As summer comes to a close, we camp owners and directors take a big deep breath, and hopefully some R&R, before gearing back up for the Fall. Inevitably we will at some point jump back into our fall camping rhythms and likely find ourselves at a conference where someone will lead a session about marketing for summer camps. If that’s you, what one question would you want to be prepared to ask that would really move the needle forward for your camp? In other words, what’s one thing you could do to better share your camp story to prospective camp families this fall and spring?
For me, I would ask this question– what are 3 vital things I need when it comes to marketing my summer camp? Distilled down to just a few things, what would those three things really be?
Having tested and tried dozens of summer camp marketing strategies over the last two decades, and having failed many, many times over, here is what I believe are the 3 must-haves in marketing for summer camps.
- Be committed to a long-term, sales, and marketing strategy.
Contrary to popular belief, there are no magic bullets to growing your camper base. Vince Lombardi, legendary football coach for the Green Bay Packers, was famous for starting his first practice with these words– gentlemen…this is a football. From my experience, growing your camper base is all about blocking and taking. And, when you commit to a long-term strategy, you won’t lose focus through the ups and downs. You will also stick to some strategies long enough to be able to measure what is working and not working.
- Make data-driven decisions based upon evidence.
If I asked you what has been your most successful marketing strategy over the years, what would you say? Is this based up on what you think and/or feel or is it based upon true evidence? If you’re like me, I’ve made lots of marketing decisions for our camp based upon what I felt was right. Over the years, I’ve learned that sometimes there’s a stark difference between what I feel is true and what is actually true. A lot of times this means checking my pride at the door and taking a hard look at what my data is telling me. Once you’re willing to pull the curtain back on your real numbers and what they’re saying, you can make better decisions for your camp, be it where you host camp parties, where you target your Adwords campaign, or how to better qualify a camp prospect.
- Have one person on your year-round staff fully devoted to nurturing new camp families.
Let’s face it– we camp directors are some of the busiest people. We work 16 hour days during the summer, and once September hits, we’re back on the recruiting trail.
With so much to do, how do we ever have time to devote much of our time to sales and marketing? As difficult as this may seem, it really goes back to priorities.
We had a Grow My Camp client this past summer that saw a 23% jump in campers in just one season. This amazing accomplishment was possible because our client made an intentional investment in time and resources to reaching their recruitment goals.
From the time a prospective family click’s “Get More Info”, to the time where they enroll on your camp’s website, your dedicated staffer will be the shepherd that guides them through their buying journey.
Having a dedicated staff member for recruiting is vital to the success of your marketing efforts.
Although all of our camps have a unique niche, I do believe that marketing for summer camps really does boil down to these three principles. If you would like to learn more about how you can better market your summer camp, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to encourage you as you journey through growing your summer camp!