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Friday, November 13, 2015

Top 26 Joint Venture and Partnership Prospects for Summer Camps

The Fastest Way to Grow Camp Enrollment is Through Joint Ventures and Partnerships with Like-Organizations Who Share the Same Customer Base As You (Kids and Families), But Who Don't Directly Compete with You. Here's 26 Potential Partnership Ideas to Help You Get Started.

How do joint ventures and partnerships work? Imagine your local real estate agent (let's call her "Sally") happily refers all of her clients to your camp. In return, you send an email to your customer list endorsing Sally as someone your customer families will be very pleased with next time they need help buying or selling a home.

As you can see, there's many potential benefits to setting up partnerships like this, but principally, it gives you instant access to new markets and potential customer bases you couldn't otherwise reach.

Where to Find Joint Venture Partners

I've been writing this summer camp marketing blog for many years and have advocated establishing joint venture and partnership deals many times before. I am aware of several camp directors who've set up these types of arrangements based on ideas or advice I've given and have been quite successful. More often than not, however, I come across too many camp directors who are either too intimidated to jump into something like this or simply don't know where to start.

If you are timid about getting started, don't be! Just start. All you need to do is contact a few other businesses, schools, or organizations that serve kids and families to propose an affiliation. As long as your proposition has value, how could anyone say no?

With respect to finding joint venture or partnership contacts, here's a list of places, people, groups and organizations in case you're stuck finding a starting point to propose joint venture marketing  partnerships with:

  1. ACT/SAT/Academic Subject Tutors
  2. Schools
  3. Teachers
  4. Sports coaches
  5. Fitness instructors/private trainers
  6. Physical therapists
  7. Pediatricians
  8. Pediatric dentists 
  9. Eye doctors or eyeglass retailers
  10. Dermatologists
  11. Realtors and real estate agents
  12. Pool services
  13. Dry cleaners
  14. AC/Heating companies
  15. Car wash or auto detailers
  16. Vets and pet groomers
  17. Pest control companies
  18. Gardeners and landscapers
  19. Toy stores
  20. Kids' clothing stores
  21. Bike sales and repair shops
  22. Sporting goods stores
  23. Your insurance agent
  24. Your bank
  25. Restaurants you frequent
  26. Frozen yogurt and ice cream stores
There you have it. That's at least 26 ideas to help you get started. Everyone on this list has access to other people you want to reach.

January and February are ideal times to make your initial contacts and set up your partnerships, as all of these places will be looking for new forms of income to start the New Year and your marketing season will be just heating up for the summer.

Let me know how you do. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Make Sure Prospects Can Find You On Social Media via Your Website's "Contact Us" Page

Does your website's "Contact Us" page include links to your social media sites? If not, you're missing a huge marketing opportunity

There's lots of overlooked opportunities in marketing. I don't know why so many stones are left unturned, but it's pretty regrettable because most folks don't realize how making one little change or improvement to your marketing program can have such a huge impact on your bottom line.

Here's what I'm getting at. I just visited 10 random summer camp websites. Every one of them is missing a MAJOR social media opportunity because they don't have links to their social media accounts on their "Contact Us" pages on their websites.

Go ahead, visit your own website now. Click on your "Contact" page. Does it include a way for website visitors and camp prospects to visit you on social media? If so, congrats -- you're doing a whole lot better than the other 10 websites I saw this morning.

Now please don't get me wrong. If you're like most camps, your website's "Contact Us" page probably includes a feedback or brochure request form and maybe your address, phone number and other ways folks can reach you.

Those are important features, but if your "Contact" page doesn't include a tool for inviting prospects to visit you on social media, you're missing a big opportunity. That's because your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts and pages are natural extensions of your website's "Contact Us" page.

Every person that visits your "Contact" page obviously wants to reach you. That means they're hot prospects for you.

If someone fills out a brochure request form from your "Contact Us" page, great -- you've got a new lead. But what if they also saw on that page a link to your Facebook or Instagram accounts? Now you've got a couple new ways to really connect with them and cultivate a new relationship (or potentially new customer) going forward.

So if you don't have links to your social media sites on your contact us page, definitely consider adding them today. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes to do this, and the potential payoff could be huge.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Have You Considered a Mother's Day Summer Camp Promotion?

Summer Camp and Mother's Day Were Made for Each Other. There's Lots of New Enrollment to Be Had By Offering a Mother's Day Promotion at Your Camp.

One of the most effective ways to get the most bang for your marketing buck is tying in a promotion to a Holiday.

