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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Top 5 Things You Need to Know about Radio Advertising

Before I started Aloha Beach Camp, I was responsible for marketing another day camp in the Los Angeles area where radio advertising was part of our marketing plan. I wouldn't suggest radio advertising for everyone, because unless you really master it, it can punish you financially. Yet radio advertising can give your marketing a huge boost when used the right way. Here's an article from Entrepreneur Magazine on the top 5 things you should know about radio advertising, just in case you've ever considered using radio ads to market your camp.

Email Marketing and Sharing Tip

Did you know 1/2 (50%)of all shared content is shared via email? That means ALL your emails need to have a "forward this to a friend" link.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Search Engine Optimization Tip

Make sure EVERY page of your site, not just the home page, is optimized for getting traffic. Because if you're only getting traffic from the home page, you don't even need the other pages on your site.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do you know the keywords users are typing into Google,? If so, you're golden

Perry Marshall, author of "The Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords," makes this simple statement on getting your website to come up first in a user's search: "There has to be a precise match between the words your customer is typing in, and the content on your website.."

If you already know what those words are, you're golden. If you don't, find out. It takes a little time and effort, but no money. And I can tell you from personal experience the effort is more than worth it. My own site went from page 3 of Google's rankings to page 1 when I figured out the exact keywords customers were using to find my site.

Your site can make the jump too.

Leaving Comments Can Get You More Enrollment

Do you want to increase camp enrollment? Then you should be leaving comments on this blog. We've discussed this here and in other previous posts.

Leaving comments on blogs and message boards can do wonders for you. In case you don't know, HTML is enabled on the comment area of this blog, so when you leave comments you can link back to your own website or other sites you think readers might find useful.

You already know accumulating links from respected sites will help your site rank higher in Google. And this is a respected site in Google's "mind."

Check out this article on Dan Kennedy's site for more info about building your enrollment and making more money by leaving comments on blogs, message boards and forums. Then leave a comment if growing your enrollment is important to you.

Obviously it takes time (and thought) when you leave comments. You can't just say pointless stuff, leave your web address, and move on to the next blog. You've gotta make a valuable contribution. But when you start seeing the increased marketing exposure you'll get from doing it, the only regret you'll have is that you didn't do it before

Comments, anyone?

7 Search Engine Optimization Tips That Incude Google Caffine

One of our earlier Quick Polls revealed most summer camp marketers aren't too happy with their search engine positions. Understandable. You always want to come up on the first page. It's not easy, but with work your site can climb higher and higher. Here's an article from OnlinePRNews with 7 search engine optimization tips which include google caffine. These are good tips, so see if you can't implement them on your website soon

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Don't know how much longer I'll be writing this blog

With camp marketing season in full swing now and new business opportunities in front of me, I'm not sure how much longer I'll be writing this blog. But keep following along and subscribing for the time being. I'll give you ample notice if and when I stop for good.

For those of you who I've been consulting with via email and on the phone, I will also be available to do that on a limited basis.

Talk soon...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Business Card Best Practices

This article about business cards best practices struck me immediately. I had to share it with you. I'm a proponent of using business cards in an unconventional way, and I'm always tickled to get comments from readers like the one connected to the post I just linked to.

(The person commenting said they didn't like the "un-camp like" language in my post. I'm still laughing at that one, not just because the person thinks they're the self-appointed camp-language police, but mostly because they are too scared to say who they are, posting their comment anonymously.)

Whatever. I hope you get some benefit from the business card article. You don't hear much about business cards anymore. So this is a worthwhile read with several good points, I think.

Now THIS is an effective ad.




What if your camp's website got 200,000 new visitors this week?

Are you familiar with the website StumbleUpon.com? It's an internet community website that lets users vote on and share content with others. It also automatically shows you content it thinks you'll like.

The people who started it sold out to ebay, then bought it back. They've made lots of improvements since then.

Like most of the social web, StumbleUpon can help you get lots of new links and website hits you didn't have before...but only if you've got cool content because, as you know, people are apt to share content they like.


Also, when people are "stumbling" through the site and across your content, they might share it through other social sites like Facebook and Twitter. So you can why some people see hundreds of thousands of new visitors to their websites in a single week.

If you're not using StumbleUpon, give it a try. And watch this video for more info about how it works and why it's more effective than ever.

Social Media and Search are not Your Prospect's Preferred Recommomendation Source

Social media, Google, Yahoo and other search engines are a good source of information for people considering your camp. But as Mediapost points out, these tools aren't as effective as traditional word of mouth marketing. When people hear positive information and recommendations from friends about your program, that's when they're more likely to sign up.

As we've mentioned before, you can facilitate word of mouth marketing on your own. It can be as easy as asking for referrals from happy customers or implementing an active referral program. Eventually social media might become the #1 source for folks making buying decisions, but I can't see it happening because there's nothing more credible than getting a personal endorsement from your friend.

Just my 2...

Have you joined the Summer Camps facebook group?

