Showing posts from 2014

How to Use Social Media Video Marketing on Your Website's FAQ Page

When it comes to social media, we camp pros have a major leg up on almost every other industry in the world. While everyone else struggles to find where they fit in, you just need to look at the magical connection between a camper and his or her counselor to realize "being social" comes naturally to us. Yet even though we're inherently some of the most social folks in the world, sometimes we share the same struggles as everyone else especially when trying to figure out the best way to connect, social media and content-wise, with prospects and customers online. If you're looking for social content suggestions, you can't beat video. So here's a marketing tip which might be a nice complement to your already outgoing social personality: Change your website's FAQ page from its current pure-text "Q and A"  to video FAQ's instead. For example, some of your current FAQ's are probably along these lines: "How many kids do you have at

What's the #1 Tip When Marketing To Kids, Teens and Tweens?

I was speaking at conference in Tucson last week when someone asked my opinion for the #1 tip when marketing to kids and teens. I don't know if I have a #1 tip, but I can tell you this: When marketing to youth, YOUR CONTENT MUST BE SHORT AND SWEET. Kids today have short attention spans, in no small part due to their social and mobile media exposure which limits: Text messages to 160 characters Twitter posts (tweets) to 140 characters Vine videos to 6 seconds; and Intagram, which is built exclusively for viewing photos and videos of between 3 and 15 seconds (not to mention character limits on comments of around 240 or less) So remember: keeping kids and teens engaged requires keeping everything you post brief. Long sentences, videos, and copy won't work. Pictures, graphics, and short paragraphs will. If you carry on with long blocks of copy, text or any of that, you'll lose their interest quickly.

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly? Take Google's Mobile Website Test to Find Out

All of us know the frustration of visiting and/or using a website where you have to pinch the screen and expand the text because the words are too small and scroll sideways just to read all the website content and the links are too small or too close together and all that. Well guess what? Sites like these, in Google's opinion, are not mobile friendly. That means your site is not optimized for mobile users, so Google could penalize you in its mobile search results. In fact, starting yesterday, Google began adding a "mobile-friendly" label to its mobile search results so users are better able to find what they're looking for. Is your camp's website mobile-friendly? You can take Google's "Mobile Friendly Web Site Test" here to find out. If you (actually, Google) discovers that your site is not mobile-friendly, you should consider making the requisite updates quickly.

How to Get the Most Social Media Marketing Benefits from Your Camp Photos

I try to make a point of visiting at least five different summer camp websites and their social media sites each day. It's the best way to monitor the competition and all that. In many cases I've followed the same camps online for years. One thing I keep noticing is that many of these camps are using the same pictures and videos in their marketing that they've used forever. If you're using the same photos on your social media sites that you used many years ago, I suggest you revisit this practice because you may be severely limiting your social media marketing benefits by doing so. Some photos are timeless, no doubt about it, so this isn't to say stop using old photos. But in most cases it's better to use current camp photos --  preferably from the most recent summer -- to maximize your social media marketing benefits especially when marketing to kids themselves. Here's what I mean. Imagine a child who attended your camp last summer is visiting your

How to Get a 58% Email Marketing Open Rate by Including Lists in Your Subject Lines

Did you know creating lists (numbered or bullet pointed) is one of the top ways to get people to share and read your content? Let's say you're writing a blog post about why kids love camp so much. You could title your post, "Kids Really Love Camp!", and that might get you a few readers here or there. But if you titled your post with a list, like "Top 5 Reasons Kids Love Camp," you will ALWAYS garner more interest than the generic example above. Here's an email marketing tip. Try using lists in your email subject lines. I'll bet your open rate will be MUCH higher for those emails than your others. Most email marketing companies let you compare and test things like this, so that you can use the data to continually improve your email marketing in the future. But when you're doing your testing, be sure to ONLY test one variable (such as the email subject line) or you won't get accurate results. Here's what I mean in real life -- her

How to Do a Joint Venture Marketing Deal

From time to time I get emails from people with topics that run the gamut. Some ask me for marketing advice, others just write to say hello, some people flat out challenge and criticize me. I was particularly amused with a message I got today from Tammy, a very angry person who is not a fan of my joint venture marketing ideas. (Tammy didn't say what camp she's affiliated or where it is).  Apparently Tammy doesn't believe I practice what I preach. Here's what she said: "Hello Eric, Most of the stuff on your blog is very good information, and truth be told I've used a number of your ideas to help increase my camp enrollment. But I'm calling your bluff on the notion of joint venture marketing -- specifically the "4th Commandment" of your recent "10 Commandments of Summer Camp Marketing" post and the numerous other times you've tried to jam joint venture marketing strategy down our throats. I have tried approaching two companies in

34 Sentences To Use in Your Sales Copy That Will Leave Your Reader Wanting More

When you publish written content, you probably have a goal (or several goals) you want to accomplish. You want the reader prospect to take some kind of action, like call you, email you, text you, click a link, fill out a form, whatever. As you probably know, the headline is the most important part of your written sales piece. But if you've got a multi-paragraph sales letter, it doesn't do you any good if someone only reads a paragraph or two. To really max-out your selling opportunity, you want them to read the whole thing. How do you do that? You need to write the the final sentence of each paragraph in such a compelling way it leads the reader to want to hear more. The last sentence of each paragraph needs to "leave them hanging" so they feel like not reading the next paragraph will make them miss something important. Let me give you a few examples of some sentences you can use in your sales copy that will carry your prospects into each next paragraph of

Do You Use Google Plus to Market Your Camp?