Here's a few examples:

  • A suit company gives men a free tie on Father's Day
  • A candy store gives you a free chocolate bunny on Easter
  • A baseball team gives you a free Jackie Robinson replica sports jersey on April 15, the day Jackie Robinson debuted in the big leagues (Jackie Robinson Day isn't a national holiday, but it should be and you get the idea...)

So it seems pretty clear, Holidays and promotions go together. People are conditioned to spending money in conjunction with Holidays. That's why so many brands center promotions around them.

If you're wondering what I'm getting at, it's this: Mother's Day and summer camp go together. Offering a Mother's Day promotion is just about the most timely and relevant marketing strategy you could do.

Here's why:

  • Mother's Day is exclusively for moms
  • Mother's Day falls in May when the weather's warming up, school's winding down, and families are contemplating camp opportunities for their kids
  • Most moms are responsible for arranging their kids' summer schedules
  • Most mom's pay for camp
  • Most moms love saving money
  • Most Moms respond to offers just for them

Running a Mother's Day summer camp promotion could be the fastest way to generate a huge bunch of enrollments in the shortest possible time for your camp. An enticing offer that gets moms to sign up for camp RIGHT NOW could be just what you need to get a huge enrollment spike in a very short period of time -- even just a few hours.

Last year I got 41 enrollments in 12 hours by doing a Mother's Day Promotion via email where I offered a $7 discount per day (which was actually just rolling back prices to Early Bird rates which expired a few weeks earlier) to prior year families who hadn't signed up yet.

Now if I'm being honest, I pretty sure getting that many enrollments in just one day was some kind of fluke because it's easily the single best enrollment day I've ever had in comparison to the work required (basically typing a 15 minute email message) to get all those enrollments in the first place.

But I'm definitely doing it again this Mother's Day, and if I only get half that many sign-ups this time, I'll be happy.

I realize some camps don't like giving discounts. But if you want to generate a bunch of new money in short period of time, this is one of the best ways to do it. You need to think of what you're getting -- a ton of new enrollment in no time flat -- compared to what you're not. (There's no way 41 people would've signed up for Aloha Beach Camp in 12 hours on Mother's Day without this promotion.)

If you decide to do something like this for your camp, keep a few things in mind.

Your promotion needs to stand out and really catch the eye of your target market (moms), because everyone and their brother saves their best marketing gimmicks and promotions for Holidays. You'll be competing against flower shops, candy companies, restaurants offering Mother's Day Brunch, all of that.

At the same time, you shouldn't have too much trouble, because simply by virtue of being a camp, you've got a HUGE head-start over all those other brands. That's because Mother's Day is the time of year Moms are thinking of camp anyway. Offering a small discount in connection with Mother's Day is a timely, relevant summer camp marketing strategy that can work wonders for your program.

Friday, March 6, 2015

How I Got 152 Pinterest Followers in 27 Days

Less than 4 weeks ago I had just 23 followers on Pinterest. Today I have 175. That's a net gain of 152 followers in 27 days. Let me show you how I did it.

First of all, I'm a big believer in stealing (maybe "borrowing" is a better word) marketing ideas from other people and applying them to my own summer camp marketing.

So I looked around at some of the big players on Pinterest -- those people and companies in my niche (kids, moms, camp, etc). who had a ridiculously large number of followers compared to most other people out there -- to see what commonalities they shared.

It didn't take long till I discovered that many of these people didn't just have tons tons of followers, they followed tons of people (and companies) themselves

Ah ha! 
So here's what I did. I came up with this theory that if I just started following boatloads of people who were remotely interested in the same things I am, they'd start following me back in droves. I decided to put this theory into practice and test whether it would work or not.

So what I did was, I started following more and more (and MORE!) people every day on Pinterest with the hope they'd follow me back.

It worked! I started getting many new follwers each day. And I keep getting them all the time. Just today I got 6 new Pinterest followers already.

Now even though my theory worked, I felt like I needed to fine-tune the details.

I did that by playing around Pinterest on my own here and there, and watching about 20 or 25 "How to get More Followers on Pinterest" videos to see if I could get any ideas.

So guess what I did for you? Out of the 25 videos I watched, I hand-picked the VERY BEST ONE to share with you.

Not only is this guy funny and entertaining, he describes an exact step-by-step process for how to get more followers on Pinterest.

Please trust me on this.

Watch this video a few times, then do EXACTLY what this guy says to do, and bingo, your Pinterest followers will start to grow immediately -- that's my guarantee to you. Have fun!

