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Showing posts from 2013

Do You Take Your Smartphone to the Bathroom With You?

Here's an article I read today on mobile marketing. It's called 7 Mobile Marketing Stats that will Blow Your Mind. It's a quick read, and some of the stats are pretty amazing. As you know, I'm a HUGE fan of mobile marketing. One stat I was definitely aware of is that more people will be searching for your camp on their mobile devices in 2014 than on their desktop computers. But one thing I didn't know was that 75% of Americans bring their smartphones into the bathroom with them. Enjoy the article.

How to Market Your Summer Camp with Text Message Marketing

If you haven't implemented a mobile marketing strategy for your summer camp, don't wait any longer. We're way past the tipping point now. You can bet almost each and every one of your customers and prospects (including kids and teens) have cell phones or similar mobile devices. (In fact I can tell you that the vast majority of my Yelp prospect inquiries for my camp come from mobile devices.) At the very least, you should be using text message marketing on a regular basis, because think of it this way: Do you have your cell phone on you now? So does everyone else!

What is SMS/Text Message Marketing?

In this article I'd like to share some tips on SMS marketing, better know as text message marketing. Text message marketing is just like sending a text to your family or friends, but in this context you're sending a mass message to summer camp customers and prospects (and even job applicants and camp staff) as a marketing strategy. SMS marketing is kind of like email mark…

Mobile Marketing to Moms is the Next Big Thing

I'm a HUGE proponent of mobile marketing, especially to moms. Moms may not actually register for camp on the mobile phones, but it's one of the top places they gather and share pictures and information with their friends.

It goes without saying you need a mobile-optimized website and should definitely be on instagram (if nowhere else) so moms can send photos of your camp to their friends via mobile.

Three things for you to know:

1. I am developing a new website called CampText.com. Camps will be able to send text messages and conduct mobile marketing programs to customers and prospects via their cell phones. This is a HUGE opportunity for camps everywhere. I'll let you know when the website's ready.

2. I suggest reading this article from MediaPost.com which describes the best way to reach moms on their mobile devices (which is by providing information as explained above).

3. Here's one more article on one of the best ways to reach the mom demographic...H…

How to Upsell Your Summer Camp Customers and Make More Money

If you're like me, you're always looking for ways to make more money. Even though your main source of revenue will always be camper tuition, what happens when all your cabins are filled or camper groups are maxed out and you don't have room for any more kids? Do you have any other revenue-generating options?

Well if you run an overnight camp, you might already be using some of the more common strategies like fundraising, renting your facility to user-groups, offering team-building programs for companies ... that kind of thing. (If you're not doing this yet, now's the time to start!)

For day camps, you might consider starting new programs to compliment what you're already doing. For instance, if you run a site-based camp with enrollment capacity limitations, why not add a field-trip component where the numbers of kids you can take have no limits?

The one thing every camp can do is implement a formal "upselling" program. This would be similar to when yo…

50% off Online Summer Camp Advertising Expires Dec. 31

The special we've been running on FindMyCamp.com, where you can list your camp for just $25/year, ends Dec 31.

The price increases to $50 Jan 1, so if you want to get in on this 50% discount, be sure to list your camp today.

Summer Camp Marketing Tip for Resident Camps

One of my favorite summer camp marketing strategies is stealing ideas from other industries then applying them to camp. If you look around, you'll find most summer camps market the same way. If you want to find fresh, creative ideas and better results, you gotta look outside the box.

Sleepaway camps have a GOLDEN example to follow for finding marketing ideas outside camp. The hotel, travel, tourism and destination marketing industries are your jackpots.

Don't wait another minute to research these kinds of companies and industries and apply their marketing ideas to your camp. After all, they're trying to do the same thing you are -- attract visitors through the purchase of room nights, food, retail items, etc. -- so why not see what the really successful ones are doing and grabbing their ideas and running with them?

Look at their ads, websites, social media sites. View their Yelp and TripAdvisor sites. Read their customer reviews. I'm pretty sure you'll pick up mor…

Want to Run a Better Summer Camp? Adopt a "Beat the Competition" Mindset

Camp people are a friendly bunch. We share information and ideas freely. That's one of the great things about being in the camp industry.