Have you joined our Summer Camps on Facebook group? It's just for camp directors and others involved in camp to meet, share and discuss topics related to the our industry and the camp experience. Come hang out with us!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Does Google like your camp's website?

There's a bunch of free tools online to help you see how well your site is optimized for search engines. You can use Google's Webmaster tools for starters. But one I like just as much, and you should check out today, is Submit Express's website analyzer. It'll tell you if your Website's in good shape or if you need to make any improvements.

Girl Scout Cookie Marketing Ideas

Came across this article by a guy who's apparently bitter some enterprising Girls Scouts found to new way to sell cookies.They posted a sign outside their house saying people could buy cookies by coming to the house.

It's a brilliant idea in my book. You're probably used to having the Girl Scouts ring our your doorbell or setting up shop outside the local supermarket.Those traditional marketing strategies are still great sales tools. But this is too.

I've ever seen Girl Scouts cookies sold this way. I guess the downside is strangers are gonna come to your door.

But the creativity the girls used here turns the upside in their favor. I'll bet they're selling a lot more cookies than they normal.They're probably getting drive by traffic and all that. After they cover the cost of making the sign (couple bucks, maybe), they only need to sell a few more boxes of cookies to start making money.

One more thing crossed my mind. Look at the picture. See all the snow on the ground? Maybe it's just too freakin' cold this time of year to go door-to-door selling cookies. Maybe this notion forced the girls to be creative. In any case it's a fantastic idea.

Read the article and let me know what you think.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to Market Your Camp with Door Hangers

If you run a day camp, one marketing tactic you might try are doorhangers. You've probably seen them. They they kinda look like "do not disturb" signs and they, well, hang right on someone's door handle.

The reason door hangers can be such a powerful marketing tool is they reach the EXACT group of people you're targeting  -- families -- right at their homes.

All kinds of businesses use door hangers. I like them for day camps because they're great for calling attention to local businesses. But overnight camps shouldn't rule them out.

You can use doorhangers for many things, but annoucing special deals, getting people to call or go to your website, or even just letting families know you're "the neighborhood camp" and ready to serve their summer camp needs are good places to start.

Another great thing about door hangers, they won't break your budget. You can get them for pennies apiece. Your biggest cost will be distribution. But you can probably hire a high school kid or two to get your door hangers out there.

If you're interested in giving door hangers a try, check out doorhangers.com, cheapdoorhangers.com or vistaprint.com. Let me know how they work.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Is it Time to Get Rid of Your Camp's Website?

A few years ago, when I first got into blogging, I kinda thought traditional websites might have seen their last days. Why would you need a website when you could have a blog?

Blogs are cheaper, easier to use and update, provide better opportunities to connect with others, and more search engine-friendly. I almost ditched my website this year in favor of my blog(s) entirely, but decided against it at the last minute.

But now with the social marketing boom, there's an even better arguement to be made that you don't need a traditional website anymore. If everyone is already on Facebook anyway, why not let Facebook do the work of finding camp families for you?

(If you're doing a good job with your Facebook fan page, the people you hope to reach will find you on Facebook by default. So the tempation to focus your resources and attention on Facebook, rather than trying to get your site to the top of the search engines, might pay off better for you.)

Given all this, I'm still not convinced giving up your website is a good idea. For one thing, your website is one of your camp's primary business assets. When used right, it's also a fantastic marketing tool. Not only that, but as Chris Crum of Webpronewz points out, having your own website gives you more credibility and control compared to merely relying on third party sites to get your marketing message out.

So there's a case to be made both ways. For now, I'd keep your own site and use it like you have been, in conjunction with other social marketing tools like Facebook. But however you personally feel about this, I suggest reading Chris Crum's article, "Is it Becoming Less Critical For Businesses to Have Websites?". It's a really good, thought-provoking article. Let me know what you think.

Another Email Marketing Company

Saw this email marketing company on facebook today. Looks pretty good.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hoping for a good turnout on our Camp Marketing Chat Tonight on Twitter

Join us for a #cmchat TweetChat at: http://tweetchat.com/room/cmchat #cmchat

Social Marketing's #1 Secret, Part 2

Yesterday we discussed the #1 secret of social media marketing which is resisting the urge to "sell" your camp to customers and prospects and focus on building relationships with them instead.

Heather O'Sullivan Canney is a Social Media Consultant in North Carolina. She explains how using this strategy on Facebook helped her business grow: "As a result of creating [my fan] page with the INTENTION of engaging, and not merely as an advertising platform, I now receive nearly 90% of my business via facebook."

I don't know if you can get 90% of your enrollment through Facebook. But as I've said in the past, summer camp marketing and social media marketing were MADE FOR EACH OTHER.

You might not have thought of this before, but your entire camp operation -- from how you talk to parents to the way your counselors connect with kids -- is based on social marketing. In fact you've probably been using "social marketing" for as long as you've run your camp, and certainly before the term even existed.

Since you run a camp, you're already really good at engaging with customers and prospects. You've got an unfair advantage over others struggling to master this craft.