Most people I know aren't too fond of Google's social network, Google Plus. Yet it's growing like a weed and is probably among the top things you can do to market your summer camp in terms of SEO (optimizing your camp's website for Google). Do you use Google plus to market your camp? Take the poll and let us know. Do You Use Google Plus to Market Your Camp? Yes, we use Google Plus to market our summer camp No, we are not actively using Google Plus as marketing tool What's Google Plus?    Free polls from

Limited Budget but Need to Reach Everyone? Try Door Hangers or Direct Mail

I apologize if you've emailed me with a marketing question or comment and I haven't responded. I'm inundated with them and try to get back to as many as I can, as fast as I can, and I am so sorry I haven't gotten to yours. If you have a question or comment, you're always welcome to email me, but if you're inclined to leave a comment on the blog I think I will get back to you faster. Meantime, just wanted to share something real quickly regarding an email I got from "Mary H." who runs a kids soccer day camp in Philadelphia. Mary asked what I thought was the best way to reach EVERY SINGLE FAMILY in a given area quickly and cost-effectively with her summer camp's marketing message. She only has a VERY limited budget for a one-time shot to get the word out. What I told her was that she should first do as much FREE promotional stuff as she can. That means lots of community involvement, seminars, PR, blogging, that kind of thing. But what she was r

What are your Camp's Enrollment Goals this Year?

Most summer camps have different enrollment goals. Some camps are just trying to add a couple new kids here or there, while others just want to maintain their status quo, while others need hundreds of new kids every summer just to keep afloat. At Aloha Beach Camp, we set a goal of increasing enrollment by at least 10% each summer. It's not easy to do, but that's what we shoot for. What are your enrollment goals for this year? We just posted a new poll asking this question on our Summer Camp Marketing Tips group on Facebook. Take the poll and make yourself heard!

Why Your Camp Needs a Mobile Website and How to Make One

The principal way people will access the internet in 2014 is through their mobile devices. Even though most websites can be viewed on mobile, how they look and function are different stories unless such websites are optimized for mobile devices. How to Optimize Your Summer Camp's Website for Mobile Mobile users are on the go. They generally don't have time or patience to pinch, scroll, widen or otherwise manipulate their mobile screens to view or use your website. If they get too frustrated, you're likely to lose that potential enrollment. But even if your website is not currently optimized for mobile, you still have options. The first is to simply do nothing. Just keep things status quo with your current website while basically ignoring mobile visitors. (I probably don't need to tell you this isn't a great option, but it's technically an option nonetheless so I'm just putting it out there.) Another thing you could do is upgrade to a full-featu

Why Video is Huge for Summer Camp Marketing

Video marketing is one of the top marketing strategies summer camps can use to create awareness for their programs and build emotional bonds with customers. In fact summer camp video marketing is one of the best social networking strategies I know. There's almost nothing you can do wrong when marketing your camp with videos. Let's face it, some of the absolute worst, most unprofessionally made videos EVER often get the most views. (So that's video marketing tip #1: If you want your videos to look more "homey," "down to earth" or have a more "personal feel," then you don't need to pay some expensive service to create your videos. Make your own videos instead.) Another point about marketing your camp with videos: Search engines love them almost as much as people love watching and sharing them with their friends. (So here's another summer camp video marketing tip: In addition to posting  your videos on YouTube, share them on Google

Want to stand out in your Community? Host a Food Drive

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about how to increase camper retention by hosting a "Camper Appreciation Day" at the conclusion of camp. As long as we're on the subject of marketing when camp's not in session, here's another way for you to get noticed in your community while helping others and get some good marketing exposure too: Host a food drive at your camp in the fall. Encourage camp families to bring canned foods and other non-perishables to your facility for distribution to your community food pantry or soup kitchen. You can reward campers who contribute something to the food drive with a free t-shirt, hat, water bottle, or something else from your camp store that won't cost you too much money but has high perceived value to campers. To really max-out your marketing exposure, hold your food drive between Halloween and Thanksgiving and tell the local media who might pick up the story and get your camp in the news.

