Last week on the blog, we took a look at what your camp marketing should look like for the next year. This week, we’re diving in further to share five dos and don’ts of camp marketing. Are you making these mistakes? Are you leveraging opportunities to market and sell your camp? Let’s find out!

DO highlight your earlybird pricing or special offers. Can your audience save $50 or more by registering early? Great! Tell them about it, and not just in an email or on social media. Big savings call for big buzz. Utilize postcards, emails, text messages, social media and even ads to alert your audience to a special savings opportunity. But always be sure to give your audience plenty of notice to take advantage of the offer.

DON’T wait until the last minute to tell your audience about a savings opportunity. With the exception of a one-day only a sale (think Black Friday or Cyber Monday), audiences need time to research, prepare and potentially save, so that they can register their child or family for your camp. If moms and dads are thinking about summer camp in February, don’t wait until March or April to start talking to them about your camp. Get ahead of the game! Committing to a week of camp is a big decision not only for children and teens, but for parents who are often footing the bill or putting in time-off requests for the week.

DO host a contest. Who doesn’t want to win free camp gear or even better, a free week of camp? Let’s face it: it’s hard to say no to a free week of camp. Whether you’re trying to increase your camp numbers by filling spots with new or returning customers, everyone loves the opportunity to win a FREE day, weekend or week of camp. Not only does a contest increase engagement, but it’s also a great way to generate leads so that you can market your youth or specialty camps to them in the future. NOTE: Don’t forget to ask for, at minimum, first name, last name and email address when you’re collecting contact information.

DON’T waste contact information. All of those leads that you generated with that contest? They need communication from you right away: onboarding for new audiences and cultivation for existing. Don’t let the contact information you collected sit in a database or on an email list and forget to communicate to those folks. Congratulate the winner, inform the others that they didn’t win, but that they can still save with earlybird pricing.  You can even offer them a 10 percent off code just for their participation.

DO provide your audience with ways to interact with your camp. Camp is FUN! And not just for those that are attending. We have all grinned ear-to-ear watching action-packed recap videos of youth at camp, laughed at children or shed a tear while listening to a moving testimonial from a teen who found Christ during the summer. All of these interactions with camp deepened our relationship with and increased our affinity for that organization. If you’re a camp, make sure you’re providing ways for audience members to interact with your camp and have these same experiences. Develop a special camp app, create social media photo albums, offer live streams of camp activities or speaking sessions and design graphics or quotes that your audience can share when excited or moved by your camp content. 

DON’T keep them in the dark about what’s happening at camp. Parents love real-time updates about what their children are doing, learning or participating in at camp. Friends of youth or teens at camp may also want to see what their friends are doing this summer. Don’t keep your camp videos, photos and stories to yourself. Share them!

DO explore and utilize a variety of advertising. If you’re just using print, or exclusively using display ads, you’re missing out on great (and affordable!) advertising options. Internet radio platforms such as Pandora or niche podcasts, dedicated e-blasts, sponsored social media posts, print or digital advertorials, Google AdWords and Facebook pay-per-click campaigns can all be successful in delivering target audiences to your camp registration or info sites.

DON’T wait until the last minute to secure advertising. This seems like a no brainer, but it’s easy to get busy or sidetracked by all of the other items that need to get checked off the list as you’re marketing your camp. Do yourself (and your camp!) a favor and secure your advertising months in advance. For instance, if you want to secure a print ad for April, you’ll likely need to reserve this space with your outlet anywhere from 4-6 months in advance. This will not only ensure that you’re in that print issue with a spotlight on camps or featured in that coveted e-newsletter you’ve been dying to get into, but also gives you the chance to negotiate rates, take advantage of advertisers’ earlybird offers on packages and build a stellar and, most importantly, strategic ad campaign for your camp.

DO market your camp all year long. Communicate and talk about your camps before, during and after camp season. Share camp testimonials, videos, photo albums, camp themes or highlights with your audience to keep them looking forward to and excited about attending your camp again next year.

DON’T limit your marketing to summer season. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And filling your camp this summer is the same way. Relying on a short-term push or campaign only in the spring or summer won’t give you the same results as will marketing your camp year-round to current and prospective audience members. Plug your camp into your marketing communications and editorial calendar throughout the year, sprinkling in camp mentions and content where appropriate. Check out this post for what you should be doing during every season of the year.

So how does your current camp marketing strategy measure up? Are you failing in the dos, forgetting about the don’ts? Don’t be afraid to make changes, to try something new. Now is the perfect time to celebrate the impact from this past summer and start building up anticipation for your next year’s summer camp.  

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