But now that the secret's out, you've gotta be selfish. You've gotta use your social marketing skills to your full advantage. As I always say, you don't want to manipulate anyone into coming to your camp. But you do want to make friends and influence their decisions.

You can do this with social media marketing and networking. You're already doing it every day.


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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The #1 Secret of Social Marketing

There's lots of ways to make social marketing work for you. But the #1 secret is this: You must resist the urge to push your sales message on customers and prospects, and let them get to know you, feel important and appreciated instead.

We've hammered this home many times before, but people spend money with others they like. That means your goal should be building relationships with customers by endearing yourself to them. In turn they'll be compelled to share your content and information with their inner circle of contacts and friends, helping your enrollment grow exponentially.

Just focus on your customers and prospects first, and your "sign up now" sales message next. The rewards are extraordinary.

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Camp Marketing Chat onTwitter Tomorrow (Thurs) Night!

Don't forget to join us Thursday night, Feb 18 at 7 pm on Twitter to chat about camp marketing. Use the hashtag #cmchat to join in!

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Monday, February 15, 2010

How to Avoid Your Emails Being Viewed as Spam

Know what drives me up the frickin wall? Yahoo email, for one thing.

Even if I send an email to MYSELF, it goes into my spam folder half the time. And the real spam emails go into my inbox. And the non-spam goes into the spam folder. Even though Yahoo's trying to help, they often cause more frustration than anything else.

I'm not sure the problem's limited to Yahoo. I've heard the same story from people about gmail, msn, hotmail and others. In any case, this teaches us we can't take anything for granted when sending emails.

If you're an email marketer, your first goal used to be getting your email opened in the first place. Now it's for the darn thing to go into the recipient's inbox for goodness sake.

There's a few things you can do so your email doesn't trigger spam filters. Avoiding excessive capital letters, special characters (like $ signs), and exclamation points within your subject line is a good start. According to iContact, staying away from the following words and phrases in your subject line are a good idea, too:

  • Free 
  • Act Now 
  • All New
  • 50% Off 
  • Call Now 
  • Subscribe Now
  • Earn Money 
  • Discount 
  • Double Your Income
  • You’re A Winner! 
  • Million Dollar Opportunity
  • Compare 
  • Removes 
  • Collect
  • Amazing 
  • Cash Bonus 
  • Promise You Credit
  • Loans 
  • As Seen On 
  • Buy Direct
  • Get Paid 
  • Order Now 
  • Please Read
  • Don’t Delete 
  • Time Limited 
  • While Supplies Last
  • Why Pay More 
  • Special Promotion
  • Information You Requested
  • Stop 
  • No Cost 
  • No Fees
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed 
  • Serious Cash 
  • Search Engine Listings
  • Join 
  • Millions Save Up To 
  • All Natural
  • You’ve Been Selected 
  • Excessive
  • $ or !
Just using one or two of these words or phrases in your subject line may not affect whether your email gets seen as junk by the recpient's email client. But if you use them excessively, you're screwed.


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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Share your content for free

To make it easier for users to share your blog and website content with others, add a free sharing button from either Sharethis.com or Addthis.com. If you can copy and paste, that's all you need to add the button. Then people can share your content on facebook, twitter, and so many other places across the web


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Friday, February 12, 2010

What's better, a Facebook Fan page, or Facebook Group?

Ever hear the phrase, "People Buy People"? It's another way of saying people buy products and services from others they know and like. Why spend your hard-earned money with someone you don't know if you could buy the same thing for the same price (or even a little more) from a trusted friend?

If there's one thing we're all trying to do, it's get our customers and prospects to trust us. In the social media age, we can build relationships and get closer to our target audience in ways never before possible.

Facebook's probably the best-known website to achieve your social networking goals. I'm sure you're familiar with Facebook Fan and Group pages. But which is better for engaging with customers?

It depends what your goals are. According to Search Engine Journal, Fan pages are better for building long-term relationships, and groups are better for hosting discussions and attracting attention.

For Aloha Beach Camp, we maintain a Fan page for the general public and a group page for established customers, staff and friends. It's seemed to work out well this way.

What kind of presence does your camp have on Facebook? Are you getting what you want from it?

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How to Lose Email Subscribers With Poor Mailing List Management

Everyone hates spam. But I don't mind receiving email friends, relatives or informative sources who can help me run my camp better.

Problem is, today I received an email newsletter from the same company 3 TIMES in a row, within a matter of seconds. Maybe that means their email service provider is having deployment problems. But more likely it's a case of mailing list mismanagement. They probably have me on several different lists and don't even know it.

Given how many emails we all get already, it's CRUCIAL that I, you and the newsletter company in question maintain clean, accurate mailing lists so we don't piss anyone off.

Think of it this way. Some of our most precious customers and prospects are those who've opted-in to receive our email messages. "Opting-in" means they've given us permission to market to them.

We sure don't want to give them a reason to opt-out.

