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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Who's Got the Best Summer Camp Marketing Advantage, Day Camps or Resident Camps?

I often hear resident camp folks lamenting the fact their camps are not local establishments. They think day camps have a marketing advantage over them because day camps serve local customers.

Well I am here to say even though "local marketing" is a popular buzzword these days, day camps DO NOT have any marketing advantage whatsoever over resident camps, assuming the resident camp marketer is an astute one.

Personally I would be drooling if I were a resident camp marketer. In general, a day camp only has a confined market area to draw from. Overnight camps have a worldwide market base. For every one prospect who might attend a day camp, resident camps have millions.

The one area day camps may APPEAR to a have a slight marketing advantage over day camps is the word-of-mouth aspect because groups of friends tend to live close to each other and hang out in person and talk and all that. But resident camps can overcome this with a strong social media presence and well-designed websites that appear in the top pages of search results and create warm, "homey" impressions of their camps and programs.

(If I ran a resident camp, one of the first things I'd do is design a "Meet the Camp Director" page with a video introducing myself and welcoming people to the page/site, my camp, etc. and I'd plaster that video all over the internet, too including on mommy blogger sites and other sites of influence.)

Did you know most Facebook fans of any given page are NOT locally based fans? Only 15% are. That means 85% of your Facebook fans live, and come from, everywhere just like your resident campers do. (This is not my opinion, it's a fact as reported in the Wall Street Journal.)

It just goes to show, where you are located makes no difference if you know what you're doing from a marketing standpoint and understand how to make your camp stand out from the crowd.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Marketing Tip for Resident Camps: Healthy Food for Kids is THE Hot New Restaurant Menu Trend for 2012

If you're looking for a new marketing angle to help your resident camp stand out from the crowd, you might want to focus on your nutritious meal program...and FAST.

Everyone knows camp food doesn't have the best reputation. But here's your chance to change your customers' and prospects' impressions and win some enrollments in the process. The National Restaurant Association just conducted a survey of 1,800 professional chefs, who stated children's nutrition will be one of the hottest restaurant menu trends of 2012. This video describes more:


As a camp director, you MUST find a way to piggyback on these findings and use them to your advantage. I don't run an overnight camp, but if I did, I'd start a marketing campaign right now highlighting all the healthy, nutritious meals campers enjoy at our program three times a day, everyday they're at camp.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's a Good Response to Your Direct Mail Campaign?

Even with the prevalence of email, social media marketing, mobile marketing and all the other newfangled marketing tools, direct mail is still a valuable marketing tool for your camp. In fact direct mail is making a comeback. I believe camp marketers who include direct mail as part of their marketing strategy have an advantage over those who don't.


One question many folks ask is, what's is a good response to my direct mail campaign? Other people think direct mail marketing is "too expensive," so they avoid it altogether.

Truth is, direct mail is only "expensive" when it doesn't meet your goals. When it meets your goals, it can produce a goldmine of new leads and enrollments for you.

Let's say you and I decide to send 1,000 postcards to each of our respective customer lists. Our goal for the mailing(s) is to get our customers to call us to inquire about our Early Bird tuition discounts for 2012. You're shooting for a 1% response rate, I'm shooting for 2%.

Now let's say 10 people respond to your mailing, and 15 respond to mine. Even though more people responded to my mailing, YOUR mailing was more successful because you met your goal of getting a 1% response rate while I fell short of my goal of 2%. You should be happy! :)

I guess what I'm saying is, there's NOTHING in marketing that's too expensive -- direct mail included -- when it meets or exceeds your expected return on investment. You'll never know if your direct mail effort is expensive, successful or anything else unless you set goals for it beforehand. If you determine what constitutes a "good" response ahead of time, even a "small" 1% response rate could be HUGE for you, and there'd be nothing expensive about it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The next HUGE social media site is upon us...

In my opinion, the next HUGE social media site (craze) will be Pinterest. It's a virtual pinboard for sharing what you love with the world, and it offers ENDLESS opportunities for your summer camp marketing. You need to "request an invite" to get on the site. Don't wait...request your invite and join the site today.

