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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Have You Done Your Marketing Plan for 2011?

Vote in our latest Quick Poll just above and to the right.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How to Get Your Website Ranked Like the Pros

Here's a tip to get your camp's web pages ranked higher in Google and other search engines: Visit as many Search Engine Optimization company websites as you can, look for common themes in how they write and design their web pages (including headlines, sub-heads and links). Then copy and apply those same strategies to your camp's website.

Remember, if it's good enough for a professional search engine optimizer, it's good enough for you.

It Still Might Pay to Keep Your Keyword Meta-tags

Even though Google doesn't use the keyword meta-tag anymore to rank or serve web pages, other search engines like Bing and Yahoo might. So you might as well keep using it just to cover your bets.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My #1 Marketing Goal for 2011

I've got a bunch of personal goals for my camp's 2011 promotional program. I'll share everything with you in the coming days and weeks. For now, I'll tell you this: My primary goal for next year is to really step up my video marketing.

I'm gonna try to advertise my camp with at least one new video each week. I took tons of videos last summer so I don't think I'll run out of footage.

As you know, I love video marketing for three reasons. First, videos often appear in Google's search results only MINUTES after posting them. Third, kids and teens search for videos like madmen, so they're bound to find yours if you decide to post some too. Finally, video marketing in my opinion is the next huge social media phenomenon.

We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm out of town for the next few weeks

Just a quick FYI, i've been out of town for the holidays for the past several days and will be away until January 8. So if I don't post too often or don't respond to your comments or emails, that's the reason why. I'll be sure to get back to you ASAP and write more about marketing and advertising as quickly as possible. Happy Holidays!

Eric

Friday, December 17, 2010

Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing Checklist for 2011

Not too long ago I wrote a blog post (although I am too lazy to go back and find it) about how we should all prepare our summer camp marketing plans and calendars now for 2011 so we hit the new year running.

If you aren't as lazy as I am, take a few minutes and search the archives because it might be worthwhile to read it.

Meanwhile here's something else that's really cool: An article from Search Engine Journal to help you make sure all your camp's Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Optimization is in place for the new year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Word-of-Mouth Marketing Post for Jeremy

I just got an email message from an IRATE camp director who took issue with my post of earlier today (and other places in this blog) where I claimed you can actually CREATE word-of-mouth marketing by incentivising people to spread the word about your camp. I wish he'd stated his complaints in the comments section for everyone to see, but since he didn't I assume he's either too scared or ashamed to make his case publicly. (Or, if I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he didn't want to "embarrass" me publicly with his negative comments. But considering the attacking tone he took, I don't think that's the case...)

Anyway, out of respect for him, I'm not gonna reveal too many personal details other than tell you his name is Jeremy and he's the "marketing director" for a sleepaway camp in Nevada.

I don't feel like I need to defend myself, but to appease Jeremy and anyone else who feels like he does, I wanted to give you something to think about so you understand more about my position and the incredible opportunities available to you when you do your word-of-mouth marketing right.

I assume you run a phenomenal summer camp and you're already getting your fare share of organic referrals. "Organic referrals" means they happen automatically without any prompting by you.

If you're like me you probably think word-of-mouth marketing is the best kind of marketing you can get. It's cheap, easy, credible and it works. Now if we agree on that, think about this:

What would happen if you tried to improve upon the word-of-mouth you're already getting? Instead of waiting around for happy camp families to tell their friends about you, what if you put some effort into getting more referrals than you're getting now? What if you DID prompt people to refer others? What if you figured out how to get your customers to tell their friends all about you?

Well you already know what would happen. You'd increase your referral rate dramatically and your enrollment would go sky high ... all at practically no cost to you.

Think of it this way. If you designed a print ad for your camp and placed it in your local parenting magazine, and then you got tons of enrollment from that single ad, you'd run it again and again, right? Of course you would!

Same with word-of-mouth marketing. You can DESIGN your word-of-mouth marketing program so people refer others to your camp over and over. In fact if you do it the right way, you will never have to worry about getting new customers because your existing customers will do all your marketing for you. If every customer you have refers at least two or three other families, and you never break the chain, you will never run out of new customers and you'll be sitting pretty all the way to the bank.

