by Trevor Waddington, Founder & President, Truth Tree
Parents expect to spend, on average, $1,000 per child per week for a great summer experience. But with so many to choose from and so many ways to find out about them, how do you create a compelling marketing strategy to ensure a robust enrollment?
It doesn’t have to be expensive. Take a look at these 5 low to no cost marketing strategies to help your summer camp sell out this year.
1. Become an Exhibitor
With springtime comes the opportunity to market your summer camp at outdoor festivals. Add activities at your exhibitor booth that attract the attention of children passing by.
Becoming an exhibitor at a festival or local event helps you connect with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of families at once. Few other marketing opportunities bring this opportunity to connect with potential customers.
Parents can ask important questions while meeting your team in person. This is great for your team to build rapport while showing how well they work with kids.
Make sure any activities at our booth are easy to set up and breakdown. Event producers typically charge more for booths with additional setup needs like access to running water or power.
Carnival-style games are an easy activity you can add that won’t take up a lot of space or break the bank. Think cornhole or a spinning prize wheel as options to attract visitors to your table.
Branded water bottles, tote bags, and portable fans are great swag items for the summer. Include these items as a free gift for parents who signup during the event.
2. Use Past Data
The biggest mistake you can make as a summer camp director is to try to market to everyone. Reaching everyone means trying to make a meaningful connection with thousands, sometimes millions, of people in your area.
Attempting to reach every family in your city is usually a waste of time and money.
Past customer data can help you focus your digital marketing efforts for the coming school year. Look at the past three years’ demographics for an idea of the income level, neighborhoods, and age of children who typically attend your summer camp.
Think of activities these campers liked best in past years. Tailor your brochures
and website with images of kid favorites.
Include frequently asked questions of past parents in your marketing materials. You want to make your sell sheets to speak directly to the needs and wants of your audience.
This will help increase your conversion rate because you have a stronger understanding of how to communicate with your audience.
3. Social Media Giveaways
Free giveaways are a great way to attract new families to your camp. Social media is a great digital marketing tool to use to spread the word about your contest.
Summer camp giveaways or movie tickets are both great options to attract families to your page. Give yourself at least 10 weeks to prepare your promotion.
Design a landing page where families can go to signup for the promotion if it is email-based. For contests that are social media-specific, like photo contests, create a hashtag for participants to use to enter.
Providing a countdown to the deadline is a great way to energize contest participants. Use live video to announce the winner and runner ups if you have them.
Avoid asking families to pay to enter a promotion or contest. The only exception might be offering a free week of summer camp if they make an 8-week commitment to attend.
4. Host a Family Festival
Give parents a sneak peek of your summer camp by hosting a free event. Family festivals are a perfect marketing option for weekend afternoons when families are looking for free activities.
This idea will require a budget, but you can scale up or down depending on your expected turnout. Setup your event using a ticketing service like Eventbrite to help you track the number of families who want to attend.
Inexpensive activity options include face painting, balloon animals, and indoor bowling. Use recycled materials to create ‘bowling pins’ for the children to knockdown.
If you’re planning an outdoor event, rent a bounce house and giant slide to attract people passing by. Colorful balloons are a cheap way to advertise your event in the days leading up to it.
Set aside a time during the event to introduce yourself and your summer camp. Even if parents don’t sign up onsite for this year, you’ve made a meaningful connection with the families in your community who will be more likely to call you when they are in need of summer childcare later on.
5. Boost Your Online Reviews
Referrals are one of the best forms of digital marketing for schools you can get. Unfortunately, you can’t buy referrals from customers.
Ask parents to review your summer camp on your Facebook page or website. Other parents will feel more comfortable sending their child to a camp that has top reviews, and that is well known in the community.
Focus your efforts on getting reviews from families who send their children every year. While it isn’t necessary to shy away from bad reviews, getting positive feedback builds credibility for your business much faster.
The key to bad reviews is making sure you respond to each negative review by accepting responsibility. You can also offer ways to solve the issue along with an apology.
The more engagement you get on your social media pages and website, the better your search engine rankings. Lots of online reviews mean your summer camp is relevant, which will help boost it to the top of search engine results.
Finding the Right Summer Camp Advertisement
The right summer camp advertisement for your business can bring dozens of new families each year. Plan your marketing strategy at least six months ahead to give yourself ample time to get promotional items in place.
Custom logo items can take weeks to produce and ship. Find out the audience reach for each of your marketing strategies to be sure you have enough to giveaway to potential customers.
For more information on marketing your summer camp, contact us today.