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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How Easy Do You Make it for Customers to Pay?

Lots of people's credit cards -- mainly their Visa's and MasterCard's -- are maxed out. So you've gotta take more than just Visa and MasterCard at camp. Be sure you accept American Express, Discover, and anything else necessary that make things easier for camp families to pay. Advertise everywhere (on your brochure, website, etc.) that you accept all credit cards so your customers and prospects know they've got many options to finance camp tuition.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Is Video Marketing Better than Email Marketing?

Yesterday (and several times in the past) I said email marketing is the best social media tool available. Actually, marketing your camp with videos, when done the right way, might be equal to, or even better in certain capacities, than email from a social media standpoint.

Couple things to remember about video marketing. 1) Make sure your video can be seen by all media players. 2) Make sure your viewers can share (email, etc) your videos with their friends.

Who knows, maybe your camp video will go viral!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Would You Pay $80 to get 1,000 Facebook Fans?

If you need more Facebook fans, this might be something to look into. But if you don't want to pay, come to one of my marketing seminars I'll show you how to get between 3,000 and 15,000 fans or more quickly and easily. And they'll be just the kind of fans you want, too...like kids or teens.

How to Get Your Emails Opened Every Time

Email marketing is the best social media tool you've got. There's no better way to connect with customers and prospects in the online world.

But your email message means nothing if your recipients don't open it. If they're not gonna open you're email, fine -- let that be their choice. But don't give their email provider the chance to make that decision for them. Don't call attention to your email as junk, or else it'll go right into their spam folder and your customers and prospects might miss important information from you they'd have otherwise loved to get.

What gets people to open your email? Your subject line. If it's a good one, bingo, you're in. If your subject line sucks, either people won't bother to open it or, into the round file it goes automatically.

Your ideal email subject lines should be short (but longer than one word) and convey the benefit of your message clearly and concisely.

The quickest way to get your email deleted by your recipient or sucked into spam is with exclamation points, all-capital letters, the word "free," and saying stupid things like "Please Read This."

I blogged a while ago about how to make sure your emails don't get viewed as spam.

For an easy, helpful comparison between good and bad subject lines, check out MailChimp's subject line comparison, then get started on your next email marketing campaign.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Need a Customized Marketing Solution?

Learn about our summer camp marketing services here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why My Wife is Smarter than Me

I was talking with my wife today because she wants to start a blog about a new clothing business for kids she's opening next month. She asked my advice about how to get her blog high in the search engine rankings. I love it when she asks my advice about something, because she's 6,000 times smarter than me in the first place so it makes me feel good when she decides to pick my brain.

So needless to say I got really excited. I started carrying on and on about search engine optimization, link building strategies and all that. Then she interrupted me and said, "You know what, I'm not sure you know what you're talking about."

Oh, great...

So here's what I said. I said, "If I don't know what I'm talking about, why are you asking for my advice?"

She told me she just wanted to know if I agreed with a theory she came up with recently while researching her new business venture. She said it's her observation that search engines are becoming less relevant as people turn to Facebook and their mobile phones for immediate information instead.

When she or her friends need to know something -- like where's the best beauty shop or the closest family restaurant -- they go on Facebook or text their friends or use a cell phone app for the answer. She said using Google for this would have been her first thought a year or two ago...but not anymore.

So I just stared at her...and then I realized, yep, this is why she's smarter than me...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Will I Speak at Tri-State?

Just submitted a proposal to speak about marketing at the Tri-State Conference in March. If accepted, I hope see you there!

Somebody Shut this Dog Up!

I am trying to write my marketing plan for next summer and the neighbor's dog won't stop barking! The freaking thing's been yapping for 2 hours straight!! ENOUGH ALREADY!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Is Your Marketing Performing Like it Should Be?

Easy way to tell if your marketing is on track: Try Googling your camp. Where do you come up, relative to your main competitors? If your competition's in front of you, it might be a sign your marketing plan needs work. You might need to to promote your camp more often...or better. Fall is a great time of year to review your marketing plan from last year to see what worked and what didn't so you know what you need to work on going forward.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Can You Win Back Customers Who Leave You?

You know as well as I do, kids are fickle. They don't have much loyalty to brands. Instead they're into "the hot new thing" and doing whatever their friends do. Especially as kids get older and make their own camp decisions, you might not be able to keep them year after year. That doesn't mean you can't get them back. Does your marketing plan include a strategy to win back lost customers?

Do you Market Your Camp on Youtube? Use Annotations to Make Your Videos Stand Out

If you market your camp with YouTube videos, here's a cool piece from Mashable on how to use annotations with your videos.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How to Find Great Keywords for Your Website

Here's an easy way to optimize your website with the very same keywords your prospects are using to find you. Go to Google and type any words you think people might be using to find you or competitive camps. As you're typing, Google will pre-populate the search box with suggested keywords and terms before you even finish. These are the very same keywords other people have used when searching for camps online. In essence, Google is giving you a gift by showing you which keywords and keyword terms your customers and prospects have been searching for. Steal these keywords right from the search box and integrate them into your web site content.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Which Marketing Books Should Camp Directors Read?