Summer Camp Email Marketing Poll

Have you taken our new email marketing poll on Facebook? Which email marketing program do you prefer?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

STILL Don't Have a Mobile-Friendly Website? G-Day is Almost Here

For Those Camp's Who Didn't Heed My Warnings About Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly, G-(Google) Day is April 21

Many camp directors are freaking out about Google's announcement that non-mobile-friendly websites are about to get hammered in the search results starting April 21.

This should come as no surprise. I've been preaching for years about the importance of building a mobile-friendly site. The reason why is because Google's #1 goal has always been to provide the most relevant search results and best user experience possible.

Well guess what?

If your website forces users to pinch their screens or scroll horizontally just to use your site, or widen it by hand just to tap a link, that means your website is not optimized for mobile...and THAT means you are making it difficult on Google to provide relevant search results and good experience for users. So consider yourself warned (again). If you don't make the appropriate adjustments to your website by April 21 you could get punished in Google's search results, end of story.

Why is this such a big deal and how do we know it?

Because Google has actually warned us about it and has given a firm 6-week notice to come into compliance. Google publicly said two days ago this update to its algorithm, which will reward mobile-friendly websites, will significantly impact its search results. Compare this to Google's hummingbird update, which they didn't even mention until a month or so after the fact; if Google is going out of its way to give advance warning now, you better take notice.

Don't say I didn't warn you. I've been telling you this day's been coming for years.

The list goes on. But even if you ignored my warnings, now that Google has spoken it's imperative you comply. Google prefers websites that work seamlessly across all platforms, and now they're officially doing something about it.

The Difference Between the Two Types of Mobile Friendly Websites

For the purposes of this article, there are two ways to make your desktop mobile friendly. You can make a "mobile website" or a "responsive website."

Mobile Websites

 If you decide to go this route, then you will end up with two websites, one that is optimized for desktop and one that's optimized for mobile. Since you will have two websites you will also have two domain names. For example, your desktop site's domain may be, and your mobile website's domain will be (the "m" stands for mobile.) When users log on to your desktop site, they will be redirected to your mobile website from a little script you add into your desktop's HTML code.

Going this route may be OK in Google's eyes, but probably not as good as good building a responsive website instead.

Responsive Websites

Google recommends responsive websites. A responsive site is adopts to any device of any size, no matter if it's a desktop, iphone, ipad, android tablet, anything. Mobile websites don't typically do that -- they generally only display correctly on phones. Bottom line, if you are short on time, money and other resources you may only have the resources to build a mobile website now and deal with a responsive site later as building responsive sites may entail an entire website redesign or overhall.

Bottom line, you are better off with a mobile-specific site than desktop-only site, and probably better off with a responsive site than either of the other two. Here's a good article on the difference between a mobile website and a responsive one. Bear in mind this article came out 6 months ago, long before Google's announcement last week.

If We Don't Have a Mobile Optimized Site What Should We Do Now?

Don't panic. You still have 6 weeks. That should be enough time to make any needed improvements to your website. But don't just sit around and do nothing. The writing's on the wall. If you are ranking highly in Google's search results now but your site isn't mobile-friendly by April 21, the punishment could be severe and you may lose the search result ranking you've worked so hard to achieve.

Obviously late winter and spring is not the ideal time for camps to undertake unplanned (and unbudgeted) projects like redoing websites. That's a fall project for us. But it's pointless to sit around worrying. You have to act fast, but not so fast you make a mistake. (In most areas in life I take the postilion that if you're unsure of what to do, do nothing and the right decision will come to you soon enough. Not this time though...) 

Here's what I suggest if you don't have the time or resources to retrofit your website: Increase your Google adwords budget (or open an account if you don't have one) and do a LOT more online advertising.  Even if your organic search result rankings get squashed, at least this approach allows you to buy yourself some time and bridge the gap between now and when you're able to address your mobile optimized website delimena while still showing up Google's search results anyway.

If you need ideas for how to prepare let me know in the comments.  Let me know if you need help. There's more solutions out there than you think or I've addressed here. Just take care of it before G-Day. Good luck! 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

3 Simple Content Marketing Tips To Help Your Summer Camp Stand Out From the Crowd

I came across a blog directory today which lists various summer camp blogs of note. I was glad to see Camp Marketing News included. Whoever compiled the directory described my blog as consisting of "no nonsense posts on camp marketing."

Damn right!

If you've been following my content a while, you know I don't go with the flow. And I don't want you to, either.

Seriously, how can you expect to make any marketing improvements, or get higher enrollment, or do better in search rankings, if you keep doing things the same way you've always done them?

