How to Market a Summer CampBy Kristin Carver
Camp is finally over. Ahhh. Deep exhale. You’ve spent the last six to eight months preparing for camp and ensuring that this summer was the #BestCampYearEver. Now it’s time to kick back and relax before the next camp season. Right?
Although the kiddos, teens and parents have exited the campground for the summer, the camp marketing cycle is just beginning again! Think about it like this.
Let’s say that your camp starts the first week of June and ends the first week of August.
Your first earlybird camp registration deadline is December 1—and your audience can cash in on some serious dollars off camp (think $100+).
Your second and final earlybird camp registration deadline is March 1—and your audience can once again cash in on a camp deal (think $50 off).
The final day to register for your camp is May 1—exactly one month before camp starts.
Take a look at that list again. Seems simple enough, right? What about the promotional emails you need to highlight your earlybird special, or getting those same emails to your web designer? And the catalog for your summer camps? Is it written? Designed? Ready to mail? When should that go out? The postcard with camp dates? Parent correspondence? Student or teen correspondence?
If you’re breathing has become shallow, take a deep inhale… and… exhale. It WILL be okay!
Friend, we aren’t trying to overwhelm you with these questions—in fact, we’re trying to HELP! Nothing is worse than getting to the first week of camp without an agenda or camp schedule, counselors haven’t been selected or worse—you don’t have many folks signed up to attend.
Let’s look at what your camp marketing should look like for the next year, starting with this fall:
While now might seem like the perfect time to rest, relax and restore, it’s actually the best time to start working ahead. Make a list of all of the larger camp collateral pieces that you will need for next year. This can include your camp catalog, brochures, postcard mailers or banners. If you need to compile content or get something into design, now’s the time to do it! Don’t wait until the winter or spring when you’re rushing around and moving heaven and earth to get your deadline reminder postcard out. Save yourself some time (and stress) by working ahead on the large projects now.
And don’t forget also to capitalize on the timeliness of the fall—when many are just returning from camp, carrying precious memories made with friends and family. Use this as an opportunity to get them excited about next summer. While it’s not necessary to open registration for next summer the moment camp is over this year or email folks everyday about attending camp, it’s important that you keep your audience engaged, plugged in and looking forward to what next summer holds for them.
In the winter, you should be pushing out content related to your camp(s). This is a great time to start sending out those earlybird pricing offers, your camp catalog or camp brochures. The promotions should be light, plugging your camp where it might make sense—a callout in your monthly e-newsletter, a back matter ad in your magazine or books.
This time of year is also a great time to begin pitching and securing media opportunities. Whether you’re working with an in-house PR team or outside partner, long lead publications are often working three (sometimes even four!) months in advance. Make sure you’re using this time to pitch outlets and secure advertising or PR coverage for early spring.
Push. Push. Push.
The springtime is your opportunity to give your camp marketing everything you’ve got. Your camp catalog or brochures should already be in-homes, allowing you to begin sending camp registration, deadline-driven postcards to audience members. Social media content and graphics should highlight and direct people toward registering for camp. Unveil your camp theme and promo videos for the summer to get those who have registered early excited about the summer. Begin blasting out more email and blog posts focused on camp-related content, always with the goal in mind of moving folks one step closer to registration.
While the bulk of your marketing takes place in the springtime, if you’ve prepared properly in the fall and winter as we noted above, springtime will feel less chaotic.
It’s finally here. Camp is underway and all you have to worry about is managing internal camp activities, right? Try again.
Friend, please take note. We can’t tell you how important it is to maintain and provide ongoing conversation and correspondence with your audience during this time. Parents should be receiving daily or weekly updates about what their child or teen is doing at camp. Lessons learned, new activities that they’ve tried, the crazy food contest they participated in, and the testimonies of those whose lives were forever changed because of their experience that week. Every bit of this should be shared with them. The same can be said for those actually attending camp. These are some of your biggest advocates and supporters, those who are likely to go home from camp and tell the whole block how much fun they had at camp this summer. Send them a recap video when they head home or text them about how excited you are to have them back next summer. Encourage them to share camp with others through shareable social media graphics.
You get the point. Talk to your tribe. Without correspondence from you during camp, they may feel disconnected, distant or even irritated that they don’t know what’s going on. With so many stories shared around the campfire, don’t keep yours to yourself. [Tweet this]
So now, go ahead, take another deep breath and let’s get back into swing of things. We promise that you’ll feel more prepared, less stressed and even see greater results when you are focused on camp marketing year round.