But don't let your guard down.

It's an undeniable fact that many of us are going after the same kids. And if running a great camp is important to you, maintaining a mindset of beating your competition should be a key component of your summer camp marketing plan.

Don't feel uneasy about this. We're not talking about some cutthroat marketing campaign like Dominos against Pizza Hut where they bash each other in public all the time.

But it does mean you need to run a better program than other camps so people have a reason to choose you instead.

Look at it this way.

What if your very best friend runs a summer camp right next door to you? Odds are prospects are comparing you to each other. Assuming they're comparing apples to apples, you'd rather get those kids than let them go next door, right?

Beating your competition -- wh…

How to Get More People to Attend Your Camp Fair Booth - Past Blog Posts

I run a day camp, so we don't usually sign up for camp fairs until spring. I realize many other camps, especially overnight, are preparing for them now so here's a few blog posts I wrote in the past about how to increase attendance at your camp fair booth, including how to get twice as many people there. Hope these are helpful!

How to Get People to Swarm to Your Camp Fair BoothHow to Double Your Attendance at Your Next Live Marketing Event, Including Camp Fairs

How Summer Camps Can Get More Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter Fans Instantly

If your summer camp's equipped with online enrollment, here's a surefire way to get almost EVERY CUSTOMER FAMILY to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or anywhere else you want online:

Put "Find Us on Facebook," "Follow us on Twitter," and "Follow us on Instagram" links prominently on your enrollment confirmation page and/or confirmation email with a message similar to this:

"Thanks for signing up for Aloha Beach Camp...we're looking forward to a fun summer...we don't want you to miss any important information from us, so please become a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter so you we can share the latest information from camp with you, etc., etc., etc.")
I promise this works like a charm. I get many new fans and followers this way. The reason why this strategy's so effective is because the point of purchase, and immediately afterward, is when you'll have your customer's attention the most. They don't …

Does Eric Naftulin Actually Write this Blog?

Oh boy, I just got a message asking if it's really me, Eric Naftulin, who writes all the blog posts here. Of course it is! Who else would it be? Sheesh!

What To Do When a Kid Quits Your Camp

If you could get every kid to come back to camp every year, your camp would be at full capacity sooner rather than later, your marketing costs would be nothing and you probably wouldn't be reading this summer camp marketing blog. Unfortunately, a 100% camper retention rate isn't possible. Kids stop coming for any number of reasons. They age-out, their families move, they outgrow your program, they sign up for other camps instead, whatever.

Your goal for every camper is that the kid leaves your camp with happy memories and their parents think highly of you. Even if THEIR kid doesn't attend your camp anymore, they can still be a strong referral source for you and might even return again later, so it's important to keep the lines of communication open.

Here is a sample letter I send out to families after it seems likely they're moving on from my program (feel free to customize this to your own situation):

"Dear (NAME OF FAMILY):

I heard today that y…

Should Summer Camps Outsource Their Social Media Marketing?

Last night on our Facebook Summer Camp Marketing Tips group, we discussed which (if any) social media marketing sites work best for camps. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and others came up.

One of the group members sent me a private message afterwards asking my thoughts on whether he should contract out his camp's social media marketing activities to an agency. He said he's very busy and this could make things easier on him.

I know as well as anyone that camp folks have many balls to juggle. But I don't think you should ever outsource your social media marketing to a third party. Camps are social entities inherently, and even the world's best ad agency or marketing consultant could never be as effective establishing relationships, building trust, and interacting with camper families as you.

At the same time, if you want to farm out some of your other marketing activities like strategy and planning, advertising campaigns, branding, video production, graphic des…

Local Marketing Tip for Resident Camps

"Local marketing" is a hot concept these days. After all, Google (and other popular search engines) typically show local results results first.

Considering day camps serve local markets, sometimes resident camps think they're screwed when it comes to local marketing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Overnight camps can use local marketing strategies just as effectively as day camps, if not more so.