And how can you expect to stand out in a crowded camp marketing field if you're promotional program is the same as everyone else's?

Seriously, take a look around to notice how other people market their camps. There's usually very little difference, if any, from the one to the next.

As I'm quite fond of saying, if everyone's doing the same thing, then many of us aren't necessary. 

I'm here to encourage you to think more creatively, quit being so safe, stop sugar-coating your marketing, step out of your comfort zone, be unique.

Otherwise you'll just blend in, get lost in the crowd.

That said, here are three ideas you can jump on RIGHT NOW to really make some noise and stand out from the crowd. Why not turn the common way you (and pretty much everyone else) market your camp on its head?

The following three ideas relate to content marketing -- you can write articles, create blog posts, make videos or produce any other kind of content you can think of based off these ideas:  

1. Figure out how to say, “We Make Memories that Last a Lifetime" differently. 

Let's face it, about 500 billion camps use this phrase, or a similar variation, as a selling proposition. And they've been doing it forever. In fact this very phrase -- "we make memories that last a lifetime" -- is now so common it's meaningless. If I'm a parent considering 10 different camps, and all 10 are telling me they make memories that last a lifetime, do you know what that really means? What it means is that none of the 10 camps are giving me a reason to choose them over the other nine. So why not try a new way of saying the same thing? How about changing the words up some? How about something like this: 

"Are You Ready For Your Child to Make the Most Ridiculously Awesome Memories They've Ever Made at Camp?"

NOW I've got a reason to look into your camp instead of the others. NOW you stand out from everyone else. NOW I'm gonna read your blog post!

  2. Figure out how to write a “Questions to Ask the Camp Director” article differently.

Here's the story on this one -- practically every existing article you can find on "what to ask the camp director" says the same thing. All the questions are the same, all the answers are the same. Go ahead, Google it and see for yourself. Read the the various articles that come up. How much difference do you notice from one to the next? Hardly any I'll bet. So why not get a little creative and do it differently?:

 "Top 10 Questions to Ask the Camp Director...And 5 Other Questions You Better NOT Ask..."  

Or this:   

"Just Last Week, 25 Parents Asked Us Some Very Surprising Questions About Camp. Would You Like to Know What They Said?"

Now I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty freaking intrigued, and if I'm in the market for a summer camp, you just got me hooked! 

3. Figure out how to write a "How to Choose a Camp" article differently.

Yep, you guessed it, almost every existing article on the subject says the same thing. But just as there's more than one way to skin a cat, there's more than one way to write a "how to choose a camp article" too, even though nobody's ever done it. 

Why don't you be the first one?

The thing is, though, I'm not gonna give you any examples on this third point like I did for the first two points above. I want you to use your own creativity instead. See if you can come up with a new way or two to teach people how to choose a camp. 

It doesn't have to simply be changing the headlines like I did for the two above. Maybe you could use an infographic instead...oops! I just gave you an idea when I said I wouldn't!

Now if I were you, I'd take these ideas and run with them. I'd also review my entire marketing program to identify the areas where my camp looks too much like all the others from a marketing perspective, then I'd get creative and change things up.

It might take a little time, but the benefits will pay off in spades.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 is back. Now you can market your camp with coupons!

As some of you may know, I used to run a website called where camps could market themselves with coupons and families could search the site to find offers and discounts from camps that appealed to them.

The site was quite popular from 2010 to 2013, with dozens and dozens (and dozens!) of camps listed was a pretty unique concept in summer camp marketing, if I do say so myself. It was basically a "one-stop shop" for folks to discover new and exciting summer camp opportunities and save money on summer camp too.

And camps really enjoyed participating. They got lots of new campers from it. There really was nothing else like it, and there still isn't. But I eventually got involved in other projects and let the website go.

Well, long story short, I'm happy to say the Camp Coupons website is now fully redesigned and ready to go for 2015 and beyond!

So if you're looking for a novel and affordable new way to market your camp and really call attention to yourself in a manner few other camps are doing, I hope you'll consider adding your camp to today.  The price is just $99 for one year -- a pretty reasonable sum compared to other online advertising strategies you might pursue and practically nothing compared to the work I'm gonna do on your behalf to promote the site like crazy.

I don't think it'll be too long before the site appears on first page of Google (for some queries it already does), and I'm also planning some serious PR and social media campaigns this spring too. All in all, I'm gonna go nuts marketing the site and those camps who are listed there will really benefit from lots of new customers and prospects. Of course, I can't predict the future, and everyone's results may vary depending on your coupon offer and other factors, but in general I think you'll be happy with your ROI.

