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Thursday, December 27, 2012

We Get Hate Mail! (And How My Dad Paved the Way for Social Media Marketing and Word of Mouth Referrals)

I get lots of email sometimes, mostly from camp directors seeking marketing advice. Other times people try picking fights and criticize me. Some of them are funny, some are angry, some are educational, others are written by idiots. I appreciate them all. The reason I'm telling you this is because I just got home from Las Vegas to find this one in my inbox:

Dear Eric,
I usually don't read your blog because you don't have any qualifications. For instance, you often write about social media marketing for summer camps and getting referrals. But you don't know anything. I'd probably take your advice if you had any qualifications but until you can prove otherwise, you have no more marketing knowledge that the next guy won't even consider taking your marketing advice because I don't think you know anything else than the next guy. Sorry buddy!
Ed Banks
New Mexico

Here's my response:

Dear Ed,
Thank you for writing to me. You sound like a kid but I'll respond anyway. I don't know if you'll agree, but since you've focused on social media and getting referrals, here's the story: Much of what I know I learned from my dad, who 42 years ago (pre-internet, mind you) conducted a pioneering psychology experiment called the Dr. Fox Effect which basically laid the blueprint for people like you and me to understand how social media works and how influential people can help your ideas spread. It's all over the internet, but here's a few links for more information (and be sure to watch the video, too):
  1. Hugh
  3. Wikipedia
  4. New York Times
  5. Weird Experiments

When people click the "LIKE" button on Facebook, "retweet" you on Twitter or share your content with their friends, THAT's today's word of mouth marketing. I'm not gonna sit here and toot my own horn because I definitely have a lot more to learn about all kinds of marketing. I read and experiment all the time so I can share what I learn with you. And certainly from a social media standpoint, I think I know what I'm talking about. But if you don't want to read this blog, no worries, nobody here will miss you miss you. Happy Holidays! :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to Get Twice As Many People to Attend Your Next Live Marketing Event

If you market your camp with site tours, open houses, camp fairs and other live events, here's an easy way to get at least twice as many prospects to attend these important marketing functions: If each person attending the event brings at least one friend, you've doubled your attendance just like that.

This should not be hard to do. You can offer them a coupon. You could say, "if you're coming to our open house this weekend, bring a friend and we'll give you both a coupon for a free ice cream cone from 31 Flavors." (Be sure Baskin-Robbins donates the coupons so you're not paying for the ice cream yourself. They'll be glad to, if you pitch them the right way.)

Another idea: If you're attending a camp fair, you can say to your prospects, "If you stop by our booth with a friend, you can both enter our "Friends Win Free Camp Contest" or something like that.

You get the idea. The point it is, if only one person is planning on attending your next event, and you convince them to bring a friend, now TWO people are coming, and so on and on....

Monday, December 17, 2012

Risk-free Lead Generation Service For You

Recently we asked camps about their biggest marketing challenge. "Not enough new leads" topped the list.

So that got me thinking, how can we all get more leads without risking a dime? By participating on the new website, that's how.

As many of you know I've operated Camp Coupons for the past several years, but haven't given it the attention it deserves. That's changing because I'm about to give the site, and how it's marketed, a complete makeover so you can get more leads for your camp, if you decide to participate on

As you know, saving money is what almost every family needs to do just to get by these days. If you can give them a break -- even just a small one -- on their summer camp tuition, or a discount to your camp store, or half-off an overnight campout, or a nice new customer special designed however you want, or whatever else you might want to offer -- you could gain a new, loyal customer for life with this simple initial gesture.

I expect the new site to be up and going by February. I'm going to really push it hard from a marketing standpoint, with tons of social media exposure through Facebook, Twitter and more. If you decide to participate, you could get lots of new leads, but you will ONLY pay when you get one, so you don't have to worry about paying for advertising that might not work. Here's how it will work:
  1. Site will be designed in blog-style format to keep it atop the search engine rankings. 
  2. As a participating camp, you'll be able to post your contact info, pictures, program descriptions, coupon offers and more on your own blog post page
  3. Prospect (camp parent, etc.) will log onto to search for camps and coupon  information
  4. When parent finds desired camps/coupons, they will fill out a form, providing their contact info. They will not be able to access your coupons without completing the form.
  5. Upon form submission, coupon will be emailed to parent
  6. Simultaneously to when the parent submits form and receives their coupon via email, an email will be sent to you alerting you that someone has not only downloaded your coupon, but also containing all the contact info of the parent who accessed your coupon so you can follow up with them.
I am still working out the fee structure for camps that want to participate, but most likely, it won't cost you anything to list a coupon, you will only be charged a small fee (couple bucks) when someone downloads (requests) your coupon. And remember, you will receive their contact info too.

So that's the preliminary scoop. Any questions let me know. Have a great week!

- Eric

EDIT: Don't fill out any forms on the existing Camp Coupons website because it's not ready to go yet!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What's the Difference Between a Lead and an Inquiry?

In a recent poll we asked camp owners, marketers and directors to share their most significant marketing challenge. "Not enough new leads" was the overwhelming response. 

Here's the results of the poll (with answers indicated as a percentage of overall response rates):

Question: What is your camp's biggest marketing challenge?


  • Not enough new leads (41%) 
  • Not enough word of mouth referrals (17%) 
  • Camper retention rate too low (17%) 
  • Marketing Budget too low (17%) 
  • Other (5%) 

As you can see, "Not enough new leads" got 41% of the responses. The next CLOSEST was 17%. It was a landslide.

Now let me make one comment about the second answer, "Not enough word of mouth referrals" which got 17%.

The fact is, getting word of mouth referrals is your best source of new leads. That means getting new leads and word of mouth referrals are the same thing, or in other words, if you got more word of mouth referrals you'd have enough new leads and vice versa.

Accordingly, since these two things are the same, I'm gonna add that 17% percent on top of the 41% and say 58% percent of those who participated in this poll feel like their marketing program is hindered by not getting enough new leads.

I'm going to spend some time in the future giving you lead generation ideas. Did you know you can double or even triple your camp enrollment in just one year with new leads and referrals? That's a fact, not my opinion, and I will show you how. You will need to attend one of my upcoming marketing workshops in mid-winter/early spring to get the full benefit and understanding. I will share more information about this soon. But first let's agree on something.

First and foremost, we need to identify exactly what a "lead" is. Is an inquiry a lead? Some would say so. But I would say not really. An inquiry is an inquiry and a lead is a lead.

Leads are better than inquiries because leads are qualified referrals, whereas an inquiry could just be anyone with no intention of signing up for your program

By "qualified referral," I am talking about:

  • Families who are truly interested in your program 
  • Have children that match you ideal camper profile 
  • Have the financial capacity to pay for your program; and are
  • Practically pre-sold on your camp because their friends prompted them to reach out to you

Leads like this are easier to close, shorten your sales cycle, and eliminate your competition. THAT's a qualified lead or referral.

What's an inquiry? And inquiry is when someone fills out your online inquiry form. Now don't get me wrong because this is important. But it's only an inquiry, not necessarily a qualified lead or referral. A spammer could fill out that form, for goodness sake. On the other hand, qualified leads and referrals are practically preregistered campers in your back pocket; the only thing left for them to do is complete your registration form and boom, they're active campers.

I'll show you how to get tons of referrals soon here on this site and at our live seminar. Happy Holiday!