There's at least 4 or 5 local marketing strategies I can think of that sleepaway camps can start using today. One of the best is setting up joint ventures with other local businesses. Here's how to start.

Make a list of some of the local businesses in close proximity to your camp. Chances are these companies have customers you want to reach, right?

So why not reach out to them to propose an affiliation? If you can set up some sort of mutually beneficial relationship, like trading email lists or whatever, the payoff could be huge for you.

Now my guess is that …

How to Respond to Toy R Us Video, Part 2

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Perhaps you read my post the other day about the recent Toys R Us video dissing the outdoor experience for kids in favor of taking a trip to the toy store.

In that post I suggested the American Camp Association fight back with an advertising campaign of its/their/our own giving Toys R Us a taste of its own medicine. My idea was to put up billboards, take out ads, etc. showing kids mindlessly playing video games, then jumping for absolute joy when they learn they get to go to summer camp and discover the great outdoors.


After reading my post, John Waszczak at Lake Owego Camp emailed sharing the photo above. John thought the picture highlighted the ideas I mentioned in my post. John, you are SPOT ON and thanks so much for the find!! :)

The Absolute WRONG WAY to Market Your Summer Camp

My twin boys turned 13 yesterday. In between their baseball practice and party I gave a speech on youth marketing at a networking club. One of the business owners in attendance who owns an art center for kids asked me the best way to trick parents into signing up for her classes.

If I wasn't pissed at the question, I was definitely astounded. Marketing is NEVER about tricking or deceiving people into buying what you're selling. That's just about the fastest way to get a bunch of unhappy customers because they really have no idea what they're signing up for. And if you need to trick someone into buying your stuff, you probably aren't selling anything of any quality in the first place.

Your marketing messages should focus primarily on education. The goal is to educate families about your outstanding camp program so they can make an informed buying decision. This is also the best way to get their trust and attention.

Certainly the end-goal of your educational mark…

Top 3 Summer Camp Marketing Strategies for 2014

As 2013 winds down, you'll find lots of blogs and websites posting content and articles with their "Top Marketing Strategies for 2014" or something like that. But very few of them focus just on summer camp marketing ; in most cases they are just disseminating general marketing information. Since I write this blog for you, here is my list of the Top 3 Marketing Strategies for 2014 ... EXCLUSIVELY FOR SUMMER CAMPS!

1. Mobile Marketing

Do you have your cell phone on you? So do your customers! (And I mean parents, grandparents, kids .... EVERYONE carries a mobile device these days giving your the perfect opportunity to connect with them.) It's important to understand mobile marketing takes numerous forms, some extremely sophisticated. So I suggest starting with a very basic text message marketing program and building from there. Can you just start sending text messages to customers and prospects if you have their cell numbers? No! That would be a severe violation of the M…

How ACA Should Handle Toys R Us Commercial

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By now you may have seen the Toys R Us commercial that has many camp folks up in arms. The commercial even prompted the American Camp Association to ask its members to write to Toys R Us expressing our concern that the ad "seems to belittle a nature experience in favor of a trip to a store."

Here's the video if you haven't seen it.


Now if you're unhappy with this commercial, and you think sending a letter would help, by all means go for it!  I'm certainly not a fan of this ad by any means.

But my additional position is this: Rather than complaining about the ad and calling more attention to it (which is EXACTLY what Toys R Us wants us to do), why not do something more constructive like highlighting the benefits of nature experiences (basically giving Toys R Us a taste of its own medicine) with ACA's own ad next spring?

ACA should respond by developing and promoting its own ad, showing kids sitting around like couch potatoes in a dark room with glazed…

Internet Advertising for your Camp - Just $25 bucks

Looking for outstanding value for your online summer camp marketing dollar? For a limited time, you can list your camp on FindMyCamp.com for just $25. The regular price is $99 so you can't beat this deal.

Your listing includes:


A live link to your camp's WebsiteA live link to your camp's Facebook pageA photo of your campThree keywords site users can use to find your camp on the site Where else can you pay just $25 and get all that when marketing your camp online.

