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Friday, March 19, 2010

How to Market Your Summer Camp with Flyers

I love marketing my camp with flyers. They’re easy to make and cheap to print. They’re more eye-catching than business cards (since they’re bigger and contain more info), and they can be just as effective as brochures.

You can’t just make a flyer and hope for the best. You need an effective design, printing and distribution strategy. Otherwise your flyer might convey your camp as “cheap” -- obviously not the image you're going for.

Even high-end camps can market with flyers. You can include all kinds of detailed information, plus pictures. Prospects should be able to make an informed descion about your camp when your flyer's done the right way.

You can get away with printing your flyer in black and white, but I suggest color instead. People want to know what your camp looks like and what you offer kids. You can’t beat color for showing that.

Last week I made this flyer about Aloha Beach Camp’s surfing program that I distributed at a Camp Fair:


I wanted to test whether color or black and white worked better, so I printed 250 flyers in black and white on colored paper, and 250 more in vibrant color on plain white paper. The color flyer worked a LOT better than the black and white one shown here. I got 6 enrollments from the color flyer, but only 2 from the black and white one.

One challenge when making your flyer is finding the right balance between giving too much information (making your flyer look cluttered), and not giving enough (leaving prospects disinterested in your program.)

Notice the “Aloha Beach Camp at a Glance” tidbit in the middle of my flyer? That’s a good way of giving people just enough info to pique their interest -- a small summary of the main points so they're inspired to request more info.

Other things to include on your flyers are special offers like coupons, pictures of yourself or your staff, customer testimonials, and your phone number and website URL in a prominent place.

You can create and print flyers online at vflyer.com or at your local print and copy shop.You should distribute them at pediatricians’ offices, toy stores, family restaurants, little league fields, parks, kids’ karate studios, gyms, beauty salons, or anywhere your prospects frequent.

You might also carry around 20 or 25 extra flyers with you all the time since you never know when you might run into someone looking for camp for their kids.

If you already market your camp with flyers, you know what a powerful marketing tool they can be. If you don’t, now's the time to get started.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Announcing Camp Coupons.com

Need to fill your camp? Give your customers a discount. Post a coupon on Camp Coupons.com for free.

Surefire ways to get newspaper or magazine articles written about your camp

How'd you like a newspaper or magazine article written about your camp? That's PR, and it's a high-impact, low-cost way to establish credibility, build name recognition and reach untold numbers at people at once.

Much of the stuff you read in newspapers and magazines everyday comes from people like you who pitch story ideas to authors and editors. Many writers aren't creative enough to come up with story ideas on their own. Instead they rely you for things to write about.

When a writer considers a story, they want timely, newsworthy, relevant information for their readers. Now that spring is here, you'll see more and more stories appearing about camp because camp is a relevant topic this time of year, and information about camp is beneficial to the public at large.

Some publications get pitched hundreds, if not thousands, of times each day. Like anything else, your idea must stand out if you hope to pique the author's interest.

Or does it?

Here's a practically surefire way you can get stuff written about your camp whenever you want.

Pitch your story to:

  • Volunteer-run association newsletters
  • Publications of membership groups
  • Large companies who print newsletters for their staff
  • Weekly "throwaways" you get in your driveway or mailbox

These places are STARVED for material. They'll publish almost any story as long as it features local people or places (you and your camp) and/or benefits its readers or employees.

Regarding employees, targeting company publications is among the easier ways to get your foot in the door. Businesses are always looking for ways to offer free employee benefits. Your article could be the ticket. One chiropractor I know pitched a story to a local t-shirt manufacturer. The t-shirt place printed a story about the chiropractor in its company newsletter. The employees loved it and the chiropractor picked up lots of new business.

If I know you, your mind is spinning a 100 MPH contemplating places to submit your stuff. Why not fish where the big fish are? Here's a list compiled by Fortune Magazine of the best places for women to work. Many of these organizations publish newsletters for their employee moms. I'll bet you can get a write-up in any number of them.

One more thing. Many people I advise decide not to try PR because they're afraid of rejection. Don't be intimidated! Not everything you pitch will be accepted, but these publications NEED your stories, otherwise they'd have nothing to write about.