Now I am very aware some camps may not be interested in marketing their programs with coupons. But the way I see it, anything you can do to acquire new kids while helping families ease the financial burden of paying for camp is a winning proposition for everyone.

So I hope you'll join me on I've taken down all the old, expired coupons and I'm starting from scratch. My camp's coupon (Aloha Beach Camp) is listed there now, so you can use it as an example of what yours might look like.

Here's another link to the site for your convenience.

Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for your consideration!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How Summer Camps Can Profit When Giving School Donations

If it seems like the number of requests you get for school donations increases every year, this post is for you.

I won't go so far to say getting so many donation requests is annoying, but it can definitely get stressful when you're bombarded by everyone and their brother who want one.

The problem is (especially for us little guys who operate "mom and pop" summer camps), giving away free camp sessions here and there is tough because the money we make from filling our camps with paying customers is generally how we feed our families. There's only a limited number of non-paying kids we can afford to accommodate because they take away spots from other kids who'd otherwise pay full price. In that respect, asking us to donate free camp is similar to asking an employee to take a pay cut. When you look at it that way, it's disconcerting.

And yet, undeniably, making donations to schools and organizations in need is the right thing to do. It generates goodwill, raises money for schools, and hopefully sends lots of kids to camp who otherwise might not get to go. If you're anything like me (and I assume you are), you want to help as many people as you can, so you end up donating camp sessions to just about anyone who asks. It's hard say no!

Well here's what I think. When people ask you to donate, you should do it as much as you can. At the same time, though, if you're gonna continue being as generous as you are, you deserve to get something back. You should never forget your job is not just to be a nice guy or gal, but also to get as much promotional exposure and new enrollment for your camp as possible.

To this end, I wanted to share with you what I've been doing lately in response to the numerous school donation requests I've gotten. Hopefully my approach inspires you to try something similar, but I realize this strategy might not be for everyone. Even if this appears to involve more of a "hard sell" than you're used to, please don't give up that easily! Try viewing the following scenario from the school's perspective instead. What you're doing is helping them raise money -- which is what they contacted you for in the first place -- but in this case you're helping them raise far more than they ever thought possible. In the end, you'll look like a hero in their eyes, and when you view it like that, this almost becomes a no-brainer marketing option for you to pursue. So here's the deal

When someone contacts me for a donation of a free camp session (which happens at least once a day), I generally tell them I'm happy to donate, but I'd like to do even more.

 Right away I've got their attention.

So then what I do is, I ask them if they're interested in hearing about our new fundraising program where their school can earn up to $5,000 or more to spend however they see fit, no strings attached.

Here's what I might say (and what you can say, too): 

"Well, you know what, Mr. Fundraiser Person? We'd love to help you out with your request for a free camp session, and we hope it helps you raise lots of money. But your request is for such a good cause, we're prepared to do even more. With your help, we'd be happy to donate an extra $5,000 or more to your school so you can really blow the lid off your fundraising goals this year. Would you like to hear more about this opportunity?" 

And guess what happens next? They're blown away and drooling, that's what.

Nobody -- especially not a summer camp -- ever offered them $5,000 before. They can't wait to hear more about it.

So then what I do is, I tell them I'd like to turn my camp enrollment process into a fundraiser for their school. I explain that I'll designate a one or two-week time period (the first two weeks of April, for example) during which their students should sign up for my camp. I go on to say I'll donate 10% of all camp tuition sales I receive from their students who sign up for camp during that time period directly back to their school. I make it clear there's no limit on how much they can earn, and offer very specific examples of what they can do with all that money. I generally say something like this:
"So, Ms. Fundraiser Person, here's what this means for your school. If $10,000 worth of camp enrollment comes in from your students during the two-week period we designate, we'll write you a check for $1,000. If $50,000 worth of new sign-ups come in, we'll donate $5,000. And by the way, there's no limit on how much we're willing to donate. And you can use the money however you want. I assume it could really come in handy if your students need new computers, or maybe some sports equipment, or the school needs a new lawn or a copier etc...etc..."
By this time they're so excited they can't stand it. One of the things these parent fundraiser volunteers want (in addition to raising money for the school) is to look good in the eyes of their peers. The bigger the donations they get, the better they feel about themselves, and the better they think they look in eyes of their friends and others on their fundraising committee.

At this point, your offer is so unbelievable to them, they ask you what the catch is..

