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Monday, October 29, 2012

Are You Sitting on a Goldmine of Camper Leads?

Everyone's got the same marketing problems. Their marketing budget's too small, they don't get enough leads, they don't get enough referrals, they don't retain campers long enough...the list goes on.

Regarding not getting enough leads, I hear this over and over. But guess what? You might be sitting on a gold mine of leads right now and not even know it. The "gold mine" I'm talking about is you current prospect list.

Unless you've built your list unethically, then everyone on it (at one point or another) took the time to express interest in your camp, perhaps in the form of a brochure request, email inquiry, phone call, or whatever. Keep in mind that person's a HOT prospect for you. But what if you haven't heard from them in a while? Many camp marketers actually give up trying to reach the prospect after a year or two if they haven't heard from them.

I say, don't give up that easy! You have no idea why they didn't buy from you before. Maybe the time wasn't right, their kid wasn't old enough, the parents were going through a divorce, one or both of the parents lost their jobs, there was a death in the family which changed their summer plans ...who knows what else. The point is, I wouldn't just remove them from your list of your own volition. Instead, let THEM tell YOU when to take them off, because now they may be ready to sign up for camp!

Here's what I'd do. I'd send an email to everyone letting them know you're doing a "spring cleaning" of your email lists, and since you want to be sure you're only sending relevant information to interested people, you're checking in to see if they'd like to stay on your contact list or be removed.

If they ask to be removed, you're no worse off than you were before. (In fact you're in a better position since you probably pay your email marketing company by the number of contacts you have. You don't to pay for useless contacts!)

Now the people who decide to STAY on your list -- especially those you haven't heard from -- are the goldmine I mentioned before. They've been sitting dormant, but your simple email has likely reactivated their interest in your camp. And with the simple email you sent, you can probably pick up an enrollment or two (or more) this way, and it didn't cost you anything but an hour or two of your time. You can't beat that! :)

Your Keywords in Customer Reviews

Customer reviews can improve your website ranking. So a good search engine optimization strategy is to ask customers to review your camp and post those reviews to Google. Something else to consider might be having your customers include your keywords in their reviews.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The #1 Free Tool to Help People Find Your Camp

What's the #1 free tool you can use to show off your camp's location to the world? Google Maps.

Let me explain.

You're probably familiar with the phrase, "location, location, location." Having a great location can make one business thrive, while a bad one (poor parking, no street visibility or whatever) can force you under.

Now in the summer camp field, you're probably not too concerned with foot traffic or customer impulse purchases -- that kind of thing is reserved for restaurants and retail stores -- yet your LOCATION is just as important. Here's what I mean.

Let's say you're driving down the street and you're hungry. You see a Subway sandwich shop, so you stop what you're doing and walk in to buy a sandwich. You noticed the Subway because it's located in a good spot -- you SAW it, after all, and Subway gets tons of business this way. 

But as a camp professional, you can't count on that. You can't expect someone walking down the street to see your site and suddenly say to themselves, "Oh, this looks like a nice place, I think I'll sign up for camp today."  

And yet, your location, and facility itself, are equally important to the success of your operation as the Subway owner's location is to him. If your facility is impressive enough, and located in the right place, that could be enough to get customers to sign up for your camp.

As you may know, my summer camp is located on the beach. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that my program's much easier to sell when people see it ahead of time. So what I've done is, I've experimented  with various types of maps on different parts of  my website. This way I can show prospective campers and their families where my program's located and the various activities we do at camp. 

For many years I used a hand-drawn map, which was (and still is) pretty cool I think.  Here's a link to that map so you can see what I mean.

Now as you can see, that map is still (obviously) active on my website. It does a pretty good job of showing people what we offer and where we offer it. But I've discovered in the past year or two the best way to really capture my prospects' interest, from the standpoint of showing off my location*, is using Google Maps.

*(And that's not the only benefit. By putting a Google Map on my open house page, attendance at my Open Houses have increased 22%, the page views on that part of my site has increased by 38%, and my Facebook Likes have increased on that page too. And the best part of all is when people search on the terms "Aloha Beach Camp map," the Open House page of my website comes up first on Google! : )

Google Maps is a ubiquitous part of internet use these days. People search for places on Google Maps at a VASTLY increasing rate. They want to see what they're buying, and WHERE the place they're buying it from is located. They want to SEE where they're sending their kids to camp! 

If you don't use Google Maps, I highly suggest you start. You can create a map and deploy it on your website in minutes. You can show people EXACTLY where your program is located, and you can even include supporting sales copy or informational text to boot. Here's a link so you can get started right now. It's  a very easy thing to do and will help many more people discover camp.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What if You Only Had $10 to Market Your Camp?

I was in McDonald's today with my kids. We overheard two guys talking about starting a new business together. Gist of the conversation was they thought they had a million dollar idea, but literally ZERO money for marketing. So it got me thinking, what if I only had a couple bucks to market my camp? How would I do it?

Well, let's say I'm in REALLY bad shape and can only afford about $10 for marketing. Here's the kind of thing I'd do.

  • I'd spend the whole $10 on a great Website domain name
  • I'd find a free, do-it-yourself website building tool and a place I could host my site for free (like this one -- and get it online immediately
  • I'd blog like CRAZY ... at least three posts per day for as long as it took to acheive my desired ranking
  • I'd put coupons all over my site to entice camper registrants at a discount
  • I'd run "New Customer" and "Bring a Friend" discount offers and specials
  • I'd use Google Maps strategically to let everyone know where my camp is located
  • I'd use PR liberally sending out press releases about my new program several times a week
  • I'd make VERY close friends with influential mommy bloggers -- people who could endorse my camp through their blog and social media pages to their friends, fans and followers
  • I'd set up Facebook and Twitter accounts and get to know as many people through them as possible, and run sweepstakes and contents (to the extent they're legal) to garner quick interest among prospects and sharing and "liking" among friends
  • I'd design a nice, color brochure with the free do-it-yourself publishing software that comes with any computer
  • I'd find a printer who has kids they'd like to send to camp. Then I'd do a trade with him -- free camp for printing my brochure, dollar for dollar. 
  • I'd distribute the brochure in places like doctor's offices and schools, and I'd turn it into a PDF to post online as well
  • I'd find 5 or 10 other business owners who serve customers just like mine (but who don't compete with me), and do joint ventures / referral deals with them. I'd give them 10% of all the money I make from every camper they refer to me
  • I'd ask those same business owers to send emails to their list endorsing my camp, and I'd give them 10% - 15% of whoever signed up from their endorsement

And that's the kind of thing I'd do....

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's the Difference Between Sales and Marketing?

I get lots of emails with questions about how to market a summer camp. I wish I could answer them all. Here's a question I got that's of interest to all of us, though.

John runs day camps and overnight camps. He wanted to know the basic difference between sales and marketing.

My thought is that marketing is an educational process -- it's everything you to do help clients and prospects learn about and discover your camp program -- while sales is the process by which, and the tools you use, to ask for and/or get the sale.

Marketing includes your social media activities, email newsletters, brochures and dvds. Sales includes your enrollment form, email offers, face-to-face contact at Camp Fairs or Open Houses, etc. where you ask, and make it easy for, people to sign up for camp.

Agree? Disagree? What do you think?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Best 9 Tips for a Solid Mobile Website EVER

I've read about 10 million articles about how and why to make a mobile website. This one by @MarketingProfs is the best of the best: