Many of the clients we work with start getting really excited as summer starts to show its sunny head. Year-round, these kid-focused companies have their standard classes in place and have a great time teaching their students how to swim, dance, do gymnastics – and so on. But summer is a special time because they finally get a brief period of time in which they can offer more in-depth instruction or a series of themed classes and have their students for a full week, rather than one or two days per week.
That’s right – for many of our clients, summer is basically synonymous with summer camp. But no matter how much effort you put into creating a high-quality program that will delight the parents, thrill the kids and impart new skills, your camp won’t be much of anything without adequate marketing. If you’re taking the time to develop a great summer camp program, you owe it to yourself to simultaneously develop a solid marketing strategy around it.
Here are the steps we recommend, to help you get more participants, make more money and ultimately have more fun.
Set your Budgets
We know. This is kind of a bummer of a first step, but it’s a crucial one! And in this case, you need not one, but two budgets (yes, all the more fun). If you don’t know how much you can spend on the summer camp itself, you won’t be able to properly calculate the number of attendees and instructors you need to make it work. You’ll also limit yourself by not knowing how much extra equipment and supplies you can include in the camp because you haven’t crunched the numbers. Start by figuring out how much you can comfortably spend on the camp, from soup to nuts.
Then, you need to decide how much you can spend on marketing efforts around it. Whether you take the marketing dollars for this from your overall camp budget or from your overall yearly marketing budget is up to you and how your accounting is structured, but the point is to have a concrete total number of what you can spend on marketing your camp. This will help to inform your strategy, and guide you to make marketing decisions that yield you the best bang for your buck.
*Pro tip: Remember to include some allocation of marketing dollars toward post-camp marketing. Many companies forget to follow up with participants and their parents, ask for feedback or get an early registration list for the next year. This can really help you prepare for the following year’s camp, and is important to remember.
Refine your Messaging
The story you tell around your summer camp can make all the difference in whether or not an interested parent signs their child up – or becomes disinterested. If you have a swim camp for kids, for example, think about all the possible benefits of that particular session that extend far beyond “improving swimming skills.” Are these kids going to build friendships? Challenge their comfort zones? Prepare for competitive swimming? The more detailed the messaging, the better. If you can tie in physical, social, emotional and mental benefits to your camp, this often helps sway undecided parents toward making a decision in your favor.
*Pro tip: Be sure your messaging reinforces the fact that this is a local camp, and that all the marketing avenues you choose to promote it are targeting local families. Most parents are not going to send their kids out of town (or out of state) for a camp, so your money is usually best spent in your own neighborhood.
Communicate the Value, Not Just the Cost
Some businesses try to hide the costs of programs like summer camps because they worry that the sticker shock might scare parents off. But failing to mention the price of your camp can appear deceitful, and parents will have to find out the price at some point anyway, so you might as well be upfront about it. The key is to reinforce the value of your camp when you share the expense.
For example, include testimonials or short stories about other kids who went through your program and experienced great outcomes in your marketing materials. Also be sure to publicly note whether you have financing options available, so parents know you’re willing to work with them if they’re interested in your camp.
*Pro tip: Consider offering a discount for early-bird registrants. This is almost always a surefire way to increase registrations and get more participants overall.
Take it Digital
It’s great to put a blurb about your summer camp on your website and in your emails or newsletters (digital or print), but your camp deserves to have its own dedicated landing page too. There should be one place that parents can go to learn more about the camp’s schedule, objectives, instructors, costs and other pertinent details – and then actually sign up there too.
While on the topic of your summer camp’s digital presence, we’d be remiss not to mention the role that social media can play in helping to promote your camp and recruit participants. If you’ve held the camp in previous years, be sure to start showing video or picture highlights from the event in the month or so leading up to registration. Share snippets of information and testimonials on your social media platforms, as well, so all of your followers can regularly see what a summer camp with your business is all about.
*Pro tips: 1) If you don’t have a marketing agency, you can pretty quickly put together a professional-looking landing page yourself through services like Wix or Strikingly. Or, you can always call us. 2) Also consider whether you have the budget available to look into social advertising options, like advertising through Facebook and Instagram. Many businesses find success targeting very specific audiences through these channels.
After you take all these steps to develop a marketing strategy around your summer camp, it’s time to start executing against it. And don’t forget: The goal of a marketing strategy like this is to drive leads to your business. So make sure you have a plan and process in place for how to convert those leads (in other words, how to get them to sign up for the camp).
If you follow these steps, you’re well on your way to creating a memorable summer camp experience that is sold out in no time – and on everyone’s wish list to attend next year. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about marketing your summer camp, or how we can help you elevate your digital marketing efforts.