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Thursday, May 19, 2011

How to Fill Your Camp in February, Not May, June or NEVER!

Unfortunately for most camp directors, the harsh reality is the traditional "sign up for camp months" of January and February are probably gone forever. You can't count on selling out by then anymore. The new reality is that the economy still sucks, the future's uncertain, there's too many other options for kids to do, and people are holding onto their money till the very last second. What does this mean? It means the NEW "sign up for camp months" are May, June and July -- this is when most of your enrollment will come in -- if you're lucky. Many camps bit the dust and are gone forever due to the recession.

Good news though. With the right marketing approach, you can still fill TONS of your available enrollment slots during the early winter months. That's still possible for you, even if it doesn't feel that way. We'll go into greater detail about this in our marketing workshop this fall. I'm not sure whether the workshop will be online, or in L.A., or in Chicago or Atlanta (all of these are options right now.) I'll have more information about this soon, so keep checking back when you can.

-- Eric

Friday, May 13, 2011

Post your videos on Find a Camp TV

Did you know video marketing is the next big thing? It's the number one social media tool out there! We've got a new site up called FindaCamp.TV where you can show your camp videos to the world. It's like YouTube for summer camps! All you need to do is send us your ready-made video files (the ones already on your computer!) and you'll be ready to go! Visit for more info today

Friday, May 6, 2011

How to Use Email in Your Social Media Marketing Campaigns

Even though I'm a Facebook marketing nut (and can take or leave Twitter), I've always thought email marketing was/is the best social media tool around.

Here's 5 ways you can use Social media in your email marketing campaigns, courtesy of

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!

Monday, May 2, 2011

If you were starting a new camp today, how would you market it?

I get emails all the time from people asking this question. I guess starting your own camp is a popular thing to do!

Anyway, here's what I'd do if I were starting my own camp from scratch (and I assuming I had a very limited budget as many of the people I hear from do):

  • I'd get a very descriptive, but unique, domain name
  • I'd blog and blog and blog like crazy while including popular summer camp keyword phrases people are searching on right now
  • I'd start a customer referral program to reward people for referring others to my camp
  • I'd send targeted postcard mailings to the same mailing list at least three times during May and June

That's what I'd do. How about you?