Go ahead and see what you can do. Start with the HR departments. Ask who's responsible for creating the company newsletter. Then ask the person responsible about their story submission guidelines. Make your pitch and see what happens. You'll be pleased with the results!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Search Engine Market Share

Here's a look at the market share of the "Big 4" search engines from last month. As you can see, Google continued to dominate getting 71% of all user searches in February while Yahoo got 15%, Bing 10%, and Ask 3%.


How long has your camp been around?

Do parents ever ask how long you've been established? The longer, the better in their eyes; more years means more credibility.

They don't know it, but when parents ask how long you've been around, they've actually given you a FANTASTIC opportunity to send them to your website or Facebook page without sounding like your typical "visit our website" sales pitch.

Let's say you've been established 30 years. So when a parent asks, you can answer honestly and proudly: "This will be our 30th summer."

But you don't stop there.

Here's what else you do.

You say, "And you know what? You can even see pictures of our early years on our website or Facebook photo album. We've got some really cool pictures from way back when we started. You can see how we've changed and grown and improved through the years. I think you'll really like it!"

Bingo. Not only have you just blown the person away by telling them you've been around forever, you also just got a new website visitor and potential Facebook fan.

Obviously this won't work if you're a newer camp or don't have a website or online photo album. But for established programs, it's great.

Right now there's some pictures on Aloha Beach Camp's Facebook page we call "Old School Aloha Beach Camp." There's even one on our wall showing kids who used to be campers, and who are now COUNSELORS at Aloha Beach Camp.

If you've got pictures of your camp from the early years, start posting them today. People love nostalgia, and your old-time photos will help you grow your camp today.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How to achieve response rates of 12% or more with sales letters

When I worked at an advertising agency many years ago, I learned how to market with sales letters. Now they're one of my favorite marketing tools.

Sometimes I achieve response rates as high as 12% or more when I send sales letters soliciting camp enrollment. Most people I know are happy with response rates of 2% or less.

Sales letters can be VERY effective sales tools IF you know the nuances involved in creating and sending them. If you don't, marketing with sales letters can punish you financially.

You know the kind of letters I'm talking about - the typical sales letter you get everyday from credit card companies, gyms, or magazines trying to get you to buy their stuff.

Here's the thing about sales letters though. You're competing against every other piece of mail that arrives in your prospect's mailbox every day. So you gotta make your letter stand out.

Here's a relatively plain sample sales letter I found online:



Nothing about this letter grabs me. It looks like any other one you'd get. In fact if I got this letter in the mail, I'd probably trash it before I even finished reading it.

Most direct mail experts say writing a jaw-dropping, lip-smacking, smash-them-in-the-mouth headline is the most important step to writing an effective sales letter. I agree the headline is one of the most important components.

But you know how to really stand out from the crowd? Start your letter at the end.

Huh?

Let me explain. I mentioned I send lots of sales letters to market my camp. But instead of writing them the traditional way, where you'd thank the person for reading your letter and putting your signature at the bottom, I write my letters as if the person has already read the letter. I even put my signature at the top.

Your typical letter starts like this: "Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith ..."

But my letters (above the salutation) start like this:

"If you think your child would enjoy all these fun activities, give me a call at 1-888-51-ALOHA. Thanks for your time. 

Sincerely, 

Eric Naftulin

P.S. I know you're really busy, but just in case you're even busier than usual I wanted to give you the gist of my letter first. If you've got the time, here's the rest of the letter..." 
Then I go on writing the rest of the letter.

People like this format. It's creative and respects their time. It introduces Aloha Beach Camp right off the bat and teases prospects into reading the rest of the letter. While normal response rates for direct marketing sales letters hover around 2%, I consistently draw response rates of 7% to 12% or more. That means for every 100 letters I send, I can expect between 7 and 12 people to sign up for camp. That's a pretty amazing stat when you think about it.

But forget about me. This blog is for you. And you can achieve the same dramatic response rates with your sales letters with just a little work. Let me know if you'd like any help. Good luck.

Hubspot says no to Camp Fairs. (I mean trade shows.)