I get lots of questions from camp directors, principally by email, about which marketing books to read. If you're looking for just ONE book to get started, I'd say rush out and buy Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. It's got a treasure trove of low-cost, high-return marketing ideas you can use to promote your camp right now. The book's probably the best selling small business marketing book of all time. It's been revised many times and I just got through with the latest edition. I hope you enjoy it ... I think you will! :)

How to Brand Your Website with a Favicon

Look up at your browser bar. See that orange and white "B" next to the Camp Marketing News web address? That's a favicon -- a small (generally 16px X 16px), graphic representation of your Web site in a Web browser.

(The "B" you see in your browser bar is Google's "Blogger" logo, which Google places on all its blogs by default. As you can see, I use Blogger to make this website.)

I don't use favicon's too much on my web sites. I'm gonna start though, because favicon's can help you brand your website for free. Pretty cool idea to have your camp's logo show up in your web site vistors' browser bars!

If you want to make a favicon for your site, here's an easy way to do it from the Dynamic Drive site

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Add or Update your Coupon on Camp Coupons.com

If you listed a coupon on Camp Coupons.com, it has probably expired by now, so please update it for the 2011 season ASAP. If you have not added a coupon to the site, do it now because the site's growing more and more popular and, by offering folks a discount, you'll gain lots of goodwill and get new customers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Easy Way to Get More Blog Readers, Reach More Prospects, and Eliminate Writers Block

You've heard me say it over and over: blogging at least 3 times per week is one of the best ways to keep your camp at the top of the search engines. But coming up with new ideas about what to write about is hard.

If you're having trouble developing fresh content, you can be sure other bloggers suffer the same fate. Here's how you and your fellow bloggers can reach countless new readers and prospects and eliminate writers block at the same time: Become "guest bloggers" on each other's sites.

Here's what you do. Contact other popular bloggers who have complimentary audiences to yours. Tell them you've got a hot new idea that will benefit both of you. Tell them you'd like to offer them an opportunity to become a guest blogger on your site, and in exchange, you'd like to become a guest blogger on theirs. (Guess what, I can already think of two or three popular "mommy bloggers" who'd appreciate your contribution...)

Now there's just a few things to remember when you write for other blogs. First, don't worry about getting paid to write for anyone else. Just getting the exposure of reaching the other blogger's audience is enough. Second, make SURE you include a link back to your site in your blog postings (be sure to get permission from your blogging partner beforehand.) And third, don't waste your time with small-time blogs. Go after the popular blogs with large reader bases and subscriber lists.

That's about it. If you need any help setting these arrangements up, let me know. Just remember the key to making them work is contributing relevant content to each other's audiences. If you can do that, both of you will be pleased with your new collaboration.


Good luck!

What Blogging Platform Do You Use?

Blogger? Wordpress? Interested to know, please leave a comment, thanks.

Don't Forget to Attend our Los Angeles Marketing Workshop Oct 13

Make your plans to attend next month's marketing workshop with us in Los Angeles. You can name your own price to attend ($150 or so seems like the going rate), but you can pay less or more, you decide. I guarantee the information you'll get will be worth much more to you than whatever you decide to pay. Hope to see you there, space is limited so reserve your spot today:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Can you sell gift certificates on your website?

Looking for a way to make more money from your website, other than just typical summer camp enrollments? How about selling gift certificates on your website? It's a way to literally make money in your sleep. Check it out.

How to get your camp to the first page of Google by lunch time

Honestly there's many ways to get your camp to the first page of Google in just a few hours. But here's one of the best search engine optimization strategies I know. Go to Craig's list. Post an ad in the correct category for your city. Type relevant content describing your program. Your ad should appear on Google in a few hours, tops. Sometimes mine comes up in less than 20 minutes. Why? Because Craig's list is one of those "important sites" Google indexes over and over, all day, everyday.

Best Writing Trick EVER

Do you struggle writing sales letters? Some people hate them. Just getting the first sentence down drives them crazy. But here's a trick I learned in a copywriting class 20 years ago: After you write your sales letter, go back to the beginning and cross out the first sentence. Works every time. Why? Because it grabs your prospects by the throat and pulls them into the meat of your letter. First sentences are usually fluff anyway, and your prospects don't have time for that.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Customer Surveys: Even Negative Feeback Can Help Your Camp Improve

We all love getting compliments. Someone tells you their kids love camp, it makes you feel good. After all, your #1 job is creating happy campers, right? But what if someone's unhappy? What if they didn't like your program? What if they had a bad camp experience?

