How to best turn off the camp machine while getting ready for the next season. Here are 5 tips to get you started.
Best Ways to Market Your Summer Camp
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I bought the vitamins. The very same ones that had been popping up on my Instagram feed for months. I tried ignoring them because I like to think I’m not easily swayed, but then I ran out of my old vitamins, and this one claimed to be minty.
Wait, you say, “What do vitamins have to do with marketing summer camp?” Friends, it’s not about the vitamins; it’s about the marketing. Good marketing gets you noticed, builds trust, and helps create repeat customers.
So, how exactly do you get more people to know about your camp? How can you get them excited about attending camp and eager to tell all their friends about it?
Here are 7 things you can do right now to kickstart your summer camp marketing.
1. Give your camp website an audit
When was the last time you updated your camp’s website? If the campers on your website photos are now staff, it’s a sign that your website needs to be updated now.
Take a few minutes and carefully look over your site:
- Any broken links or missing information?
- Are the pictures blurry?
- How does it look on mobile?
- Is the design becoming outdated?
- Are the content and text still relevant?
If people judge a book by its cover, what do they think of your camp based on your site? Don’t let your website go unloved during downtime. A few simple changes can transform your website into an effective camp marketing tool.
- Check if your site is mobile-friendly with Experte. They use the same data as Google’s Mobile Friendly Test, but you can test your entire site (up to 500 subpages) and get helpful suggestions on how to improve each page.
- Want to know what people are doing on your webpage? Try Hotjar. It shows you where viewers are looking on your site and, even more importantly, where they are not.
2. Launch some ads
Once your website is updated and looking good, spend some money on advertising that directs potential campers to your registration page. Facebook has tremendous reach and can be targeted by age, location, and interests. And it doesn’t require a significant investment to start getting results. Google Ads delivers targeted visitors who have explicitly searched for information about summer camps. Facebook and Google Analytics allow you to see how well your summer camp marketing ads perform.
- Use a CTA (call to action) to encourage people to act immediately. Consider providing an incentive to parents who have been putting off enrolling their children to do so immediately. It may be a contest for camp merch or other exciting rewards.
3. Develop a camp ambassador program
Every camper is vital to the program’s success, but do you know who your camp ambassadors are? These are the campers that love being at camp, rave about it to their friends, and return summer after summer. They are your camp’s #1 fans! Whether you run a sizable overnight camp or a small day camp, get to know your camp ambassadors. Camp ambassadors can serve as a link between your camp and the community. They can help recruit volunteers, work on fundraising opportunities, or welcome new campers to the program.
Interested in establishing a Camp Ambassador program? Determine the level at which a camper will become an ambassador. Do they have a positive attitude, are enthusiastic, freely participate, promote camp events, offer suggestions, and positively influence other campers? You have an ambassador! Once you have a system in place for your camp ambassadors, you can offer them early access to incentives or rewards.
- Discounts – Offer coupons on camp swag or summer sessions.
- Special events – Let them host their birthday party at camp or have a table at the yearly fundraiser.
- Early registration – Offer your ambassadors the chance to register early for a summer session.
Don’t overlook your ambassadors. They are essential to your camp’s success and your summer camp marketing strategy.
4. Stay connected in the off-season
Campers need those reminders, those “Hey, we’re thinking about you!” messages that let them know your camp cares. During the off-season, plan to send out informational emails, check-in, or solicit feedback. Make sure to communicate with campers all year long if you want to keep them coming back. If you cultivate your relationship during the year, it has the potential to last a lifetime!
- Key Events – Look for holidays or special events such as the start of school and send out a short email in celebration or wishing them well. Don’t forget birthdays.
- Get Feedback – Send out a poll and find out their top 3 favorite camp activities.
5. Reach out through social media and email
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are excellent tools for staying in touch with current campers. Don’t just post pictures of camp and call it a day. Encourage campers to share favorite stories, ask questions that keep the conversation going, and respond to comments.
Email marketing is another way to communicate directly with current camp families and connect with new ones when they register. This method is an excellent way to remind people about upcoming events or reasons why they should return next summer without being too pushy or repetitive. Plus, sending email newsletters keeps your camp in participants’ minds during breaks in scheduled programs — which means more interest upon registration day next summer!
There are various ways to connect with campers after the summer season. Pick one or two to try. Don’t forget to involve your staff or camp ambassadors.
- Create a Facebook group – it’s free and easy to set up. You can create topics based on camper interest (archery, teen camp, or cabin group).
- Virtual Meet-up – Host a virtual camp alumni meet-up using free Google Meet or Zoom options.
- Go Live – Do a live video (or recorded) on Facebook or Instagram. Interview a staff member or camper about their experience with optional Q/A afterward.
6. Personalize your communication
Many camps focus all of their marketing efforts on a one-size-fits-all campaign during the off-season. These broad-based and comprehensive campaigns are rarely as effective as they could be.
Use customer segmentation to help personalize your communication. Try dividing your camper list into smaller groups based on factors such as interests, age, previous camp experience, etc. Rather than trying to appeal to everyone, concentrate your communication and marketing efforts on topics relevant to each group.
Does that mean you should stop sending out a general newsletter or brochures? Not at all. Personalized communication is an excellent complement to your camp’s communication plan. You can determine a camper group by analyzing last year’s registration data. Then send them messages based on their preferences and or sessions attended. Don’t be afraid to use different content for each person. Each camper is unique, so try sending personalized content.
- Personalize – Use their name in the email copy.
- Recommendations – Suggest new camp activities based on what they did last summer.
7. Say thank you
The easiest way to tell your camper and their family that you value their time and money is with a simple “thank you.” This goes a long way in endearing yourself with parents and setting yourself apart from competitors.
When campers feel appreciated, they are more likely to tell their friends and family about their camp experience, which means more potential customers will learn about your camp. Statistics show that word-of-mouth referrals are one of the most successful ways to promote a business (and it’s free marketing!).
Here are some examples of ways that you can say thank you:
- Send A Video – Services like Bonjoro allow you to send a video message to your camper easily. Send a custom thank-you or birthday message as a video.
- Camp Themed Gifts – Small items like keychains, patches, or stickers are a great way to not only promote your camp but show you appreciate your campers.
- Postcard – Getting mail is a highlight for any camper. If you have the opportunity, write a thank you note or a short message by hand. In an age of texting and emails, this goes a long way.
Camp marketing doesn’t have to be daunting. There are a lot of great strategies that can help you market effectively. The trick is figuring out what works best for your audience and adjusting as necessary. What tips work for you? Feel free to share them in the comments below! We want to hear from you.
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