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How to Market to Women on Facebook

All of us have at least one thing in common: Women make up our target market. If you want to reach more of them, and/or need tips on how to do it, Facebook's the place to be.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Never Pay Full Price for Newspaper or Magazine Advertising

You're in luck if traditional advertising is your thing. Since so many organizations have reallocated their promotional budgets to online advertising, newspaper and magazine publishers aren't exactly having a ball trying to sell advertising space. So if you want to place ads in your local parenting magazine, I'll bet you can get a bargain if you know how to negotiate.

Take my friend Holly. She owns one of those Kids Gymnastics places. She was sick and tired of paying full price for magazine advertising. So she told her sales rep she was gonna pull her ad in favor of online advertising which is cheaper and more effective.

Guess what? The sales rep freaked out and practically gave away the store to keep Holly as a customer.

Not only did the sales rep DOUBLE the ad size Holly was paying for, she also gave Holly a price break AND her choice of where she wanted the ad to appear. Naturally, Holly chose the upper right-hand corner of the page, which is where a reader's eye gravitates when reading a newspaper or magazine.

Don't be afraid to let your sales rep know what you want. In this economy and marketing environment, you're in charge.

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7 Ways to Get More Comments on Your Blog

Darren Rowse of Problogger blogs via video and written content. Here's a video he made a few months ago to help you get more comments on your blog. When you get people commenting on your stuff, you're creating engagement and building relationships. That's exactly what you want to do with customers and prospects. As you'll see in the video, Darren says asking questions -- and the following 7 in particular -- are one of the best ways to do it:

  • What do you think?
  • How do you feel
  • What is your opinion
  • What will you do?
  • What is your story?
  • What is your experience or example?
  • What have you been working on?

Naturally people like talking about themselves. It's their favorite subject. By asking these questions within your blog posts, or even on your Facebook or Twitter pages, you could get more reader involvement.



14 Ways to Optimize Your Pictures for Search

"Blended search results" -- where not only your website comes up in a user's search, but pictures and videos too -- is a concept whose time has come. Just search for your own camp on Google. You might see some of your photos come up. But only if you've optimized those photos for search.

Webceo.com's newsletter is one of many I read. Today I wanted to share their 14 point checklist on how to format (optimize) your photos so they get maximum attention from the search engines.

As you know, pictures of happy campers can be a wonderful sales tool. Do yourself a favor by reading this checklist and taking the necessary steps to make sure your camp photos are "search-engine friendly."

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Should Advertising on School Buses be Allowed?

Putting ads in children's school buses is one way to increase revenue for schools and school districts. Personally I think it's a good idea. In fact I used to run a school bus company many years ago and had this idea back then. Eventually putting ads inside or out of camp vehicles might even be something you or I consider down the road. What do you think?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Social Media Revolution



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Online Coupon Use is Getting More Popular. Why not Market Your Camp with Coupons?

You've heard me say this before: Marketing your camp with coupons is a great idea, especially if you want to draw more kids to your program.

The high cost of raising kids is frustrating. Families appreciate discounts whenever, and wherever, they can get them.

Online coupon use, particularly due to the recession, has increased dramatically in recent years. In face, studies show that moms consider coupon sharing one of their favorite things to do on Facebook.

Why not give your customers and prospects some added value (and a nice incentive to enroll) with a money-saving discount to your camp? Check out Camp Coupons.com and add your coupon today for free.

If you need help or have any questions about adding your coupon, let me know. If you want more info about online coupons in general and how to create them, check out this link.

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All of your advertising must be direct response

I have three young kids of my own, and my family's on several mailings lists from different camps in our area. Believe it or not, we received a camp brochure today WITHOUT an enrollment form included. I shook my head and trashed the whole thing. I'll bet most of the other families who got the brochure did the same.

The lesson here is, all of your advertising must be direct response. "Direct response" means you must tell your prospects what you want them to do when they get your mailing piece, see your ad, etc..

Let's say your sending out postcards. Printing your camp's name and some photos would be nice. But it won't help you get any kids. Not unless you tell the person getting the postcard what to do, anyway.

Do you want them to go to your website? Come to your open house? Call now?

Whatever it is you want them to do, tell them. People can't read your mind. And even if they could, most of them are too lazy to do anything without a push anyway.

Here's a few words and phrases you might use on your postcard:

  • Pick up the phone and call right now
  • Limited space available -- sign up for camp today
  • Use the attached enrollment form to enroll today
  • Go to our website now!

Let's face it. If your promotional stuff isn't direct response -- if you don't tell your prospects what you want them to do -- they'll decide for themselves what to do instead.

Just like me when I decided to trash the brochure today.


I won't tell you the camp's name or the camp director's name who sent me the brochure. It doesn't matter and you're smarter than he is.

But this camp's mistake is a good reminder for all of us: Not including an enrollment form in your camp brochure is just stupid. And making all your advertising direct response is a cardinal sin.


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Free Advertising for Atlanta area camps

If your run a summer camp in Altanta, here's a free advertising opportunity for you.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

10 Essential Search Engine Optimization Strategies

We're gonna cover search engine optimization (SEO) in depth soon so you can get your camp's website to the top of the search engines. Meanwhile here's a list by elated.com called "10 Essential SEO Strategies." I think you'll get some useful information here.