Click here to sign up now because this offer expires soon.

Gay Families With Children: An Emerging Market For Camps

Did you know 25% percent of gay and lesbian couples are now raising kids? That's an ASTOUNDING number and it's up to you and me to develop effective marketing programs to reach them. Check this out.

I was talking with a friend of mine, named Kevin, on the phone yesterday who owns a successful chain of used car dealerships. Kevin is gay, married, and has two kids who attend my camp each year.

Kevin sells cars to everyone, but said one of the fastest growing market segments in his business is selling mini-vans to same-sex couples. As more gay couples marry, he explained, they add children to their families, creating the need for larger family-style cars.

This is good news for anyone who markets goods and services to families. In the past, the three most significant target markets for camps were parents, kids and grandparents. Same-sex families are now a very real, large and emerging market for you and for every camp.

( I confess my camp enrollment form does not have a form fiel…

What Can a Camp Counselor Teach You About Social Media?

Mediapost.com is one of my favorite websites. Here's a GREAT article (written in 1999) from that website called, "What a Camp Counselor Can Teach You About Social Media."

Why Similar Summer Camps Have Different Enrollment Numbers

If you're like me, you probably check you're email several times a day (and maybe more often if you get your email on your phone). One of the messages I got today was from "Chris in Birmingham," who asked me what I thought was the number one difference between camps with high enrollment and camps with low ones.

Well personally I think it's pretty hard to say why one camp is loaded with kids and another one isn't, largely because every camp is different. But if we're comparing apples to apples, for example, if we're considering two or three camps with the same type of program, similar facilities, same enrollment capacity, close in proximity to one another, etc., then my answer is twofold:

1. The camp with the best marketing program will always get more campers; and
2. The camp with the best counselors will always retain more campers year to year

How to Add More Social Media Marketing to Your Summer Camp's Marketing Plan

Looking for a way to include more social media marketing into your summer camp marketing and really connect with customers and prospects?

A good place to start is with your website' FAQ page. What  you can do is incorporate VIDEO answers to the FAQ's, not just plain text.

For example, if some of your FAQ's are, "How long is Camp Day?," 'Where's Your Camp Located?," or "What Kind of Food Do Your Serve?",  then instead of the same old text answers, you could include a video of yourself or camp staff answering the question instead. This is social media marketing at it's best.

If You've Got Marketing Problems, this Post is for You

Marketing problems? Solutions here: http://bit.ly/Zn38sy

How to Move Prospects through the Sales Cycle and Convert them into Campers Even when They're Guarded From the Outset

"We're getting lots of camper leads, but having trouble converting them into paying customers."

I hear this complaint often from camp marketers all the time.

Even more troubling, many folks say they lose touch with prospects after the initial contact is made. (The obvious reason why that's bad is because many prospects require a lengthy sales-cycle process, meaning you need to connect with them many times before they warm up to you or they're ready to make a decision about signing up for camp. So if you're having issues reconnecting with prospects after the initial  time, that's a big strike against you.)

Here's how to fix this.

The first thing is, you need a PLAN - a strategy - for handling every phone call, email and personal contact with prospects from the outset. You need to decide what you're trying to accomplish EVERY TIME you connect with someone.

It's similar to what I tell my kids when they're in the on-deck circle before stepping…

Internet Advertising For Your Camp, Just $49/Year

If you're looking for an affordable marketing option with great value and ROI, list your camp on FindMyCamp.com for just $49 per year.

Text Message Marketing for Summer Camps

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The next big thing (actually, it's already here and growing) for camp marketers is mobile marketing. Mobile marketing encompasses many facets, from text message marketing to mobile coupons to QR codes and more.

Why is mobile marketing so hot? Well, consider this: Your camp family prospects and customers might leave home without their purse, wallet, or computers ... but not without their cell phones! And by 2014 (next year), more people will conduct online searches with their mobile devices than they will using their desktops. That's crazy!

In an upcoming post I'm going to talk about a great mobile couponing tool created by my friend Shawntay who I met on Twitter. But today I wanted to introduce you to one of the fastest, quickest, most effective ways to reach your prospects immediately in real time...and that's text message marketing!

