When prospects see marketing offers from Aloha Beach Camp, I want them to say to themselves, “I’d be an idiot not to try this.” If I can get them to think that way, they’re mine.
I want you to start thinking that way too: How can you make your prospects an offer they’d feel stupid to refuse?
In today’s economic climate, price plays a big part in a camp family’s decision making process. It’s important to realize families want discounts and bargains. It’s already so frickin expensive raising kids in the first place, people want money-saving opportunities that’ll reduce the sting of paying for camp.
Here’s what I’d do. I’d focus on retaining old campers first, then getting new ones later. It costs you at least 5 times more money to acquire a new camper than to keep a current one, so camper retention is key.
But you definitely need new campers. You need them every year. That means you might also need more aggressive marketing offers that really hit home in the minds of your prospects.
What does “more aggressive” mean? Beats me. You’ll need to experiment with your own situation and find out what works best for your market. I can tell you this though.
If you want high-impact results from your marketing offers, that 10% discount you’re offering right now might sound generous to you and your staff, but it’s not gonna work for prospects on the fence.
In fact, anything less than 20% off generally won’t be enough to influence a buying decision. Twenty-five percent off and 50% is even better.
If you’re nervous about giving this much of a discount, well, sure, you might lose on the front end. But if your camp kicks ass, chances are the new campers you acquire with your generous discounts will stay with you for the next several years. That means your acquisition costs become virtually nothing when amortized over all the future summers your new kids stay with you.
Now here’s one thing you don’t want to do. You don’t want to offer discounts to people who’d otherwise pay full price. If your camp fills up each year without offering discounts, you’re living a life of luxury most of us don’t enjoy.
But if you’re one of those who needs a steady stream of new kids, keep experimenting with different offers until you find one that works consistently well. Stick with it for a while, occasionally testing a new one until you find another that works even better.
Eventually you’ll strike gold with an incredible offer nobody will be able to refuse. It will be obvious to you when this happens because you’ll be rewarded with a completely full camp with a waiting list and you won’t have to offer discounts anymore. Sounds nice!
I always enjoy your insights and know you like feedback. I think this post presents some significant challenges that are very important to consider in marketing with heavy discounts…
1. You recognize the importance of camper retention….then you offer a new camper a price significantly lower then a family who has been with you for years! While discounting is a good way to get trial, and a satisfied first time customer is likely to return, offering better pricing, especially significant better pricing, to new customers is a likely way to upset your loyal current customers.
2. Sometimes, the ones you get with a significant price discount are ones you would only get with that discount. As you say, you loose on the front end but then they may stay with you for years. My experience, both within and outside of the Camp world, is that if that customer you get with a significant discount is all about price, then no matter how good you are, you may never get that chance to make it back. Often times, if the only reason you get a camper is price, you will quickly loose them on price as well.
3. Placing a large discount in the marketplace can signal that your business is in trouble… Not the message you want parents to get. Another bad option; it can also signal that your product is not worth its full "retail" price, or why could you (or would you) offer such a discount.
Bottom line, before running that 50% off ad, I would make sure to consider some potential downsides…
Good Luck – Jed
Great comments Jed. Appreciate you taking the time. You're right, there's always gonna be people who are buying on price (in the camp world and outside). Unfortunately it's impossible to tell who they are ahead of time. You can only control what you can control, and that's delivering an outstanding camp experience to each kid no matter if there parents only selected you cause of a discount or not. Hopefully even the price shoppers can be influenced to come back if the kid has a great time and influences the parent into letting them come back next year…not an unlikely scenario given how much pull kids have with their parents in making buying decisions.
You are also correct about pissing off loyal customers. I'm in the same position with my DirectTV service. I've been their customer for years, but it seems like they offer the "loss leader" rates to new customers just to get them in. I understand that.
Almost every business I know of offers new customers discounts, whatever that discount may be. You just gotta find a way (whatever it is) to remain sensitive to your loyal folks and be prepared to do whatever needs to be done to keep them happy.
As to your point #3, I suppose a large discount can send that message. And yet, many large businesses have been BUILT around 50% off deals. (In any case that's why I said you need to experiment with what works best for you, and I also think the deeper discounts should not be used so much at established camps versus those trying to get off the ground or struggling for new business NOW.)
Bottom line, you gotta do something (or more than one thing) to acquire new business. best way i know to incentivize people into trying out a new product or service is offering a discount. It doesn't need to be 50% just enough to entice them to try you out, then you can hook them for good.
Thanks again and all the best,