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Monday, December 30, 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.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

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 marketing, but it's limited to 160 characters (just like a regular text), and it's much more effective than email marketing since most texts are read by the recipient within 90 seconds or less, whereas emails often go days without being noticed (if they're ever seen at all).

How Often Should You Send SMS Marketing Texts?

Some summer camp marketers say to text your customers and prospects twice a week. THAT'S WAY TOO OFTEN in my opinion. (During camp season, if you want to send texts twice a week to your currently enrolled families just to keep them updated on happenings at camp, you MIGHT be able to get away with it without annoying them too badly. But texting them twice a week in any other capacity -- especially during the school year when they're not even thinking about camp -- is far too much and a good way to lose subscribers because trust me, people will opt out of receiving your texts if you bother them too much.) I'd shoot for texting once or twice a month, TOPS, to build trust and relationships with people via SMS marketing. (Naturally there are exceptions to this rule, like if an emergency or something else comes up that's so important or compelling your customers and prospects need to hear now.) Otherwise, I recommend sticking to the schedule above.

What Should Your Text Messages Say?

One of the big things to consider with your text message marketing campaign is this: What exactly should you say? Remember, you only have 160 characters, and you want to keep people's interest, so you better be sharp. The good news is you can use text message marketing in any number of ways that people will find valuable. Here's a few examples for how you can use text message marketing in your summer camp:

  • Promote your coupons and discounts: "Text COUPON to 55555 for a $10 coupon to our camp store" or "Text FIVE to 55555 to save an extra $5 on already discounted Early Bird Rates." Then, when they text you, you text them back the coupon or discount.
  • Promote your open house or event: "Text OPEN HOUSE to 55555 for info and driving directions to our next open house" or "Text FAIR to 55555 for information about our next live Camp Fair event." Then, when they text you, you text them back a link to information about the Camp Fair or open house. This is a great way to increase attendance at your live events.
  • Make an announcement: "We've added some great new camp activities this year. Text 55555 to see what they are." Or, "Due to unforeseen traffic the day camp bus is running 15 minutes late today. Text TRAFFIC to 55555 for info." Or, "Thanks for applying for a job as a summer camp counselor with us. Here's some additional info about the job." Then you can text them back a link to more info about the new activity, or further information about the traffic snag, or more details about the job opening or interview -- whatever the case may be.
As you can see, text message marketing is flexible and can be used promote your camp in any number of ways depending on your goals. If you aren't already using it, adding text message marketing will instantly upgrade your overall summer camp marketing program. You can use text message marketing to reach camp alumni, currently enrolled families, counselor applicants, or prospective camper families.

The key takeaway here is this: People are very attached to their cell phones and mobile devices, so a properly executed text message marketing strategy can help them feel more attached to you.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

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 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 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...How? By going mobile!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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 you go to McDonald's and they ask you if you want to "supersize your fries" for only 10 cents more.

The way to get started is by adding something to your enrollment form allowing customers to purchase additional options above and beyond standard camp registration. You can also upsell your customers when you confirm their kids' enrollment.

Depending on your creativity and willingness to offer upselling opportunities to your customers, the financial impact of implementing a formal upselling program will vary from one camp to another. But even camps that offer very basic upsells to their customers can benefit. Here's a couple ideas I came up with in my head while writing this post:
  • A resident camp could let their campers pick their own beds for just $25 more.
  • A day camp could offer a hot lunch program for just $7 more. 
  • A resident camp could offer a $20 gift certificate to its camp store for the discounted price of $15 "just for families who sign up today"
  • A day camp could offer evening programs
  • Any camp with elective activities could offer "extra" electives time for just couple dollars more
  • Any camp could package three t-shirts together for the price of two 
  • Any camp could offer an exclusive "membership club" where, for just $50, your tuition will be frozen at this year's rate with no increase in future summers for as long as your family attends camp
I could go on but you get the idea. The main thing to note is that while camp tuition will probably always provide the bulk of your income, there's many other potential revenue streams available you may not have considered.

As long as your customers see value in your upsell offer, you've got a winner because they probably wouldn't have purchased whatever you're upselling otherwise.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

50% off Online Summer Camp Advertising Expires Dec. 31

The special we've been running on, 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.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

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 more than one valuable marketing strategy to use at your summer camp from this exercise.

Friday, December 6, 2013

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 -- whoever they are or whatever that means to you -- keeps you on your toes, improves your marketing edge and ultimately helps you deliver an outstanding camp program. This is good for your campers and their families, since they're the ones who will ultimately benefit the most.

Here's an article from American Express that might help you consider ways to beat your competition in the summer camp industry.

As long as you play fair and ethically, there's no reason why you shouldn't do everything you can to get more kids than the next guy.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

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!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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 want to make any mistakes in the sign-up process, so they're looking to you for guidance and will almost always follow your instructions, especially at this initial point in your relationship with them.

One more thing: This idea works for any business that sells online, not just summer camps! Just be sure to tell your customers to follow you immediately after you make the sale and your fans and followers will increase nicely.