And that's how word-of-mouth marketing works.

Got it, Jeremy?

How to Get Blog and Website Visitors to Share Your Content With Their Friends

If you use an email marketing service, you probably include "forward this email to a friend" links in your messages. They come standard from all the email marketing services.

But wouldn't you like customers and prospects to tell their friends about your blog or website too?

If you're looking for one of the best social media marketing tools around, "Tell-a-Friend" forms are the way to go. The one caveat is, you need to be careful which one you use because they have to potential to be easily spammed. But you can't beat this strategy for its pure word-of-mouth marketing benefits in any case.

Here are three "Tell a Friend" services I've heard good things about. (I haven't used any of these so I can't suggest one over another but you might give one or more a try):

Spreadable

Viral Inviter

Social Twist

On my camp's website I have an opt-in email form on every page. In addition to the other 67 million things I need to do this week, I'm gonna put a "Tell a Friend" form on each page, too.

If you decide to do this too (and I hope you do!), something important to remember is people won't share or forward ANYTHING unless you give them a good reason to. If you give them a good reason, they'll tell others about your website or blog. Offering a free eBook or t-shirt or discount coupon could be just the ticket to get your blog posts and web pages sailing across the internet.

Constant Contact, I'm Done With You! (Aweber here I come)

After too many trials and errors and switching back and forth from Constant Contact to various email marketing services, I'm switching to aweber for good. The reasons why are:

1. It's cheaper;
2. It's easier to use;
3. The sign-up forms are nicer

If you already use aweber, you know what I mean. If you don't, why not give it a try? (Use the form below to sign for a free trial. I think you'll like it! :)



Can You Have More Sales, Too?

Helping over 90,000 businesses like yours raise profits and build customer relationships using AWeber's opt-in email marketing software for over 10 years.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Let's Like Each Other's Pages on Facebook

If you do me a favor and "Like" my Aloha Beach Camp facebook page, I'll visit your camp's facebook page and Like it too!

How Google Finds, Ranks, and Displays Your Website

Here's the definitive guide on how Google finds and ranks your summer camp website.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Free Website Templates

If you make your own website(s), here's a place you can download free templates. Some of these look pretty nice.

Friday, December 10, 2010

How to Get People to Swarm to Your Camp Fair Booth

Given today's digital world, you don’t get too many chances to meet prospects in person anymore. That's why Camp Fairs are so important. Since camps are naturally social organizations, Camp Fairs fit beautifully into your marketing program. In essence, they're "live" social media events.

I must've attended, organized, and promoted 100 Camp Fairs in my day. I've learned some tips and tricks along the way to make your booth stand out from the rest and keep a crowd all day long. The main thing is, you need to show families and kids your camp is unique.

Let's face it, most Camp Fair booths are all the same. You get a table, curtain, some chairs and maybe a metal divider establishing boundaries between your booth and neighboring camps. But why should a family visit your booth if you're no different than everyone else? If your booth is different, people will gravitate your way. 

I wanted to share some thoughts on how you can get people swarming around your Camp Fair booth next time you attend one. You’ll need to check with the Camp Fair organizer to find out how far you can take these ideas. But here's a couple strategies to get you started:

Color, Sound, and Entertainment 

One way to make your booth unique is with color. Dress yours up with camp photos, colorful banners, and arts and crafts projects campers did last year. If your booth’s not colorful, your camp’s not, either.

You can also use sound. Don't infringe neighboring booths, but if you really want to call attention to yourself, why not make some noise? Music and video will do the trick. Or how about karaoke? If you've got karaoke going on, every kid and his mother will be LINING UP for their chance to sing a song and presto, you've got an instant crowd.

Don't forget the entertainment! The other day I went to a ski expo. One snowboard dealer had so many kids and families surrounding his booth it looked like he was giving away money. What he did was, he hired a magician and balloon animal guy to entertain booth guests. People were mesmerized and hung around for hours. If you have entertainers like this at your Camp Fair booth, you'll attract tons of people and keep them awhile, too.