Well, hopefully they'll complain to you instead of their friends. When customers complain, it's not a bad thing. After all, they're taking time out of their busy schedule to call your attention to a problem (or problems) you might not even have known existed. They're giving you an opportunity to make things right.

Unfortunately, though, most unhappy customers don't bother sharing their displeasure with us. Instead they share it with others they know. For every mom who takes the time to complain, there's too many others spreading negative word of mouth all over the place. Ouch!

So here's what I suggest. Now that camp's ended, send a customer survey to all your families. Doesn't have to be long, involved or expensive. Zoomerang and Survey Monkey are two of the better ones. Don't be afraid of the results. If you get positive feedback, great. That means you should keep doing what you're doing. But you should RELISH negative feedback too. It's an opportunity to capture cheap market research, win back unhappy customers, provide better customer service, and improve to your organization going forward.

BTW, if you haven't taken the current Customer Survey Quick Poll yet, please do it now and make yourself heard. I'd love to know if you're sending out surveys or not. (I'm sending mine out tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes...)

Check out all these email marketing programs

Email still trumps all other forms of social media marketing in my book. Here's a nice rundown of the various email marketing services available from the Padi Code blog.

Is this the Worst Customer Service of all Time?

I think I may have received the WORST customer service EVER yesterday at a sporting goods store in San Diego. My kids wanted some baseball hats so we walked into this guy's store. He was was texting when we came in. We were in the store for at least 5 minutes, and he never acknowledged we were there, didn't even look up to smile or say hi, never stopped texting even once. (Thank goodness your camp counselors are better than that!)

Anyway, it was so incredible, I had to take a few pictures to show you. (Dude was so clueless, he didn't even notice I was photographing him.)

So go ahead and laugh, enjoy, whatever.

 


Monday, September 6, 2010

It's not always WHAT you say, but HOW you say it that counts

Like everybody else, moms love saving money and love using coupons, too. This summer at Aloha Beach Camp, I ran a "Buy one day of camp, get another day free" offer. It worked pretty well. We picked up 22 new kids in a 3-day period we wouldn't have gotten otherwise. But I wish I'd known this fact BEFORE running the promotion: According to Megan Maguire of Mom Central, "Moms view 50% off discounts more valuable than other offers including "buy one, get one free discounts..."

Lesson learned. Even though "buy one, get one" is nearly the same offer as 50% off, how you communicate your offers can be more effective than the actual offer itself.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How to Translate Your Website Into Other Languages and Serve Customers From All Over the World

If your goal's to get as many people as possible -- from all over the world -- to easily read your blog and website, consider offering language translation for your online visitors.

This summer, campers from Japan, Germany, Italy and other foreign countries signed up for Aloha Beach Camp. Most of them said they found, and navigated, my website via Google Translate, and they appreciated the convenience.

You too can be one of the few camps anywhere offering a translation option on your website. This could be especially helpful if you run a sleepaway camp since you're more likely than a day camp to serve customers from all over the world.

Here's a link to the Google Translate tool. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing. It's also pretty easy to install, just cut and paste a little code.

You might just find yourself landing new campers from all over the world sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Blogging: The Most Bang for Your Marketing Buck

I've never met a camp director who couldn't use more credibility or visibility for their program. You can get that, and you can get tons of potential camper leads, through blogging.

It doesn't take much. Just create a blogging plan and stick to it. Follow these steps and you'll be on your way to blogging success.

  • Post at least 3 times a week. (Even if you're tempted to cut back, don't. The internet is LOADED with abandoned blogs. So don't just start a blog and quit. Someone might find it, which reflects badly on your camp)
  • Your posts can be long or short, pictures or video, text or whatever you want. The format doesn't matter - consistency does!
  • As I mentioned, if your blog is interesting, people will read longer posts. But remember, the most valuable thing people have is time. If you can say the same thing in one paragraph I can say in two, you're a better blogger than me.
  • "How-to" information and bulleted or numbered lists are a great way to engage readers. So is stuff going on in your personal life. (Great way to include a human element to your blog.)
  • Make sure your post titles include keyword-rich content, then include the same content in the post itself
  • Leave at least two or three comments on other camp, kid, and family-related blogs each week
  • Post a prominent link on your blog so people can subscribe to it via email or RSS feed. This way they can read your posts even when they're not visiting your actual blog site.

I don't know about you, but my feeling is consistent blogging gives you the best bang for your marketing buck because you can start a blog and maintain one absolutely free. Surely it's the easiest way to stay at the top of the search rankings, too. (Type "summer camp marketing" into Google to see what I mean.)

Who knows, a newspaper or media journalist looking to do a story on summer camp might come across your blog and contact you, simply because you've got a regular posting schedule with interesting content.

Now that camp's over, start a blogging schedule and stick to it. You'll be pleased with your results!