"No catch at all," you tell them. "And no risk either."

But you do make it clear there's just one thing you'll need from them in order to get this program off the ground: You're gonna need as much help as they can possibly give you to spread the word about their new fundraising program to their entire student body and their families.

So now they'll do two things.

First, they'll go bat-sh!t CRAZY trying to sell your idea on the decision-makers.

Then, once they get approval, they'll run around their school, sending home flyers with students, trying ANYTHING they can to get kids to sign up for your camp.

You can't buy that kind of promotional exposure , that kind of word-of-mouth marketing.

And please don't forget what I mentioned about looking like a hero. Let's say the school got donations from 20 other camps besides yours. All 20 donated a free camp session, not too shabby. But you -- you just donated THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS the school never dreamed of getting. You're even BETTER than a hero in their eyes.

Now there's just a few more things I think you should know.

Before I wrote this post, I shared my ideas regarding school donations with two other camp directors this morning. Both enjoyed this idea, but were concerned 10% was too much to give away. But that's pretty short-sighted thinking if you ask me.

If donating 10% seems like a large number to you, it's really NOTHING compared to the amount you'd have to pay to get the kind word-of-mouth marketing exposure you're getting for free from all the school volunteers who are getting the word out for you. You could go broke trying to reach so many people among so many different schools.

Moreover, it's not like you're investing several thousand bucks in a marketing activity that might not even work. In this case, you're only paying for actual results in the form of actual enrollments. You're donating money you never even had in the first place -- and found money equates to a pretty nice ROI if you ask me. And truth be told, your reputation will skyrocket from doing this. What could be better than that?

Finally, just to revisit the idea of how stressful getting so many donation requests all the time can be, please don't let all those solicitation letters pile up in your inbox. If you don't have time to deal with them now, delete them. There's no need hang on to those requests too long. The schools will send you another one tomorrow! :)

In any case, whatever you do, don't forget that when you get hit up for a donation, giving one is almost always better than not. But don't just give away a free camp session and forget about it -- you and your camp deserve more than that. If you're giving something away for free, you should get something back in return.

Monday, January 26, 2015

28 "Leading Sentences" You Can Use in Your Content Marketing

Even though everyone may have different marketing goals, we all use content marketing to achieve them.

For example, you may be trying to get more sales leads, while I may be trying to close more sales.

Your sister may want more Twitter followers, while your girlfriend wants more YouTube.

And so each of us spends time creating and distributing content relevant to our respective marketing goals in hopes of getting our customers and prospects to take some kind of action (follow your sister on Twitter, for instance).

But even though each of us might use different content marketing tools to reach our goals, there's one thing we can all agree on, one singular purpose we all share:

Each of us wants to capture -- and KEEP -- our target market's attention all the way through our respective content marketing messages, because if we can't we severely hurt our chances of achieving our goals in the first place.

Let's face it.

If just won't matter if your sister creates the best YouTube video of all time if she loses people's interest a few seconds into it.

So how do you capture -- and keep -- people's attention all the way through your marketing message?

How do you make them say to themselves, I better keep reading (or watching) so I don't miss something important?

The secret is that every bit of content you write, do, or say should be created in such a way it naturally LEADS the customer or prospect into the next section of content.

The first way to achieve this is to keep your paragraphs short.

Short paragraphs are easy to read and studies show people have more patience for shorter marketing messages than longer ones.

But here's another trick I use when I write these blog posts, for example.

I always try to make sure the last line of each paragraph is written in such a way it naturally LEADS people into the next line of content.

Just by virtue of the way the sentences are written, they create a thought in the person's mind that they better stay tuned or they'll miss something important.

I've put together 28 sentences you can copy and use in your own content marketing. Each of these sentences naturally leads the reader to the next line of content. You'll see what I mean as you read through them.

As you are perusing the following leading sentences, you will start seeing similarities, principally how each of them creates curiosity in the reader's mind causing the person to actually WANT to stick with the content all the way through.

I hope you can find use for these sentences somewhere in your content marketing.

And I'm sure once you get the hang of this, it won't be long before you see how to create a bunch of your own leading sentences.

If you do, I hope you'll share them with me!

