Search This Blog

Friday, April 2, 2010

How to Market Your Camp in an Improving Economy

The weather’s warming up, kids are antsy for the end of the school year and everyone’s looking for camps for their kids.

Or are they?

Thanks to terrible economic conditions the past two years, many camps have suffered sicking enrollment downturns while others closed forever. But now there’s growing optimism among families and camp directors that an improving economy might compel more people to spend a few grand on camp this year for the first time in a long time

The economy's still fragile, as is the above-mentioned optimism. So unless you offer a complete money-back guarantee where parents are absolutely CERTAIN there's no financial risk for signing up with you, your marketing -- now more than ever -- should be directed at convincing people that the VALUE they'll get by attending your program exceeds the PRICE they'll pay by leaps and bounds.

The most effective way to compel a customer or prospect to spend money with you now is to look at your offer through their eyes. When I put together marketing offers at Aloha Beach Camp, I want parents say to themselves, "I'd be an idiot not to try this."

Here's what that means. It means if you're charging $1,000 for a camp session, you need to make a parent feel like they're getting such an incredible value they say to themselves, "Geez, I'd pay a lot more than $1,000 for this."

So how can you make customers feel like they're getting more than they pay for? Well, you gotta be on your toes and run a sharp program at all times, that goes without saying. Running a top-notch program is surely part of marketing, but here's what else you can do:

If you take credit cards, PROMOTE IT! Put Visa and MasterCard logos on all your marketing materials with the phrase, "all major credit cards accepted." You'll get a distinct advantage over competitors who don't take credit cards. Imagine a family sitting around their kitchen table wondering how they're gonna pay for camp this year. because they don't have the cash. Then they see your ad inviting them to pay for camp with their credit card. Done deal!

Has your Early Bird Discount Expired? Extend it. (But figure out a way to accommodate all the people who busted their ass to meet your deadline so they're not pissed off.)

Give something away (that doesn't cost you anything) for free. We offer an Enrollment Protection Plan at Aloha Beach Camp. For $50, people can make free unlimited changes to their kids schedule all summer. Since we charge $35 to make a single enrollment change, almost everyone buys this plan since they see so much value in it (the plan pays for itself almost immediately.) Now here's the thing. It doesn't cost us a single dollar to throw in a free Enrollment Protection Plan "if you sign up for camp today." When we make an offer like that, we've just added $50 worth of value to their kids' camp tuition, and remember, it didn't cost us a dime. Then we put a big "N/C" (no charge) next to their Enrollment Protection Plan line item on their invoice so they really see what they're getting in black and white -- $50 worth of camp services, absolutely free.

Offer a coupon It's a proven fact (you can look it up) that sales increase when organizations offer coupons. Why wouldn't they? Everyone loves a discount. And according to About.com, in addition to adding value to your offer, there's many reasons you should offer coupons, including:
  • To Increase Number of New Customers
  • To Increase Sales of a Specific Product or Service
  • To Increase Branding and Awareness
  • To Reward Current Customers
  • To Entice Return of Former Customers
  • To Create An Opportunity to Up-sell a More Profitable Product or Service
  • To Create a Highly Measurable form of Marketing 
I HIGHLY suggest putting a coupon on Camp Coupons.com. It's my site, and it's FREE to you. We've already had some camps WITHDRAW from the site because they were getting too many people trying to use their coupon! So I assure you, it works.

If you can't offer a 100% money back refund, maybe you can offer some sort of guarantee so you're sharing at least SOME of the financial risk with the parent. At Aloha, if the kid doesn't like camp, the parents don't pay, simple as that. (I realize some people are afraid to offer guarantees. Don't be. Offering a guarantee works in your favor. For one thing if your camp is as good as you say, you have nothing to worry about. Second, the stronger your guarantee, the less refunds you'll give. That's just how guarantees work...)

Parting thought: the economy’s improving, but one of parents' biggest concerns when choosing a camp is price. In the past, customers could afford to send their kids to several camps each summer. But this year, due to poor economic conditions, they might to pick just one or two. Help them choose yours by adding value to what you're selling in the first place, and let me know if you need any more ideas than what I've mentioned here.

No comments:

Post a Comment