If you're like me, you probably don't think attending camp fairs pays off. In my opinion they're too expensive, time consuming and don't attract the number of prospects we need to make these events worthwhile. Before the "internet age" and online marketing, attending camp fairs was worthwhile. Now a MAJOR internet marketing company,  Hubspot, has quit attending trade shows, too. Check it out.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Moving Billboards: My New Marketing Experiment

One of the marketing tactics I've always wanted to try but never have is "transit marketing."

You know those huge ads plastered on the sides of big trucks that drive up and down major major streets and thoroughfares all the time? That's what I'm talking about.

I confess I'm MESMERIZED by those things. Every time one goes by I pay close attention. I'll bet lots of other people do, too.

I might be wrong but I think these "moving billboards" could be a very effective advertising tool. Just imagine a picture of a big happy camper with your camp's name, phone number and website on the side!

What's not to like about this type of advertising? For one thing, people of all ages, income levels and backgrounds see your ad. And if you live in a big city like me, thousands and THOUSANDS of people could see your ad every day.

But most importantly, this kind of advertising goes to the very heart of what's needed for advertising to be effective -- repetition.

The reason why is because people take the same route to and from work or school every day so they'll keep seeing your ad over and over, day after day.

Everyone should set aside a portion of their marketing budget to try new things, capitalize on opportunities and for unabashed, experimental marketing.

Advertising on these trucks will be my experiment this year. I'll let you know how it goes.

Even Kids Are Perverts

Here's a list that might be helpful to you in your marketing. It's the Top 100 searches kids performed online in 2009. Funny, kids are just like adults -- sex and porn round out the top 5.

ACA Billboard Misses the Mark

I follow @acacamps on twitter. Today they posted a picture of their "Because of Camp" billboard in Austin, Texas. Unfortunately the billboard misses the mark, BIG TIME.

For a billboard to be effective, it should contain 7 words AT THE MOST. And the words should all be close to each other and any pictures shown. Otherwise the billboard is a waste of money and won't do its job right.

The main purpose of outdoor advertising, and billboards in particular, is to REMIND people of things. I don't know if the ACA's billboard reminds people of camp. But a simple message like, "It's Time to Sign up For Camp" would do the trick a lot better than the hodgepodge of pictures and words they're using now.

How will people driving by on a street, highway or freeway grasp all these words and pictures in the brief second they're exposed to this sign?

Unfortunately, they won't.

New Camp Search Engines Coming Soon

There's lots of camp search engines out there and they're pretty much all the same. So I'm making a few new ones for you to list your camp. They'll be different than the ones you're familiar with in many respects. I will keep you updated, but they should be ready this camp marketing season, I hope

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What is your camp's website strategy?

Sometimes we spend so much time trying to drive people to our websites we forget what our goals are for doing so. What do you want prospects to do once they arrive at your website?

I'll bet everyone has different goals for what they're trying to accomplish with their sites. But I also hope we all have these same three goals in common:
  1. We want people to stay on our sites
  2. We want people to come back to our sites
  3. We want to convert visitors into paying customers/enrollments
When people hit your website and don't find what they're looking for, statistics show they'll leave in seconds. To keep them longer, provide fast-loading pages and easy-to-find, relevant content.

People won't stay on your site forever, so your strategy then becomes getting them to come back. Games, contests, and interactive tools like blogs and message boards can help.

Naturally, we all want a well-designed website that's nice to look at. But I'd rather have an ugly site that gets people to sign up rather than a beautiful one that doesn't generate enrollment. I assume you feel the same.

The first (and most obvious) solution is having an online enrollment enabled on your site. If you don't, then at least make your printable enrollment form available prominent places all over your site.

Take some time to identify your goals for your camp's website. And check out this article for a Top 10 list of ways to help convert website visitors into paying customers.

If your site's doing what you want it to, great! If not, take the action you need to bring your site up to speed. The time you spend making your website work better can be the difference between an empty camp and a full one.

Customer Service: One of Camp's Best Marketing Tools

Wow, this article makes me feel OLD! It's a story I wrote for the American Camp Association's Camping Magazine way back in 1996 when I was directing Tumbleweed Day Camp and served as ACA's Public Relations chair. I found the article searching the internet today. There there's no reference to online marketing in the article because the internet was nothing back then. But much of the stuff I wrote still seems remain relevant today (14 years later!) so I wanted to share it with you. Hope you like it.

