A HINT for your personal motivation (Clue: it will get you more 2017 campers) - Joanna Warren Smith

Summer Camp is Only 10 Months Away!

I say that not to encourage additional R&R but rather to provoke you into action.  In order to present the best version of your camp in 2017, you need every minute between now and opening day to refine, design, plan and execute.
 
But first, let’s start the camper recruitment process!  No matter how good you think your program was last year, campers will not 'magically' return and new prospects will not 'materialize' unless you are intentional about monthly connections with each of 5 Networks … 2016 Parents, 2016 Campers, New Acquisition Prospects, 2017 Parents and 2017 Campers.

Take Action Now!

  • Affirm for 2016 Parents that they made a good investment.  Before you send an Early-Bird Sales Promotion, give parents insight into what their children accomplished at camp and what they’ll be able to achieve next summer.  Private camps often communicate personally with families while not-for-profits usually do more generic communications by gender and ages.
  • Reconnect 2016 Campers emotionally.  By snail or parent email, encourage campers to use what they learned about themselves at camp in school to have a great year.  Or give them a link to view the slide show that you presented at the closing ceremony.  The purpose here is to keep kids ‘thinking camp’ so that at whatever point a parent asks ‘Do you want to go back to camp?’ the answer is an enthusiastic and resounding 'YES!'
  • Reach out to Potential Families.  Those who inquired for 2016 but did not attend, those who toured this summer and 2015 (plus previous) families who missed last year are the most logical first outreaches to capture new acquisitions.  Use short, powerful message of the benefits of your camp with captivating visuals.  The most successful of these campaigns are personalized or targeted to each specific group.  Parents report in focus groups that they want to be ‘courted to the sale.’
  • Affirm the choice made by 2017 Parents.  Warmly and professionally confirm registrations, thanking parents for their trust in you.  Be certain that automated messages reflect your personality and further your relationships with parents.  Please don’t assume that what you’ve been sending for the past few years will work now.  Camps all over the country have been horrified when they follow the communication trail that a registration commences.
  • Welcome 2017 Campers.  Send a postcard directly to campers, give a gift or both.  Just be certain to do something that will heighten camper anticipation.  The price of the gift is not the issue, the connection to camp is.

Start the recruitment year off with a full-court press and do it now for maximum impact.  And please, if your website is not current, get your 2017 Rates/Dates and new programs/facilities up ASAP!!!

Joanna

Do you have an issue you want to tackle before the summer starts? Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email joanna@camp-consulting.com

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already you should sign up to receive these HINTS in your email - in the left-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/) 

A 'HINT' for Summer Camp Staff Orientation - Joanna Warren Smith

TAKE 15 MINUTES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

You'll beHere next year, Right-.jpg

Reflect back to those wonderful times at camp when you see a counsellor and a young camper walking down the path.  They are laughing as they go, just enjoying the magic of being at camp and being together.

Now imagine what happens next.  The camper stops, looks fondly up at the counsellor and asks 'You'll be here next year, right?'  Without hesitation, the counsellor retorts, 'Nope, going to grad school!'.

With that response, you have likely lost that camper.

Now I am not advocating that you encourage staff to lie, but if you helpcounsellors understand the enormous impact they have on campers, they usually take their jobs more seriously and definitely deal more diplomatically with 'the moment of truth'.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

  • Reserve 15 minutes during orientation.  Re-enact the scenario just described and allow staff to see the impact of the response.  Even theyoungest staff members know immediately that the camper is unlikely to return the next year.
  • Brainstorm 'honest' alternative responses.  A simple statement usually suffices.  The counsellor smiles and says 'I love camp so much, I wish I could come back every year.'  The camper is satisfied and still wants to return.
  • Practice in groups of 4.  Have two watch while each pair performs giving all counsellors a chance to see what works for them and hear suggestions on how to improve.

15 minutes is a small investment for BIG rewards.  Please give it a try.

Joanna

Need an objective perspective on any aspect of camp?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email campconsulting@verizon.net

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already you should sign up to receive theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/) 

A 'HINT' to Get More Campers Now (Clue: It involves an Emotional Trigger) - Joanna Warren Smith

Memorial Day means that summer is here.

Parents Unanimously Agree!  And for some parents, this reality engenders an 'OMG!' response because they have no idea what their kids are going to do during the school vacation.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

  • Create a powerful statement about what your camp experience does for kids.  Combine it with 2 or 3 terrific visuals in a postcard (preferred) or an email communication that issues a 'Call to Action' for parents to register now.  If you must do an email, work on an 'evocative' subject line that includes the phrase 'your child'.  The goal is to intrigue parents so that they read your message.
  • Send the communication on May 31 or June 1.  Target 2015 and 2014 families not yet enrolled, all 2016 inquiries plus all parents you met at camp fairs or events since September.  If you are part of an organization like the Y, also send your communication to your full membership.

You'll have to hustle to make this happen in a few days, but if you've got open slots, it will be worth the effort.   Have a great, SAFE summer.

Joanna

Do you have an issue you want to tackle before the summer starts?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email joanna@camp-consulting.com

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already you should sign up to receive theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/) 

A Hint to Increase Your Camp Enrolment - Joanna Warren Smith

PARENTS WANT TO BE 'COURTED'

Parent's Want to Be Courted by Joanna Warren Smith. Photo Credit: Travis Allison, CampHacker

Parent's Want to Be Courted by Joanna Warren Smith. Photo Credit: Travis Allison, CampHacker

In focus groups, parents are eager to share the details of their camp selection process. 

