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From a recent article on Chron.com by Sam Ashe-Edmunds:
A day camp or sleepover camp presents promotional opportunities beyond basic advertising, brochures, direct mail and fliers. Adapting the concepts of free samples, market segmentation and social media help you expand your ability to effectively promote your camp by creating a more targeted message. Include both year-round and pre-camp marketing promotions to maximize your attendance and revenue.
Hold Parent Campouts
It’s important to target a significant portion of your marketing budget to parents, who make the final decision as to whether their children attend camp. Before your season starts, offer one or more weekend campouts that target parents. Try a couple’s weekend that lets parents cook, camp, hike, canoe or participate in the activities their children will experience at your camp. If your market research finds that it’s too difficult for both parents to get away, offer a women’s weekend, a men’s weekend or a mother/daughter, father/son or parent/child weekend, depending on your sleeping arrangements.
Hold Kids Campouts
To alleviate the fears of children who might not want to commit to a two-week stay or a summer of camping, hold a kids weekend before your camp starts to give them an idea of what to expect. Depending on driving times, you could host an overnight during the school year by staring at noon on Saturday and ending at noon on Sunday. In addition to holding a camping weekend at your site, offer off-site camps in communities that fit your target audience. Contact local municipal parks that offer group camping sites, and have your staff show prospects how you run your camps.
Segment the Market
To attract more campers, appeal to different marketplace needs by offering themed camps, such as sports, computers, health and fitness or leadership and teamwork building. Depending on the logistics of your facility, you can offer these in one- or two-week blocks throughout the season, or run them concurrently in different areas of your campground. Hold focus groups of parents to determine what life skills they’d like their children to learn.
Find a nonprofit organization that wants to spread its message, and work with it to create camps related to their mission. For example, a wildlife organization might want to get its message to youths, and a camp is the perfect way to get a captive audience of kids participating in outdoor learning activities. To align with youth organizations, consider those that might want to offer specialization, such a soccer league offering an all-star camp or a religious organization wanting to take kids away from computer games, smartphones and Internet surfing for a week of religious study and personal exploration.
Create a Social Media Plan
Keep kids and parents thinking about your camp year-round with a comprehensive social media strategy that lets campers keep in touch, share pictures and plan for next year. Create a Facebook business page and Twitter account to share information on a regular basis, including video and photos. Link to other websites that appeal to your target customers. Enhance your reputation by having satisfied campers write about their experience on review sites you help them find. Get listed in as many camp directories as possible, including print and online directories. Add Google Plus, Facebook Like, Twitter and LinkedIn buttons to your website pages.