Google Adwords Alternatives

Many camps participate in Google's Adwords program. In case you're unfamiliar, Adwords allows you to create your own ads based on keywords people use to search for your camp online. Then, when people search for your camp with those keywords, your ad appears next to or above Google's search results page. If people click on your ad, it leads them right to your website and you pay a fee to Google each time someone clicks on your ad.

Personally I'd rather see you work harder to get your camp to come up in the organic (free) search results than pay money for online advertising. At the same time, participating in the Adwords program can be a fast, easy, and (occasionally) affordable way to increase traffic to your camp's website. So there's no doubt paid advertising can be helpful. But  you owe it to yourself to investigate other options besides Google's Adwords program.

You might find Adwords works the best for you, but if you are considering paid internet advertising for your camp, Adbrite and Bidvertiser are two other programs you might consider.   

Follow us on Twitter

Don't forget to follow us on twitter because we often tweet information that doesn't appear on this blog.

Search Engine Marketing for Summer Camps

We talk a lot on this blog about how to optimize your camp's website so search engines can find and display it to people looking for your camp. This is very important because many camp searches begin online these days. I've spoken to many camp directors who still don't even have websites, but who read this blog anyway. I appreciate that! I also realize search engine optimization can be difficult to understand and foreign to many. That's absolutely fine! The point is to learn as much as you can about this important marketing strategy, then either build a website as soon as possible so you don't miss out on campers, or use the information to improve your existing search engine rankings. I found this great article on Huffington Post called Search Engine Marketing 101 which breaks everything down and makes the concept easier to understand for all of us. Hope it benefits you!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

More Moms are Using Cell Phones to Find Summer Camps. If They Find Yours, What Will Your Website Look Like on Their Mobile Device?

About two years ago I posted about the importance of making sure your camp's website is formatted correctly so people can view it on their cell phones, not just their computers or laptops.

Now more than ever, you need to make sure you site can be accessed appropriately by mobile devices. If your camp's website can't be accessed by, or is not formatted for, mobile devices, you're in for a rude shock and could be missing out on potential camp enrollment.

The reason why is because moms are more likely to own a smartphone than the general public and they use them in their daily lives, including to go online and find information and make purchases these days more than ever. Check this article out.

Video: How to Beat Your Competition

Are you a smaller camp contending with larger competitors? If you've been looking for ways to become more visible and make inroads against your competition so you can get more campers, the marketing tips in this video should be worthwhile to you.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

How to Create an Online Press Release Search Engines Will Love

Do you market your camp with press releases? Maybe you've hired a new staff member, added a new ropes course, upgraded your water slide or made other improvements to your camp program and you want to share the news with the world. Sending a press release (or more than one) to the media's a great way to do this.

Certainly you can send out your press releases the traditional way, via "snail mail" to various news outlets and publications and all that. But you can also send out your press releases online. In fact many journalists and members of the media prefer getting press releases this way.

There's several points to consider when creating your online press release. One of the most important things to consider is how to make your press release favorable to search engines so as many people as possible see it, such as the various keywords and keyword phrases people normally search on to find your camp. Here's how to write an online press release Google will love.

What Makes Blogging Such a Great Search Engine Optimization Strategy?

There's so many strategies you can use to optimize your camp's website for search engines, it'd almost be forgivable for you to get overwhelmed trying to tackle them all, just give up and hope for the best. For one thing, Google uses a RIDICULOUS number of various criteria to determine whether your camp comes up higher in their search results than mine, and they modify that criteria every day. It's not a losing battle though. There's a few mainstay search optimization strategies that should always be a big part of your marketing plan. One of them is blogging.

The reason blogging's such a stout search engine optimization strategy is because:


  • Search engines absolutely adore fresh content; and
  • You can craft your blog posts to include various keywords and keyword phrases people are searching right now

For example, just last night I made a post on this blog which showed up on the first page of Google less than 2 minutes later.  There's no reason why you can't eventually get your camp's content closer to the top of not just Google, but Yahoo, Bing and the other search engines too.