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Not Satisfied With Your Google Placement? No Problem, We'll Fix it.

In our last Quick Poll, "Are you satisfied with your camp's Google ranking?", the overwhelming response was "Very Unsatisfied." We've gotta change that!

There's lots of ways you can move your site up the search engine results. We need to get your camp as close to page 1 as possible. I'll show you how in the near future.

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How to Strike Gold Commenting on Blogs and Message Boards

One way to get traffic to your website or blog is by leaving comments on other people's blogs and message boards when those blogs and message boards relate to kids, parenting or camp in general. Sometimes you can even include a link back to your own site within your comment.

When commenting blogs or message boards, don't just be like, "Oh, great post, dude," and then move on to the next blog. Unless your comments are insightful and deliver great content, people will just read everyone else's comments, ignoring yours. Surely they won't click through to your site.

Now here's a cool secret to generating traffic back to your website or blog through commenting on other blogs and message boards: Concentrate on building relationships with the other people who are commenting on the same blogs as you.

The reason why you can hit pay dirt with this strategy is because many of the folks who spend time commenting on blogs and message boards are often bloggers themselves. Not only do these people have influence, they're always looking for good content to post on their own blogs.

See what I'm getting at?

If you're leaving worthwhile comments and getting to know the other folks commenting on the same blogs you are, chances are you'll eventually strike gold and at least one of those people will decide to write about your camp on their blog in the future.

Now if you think this means manipulating people into writing about you, or forming fake relationships so people will give you a mention, forget it. That's not cool and it won't work. Kissing people's asses never does. They'll see right through you.

Here's what your takeaway from this post should be. Search the internet for camp-related blogs and message boards. Leave meaningful comments and develop relationships with other people commenting on the same stuff you are. The internet is a content-driven, social animal. That means it's based on personal connections, and people sharing meaningful information.

One more thing before you go. If you need any proof about whether the strategies I'm talking about work, go ahead and leave a comment here. You never know...I just might write about your camp in an upcoming post. :)

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Sample Marketing Plan and Marketing Ideas for Your Camp

There's a couple places, online and off, where you can find camp marketing info. (But that number's pretty small, lol, so that's why I write this blog.) I'm trying to bring you the good stuff so you can grow your enrollment and beat your competition. Ultimate Camp Resource is nice site. Check it out if you need a sample camp marketing plan or what they call magical marketing ideas for your summer camp.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Your Mailing List Provider Looks Like a Good Bet

Check out http://www.ymlp.com (your mailing list provider) for email marketing software. Can't beat the price!

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How to Deal with Price Objections

Sometimes people will object to the price you charge for camp. They might ask, "Why is it so expensive?," or "Why do you charge so much more than Camp XYZ?"

So here's what you do.

You say, "Well, I'm sure Camp XYZ knows the value of their services better than we do..."

It works every time! :)

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The Good and Bad of Google Adwords

Marketing your camp with Google Adwords can be a smart advertising strategy.

The way it works is, you tell Google what keyword terms you think people will use when searching for your camp on Google (such as "summer camps," "day camps," or "overnight camps"). When a user searches on those keywords, your ad comes up at the top of the page or on the sidebar.

What's nice is, you only pay if people actually click on your ads. So in effect you're only paying for results. You need to be careful though. Sneaky competitors can manipulate your Adwords strategy and hurt you.

For example, the malicious camp owner next door might click on your ads over and over again, with no other intention than to deplete your advertising budget.

Another dirty trick a competitor might do is use YOUR camp's name as THEIR keyword. That means when someone searches on your camp's name, your competitor's camp comes up in Google's search results instead.

If you haven't used Google Adwords in the past, you might want to check it out. It's an easy way to get to first page of Google's search results. But it definitely has its downfalls, too.

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How to get 9,000 fans on Facebook

One of my Facebook fan pages now has 9,000 fans (mostly kids). And it's growing by at least 25 new fans each day. It took less than a year to reach 9,000. The cool thing is, almost ALL of these fans are camp age kids, and I can send each of them a simultaneous message (like email) with a simple click of a button.

If you wanna do the same thing, I'll show you how. It's easy to get this many fans and more. But you gotta become a fan on facebook now and follow @campmktgnews on twitter for more information and the latest updates on how to do it.

(Or your other option is to just forget it and let your competitors do it instead.)

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Facebook Fan? Discount!

One way to get more Facebook fans AND increase camp enrollment simultaneously is to offer a promotional rate or discount off camp tuition to anyone who becomes a fan.

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How to Get People To Open Your Direct Mailer

Wanna get your sales letter thrown in the trash? Make it look like junk mail. A plain white envelope with a metered stamp and will do it every time.

But if you want people to actually open and your mailer, be creative. Use a first class stamp. Put the stamp upside down. Print the address and return address in different color ink by hand. Write "Important Information" or "Time Sensitive Material" on the front. Your prospects will open your mailer every time.

