Summer's here and if you're anything like me a big “To-do” for the summer is figuring out what it is you’re going to do with your kids. Schools out for 8-12 weeks but you still have to go to work but you don’t want your kid just sitting around or idling all summer. For most parents of younger kids and even teenagers as well the default option is some type of camp. But this isn’t just a summer phenomenon there’s all types of camps that operate year round. Academic based Athletic based camps, Religious camps etc. For the average parent/caregiver there are a myriad of camps to choose from all addressing different needs and audiences and price points. As a person in charge of enrollment for the camp the challenge is how do you make sure you’re hitting and growing the enrollment numbers for what isn’t a mandated activity like going to school that has a built in enrollment baked in the cake and can be seasonal and also have students drop in and out at anytime during a given session. There’s many best practices and techniques for hitting and growing enrollment session after session year after year including making sure your marketing is geared towards the right buyer persona, create a memorable experience for camp goers, allow sharing of that experience, never stop recruiting and enrolling, highlight your unique selling proposition
For Camps in particular the end user of your service (the kids) isn’t the person or persona your marketing and recruitment efforts should be geared towards. More than likely your persona is going to be a parent, caregiver, or some other adult facilitator in that kids life i.e. coach, counselor, aunt, uncle, grandma. But do an even deeper dive when developing the target persona. What does this person do what role do they play in the participants life, what are the best ways to reach this persona and convey your message. If you get the buyer persona wrong your enrollment and recruitment will suffer and you may expend resources with little to no return.
2.Create memorable experience for the end user
As stated in the previous point the target persona for marketing isn’t the end user. SO for camps you have somewhat of a double duty, and you have to make sure that the experience for the camp attendee is a good one. Imagine 2 scenarios one where little Bobby or Janie come home and take about the horrible experience they had at camp or scenario number 2 where they talk about how great of an experience they had at camp. The latter is where you want to be! The latter is what’s going to turn your target persona who at this point is a customer into an evangelist. Spreading the word to their network or anyone that will listen about the great experience their child had at camp and in turn saving you money when the evangelist portion of your pipeline is full and you have a robust line of revenue based on referral business alone. The money saved or gained through increase profits could be allocated elsewhere like programming, staff, facility maintenance which further enhances the camp experience creating even more evangelist.
3. Allow sharing of that experience
As an extension of the previous point you want to make sure that the positive experience the campers had and the personas heard about or experienced themselves albeit vicariously is able to be shared. Meaning provide the platform and mechanisms to allow them to share. Encouraging sharing by adding tags to specific activities or experiences. Give incentives like discounts on registration for sharing or making referrals. Allowing the experience to be easily shared will increase the return on your enrollment efforts.
4. Continuous Recruitment
Although most camps are seasonal your pipeline isn’t. Your recruitment plan which should be in line with enrollment (think of the connection btwn marketing and sales ) should be a year long plan where your constantly filling the pipeline. If the camps seasonal earmarked when decision making needs to be done and at that point focus on those personas that are in the decision stage of the buyer's journey. Once their bought in and evangelizing go right back to your recruitment efforts nurturing the prospects from awareness to consideration to decision stages.
5. Unique Selling Proposition
Whether it’s camps, schools, or businesses in any other sector recruiting is difficult and for camps there’s so much competition and so many choices out there your target persona can easily be confused and start blending your offer with others and just deferring to the one that’s most convenient or contacted them last. You have to deep dive and decide what you USP is and highlight that especially during the decision stage of the buyer's journey. Why should I send my child or myself to your camp what makes you different than the myriad of choices I have. If you can do this it will benefit in a number of ways including helping refine your buyer persona to an almost perfect match of individuals who’ll respond to your unique offer. This in turn will exponentially grow the results in the marketing and sales effort maximizing the outcome and making the camp more profitable. WIth increase profits come better service happier customers rinse and repeat.
Camps can be a great way for children and adults to have experience they will cherish for a lifetime, and there’s may camps to choose from and many who provide a great and much needed service. For these camps to increase enrollment and keep pace year in and out highlighting there USP, a continuous cycle of recruitment, choosing the right persona, allowing sharing, and creating a memorable experience for the campers are all key elements that must be in place for your enrollment and recruitment efforts to be successful. Are there any other keys to success when it comes to camp enrollment that you’ve witnessed or perhaps implemented yourself? Please share with us in the comments below we’d love to get your feedback.