If your camp doesn't have a blog, now is the time to start one. You should post regularly (at least three time a week) with pictures, video and text. If you don't have time to do it yourself, get a staff member to do it for you or outsource it. But in any case, start blogging now so you have a fair number of blog posts already online when the summer camp marketing season starts in full force a couple months from now.

How to Market to Moms

Good article here from Inc Magazine on how to master marketing to moms.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What if Your Email Doesn't Get Opened?

Just to follow up on our series of recent email marketing posts, there's one more thing you can do to improve your email marketing open rates. I suggest resending your message within 9 days to all recipients who did not open your message the first time. I've found you can get open rates of at least 15% just by resending the same message 9 days later. 

Kids Eat Free on their Birthdays, Compliments of Your Camp!

Ever wished you could start a birthday club the way restaurants do, and give kids a free meal on their birthdays? Well, you can, and you don't need to own a restaurant or spend any money to do it. Let me explain.

If you're like most camps, you probably send postcards to campers to acknowledge their birthdays. If you don't, you should, because it's an easy way to make kids feel special while keeping your camp's name in front of their face year-round.

But you can do better than just sending a simple birthday postcard. You can set up a system where you give campers a free meal on their birthdays, just like restaurants do.

All you need to do is PARTNER with a restaurant to offer your campers a free dinner on their birthdays. The restaurant would LOVE the free advertising and this action will also make your kids' birthdays much more memorable while generating more word of mouth marketing for you since you will be the only camp around to give kids a free birthday dinner.

How to Get Our Blog Posts by Email

Having trouble getting our blog posts delivered by email? To be sure you get them, enter your email address in the box in the right sidebar, then follow the message to confirm (verify) you want to receive posts by email. You should be all set!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Free Apps For Your Website

Your website doesn't need all the latest bells and whistles, it only needs to look nice, be easy to navigate, be easy to find and leave parents and kids wanting more. But just in case you want to add a FEW bells and whistles here and there -- maybe a forum, photo album, FAQ service, speaking characters or any number of other free tools -- everything you could possible need is right here, and every one of them is free!

How Google Displays its Search Results

Fantastic video from Google about how they continually work to improve their search engine and results for users. Astounding to learn they change their algorithm EVERY DAY!

What's Your Camp's Biggest Marketing Challenge?

Don't forget to take our latest poll, "What is your camp's biggest marketing problem." The poll is listed in the upper right sidebar of the site. Your vote is completely anonymous.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How Long Should Your Email Marketing Subject Lines Be?

A great looking email subject line is just as important as what the subject line says. We've all gotten emails with those ugly subject lines that are so long they go off the page or get hidden somehow and you can't even read them. I suggest keeping your email marketing subject headlines to 50 characters or less.

Limited Time Offer

All offers need a deadline. You always want people to sign up for camp NOW. If you don't put a deadline in your offer, your prospect has too much time to sign up for other camps or find other summer opportunities. Your number one goal should be to lock up as many kids as you can, as fast as you can, so you get them off the market.

Social Media and Kids

A Pocket Guide to Social Media and Kids

How to Reach a Large Number of Prospects at Once

Even one enrollment can make you smile but wouldn't you rather sign up a BUNCH of kids at once? What if you went to your mailbox and found one envelope containing 50 (or more) camp registrations?

One very effective way you can reach many prospects at once is by targeting groups, clubs, organizations and associations and offering a discount to their members. In most cases the Executive Director (or whomever's in charge) will forward your offer to their membership, not only because it makes them organization look good, but also because a summer camp discount is a nice membership benefit any way you look at it.

Video Marketing Contribution by Camp TV Media

Here's a video contribution by David Best of Camp TV Media who produced this video on behalf of Camp Stewart in Texas. The purpose of the video was to create awareness for the camp's late summer sessions. The video can be shared with mom bloggers and other people connected to the camp's target market. If you have any questions about the video, post them here and I'm sure David will be happy to answer them.