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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

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.

Monday, January 28, 2013

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 questions about the type of program they're looking for so you can help determine their needs. Then, offer solutions so they can draw their own conclusions.  Let me give you an example.

Let's say you offer three different programs. You spend some time with your prospect on the phone, showing them around camp, whatever. After getting to know your prospect a little, and determining their summer camp needs, you are in a great position to help them make their own decisions about camp.

You can explain to them why one of your programs might work really well for them, but another might be even better. You might even steer them away from your third program, because based on what they've told you, that program is not the best match. Your honesty will be appreciated, and more importantly, you've given them a few options to draw their own conclusions. People are generally happier with their purchasing decisions when THEY decide what and when to buy, NOT when someone else SELLS them on it.

Now even though you want to focus on helping people BUY what you're selling rather than selling them on it, please don't forget these two things:
  1. You should always maintain a salesperson's mindset because, after all, the end goal is to get new campers; and
  2. "Not selling" people on camp does NOT mean you shouldn't ask for the sale. You should always ask for the sale when the time is right! Simply asking your prospect if they'd like to enroll for camp is NOT the same as selling them, as long as you help them realize they've drawn their own conclusions.
And by the way, never be afraid to ask for the sale, either. It might be hard to do at first, but you NEED to do it. Eventually the time will come -- perhaps after several contacts with your prospect via phone, social media, etc. -- when you feel like you're at a stalemate. Or there may be times when your intuition tells you now's the time to show that parent to your enrollment form. By all means you are within your right to ask if they'd like to sign up for camp! For all you know they are literally HOPING you'll ask because they don't know how to register and they're too embarrassed to ask.

One more thing. What if you ask the parent if they're ready to sign up, and they say "no"? Big deal!

It never hurts to ask, and it doesn't mean you've lost the enrollment, either. At this point, the best thing is to step back and let the process rework itself . When your prospect is ready, you will get a new camper!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

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

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 so your families say to themselves, "I'd be foolish not to sign up for this."  (To create a sense of urgency, you can limit the quantity of your offer, make it time-sensitive, or both.)

Your limited-time or limited-quantity promotional offer, on top of the Early Bird discount you're already offering, can be just what you need to get a couple enrollments during the slow winter months.

Let me give you an example of how I'm using this strategy at my camp right now.

We have an Early Enrollment offer going on through the end of February. That means parents must register for camp by February 28 to get the best rate. This discount alone means I can expect a handful of enrollments here and there between now and the end of February, but these enrollments will come to me on the parent's schedule with a big rush of them at the last minute. (Most people are procrastinators and will wait till the last possible minute to do anything.)

But I don't want them to wait. Of course I enjoy the excitement of getting a big flurry of sign-ups all at once, but I'd rather have the money now instead of waiting until the end of next month. (You would too, I imagine...)

So here's what I did this morning. I sent an email to all camp parents who signed up for camp last year, but have not signed up yet for this summer. I told them about our Early Bird discount, and described how space is limited and all that, just like all of us always tell parents.

But I also told them this:

"The first 20 families who sign up for camp with this email offer will get a FREE boogie board their child can use at camp all summer." 

I also included a picture of the free boogie boards their child can choose from and included a caption:

Get a FREE boogie board when you're one of the first 20 campers to sign up for this offer!

So with this offer, I pretty much achieved what I was after. First, I told the parents our prices were going up in a month, so they should sign up now to get the best rate. (That's the definition of a time-sensitive offer.)

Then to further incentivize them to sign up now, I tempted them with a free boogie board for their kids -- but ONLY if they're among the first 20 people to register, so they better not wait. (That's another time-sensitive offer, combined with a limited quantity offer, too -- a double whammy, if you will.)

And guess what? The free boogie board did the trick! I already got the half the enrollments I was looking for, and it only took 4 hours after sending the email to get them.

Now you might be thinking, how can you do the same thing? Well, you might not be able to get 10 enrollments in the next four hours. Or maybe you'll get a lot more, who knows.

But this first thing you need to do is find something that's cheap to give away, but sought-after with a high-perceived value by customers and prospects.

I assume you don't run a beach camp. (If you do, you can try the same boogie board strategy I used.) But if you don't, there's any number of other things you can try, for instance:

  • Give away a free overnight campout
  • Give away a free horseback riding lesson
  • Give away a free camp t-shirt, sweatshirt or credit to your camp store
  • Give away a free day of camp
Whatever you decide, you're going to have some really happy customers in the end. Everyone loves a freebie, especially if it's something they'd probably buy anyway. Now that I've already given away 10 free boogie boards, I wonder how long it will take for the next 10 enrollments to come in? I'm guessing pretty quickly. And I also urge you, too to get started with this "free giveaway" marketing strategy to overwhelm your customers with value and get more enrollment sooner rather than later.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Free Advertising for Your Camp - First Come, First Served

The 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.