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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How to Turn Leads into Paying Customers

One of the difficult issues camp marketers face is how to convert prospects into paying campers. You might be generating all the leads you want, but if you're not turning them into enrollments, that's kind of like coming up to the plate in baseball with the bases loaded every time -- what an opportunity! --  then striking out every time. Ouch!

If you're getting lots of leads, pat yourself on the back. Lead generation should be a HUGE part of your marketing plan. Your next task becomes turning these folks into customers without coming off as a pest. (If you constantly harass people to sign up, they'll feel like you're desperate for campers and won't want to come to your camp anyway.) 

Since I don't know your specific marketing plan, I can't give you exact details about what will work for you. We will get into exact details at our Marketing Workshop this fall. For now, here's a few marketing goals and strategies that work for me when trying to turn families on the fence into paying customers.

1. Realizing most people are procrastinators -- especially when it comes to parting with their money -- I do my best to avoid thinking a prospect is a lost cause simply because I haven't heard from them in a while. At the same time, the longer a family sits on the fence, the more time you give them to find something else to do or choose a different camp. So my goal  is to get people to sign up sooner rather than later

2. What I do is, I let every person I talk to know I have a special deal just for them. When I talk to people on the phone, I ask, "Would you like to hear about today's telephone specials?", or "Are you interested in learning about special offers just for today's callers?" Believe me, they're ALL EARS when you ask something like that. So then you tell them you're giving away a free camp mug or t-shirt or extra horseback riding lessons or canoe rides for kids who sign up for camp by the end of this week. At least you've given them a serious reason to sign up NOW!

3. Sometimes inserting an extra email, follow up phone call or letter into your marketing process is all it takes. You just want to give them a little reminder. Maybe let them know you enjoyed talking to them recently, and you've been holding a space for their kid, and you're willing to hold it a little while longer if they're able to make a decision soon because you've got other kids on the waiting list who want their spot. This conversation could be all you need to get the enrollment, but remember, don't be pushy. Don't overdue it. You can achieve what you want without a hard sell. A hard sell might turn people off. It's a delicate balance, but you can achieve it.

4. Invest in an autoresponder. Autoresponders allow you to send a series of automatic emails at regular intervals to prospects who've contacted you in the past so you can build relationships with them. You can send the same emails to tons of prospects at the same time. What if you are sending regular emails to your prospect list of 2,000 names and only getting a 1% conversion rate?  That means 20 kids are signing up every time your emails go out! And that's why email marketing with autoresponders is one of the single most effective marketing tools you can use to convert inquiries into campers.

Now remember, these are just a couple ways you can go. How aggressive (or passive) you want to be with your follow up and lead management system is up to you. It's only the start of May, so people who contact you now about camp and you think might be lost causes could surface again in a few weeks to sign up for camp. For now, do me a favor and take a few minutes to closely examine your lead management and follow up system, then implement any changes you think might be necessary to turn those "looky-loos" into paying camp families. Good luck!

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