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Social Marketing Happens Offline, Too

You can't step outside these days without hearing the words "social media marketing." But you better step outside, because as Mashable tells us, just as much word of mouth marketing among moms happens offline as on, if not more.

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Oversimplified (or maybe not), Search Engine Optimization is designing your website so search engines trust your content enough to pare it up with what people are looking for. I guess it really is that simple.

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How to Get More Followers on Twitter

Check it out.

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10 Search Engine Optimization Tips for YouTube

Do you market your camp with videos? I hope so. Here's an article from Designfollow.com on how to optimize your videos for search on YouTube.

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Email Marketing is Still a Great Summer Camp Marketing Tool

I was talking with a camp director yesterday who dropped email marketing from his marketing arsenal because he said it's a "dying breed." He was absolutely enamored with the notion of texting, social media, Facebook and all that instead.

I told him I understand where he's coming from, but giving up email marketing is a bad idea. The fact is, email marketing is one of the hottest marketing tools a camp director can use. I included email marketing
in my Top 7 Summer Camp Marketing Strategies list for 2010. And if you're looking to add a viable social marketing component to your promotional plan, sending emails is a great choice.

Remember when the Internet came of age 10 or 15 years ago? Email was pretty much how everyone communicated online. And that's precisely why email marketing should remain an integral part of your marketing plan -- it literally crosses generations. Here's what I mean.

The "new" ways to communicate online -- MySpace, IM, Facebook, Twitter -- often don't appeal to "older" (LOL!) internet users. Take my dad, who's 77. He knows his way around the internet, and even has a Facebook account. But he doesn't like it, and he doesn't use it. My dad, and many of his friends, say "no thanks" to Facebook and prefer email instead. They say it's more comfortable, familiar, user friendly and less intimidating than the new stuff. (And since so many grandparents pay for their grandchildren's camp tuition, we should all take note of this!)

Constant Contact is my email marketing provider. I started with them a few years ago, tried a few others, then came full circle and now use Constant Contact again. There's definitely a learning curve. But Constant Contact (or any reputable email company) will help you build relationships, stay in touch with customers and propsects, and grow your enrollment on a consistent basis. 

If we're gonna call a spade a spade, email marketing can't be beat.

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How to Engage Customers and Prospects with Polls and Contests

One of the best ways to use twitter and other social media platforms is to run contests and polls. People can't resist entering or voting.

Aloha Beach Camp's running a contest right now on twitter where you can win a free rash guard.

Here's the blog post about it if you want more info. All you need to do is follow Aloha on twitter, make a "tweet" from your own twitter account and include #alohabeachcamp in that tweet. Good luck!

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How to Market To Moms on Facebook (They Love Coupons and Kids Stuff!)

Did you know moms love Facebook more than any other social networking website? If you read this blog even remotely from time to time, you probably do know that. Here's some stuff you may not know.

The most popular pages for moms on Facebook are those with 1) coupons, and 2) kid-themed subjects.

This is yet another reason why I continue to say you should market your camp with coupons. In this economy, EVERYONE's looking for a bargain...especially moms who are often responsible for maintaining family budget.

I run the campcoupons.com website where you can add your camp for free. Plus there's already 59 fans on the Camp Coupons facebook fan page, so you can hang out over there and connect with moms who are already interested in what you're selling...summer camp for their kids! :)

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Google can "read" Flash files, but Other Search Engines Probably Can't

Google can now read content and links embedded in flash files and websites. This is good news. In the past, any content included in flash and other rich medias files was a waste in terms of search engine optimization.

Even though Google can read flash, other search engines may not be able to. Accordingly, I'd avoid including important links and content within flash
to be sure you're maximizing your camp's website reach across the internet as a whole.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

What are your camp traditions?

Just got back from a sushi dinner with my wife and kids. The restaurant was OK, nothing spectacular...yet we go there all the time.

Why do we choose this particular sushi place when there's so many other options with better food?

Tradition. Let me explain.

My kids -- ALL kids -- LOVE this sushi place because the restaurant encourages them to draw pictures (of anything) on napkins, then tape the napkins to the restaurant wall.

There's pictures of dragons, buildings, cars, robots, boats, people, airplanes, you name it. Some of the pictures are pretty good, some aren't. But just the fact the restaurant plasters its walls with kids' drawings gives it a warm, personal, neighborhood feel. And it makes kids feel important and included in the restaurant's traditional pastime of allowing them to draw their own pictures and put them on the wall for all to see.

In fact my kids refer to this place as, "the restaurant that lets us draw on napkins and put them on the walls."

It's funny, each time we go, they look forward to seeing their previous drawings and making new ones while we're there.

I wish I had my phone or camera with me tonight. I'd have taken pictures to show you. There must be over 1,000 different napkins and drawings kids have made through the years.

I was just wondering, do you have any traditions at your summer camp? I'll bet you do, and I'll bet they're so cool! And I'll bet your campers look forward to participating in them all year long.