  1. OK, I'll tell you what...
  2. Let me say that again.
  3. Look at it this way.
  4. Let me tell you a secret.
  5. There's two reasons I say that.
  6. Here’s what I suggest…
  7. Guess what happened next?
  8. Here’s why I think you should do that.
  9. You won’t believe what we talked about next.  
  10. Guess what they were doing in the other room?
  11. As soon as I turned around, you’ll never believe what I saw.
  12. I'd like to run something by you.
  13. Here’s what she told me.
  14. Let me ask you a question.
  15. I’ll give you a little hint.
  16. Look at it this way.
  17. Incidentally, did you hear about Mary?
  18. There’s something I’ve been meaning to share with you.
  19. There’s something I want to tell you.
  20. Did you hear the good news?
  21. I talked to everyone, and here’s the consensus.
  22. Here’s I how I feel about that.
  23. I’ll get right to the point.
  24. Here’s what I think about that.
  25. You won’t believe what she just said.
  26. Let's look at this another way. 
  27. Here's an idea I think you might like.
  28. Let me give you Tom's position on that.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Top 3 Social Media Quotes by 14-Year-Old Twin Boys

After reading with interest this week the post about how teenagers use social media, I wanted to get my own 14-year-old twin boys' opinions on the matter. The reason why is because the original blog post was written by a 19-year old college student, and I run a summer camp for kids, so I thought my kids' insight would be more valuable to me and other people who run youth-serving organizations or companies that market to kids.
Josh and Noah Naftulin, 14 years old

So I asked my boys, Josh and Noah, if I could interview them over video about their social media preferences and post it online but they declined. They'd rather play baseball today since it's their last day of winter break. But they did say I could have 45 seconds with them to ask a few questions. Here's what they told me in a nutshell:

  1.  "Twitter is FAR better than Instagram for two reasons. One, it's much easier to talk to people on Twitter than Instagram, and two, you can post several times a day on Twitter without losing followers. If you post more than once a day on Instagram, you'll lose followers because anything more than that is annoying and we will stop following you quickly." 

  2. "The one thing that makes Instagram slightly better than Twitter is that it's easier to get Intagram followers than Twitter followers. But then again, it's much easier to lose Instagram followers, too."

  3. "Facebook is a thing of the past. We haven't used it in two years. It's an old person's site." 

Food for thought...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How to Increase the Response of Your Early Bird Discount Offer

If you're like most camps, you probably offer an Early Bird discount as a marketing strategy. There's a reason why so many of us do this...and that's because it works!!

There's no doubt about it, all of us typically see a huge enrollment rush just before the Early Bird deadline expires or even ON the deadline itself. (This rush of sign-ups shows just how important saving money is to families these days, and also how such a discount can be such an important enrollment driver for your program.)

But here's the thing. Even though you may be getting a bunch of sign-ups at the Early Bird deadline, wouldn't it be nice to get even more? The good news is, you can.

Consider this: Even though everyone loves a discount, sometimes saving money still isn't enough to get people to sign up for camp. In fact, I'd be willing to bet there's a lot more campers you could be getting just by offering a LITTLE SOMETHING MORE beyond your Early Bird discount itself.

Now I'm not talking about increasing the discount. (Although if you did, you might see a huge increase in sign-ups. When I changed from offering a 25% discount to 40% for Early Bird sign ups in September, my Early Bird registration rate increased 61%.) But I understand not all camps have high enough margins to justify such a large discount.

So I'm just talking about offering a little something extra, a free bonus if you will, to go along with your Early Bird offer to increase its appeal.

While I can't be exactly sure what your Early Bird marketing message is, I have seen many from other camps and all of them seem to be relatively similar. In general, here's a typical Early Bird promotional message you might tell your camp families:

"Unfortunately we need to increase the price for camp soon, but you can avoid this increase by taking advantage of our Early Bird Discount program and lock-in last years pricing by signing up now etc...etc."

And again, this type of thing will generally get you lots of sign ups -- the discount itself does the trick. But let's take it a step further by asking yourself the following question: "What additional bonus could I offer that my camp families that they'd enjoy so much they'd have a hard time saying no to?"

And then whatever you come up with -- maybe it's something as simple as a t-shirt, lunch bag, free registration offer, extra archery time, whatever -- gets bundled together with your Early discount offer.

And when you do this, you can get more campers because you've suddenly increased the value of your offer. It's not just a simple discount anymore. It's a discount PLUS something else, and that can mean all the difference.

Now there's just one more thing. Whatever you come up with as your free bonus must have:

1) High perceived value to your customer; and
2) Very low cost to you

You should absolutely NOT go out and spend a lot of money on something that will cut into your profit just so you can give it away as a free bonus.

In other words, if you have a bunch of extra camp t-shirts laying around from previous summers, by all means use those as your free bonus gift on top of your early rate.

Good luck!

