Marketing your summer camp is a big job. And for good reason. There are so many options, and what works for one camp might not work for yours.
But have no fear. This post is chock full of ideas that will help you amp up your summer camp marketing and grow your enrollment for next summer!
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The Basics of Summer Camp Marketing
Summer camp marketing really starts with understanding some basic marketing terms and how it all works.
Marketing now is very much online, however there are some great “off line” or “old school” campaigns that definitely work in the camp world. The real key is that marketing your camp can’t be done in just one way. You have to use a variety of marketing techniques in order to bring in the numbers you are looking for.
You’ll need a combination of in-person and online techniques
You must have a combination of both in-person and online marketing tools in your tool box.
Depending on your community, local fairs or schools are a great option for in person connections. Parents enjoy coming out to fairs as a one stop shop to learn about local offerings. Be sure to be there!
There are also online local communities, usually run by local parents, that aggregate summer camp and other children programming events happening in the area. This is a great way to get visibility as these sites do the work for you when it comes to find the right audience to target.
Remember the Rule of 7
If you haven’t heard of this before, the idea is basically that every potential buyer (in any business) needs to hear your name 7 times before they buy.
Now, is this always the case? No. But it’s a good rule of thumb and helps to diversify your marketing in order to achieve the intent.
7 different ways
Think about 7 different ways you can market your camp. In person, your website & SEO, ads in local publications, Facebook, etc. Find 7 ways you can get in front of 1 family and your marketing is off to a great start!
7 different asks
Ask yourself every season these questions:
- Is your product what you want it to be? This is your camp motto, theme and mission. Your session content, your staff, etc. Does your marketing messaging reflect this?
- Are you priced competitively?
- Are you offering promotions that are driving new business effectively?
- Are you visible in the right places?
- Does your logo, website and other marketing materials look how you want them to?
- Do you know how families think of you?
- Do you know what your ideal family looks like? Do you have a profile? Understanding who you are selling to helps to actually focus your marketing to sell to them!
Camp Marketing Idea: Social Media Marketing
When marketing your camp on social media, you want to focus on a number of things, including high quality images, telling an authentic story, showcasing the best of YOUR camp, consistency in your brand, and be actively engaged in the online conversation.
Focus on high quality images
No one hates a grainy, blurry image more than…well, everybody. Invest in a good camera and the time to take great pictures during the camp season. With smartphones these days, this isn’t hard.
Tell stories and be authentic
Sharing camp life in real form is the easiest way to come across as authentic and create great content to share. Coming up with content ideas before camp can also help. Whether it’s spotlighting special activities, filming your goodbye song, or sharing your yummy camp meals – all the ways you can show off what is fun about your camp is a way to tell the story of camp to viewers.
Showcase your best work
Media now is so fun when it comes to sharing special moments at camp. Videos and still images are both great ways to share highlights of your camp, as are blog posts or articles where you are featured, client reviews and more.
Use the same handle across platforms
Brand consistency is always valued. Make it easy, not hard, for people to find you on any social media platform.
Post and comment frequently
The biggest mistake camps make on social media is setting up a profile and never returning. If conversations are started online, be there to continue it!
Create shareable content
Memes, articles and funny pictures are always a great thing to share that others also love to re-share and/or comment on. This type of engagement will help grow your presence on Facebook and help you to connect with others.
Use events to remind your community of deadlines
The events feature is a great way to connect with families about important events – such as registration kick-off, open house at camp, first day of camp, and more!
You can invite people to remind them and encourage them to share the event as well to help get the word out!
Promote engagement through likes and comments
While getting likes and comments are great – don’t forget that you have the power, through your page, to do this too! Find local community pages, groups and events to comment and share helpful information (both about your camp and just in general!)
This kind of proactive engagement can really help spread the word about your offerings and give you opportunities to connect with your community online!
Engage with your campers
Instagram is where campers are engaging on social media. While Facebook is more for parents, Instagram posts and stories are awesome for connecting with campers, getting them excited for camp and reliving camp fun with them!
Highlight your staffers and returning campers
A great example of content that will then be shared by others, is highlighting campers and counselors. Not only is it great content on it’s own, but those tagged in the post will want to share it with their friends too!
Create a unique hashtag
This is a great idea in a few ways. First, it is a great idea to set your camp’s hashtag on the first day of camp! Have a sign or a photo booth set up that includes your Camp Name and hashtag so it’s by default in photos that campers and families post. After camp, you can use that hashtag to find other content related to your camp and keep the conversation going!
Cross-post across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
If it sounds overwhelming to have multiple social media accounts. And it can be. There are easy ways to link up your Facebook and Instagram accounts so you can post content in one place, but it publishes in both places.
You can also uses tools, like Buffer, to pre-schedule posts. The interface allows you to create 1 post for all networks and either “share now” or schedule it for a specific day and time. This can help cut down on how long it takes you to post, and you can spend your time engaging on each platform instead of sharing the same content one platform after another.
Twitter is a great place to post quick updates and fun pictures and videos.
Hashtags are big here, so doing research on popular hashtags for relevant events and communities in your area can really help you grow your connections and following on this platform.
Join conversations in your community
Once you find some great hashtags that connect you with conversations happening in your field and in your area, join in!
Camp Marketing Idea: Reach out to your community
There is nothing wrong with some good old school marketing!
Reach out to your local schools, dance studios, aftercare programs, daycares, sports leagues, and more. Hand out flyers, hang postcards, ask if you can sponsor their business or an event.
This is a great way to get in front of your ideal audience and be a supporter of your great community. This kind of connection and support goes a long way for your reputation and brand reach.
Camp Marketing Idea: Camp Directories
Register with trusted camp directories. Put your self in a parent’s shoes and find out where and how they are looking for camps for their children. And then if you aren’t in those places, get there!
Ask other camps where they get their customers from and learn from them. The camp community is very supportive, even if you are competitors! Everyone wants families to find the best place for them. Often times camps happily refer to other camps if dates are filled or fit isn’t right. Be a loyal member of your professional community and increase your referral network!
Camp Marketing Idea: Referral Programs
Ask your existing camp families to refer other families to your camp.
The best way to find success here is to incentivize them with discounts!
Camp Marketing Idea: Email Campaigns
Reach out to old families and returners via email at targeted times.
This can be when registration opens with a special deal, or updates on new offerings at camp for upcoming sessions.
Use your registration software to help target and filter for families to send personalized communication.
Camp Marketing Idea: Update your Camp’s Software
Invest in camp registration software that can help your camp find new campers and remain engaged with old campers through reporting and communication!