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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!