I Googled "summer camp traditions" tonight and found one from Rockbrook Girls Summer camp so moving it almost brought a tear to my eye.

Whether you realize it or not, your camp traditions are very much a part of your marketing activities. Participating in camp traditions can be one of the most important ways kids feel connected to your program.

I'll tell you what though. I wouldn't use camp traditions as an overt promotional tactic. Some camp traditions are downright sacred. They should stay so far under the marketing radar you wouldn't even include them in your marketing plan.

I hope you'll share your camp traditions with all of us here.

How to Turn Your Social Media Efforts into Actual Enrollment

Imediaconnection's one of the better websites out there. While everyone else is out there talking about social marketing, Imedia comes out with this fantastic article about how to turn your social media activities into actual sales (read: enrollments). It's solid, practical information you can use today.

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Can you get more customers with less advertising?

Here's an easy way to build enrollment without spending a dime. Just ask your existing customers for more referrals. If you've got happy families who are satisifed with your camp, they'll be happy to oblige.

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Don't Forsake Established Customers Just to Please New Ones

When you meet or talk to a new prospect, it's natural to trip over yourself trying to make them happy. Maybe you give them extra attention and all that. They don't have a relationship with you or your staff yet, so you want to make the best first impression possible to win them over from the start.

Whatever you do, don't get complacent when serving established or long-term customers. It's an easy thing to do. You're so focused on pleasing the new people, the current ones don't get the attention they deserve.

One of the best ways to keep everybody happy -- including those who've attended your camp for years -- is to pretend you're talking to EVERYONE for the very first time, even if you've talked to them a thousand times before.

Your kindness and enthusiasm will show through, and your customer relationships, long term and short, will continue to grow.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Some Words of Encouragement...Keep Marketing!

Pretty soon, if we're lucky, all of us are gonna find ourselves scrambling to get ready for camp. As winter moves out and we get deeper into spring, it'll get easier to make excuses for putting your marketing on hold.

But don't.

Please make sure to include at least 1 or 2 (or 3!) marketing activities into your busy day, every day. Keep promoting your camp no matter what.

As I always say, marketing's not easy -- it's hard. But it's also too important to put off, and you'll be rewarded for sticking to it.

So keep on marketing!!!

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Why FREE is a Magic Word

The word "FREE" just grabs you. It's one of the most powerful -- if not the most powerful -- word in marketing.

Everyone's looking for a deal, especially in this economy. The question is, how can you use "free" when marketing your camp? Here's 6 ideas to get you started:
  • Free t-shirt when signing up for camp
  • Free day of camp when signing up for 10 days of camp or more
  • Free camp session next year when you sign up for 2 sessions this year
  • Free registration when you sign up for camp by such and such date
  • Free prizes and giveaways at our next open house
  • Free upgrade to our premium Campers Photo Package when you subcribe to our Basic Camper Photo Package

Sometimes you can offer the same item or deal for free, but the way you say it makes all the difference. Check this out.

A dentist in my area made the following two offers to get customers to buy subscribe to his newsletter.
  1. "Subscribe to my newsletter for one year for just $100, and get the second year for only $50"
  2. "Subscribe to my newsletter for just $150 for one year, and get the second year free"

As you can see, both offers are exactly the same. The actual price to subscribe to the newsletter was $150 for two years. But the second offer -- the "free" one -- pulled 30% better than the first. Just goes to show how people will jump at free stuff, even when it's not really free at all!

I hope I've given you some worthwhile ideas to work with. I'll bet you can think of dozens more. If you need any help, post a comment and let me know. Good luck!

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Robert Scoble Doesn't Know What He's Talking About

Do you know who Robert Scoble is? He's a high profile blogger/internet guy. For the most part he's very well respected in internet circles. But recently he came up with this dangerously erroneous notion that 2010 marks the year search engine optimization won't be important to market your website any more.

Here's my take: The guy's way off.

If you want to make your website fall off a cliff, listen to Scoble's argument. If you want people to find your camp's website online, don't pay any attention to the fool.

As long as people use search engines to find websites (do you think Google's going anywhere?), optimizing your website so people can find it is one of the very best things you can do.

You and I care too much about our websites -- and our customers and our prospects and our camps -- to dare listen to guys like this who think search engine optimization is dead.

There's so many aspects to SEO, from keyword content to meta tags and descriptions to linking to commenting to word count to local profiles and so much more, ignoring ANY of them would be a hazardous to your website's health.

Socble seems to think we should ignore SEO these days. Maybe we should ignore him instead.

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How to Market Your Website in a Social Media Age

I read tons and tons and TONS of stuff on low tech marketing, high tech marketing, social media marketing, ALL kids of marketing. I study it like crazy. But I've never see a better article than this about how to market your website in the social media age. (Gist: Search engines are still king.) Enjoy.

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Don't Like the Lauguage I Use? Screw off!

We always appreciate getting comments here. One person commented today and said they don't like the language I use. Who cares? Don't read the blog if you're so frickin uptight. But if you want to comment, why not have the balls to say who you are rather than posting anonymously? You can't be taken seriously when you're hiding behind the shadows of your own computer.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Is Twitter Lame? Just ask a 15-year old.