Camper Retention as a Marketing Strategy Is NOT the Best Strategy for Camps

A long-held strategy among summer camp marketers has been to retain current campers first, and acquire new ones next. I used to feel that way myself, but not anymore.

The fact is, if you run a great camp, you should have no trouble getting lots of referrals and repeat business from happy families, which means camper retention should take care of itself.

On the other hand, if you don't have a constant stream of new campers every year, let's face it - you're toast. There's just no way to continue operating without loads of new kids each summer.

Camps aren't like restaurants or car dealerships or airlines or pro sports teams or any other business, for that matter, that can rely on keeping customers for life. As camp professionals, we only have a few years at the most before customers move away, try other things, age-out of our programs, or otherwise stop coming to camp for whatever reason.

So even though this thinking flies in the face of traditional marketing strategy, I suggest your marketing emphasis should now be to acquire new campers first, and retain old (current) ones next.

Mine sure is.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

If You Don't Allow Cell Phones at Camp, You're Missing the Biggest Social Media Marketing Benefit of All Time

My ideas of summer camp marketing are different than most. The traditional way to market a camp is taking a safe, comfortable, familiar approach, doing things like they've always been done, and thinking "inside the box."

My way involves taking risks, trying new things, borrowing marketing ideas from other industries and applying them to my promotional activities, and employing an "edgy" marketing style I believe helps my camp stand out.

For example, I think cell phones should be allowed at camp. I've held this position a long time. There's lots of reasons I feel this way, but in general, it's just the way the world's going and camps that try to fight it will have a tough time.

I gave a marketing speech in Tucson last month to summer camp owners and directors where I posited cell phones should be allowed at camp.. I'm not sure my position went over too well because from what I observed, the vast majority of camp marketing people (or at least those to whom I was speaking) seemed resistant to change.

But even if the information I presented was largely unpopular, it doesn't matter because it's the truth. And I believe those who fight it will pay a dear price. If you think you'll get better marketing results by doing things the same way as you've always done them while simultaneously discounting how personal a child's cell phone is to him or her, you won't come close to the marketing potential your camp can get.  

Look at it this way. Practically every kid you know sleeps with their phone within arm's reach, brings it to school, uses it to text and shares pictures with their friends in class, communicates with their parents on it, searches the internet with it, checks it every 10 seconds or less, and finds pictures and videos of your camp on it.

The next logical extension for kids' cell phone use is at summer camp, and if you disallow it, you're missing one of the greatest social media marketing opportunities ever.

I suggest you consider how a single camper's cell phone can benefit you so much. What if one of your campers who brings her cell phone to camp has 5,000 camp-age Instagram followers back home?

What if she posts a video of herself on your high ropes course, directly from camp itself, in real time?

What if that video made her followers drool over your program?

Do you realize how many new customers you could get by doing this?

The potential benefits to you in terms of new enrollment are mind-blowing.

Look at these facts:
  • More searches for summer camps now take place on a mobile device than traditional desktop computers
  • Texting, video, and picture sharing is one of the primary way teens communicate these days
  • A child's first exposure to the internet will more likely to be on a mobile device than a computer
  • Many parents are buying kids their first mobile devices at 2 years old; and 
  • Almost half of all children have used a mobile device by the age of 2 as well
Now remember, these aren't my opinions, they're FACTS and aren't going away. To the contrary, mobile is ubiquitous and growing especially among kids. Why wouldn't you want to reach as many customers and prospects as possible, then let THEM help get you more customers with their phones?

And you know what else? I'll let you in on a little secret: Here at Aloha Beach Camp, promoting the fact we allow cell phones at camp has become a part of our marketing plan. We devote a few weeks every year to letting kids know they can bring their phones to camp, and when we do, we see a huge spike in enrollment for those few weeks. It's happened every year and it'll happen this year, too.

 If you've got the guts (and I know you do), give it a try. I'm confident that when you make a public statement you allow cell phones, kids will go into a frenzy, talk about your unique approach everywhere (especially on social media) and suddenly it will become a LOT easier for you to sign them up for camp.

But what if you decide this isn't for you? What if you take a firm, "cell phones don't belong at camp" stance? Perfectly fine.

But ask yourself this. Can you can honestly imagine your camp 5 years down the line without cell phones? If so, I think it will be very hard for you to compete with me and other camps who realize there's a lot more benefits to allowing kids to bring their phones to camp than not, especially when we decide to publicly promote the fact we allow them.

I assume (hope) this post generates some discussion. If not, I understand. Happy New Year to everyone and I wish you much success this camp marketing season!