Free Drawings and Giveaways

Free is, and has always been, the most magical word (and action) in marketing. Give away free stuff, and you’ve got people wrapped around your finger. Whatever you give away at your Camp Fair booth should be closely related to your camp itself so you keep getting promotional mileage after the Camp Fair ends. (Giving away hot chocolate on a cold day is nice, but fleeting. Giving away a camp t-shirt with your logo is better, because people will use it indefinitely and promote your camp just by wearing it.)

Another thing you can do, you can have drawings for prizes (like camp beach towels, lunch sacks, baseball caps, etc.) on a fixed schedule throughout the day. You could prepare (and distribute ahead of time) a schedule indicating the specific times you’re holding drawings. This way people will keep stick around (or at least keep returning to) your booth all day.

Custom Booth Design

Maybe you're content with the cookie-cutter table, chairs, curtain and dividers I mentioned. But why not create a custom booth instead? Why not bring your own tables with butcher paper so kids can draw on it? Why not cover the "one-size-fits-all" curtain with a movie screen to show camp videos on? Why not bring your OWN soft, comfy  chairs (or even a small couch!) so weary kids and families can't resist sitting down?

What to Do When You've Got a Crowd

If you implement one or more of these strategies, you're that much further ahead of most lazy camp directors who think they're doing enough by just showing up. Just showing up ISN'T enough, and having the most tricked-out booth is just window dressing compared to what you’re really selling. What you're really selling is you!!! 

Once you attract a crowd to your Camp Fair booth, it's time to go to work. If people don’t like you or trust you, none of the bells and whistles matter. This means being approachable, well-groomed and dressed, standing not sitting, and listening more than you talk. This is the way to make a lasting impression and generate interest in your program at a Camp Fair ... Not to mention it's the best social marketing around! : )

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Want to Speak to Me on the Phone? Happy to!

I've gotten tons of phone calls and emails recently from camp directors and marketers who are preparing their marketing plans for 2011 and want to speak to me on the phone. I'm happy to do it.

Thing is, my time's at a premium right now, so here's what we can do.

I'm discounting my telephone consultation prices for a limited time. Instead of the usual $200/hour, your first 5 minutes are free. I'll try to answer every question you've got.

Then, if you want to continue past 5 minutes, it'll be $75 for 1 hour. So that's 65 minutes for $75 bucks.

Let me know if you want in, because my schedule's tight but I want to make sure I've got time for everyone.

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

Can Your Camp's Enrollment Confirmation Packets Generate Word-of-Mouth for You?

When a family signs up for camp, you send a confirmation packet, right? Maybe your packet includes a Parent Handbook, instructions for what to wear and bring to camp (packing list), a payment receipt and all that. But does your confirmation packet serve as a word-of-mouth referral generator too?

Here's how it can. When a family gets their confirmation packet, give them all the usual stuff I just mentioned. But also include a Customer VIP or Referral Card which entitles their friends to a 10% discount off camp tuition.

(Actually you can include anything else you want in your confirmation packets, but your guiding thought should be "what could I give just-enrolled families something they'd share with their friends?").

If your customers can say to their friends, "Hey, I just signed up for this great camp, and I can get you a discount so your kid can go there too," bingo! You just hooked another enrollment, and you didn't have to do a thing to get it. (Don't worry about giving 10% off, because you're probably spending a lot more than that to get a new customer anyway. So this strategy ends up being a bargain for you.)

I hope you give this a try. It's a VERY easy way to get generate viral word-of-mouth right in the middle of camp enrollment season. You really can't beat this as a core part of your referral marketing plan.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Extra Cash for Your Camp: Sell Gift Cards this Holiday Season

Looking for a way to generate some extra dough for your off-season? Try selling gift cards. But not gift certificates anymore...they're outdated!

I just tried selling gift certificates to my camp families a week ago. No dice.

Then yesterday I emailed the same list (3,000 people) offering gift cards instead. Sold $960 worth in less than a day.

Give it a try...you've got nothing to lose and lots of extra cash to gain :)