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! : )