So far, camp directors have no problem marketing to kids. Good!

So far 6 of the 9 people voting in our latest poll say marketing to kids IS ethical. I'm with you. But we need more votes to get a true representation.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How to Become a Youth Marketing Master

You may have noticed our latest poll deals with marketing to kids. Whether you've got an ethical issue with that is your business. That's what the poll is for. But however you feel about youth marketing, you'd do well to study its intricacies and various ways to connect with kids, because kids are typically the KEY INFLUENCERS in a family's camp decision-making process.

Personally I have no problem marketing to kids. I don't want to fall behind my competition. So I make a concerted effort to study youth marketing and its subtleties.

I suggest you spend at least a half-hour each day visiting various kids' websites like these and others:
The folks who run these sites are youth marketing MASTERS. Their only job is to capture and keep kids' attention so they can build connections and brand awareness and eventually sell stuff to kids.

You can capture a wealth of marketing tips just looking at these sites. Pay close attention to the pictures, language, shapes, designs, sounds and colors on these sites. These are the marketing nuances that push kids' buttons.

Spending thirty minutes a day on these sites is more than worth your time given the amount of free marketing knowledge you can absorb. You're probably online that much anyway so why not check them out?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How to Rise in Yahoo's Search Result Rankings.

I'm as guilty as anyone when optimizing my website for the search engines. I tend to focus my attention on Google and hope for the best with Yahoo, Bing and the others. Unfortunately that's not a good strategy. Here's why.

Despite Google's dominance, Yahoo still get hundreds of thousands (actually, millions and millions) of searches each day. The good news is, it doesn't seem too hard to crack Yahoo's algorithmic code if you want to start rising in its search result rankings.

From what I've observed, Yahoo places inordinate weight on your title tag(s) to rank your pages and site. Title tags appear as those blue clickable links on the search results page.

To see for yourself how much weight Yahoo places on title tags, go to yahoo.com and enter a search term. Any word or phrase will do.

After you enter the word or phrase, pay close attention to the results you see. Those title tag links almost always match your inputed keyword(s) -- very often verbatim!

The lesson for all of us? It wouldn't be a waste of our time -- in fact, it'd probably be a great use of our time -- to make sure our web pages have clear, concise, well-written title tags.

Surely Google places a high emphasis on title tags, too. But I think Yahoo gives the title tag more weight. Spend some time working on your title tags and you could see an appreciable surge in your Yahoo search results...and in Google's, too.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Website Design Tip

If I were you, I wouldn't put a "Under Construction" signs on your web pages. It only cheapens your site and looks unprofessional. Better to wait till your site's completely done, then publish the finished product.

Hispanic-American Kids Could be a VERY Lucrative Market for You

Quick fact: Over half of all people UNDER the age of 18 in major US cities are Hispanic-Americans. And the number will only grow.

Are you targeting those kids for camp?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The World's Second-Best Search Engine Optimization Secret

You might have the best website ever, but if nobody knows about it, who cares? If people aren't visiting your site, what's the point of having one?

Well, there's tons of stuff you can do to help people find your site. As we've discussed many times, optimizing your site so the search engines -- especially Google -- can find it is a key factor, largely because 50% of all website use begins on search engines.

(To me, fifty-percent is a MIND-BLOWING number!)

So what can you do to help your site become more popular with the search engines?

Writing good title and description tags; posting fresh, relevant content; and getting lots of incoming links from other important websites are the traditional strategies.

But what's the world's #2 Search Engine Optimization secret?

Keywords.

Not keywords as in meta-tags. We already know Google doesn't even consider those anymore.

Instead I'm talking about keyword content sprinkled throughout your website ... and that precisely matches the words and phrases your prospects input into Google.

It's not hard to do. You already know your keywords by rote. But just in case you need some help, here's what you do.

You pretend YOU'RE a family -- a mom or a kid -- who's looking for summer camps online. What words or phrases would YOU use to conduct your online search?

Fantastic, THOSE are the keywords and keyword phrases you need to put in your web pages and group together in the same word string a user would enter into Google. That's it.

