prospects in a very short time, and they're not just any old prospects, they're RED HOT prospects.

The thing about Camp Fairs is, it's not like you took out a newspaper ad and you're hoping someone sees it. The only reason people come to a Camp Fair in the first place is to get information for their kids. That's why they're red-hot prospects.

You need to make the most of this opportunity. But how?

Try to see the Camp Fair from your prospect's perspective. Attending a Camp Fair can be overwhelming for a parent. I've been to some with over 200 attending. Families are going booth-to-booth getting information and brochures and all that while meeting dozens of camp representatives. Eventually all the camps start looking alike to them. You gotta do something to stand out from the crowd.

The temptation is to flag as many people down as possible as they come by your booth. You're trying to give as much information as possible to as many people as you can. In my opinion that's a mistake. When you're running around like a madman you'll stress yourself out and probably forget to say something important. And inevitably some folks will end up feeling like you didn't give them enough attention.

So here's something you might try: Go ahead and meet as many people as possible, but limit the information you give each person to the top two or three most important points you want to convey about your program. Then you can follow up with them a few days later on the phone or online. By then they'll have had the chance to digest all the information they got at the Camp Fair.

These are the top 5 things you might think about when preparing for your next Camp Fair:

1. Get a "Premium" Booth Close to the Exit

Many camp directors think the first booth (near the entrance) is the best one to get. I guess they wanna be the first camp people see. My feeling is, if there's 50, 100, 200 camps in attendance, nobody's gonna remember the first booth they see. But they might remember the last one or two, if you're lucky. So get a booth near the exit. It can pay off big time for you. 

2. Have a "Join our Mailing List" / Sign-in Sheet Available

Be sure to collect as many names, phone numbers and email addresses as possible. This way you can follow up with people later and build your mailing list. Even folks who walk by your booth without saying hello might still give you their information. And just because you didn't meet them in person doesn't mean it's a lost enrollment. Some of your most important work takes place after the Camp Fair, anyway...   

3 ... When you call or email EVERYONE who signed your guest list to thank them for coming by your booth and offer to answer their questions. (Yes, you gotta do this! It's a nice touch, and I'll bet hardly any of the other camps in attendance take this extra step to follow-up with the families who came by their booths.) 

4. Go Booth-to-Booth to Introduce Yourself To Other Camp Directors.

Not only is this is a great networking strategy, you can also monitor your competition. You might even steal some marketing ideas from your competition to use at your camp. 

5. Load Up Your Booth with Your Most Knowledgeable, "People-Friendly" Staff.

Fortunately, most camp people are usually "people people" anyway. But it's worth noting your staff often accounts for up to 90% of the "positive feelings" Camp Fair attendees will form about your program when they meet you. Remember, families attending Camp Fairs are there specifically for detailed information about camp opportunities. So don't just hire one of your counselors to work at your booth and hope for the best. You gotta have friendly, knowledgeable people meeting and greeting folks and answering their questions. Otherwise this might be a blown opportunity.

Here's the thing. Even though I only listed 5 points here, there's lots more you should know including subtle sales tactics and how to engage people and get them to come to your booth and all that. I'll share what I know about that stuff later. For now, if you focus on just what I've said here, I think you'll be alright. Good luck!

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