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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How to Market Your Camp to Teens

Astute camp directors like you realize you have two distinct target markets: the kids who come to camp, and their parents who pay for it. If your marketing doesn’t target both groups, it won’t be as effective as it could.

When marketing to kids, you may have a secondary challenge in that your camp probably serves a wide range of age groups who each respond differently to your marketing messages. Depending on a kid’s age, he or she will also have varying degrees of influence over their parents in the camp decision making process.

Assuming your camp serves teenagers, one fact you should keep in mind is that even though the 12-17 year old population is shrinking, the products and services this group uses and buys is increasing. This means there's fewer teens to go around, but you also have the unique opportunity to zero in on this group and capitalize on their spending power.

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you know I’m a big proponent of marketing ROI (return on investment). I want every dollar spent on marketing to do the work of two. If I'm not getting double the marketing effectiveness of what I'm paying for, screw it.

To help you achieve maximum ROI when marketing to teens, here’s a few things to keep in mind.

  • Teenagers have strong beliefs and opinions, which their urge to express is overwhelming. Your job as a marketer is to provide them the outlet to do so. This is where social marketing comes in. 
  • The teen crowd is also very tuned in to their own originality, yet they have a simultaneous need to feel important and part of a crowd. This is why you see so many of those ridiculous (and sometimes funny) Facebook groups like, “Yes, I got your text, I just didn’t feel like texting you back.” These groups are almost always started – and joined – by thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS of kids and teenagers.
  • The teen set is OBSESSED with the latest trends, celebrities, music and pop culture. They love the gossip websites too. How to use this info to your advantage? If I were you, I’d bend over backwards trying to incorporate your camp’s brand into teens’ everyday actvities and interests. That doesn’t mean spending lots of money hiring Miley Cyrus to do a guest chat on your website (although that wouldn’t hurt). Instead you could run a sweepstakes or promotion where you give away tickets to a Justin Beiber concert or Taylor Lautner movie. Posting links to free downloads, the latest hot videos, various celebrity and gossip sites or even video games could also do the trick.

Now you need to be aware of just one thing. Teenagers are FICKLE. What’s cool today is lame tomorrow. You’ll drive yourself nuts (and you'll go broke) trying to catch up to what’s hot and new and trying to please every teen all the time. Instead come up with a few core marketing messages that are solid enough to connect with teens today, but flexible enough to change and update as new trends come and go. That should not be difficult with the ability to update your blog, website and Facebook page on the fly (which is something you should be doing all the time anyway).

It’s not hard to develop awareness for your camp among teens, but it will take time. And yet, teens already DOMINATE Facebook so you won’t have to look too far to find them. Just keep finding ways to connect your camp to what teens are into. That's how you'll get that much sought-after two-way communication between them and you.

Now please excuse me while I post a Rhianna video on my blog. There’s a few 13 year old girls considering my camp who love her! :)

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