When I first started my camp, I kept coming up on the third or fourth page of Google. It was frustrating as heck. But now Aloha Beach Camp comes up on the first page every time. And not just for one or two keywords, but for many different keywords and keyword combinations.

Now here's something else to consider. Instead of going after the keyword phrase "summer camps" -- which is impossible to get because it's too general and there's too many camps competing for it -- instead you must concentrate on very specific keywords and keyword phrases so you can OWN them.

For me, specific keyword phrases like "LA Summer Camps," "Summer Camps Los Angeles," "Los Angeles surf camps," "surf camps Los Angeles," and many others are mine and mine alone. I OWN those keywords. And if I want others, I can get them whenever I want. Why?

Because:

  1. I used the traditional search engine optimization strategies I described above;
  2. The keywords and keyword phrases I just named are the same ones people enter into Google everyday; and
  3. My website content is loaded up with those very words and phrases strung together.

    You can do the same thing for your site. It just takes a little time and creative thought. But if you're really having trouble, you might put a question on your camp application form that says, "If you found us online, which keywords did you use?" That way you'll get the exact information you need, right from the horse's mouth.

    One more thing.

    Considering the title of this post, I imagine you're wondering what the world's #1 Search Engine Optimization secret is? Well, you might be able to figure it out because I've given you lots of clues here.

    No worries if you can't, though. I'll post the #1 secret real soon : )

    Now you can market your events for free

    If event marketing (camp fairs, open houses, etc.) is part of your camp's promotional plan, the Facebook Events application is a fantastic (and free!) way to promote them.

    You might also check out Eventbots.com, another service where you can list your events for free. (I haven't used this service, but I've know it's popular and heard it's useful, so you might give it a go.)

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    8 Ways to Generate Traffic to Your Website

    Check out these 8 strategies you can use to get more traffic to your camp's website. You might already be using some of most of them. This compilation is from Chris Crum at SmallBusinessNewz.com

    How to Increase Your Enrollment 70% in 2 Weeks

    I'm not sure if you can increase your enrollment 70% in 2 weeks. Maybe you can, maybe not. But if the title of this post got your attention, now you know the power of using specifics, not generalities, in your marketing.

    When you speak and write in specifics, your marketing message comes across more persuasively. You sound more credible and believable. And you capture prospects' attention more easily.

    What if the title of this post was, "How to increase your enrollment in a short period of time"?

    Well, a "short period of time" is a general statement. It doesn't grab you. It doesn't convey the same power as saying, "70% in 2 weeks," because "70% in 2 weeks" is convincing and specific.

    Using specific names, numbers, dates, prices, and facts is the most effective way to write sales copy. Check out these examples of how and why using specifics, not generalities, is the more effective way to promote your camp.

    General Discount Offer: We have some great money-saving offers for you this year.
    Specific Discount Offer: Save $168 off our second camp session when you sign up for session #4.

    General Proof: Most kids love our camp so much, once they attend just once they keep coming back year-after-year. We must be doing something right."
    Specific Proof: "We have a 94% camper return rate. That means for every 100 kids that come to camp, 94 come back the next year. We're sure you child will love it that much, too. If not, we'll give you all your money back."

    General Credentials: We are an accredited camp
    Specific Credentials: We've been Accredited by the American Camp Association for the 15th year in a row. That means you can expect us to deliver the highest possible camp program to your family this summer."

    General Activity Promotion: We've added lots of new activities this year.
    Specific Activity Promotion: We've added 3 new camp activities this year including a new horse ring, archery range and swimming pool."

    General Customer Testimonial: "You have a wonderful camp. My kid loved it!" - Jenny W.
    Specific Customer Testimonial: "You have a wonderful camp. My kid loved it." - Jennifer Winter, mom of 7-year-camper Kelly from Chatsworth, California

    General Call to Action: "Visit website for more information."
    Specific Call to Action: "Be one of our first 50 website visitors in the next two hours to win a free prize, or call (818) 919-1713 for today's telephone specials."

    I hope these examples help. Next time you're writing a sales letter, web content, or anything else, make sure any general stuff you mention can be updated to reflect more specifically what you're saying.

    Your enrollment list will thank you for it...maybe even by 70% in 2 weeks!