Getting close to the summer camp season here are some marketing tips.<!– CULL /js/my_script.js?ver=1.0 –><!–
Marketing to new families is an ongoing process for all camps, regardless of budget size. Here are some creative ideas to add to or improve your marketing campaign
Email, Email, Email
- Make a regular effort to collect email addresses. Put spaces for parents to update their email addresses on registration forms, permission slips, surveys, etc.
- Send out quarterly e-newsletters or event announcements
- Have special email contests
- Use mail merge to create custom emails to ask for help, thank folks for attending, etc.
- Send home a postcard size notice that if parents would like a group shot of their child sent to them via email, simply return the postcard with a current email address and you will email them a picture at the end of the session.
- Take group shots with a digital camera.
- You can create a template in Photoshop that automatically adds your camp logo, session date, at a click of the button, by using the “Actions” function.
- Parents can then forward the picture to family and friends or print them.
- A great way to promote camp and collect current emails.
- Host birthday parties at camp. The parties generate revenue, and more importantly, help kids who LOVE camp bring all of their friends to your camp.
- Based on your facility or time of year, you can offer themed parties, such as “Rock Climbing Adventures,” “Games Galore,” or “Wet & Wild.”
- Run some traditional camp games, like Capture the Flag or Archery. Running these type of activities helps expose new campers to the fun world of summer camp.
- Be sure to provide the host family with party invitations and waivers. The invitations will give new parents a first glimpse of how professionally your camp is operated. The waivers are important for liability reasons, as well as provide you with the names and addresses of new families to send camp information to.
Working with Your School Systems
The best place to find kids is at school! Working with your local school system (or systems) can be very advantageous and effective.
- Distribute flyers and brochures through the schools. If you’re doing this, you think it’s a no-brainer. If you’re not, you think this is genius.
- Offer to do Character Development activities for assembly periods or special classes. Most schools use the “Pillars of Character” model, which closely models the YMCA Character Development initiative. You can do fun camp games or skits that demonstrate the values, and hand out information packets with your camp’s logo/info/spin on it for the students to bring home. Put a “For information on how YMCA Camp Anywhere instills character, visit our web page…”
- Team building programs. Every administration wants to do team building activities with their students, but very few teachers have the experience that us camp folks do. Offer to run special team building programs as part of new student orientations, physical education classes, etc.
- Field Days. Many schools do not have the ability to run their own “Field Day” program at the end of the year, or simply don’t want the headache. Imagine hundreds of students coming to camp, having a blast, leaving their addresses on their waivers, and returning home with a camp brochure. You may find that the field days are a great revenue producer as well!
Brochure Basics & Flyer Fundamentals
Everyone has a camp brochure and various flyers, right? Here are some tips that make sure that your brochure and flyer marketing is effective.
Design, design, design.
- The moment you can afford to have your materials designed by a professional, do it! A designer can combine the best colors, pictures, fonts, and style into a captivating piece. Camp directors can give lots of input and guide the process, but a designer will make it work.
- If you need to do the design in house, find a marketing layout you like, and model your design after it. Insert your own pictures, program names, etc, but you can definitely model your brochure layout after a professionally produced one.
- Rule #1: Use pictures of smiling campers doing fun activities under the watchful eyes of caring staff. Parents number one concern is safety, followed with a concern that their child will be having fun.
- A really cute camper is simply not as effective as a camper as described before.
- Try to use pictures of campers and staff wearing camp shirts to reinforce your branding efforts.
- Make sure that the pictures do not show campers engaged in seemingly inappropriate activities. Sometimes the really funny pictures can be alarming to parents, so choose carefully.
- permission slips, etc.
- Create a capability to register online. Not fundamentally important, but important none the less!
- Have a section that encourages campers and families to visit the website regularly: Contests, puzzles, camp coloring book pages, photo updates, and more.
A great cost effective way to keep your camp’s name in front of your families
- Use photos- show campers involved with activities
- Keep messages short and simple
A great way to increase your brand recognition is to produce a lot of inexpensive items and give them away
- · Include a camp pen with the registration packet for last years participants with a bright sticker on the outside that says, “Everything you need to register for camp is in this envelope including the pen”
- Send a bumper stick or Euro sticker in the confirmation packet to all families
- Send camp emery boards to moms
- Give away camp tattoos or balsa wood gliders at parades, fairs or other special events
- Have camp name and email printed on lollipop stick and give them away at the front desk or anywhere
- Make “goodie bags” for your YMCA birthday party participants
- This article is a partial reproduction of a presentation by Patrick Connelly, YMCA Camp Ingersoll, and Chris Pallatto, Greater Waterbury YMCA