How to Increase Camper Retention Rates with a Camper Appreciation Day

As we approach the high point of camp marketing season, I’d typically share summer camp marketing ideas here about how to get more kids into camp. Of course I’ll continue doing that leading up to summer. But as long as it’s on my mind, I wanted to share with you a marketing strategy I’ve been using the past few years at Aloha Beach Camp at the CONCLUSION of the camp season which has really helped boost my camper retention rates. At the end of each summer, we hold an organized “Camper Appreciation Day” right on the beach (our campsite). We invite all camper families who participated in the summer-just-ended to enjoy a carnival-like atmosphere with games, BBQ’s, camp staff and more. Not only is it a total blast, it’s also one of the very last things, and happiest memories, campers take away before heading into the school year. When we survey families as to what they enjoyed the most at camp, the Camper Appreciation Day event always tops the list. There’s no reason you can’t have a

How to Convert More Leads into Paid Enrollments

One of one most frustrating marketing problems every camp director shares is how to turn leads into paying campers.Want to know the quickest way to improve lead conversions off the bat? Increase your response time when you get a lead. When prospects want information, they want it now. When a potential customer takes the time out of their busy schedule to reach out to you, THAT VERY MOMENT signifies your best opportunity to convert them into a paying camper. You must be easy to reach and quick to respond. Here's what I mean. Last summer I was looking for a camp for my three kids (they go to other camps besides mine). I narrowed down my interest list to three or four different camps and called each of them for info. Not a single one had a live person answering the phone. I had to leave voice messages for all of them -- very frustrating as you can imagine.   Finally, two of the four called me back…2 or 3 days later. Waiting was their downfall. I guarantee you, if they’d ca

Summer Camp Marketing Idea: Sponsor an Ice Cream Social to Benefit Local Schools

Here's s a summer camp marketing idea that will give you get direct access to lots of new camper prospects while costing almost nothing but your time in doing so. It has a nice philanthropic, community service component, too. Here’s what you do. Sponsor an Ice Cream Social Fundraiser Event Approach a local ice cream store to propose an affiliation. Tell them you’d like to host an ice cream social at their store, in the form of a fundraiser for local schools, with your camp as the sponsor. In general, you and the store owner/manager will pick a convenient day or night (preferably a weekend so more kids will come) for the fundraiser. Your arrangement will be that 50% (or whatever amount you two decide) of the proceeds will be donated to local schools. It won’t be too hard to convince the ice cream store to get involved. To sell them on the idea, just tell them it’s a chance to make a bunch of new sales, acquire new customers, and support local schools. (Then approach the scho

Top 7 Bare-Bones Marketing Ideas for Summer Camps

Summer camp marketers have so many marketing tools to choose from, it causes anxiety just wondering if you picked the right ones. Assuming time and money weren’t issues, you could experiment forever with marketing tools and strategies until you’re blue in the face without thinking twice. But let’s face it, most of us aren’t in that position. Even if we wanted to advertise our camps on prime time TV, we don’t have that luxury. Many additional marketing tactics, for obvious reasons, are out of our reach too. But it doesn’t matter. You can still create a marketing program that puts you on the fast track to success irrespective of what your resources might be. It comes down to your creativity and ability to out-think your competition, not outspend them. In a broad sense, you should be using as many free or low-cost marketing weapons as possible while striving to meet customer expectations and staying within your budget. In a more narrow sense, the primary goals of your mark

10 Commandments of Summer Camp Marketing

Here are the Top 10 Commandments of Summer Camp Marketing.  (If I've overlooked any please add your own in the comments section.) 1. Thou Shalt Test EVERYTHING Testing and measuring ALL your marketing activities can be the difference between failure and success. You should test and measure everything to find out which of your marketing tactics are working and which might be underperforming. The results of your testing may surprise you. You might have the impression a given marketing tool is working great, but in reality it’s bleeding your promotional budget dry and you didn’t even know it. Perhaps your favorite print ad is pulling so well you wouldn’t think of changing it. But what if you’re wrong? What if your marketing test revealed the ad could do even better with just a simple tweak? The key takeaway here is if you’re not testing, you’re just guessing. And once you have the data you’re looking for, you should eliminate the marketing tactics that aren’t pay

Mobile Social Marketing is the Future of Summer Camp Marketing. Are You On Board?

Forward-thinking summer camp marketers understand mobile marketing is here to stay, that mobile is disrupting every industry known to man, and they are eager to embrace the full potential of mobile marketing especially as it relates to social media. Indeed, forward-thinking summer camp marketers realize mobile is the future of social media networking and marketing. Camp marketers who don't understand, or bury their heads in the sand regarding mobile, are in for a rude shock. Camps that don't employ mobile marketing, and more specifically social mobile marketing, risk becoming obsolete sooner rather than later. Think I'm wrong? Then just imagine what your camp will be like 5, 10 years down the line. Did you know that a camper's first experience with the internet these days is more likely to be on his/her smartphone or tablet than a traditional computer? Do you really see an environment where mobile devices aren't allowed at your camp? If you do, I assure