Check out this article from USA Today. Facebook and texting are where it's at, because as one kids says, "Twitter is Lame."

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A Cool New Way to Promote Your Camp with Business Cards

You know those community bulletin boards, like in Starbucks or local businesses, where you can post flyers or business cards? Here's a great new way to promote your camp with business cards. It's called Card Cues. For the same size as a single business card, you can stick 40 cards into a little holder and post it on a bulletin board. Think I'll give it a try. (By the way, if your business cards look like everyone else's, maybe you should think about dressing them up. Just saying.)

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Teens Don't Blog or Tweet

Here's an enlightening summary by Mashable of Pew Internet's findings on the way teens use the net, mobile devices and tech gadgets in general. One of the things that wasn't so interesting was the confirmation that teens don't use twitter, because we already knew that. But check out some of the other stats:

  • Teens use laptops more than desktops
  • More teens have a cell phone than a computer
  • Teens don't blog (or tweet, as we mentioned)
  • Teens love being online, but they don't like creating content. They'd rather comment on other people's content or post photos and videos or chat instead
Anyway, check out the article. You'll enjoy it.

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25 Social Marketing Tips

Here's a list of 25 Social Marketing Tips from SEO Consult's blog. (As social marketing blogs go, this one isn't one of my favorites. But I hope the list is helpful to you.)
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How to Sell the Benefits, not the Features, of Your Camp

You've probably heard the phrase, "Sell the sizzle, not the Steak." It's a sales and marketing phrase that simply means you should promote the benefits of your camp program, not its features, because people buy benefits more than features.

When you demonstrate for prospects the benefits people get by signing up at your camp, you could see a nice enrollment spike.

Why?

Because identifying the benefits of your camp for prospects answers the question every prospect asks: "What's in it for me?"

But here's the problem. Identifying the difference(s) between features and benefits can be hard. Many marketers struggle with it. There's a few tricks you can use to find the difference.

Think of the features of your camp as factual statements about it. For example, if you offer horseback riding, beach activities, or sports and games, these are features of your camp. So is your returning staff.

But just telling people about your features won't necessarily induce them to sign up. You gotta take it one step further and translate those features into benefits for your customers and prospects. They're not gonna connect the dots themselves, so you've gotta do it for them.

How do you find the benefits of your offer? Well, remember, you're trying to answer the question every prospect asks before they choose a camp: "What's in it for me?"

So here's what you do.

Don't even use the word "benefits" when trying to figure out what your benefits are. Use the word "results" instead.

For the purposes of your camp's marketing message, "benefits" and "results" are exactly the same. So you simply need to identify the "results" people get from attending your camp, then promote those results in your marketing.

You can do that EASILY with this trick:

  • State a feature of your camp. For example: "We offer swimming lessons at Camp XYZ."
  • Follow up that statement with these three simple words: "...and that means..."
  • Then explain the results a kid will get from the swimming lessons using the words "and that means..."

Here it is all together:

"We offer swimming lessons at Camp XYZ, and that means your child will gain lifelong water safety skills."

Presto!

Just by saying, "and that means," then stating the outcome (or result) of the feature, the features automatically get translated into benefits every time.

Here's another example.

One of the places I buy surfboards for my camp advertises like this:

"Our soft-foam surfboards are perfect for kids who want to learn to surf."

Well, they probably don't even know it, but they're selling features, not benefits. The feature is the surfboard itself.

But if they'd take it one step further and translate the results people get from using soft foam surfboards, they'd probably sell a lot more of them.

Actually there's many benefits (i.e., results) kids get from using soft-foam surfboards. But mostly these types of surfboards provide a safe and easy learning experience compared to traditional wood or fiberglass boards.

So here's what we tell parents. We don't just say, "Come to Aloha Beach Camp and we'll teach your child to surf on soft foam surfboards."

We say, "Come to Aloha Beach Camp and your child will learn to surf on soft foam surfboards. And that means they'll have a safer learning experience and pick up the sport faster than if they learned on harder fiberglass or wooden surfboards."

I think you get my drift. If you're having trouble finding the benefits of your offer, just make a factual statement about your camp.Then ask yourself what results people will get by signing up. Then say, "and that means," and state the outcome of whatever using the feature means.

Give it a try ... it always works!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How to Optimize Your Camp Video for Search

You know me, I'm a hard-core proponent of marketing your camp with video. Here's an absolutely phenomenal article from Mashable on how search engine optimization for video has comes of age.

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Will Your Proofread This?

I'm sending out 3,000 emails tonight announcing Aloha Beach Camp's new website. Thankfully my email processor has spell check built in. I can tell you that misspelled words, poor sentence structure, and weak sales offers have killed many otherwise promising emails I've sent in the past. I learned my lesson the hard way. So now I always have at least 2 other people proofread my emails, ads, and other sales copy before sending them. Do yourself a favor and do the same...better safe than sorry!

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