All About Text Message Marketing

Text message marketing is quick, powerful and effective. Once you build your opt-in list (kind of l…

Coupons and Candy Go Hand-in-Hand

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A couple weeks ago we made a quick post on how to market to kids and parents at the same time. The strategy discussed was to attach a coupon to a candy bar. Candy is something every child loves, and the coupon equates to something every parent loves -- saving money.


Those who've read this blog for a while know I'm a big fan of stealing marketing ideas from other industries and applying them to summer camp marketing. I got the coupon/candy bar idea when I took my car in for service two weeks ago. When the mechanic finished fixing my car, he gave me a Hershey bar with a coupon attached good for $5 off my next service. That's a pretty sweet marketing strategy to encourage me to bring my car back to him next time it needs work, rather than take it to another mechanic.

I can think of at least a dozen ways to use this idea at my camp. I know you can, too. Give it a try. Your campers and parents will love it!

Best Place to Distribute Your Flyers? School Carpool Lines

Is marketing with flyers included in your camp's marketing plan? It should be. Flyers are just about the cheapest advertising materials to produce, and when distributed in the right places, unbelievably effective.

You can distribute your flyers everywhere. Pediatrician's offices, telephone poles, little league fields, camp fairs. But where's the NUMBER ONE place to hand them out?

School carpool lines.

Seriously, have you EVER seen more moms sitting around doing absolutely NOTHING about 10 or 15 minutes before their kids get out of school? This is an incredibly captive audience for you.

Now you might be wondering whether this type of solicitation is kosher, especially in a school environment. Different places have different rules and regulations, so you'll need to check with yours before undertaking this remarkably effective marketing strategy.

If you're walking up and down a public sidewalk handing out flyers, you might be fine, but again, you need t…

How to Market to Kids and Parents at the Same Time

Looking for a marketing idea that simultaneously reaches parents and kids alike? Attach a coupon to a candy bar and give it to either one.

How to Let People BUY What You're Selling, Rather than SELLING it to Them

You know that old saying, "People like to be sold"? I think it's a load of crap. I don't think people like being sold one bit. But people do like to buy things -- it makes them feel good.

Keep this in mind the next time you talk to a parent. Nobody likes a hard sell, especially your summer camp prospects. But if you can help people feel like they reached their own buying decisions, you'll get a whole bunch of happy campers.

So now you have a new marketing challenge. Your goal is to help people "BUY" what you're selling, rather than SELL them on it.

When someone decides to sign their kids up for camp instead of feeling like they've been forced into it a sale, the whole experience will be more enjoyable for them. The parent will be more accepting of your prices, and the kid will have more fun at camp.

How do you let someone buy your camp experience instead of selling it to them? You need to make the entire situation all about THEM.

Ask them que…

What to do When Your Early Bird Discount Isn't Enough

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This is the time of year you need money. For many camps, January's the slowest month. So how do you get people to sign up for camp right now, in the dead of winter, when they probably aren't even THINKING about summer not to mention everyone's credit cards are maxed out since the holidays just ended.

Well, if you do things the way most other camps do, you probably have an Early Bird discount going. But sometimes even THAT'S not enough to get parents to part with their hard-earned money. Many people would rather sign up for camp several months later, even if it means paying full price, just so they can hang onto their money as long as possible.

So the question becomes, what do you do when your Early Bird discount isn't enough?

The answer is to:

1) Offer parents something of extra value (in addition to your discounted early rate) that doesn't cost you much money, but appears to the parent to have a high-perceived value; and

2) Add a sense of urgency to your offer…

Free Advertising for Your Camp - First Come, First Served

The CampCoupons.com website will be mentioned in a prominent Los Angeles area magazine soon for parents who want to save money on summer camp.

This is your chance to get free advertising right now. Fill out and submit this form and we will try to get your camp's coupon listed on the site for free before the magazine article comes out.

Free coupon advertising offer is first-come, first-served so send in your info/fill out the form today.