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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Do Camp Fairs Still Matter?

Recently there's been discussion among camp professionals as to whether Camp Fairs are still relevant as a marketing tool. I've been outspoken as anyone. I believe Camp Fairs still have their place in your marketing, but thanks to the Internet and social networking, the benefit of attending them has been marginalized.

Or has it?

Today's Small Business Trends website includes a blog post called, "Why Networking in Person Still Matters" by Deborah Shane. Shane makes some pretty nice points about the value of  face-to-face marketing compared to online marketing. She argues the power of connecting in person with customers and prospects trumps the internet, especially with respect to getting to know people and building trust:
"Why is face-to-face networking so important? The power of personally connecting and human interaction accelerates relationship building. In 10 minutes I can learn more about someone, and they about me, in person than in six months online ... Finding common ground comes from having a conversation or discussion on the phone or in person...The energy that passes between people finding out that they have a hobby, favorite book, peer or life experience in common can be profound...Making decisions on what the next step is and putting the plan in motion can happen in one minute on the phone or in person, as opposed to multiple e-mails."
Now if we agree people do business with others they know, like, and trust, meeting people in person can be a golden opportunity not only for camp marketers, but for anyone selling anything to anybody. It will always be that way.

But for my money, online marketing, especially from a social standpoint, gives you the most bang for your marketing buck. Rather than rely on a Camp Fair promoter to try to find tons of hot prospects to attend their Camp Fair on my behalf, I'd rather log onto Facebook and find millions of potential prospects who are already looking for what I'm selling.

My summer camp, Aloha Beach Beach, cut back on Camp Fair marketing by about 90% several years ago. We still attend 1 or 2 a year, but that's about it. Even though Shane makes some really beautiful points about face-to-face connections,  the only way I'm changing my marketing plan (or my mind) is if some genius Camp Fair promoter finds a way to guarantee me at least 10 new enrollments by attending their event.

Until then, most of my marketing budget's staying allocated to the internet. What about you?

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