Unfortunately, a majority report that at least one of the camps that they were considering ignored their requests for information and a number of the others never followed up or ‘courted’ them to the sale.   Parents also indicated that when they received information, their names were often misspelled and when they spoke with camp reps on the phone, they were treated rudely and rushed.
 
The camps that made the final cut were the ones that were confident, proactive and accessible.  The camp that was ultimately selected helped parents see what the ‘return on investment’ would be for their child.
 
Take Action Now

  • Assess your ‘new inquiry’ protocols.  Listen carefully to your reps who speak to parents on the phone and in person.  Study the chronology, content and ‘warmth level’ of communications that parents receive via your website, snail or email.  Determine if it is REALLY EASY for parents to indicate interest via your website.  Parents are 'totally turned off' to the camps that request detailed sign-in information.  They want to easily ask a question and many like the 'chat' option.  Too many parents have indicated that they simply cannot find phone numbers anywhere.
  • Confirm that each and every inquiry is captured and stored.  Essential information includes email, parent’s name, child’s name/age and date of inquiry.  If you can secure the address and phone, that’s even better.
  • Determine a revitalized ‘new inquiry’ chronology of communication.  Establish a style that will set you apart from other camps.  Standardize your series of verbal, snail and email communications to be SUCCINCT, warm, professional and confident of what a parent’s ROI will be when they send their child to your camp.  Respond to all inquiries immediately.  Build relationships, ‘partner with parents’ through the selection process and ‘court’ them to the sale.

Treat each and every prospective parent with respect and you’ll significantly increase your ‘inquiry to conversion’ rate.

Happy New Year!  Here’s to a great summer in 2016 …

 

Joanna

Need an objective perspective on any aspect of camp?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email campconsulting@verizon.net

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already you should sign up to receive theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/) 

 

A "New Acquisition" HINT from Joanna Warren Smith

MAXIMIZE THIS 'QUIET TIME' BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS.

Too many camps rely solely on retention and ‘word of mouth’.  They assume that because they are doing good things for kids that new interest will naturally evolve.  Unfortunately, that kind of thinking has marginalized lots of camps and has led to compromised program and financial uncertainty.

A steady stream of New Acquisitions is critical to guarantee viability with capacity populations, but it takes an unwavering commitment to make it really happen.  That being said, I challenge you to make this time until the end of the year really productive.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

  • Psych up the troops.  At the end of day today, call your team together for only 5 minutes.  Explain that for the next week, you are going to focus on identifying methods by which to increase New Acquisitions.  Make it fun, encourage true ‘out of the box’ thinking and identify ‘an incentive’ or 'bragging rights' to engender  enthusiastic participation.
    Encourage a new mind set.  Eliminate past restrictions.  Embolden the team with an attitude of ‘people are superhuman’ and that ‘money is no object’.
  • Keep it real.  Focus on connecting with families who can afford your programs.
  • Feed their imaginations.  Suggest that they look for new camper opportunities with schools, youth organizations, communities where you’re connected, zealots in your camp family, uncultivated geographic areas, alumni, pediatricians, vendors that moms frequent (e.g., grocery stores and gyms), membership connections, friends of the organization, donors, board members, mommy bloggers, previous inquiries and other clients of your business.  Encourage them to look for events in your service radius that are kid focused (e.g., athletic tournaments and community festivities).
  • Meet at 11 AM on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for ONLY 20 MINUTES.  Set an alarm, start precisely on time (even if some folks are not there) and stop immediately when time is up.  Have a neutral 'scribe' take notes and at the end of each session, share them with all team members in a running format.  Encourage each participant to consider all ideas, identify those that have the most potential and determine a methodology by which to make the promotion successful.  The next day, ask them to bring their best new acquisition idea to the table and 'sell it' with a 2-minute promotion.
  • Empower individuals.  17 minutes into the meeting on Friday, stop the conversation and request that over the weekend, they consider all suggestions and zero in on the one that really has the potential to develop a solid base of new buyers of your camp product.  If your team is large, suggest that two or three like-minded folks join forces.  In a small shop, each individual must present.
  • Evaluate opportunities.  At 11 AM on Monday, December 14, team members should make short, but complete presentations, after which everyone in the room  votes for the 'best' new acquisition methodology.  Discuss the winners.
  • Make a commitment.  Identify only one or two promotions that can really be managed well and plan the details for the January launch.

Trust me, the process works and your enrollment will definitely be stronger with an intense focus on new acquisitions.

  Joanna                                     Let me know which New Acquisition strategies you implement.

Email campconsulting@verizon.net or call 310-451-1876.

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already you should sign up to receive theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/) 

A 'HINT' To Encourage Your Camp's Unique Identity - Joanna Warren Smith

"Summer Camps All Look the Same!"


That's what parents tell me in focus groups.  They reflect back on their process of investigating possible camp options and lament that the websites generally look the same and the visuals show the same smiling faces.  They agree that copy seems to say the same thing in too many words, the camp reps all use the same language (some more engaging than others) and that generally, there are no distinguishing factors.

Moms and dads say they would like to find a ‘partner in parenting’ and they want to know that their child will benefit from the experience.  One dad emphatically stated, “When I pay the tuition, I want a real return on my investment!”

All that being said, wouldn’t it be to your advantage to feature your distinguishing characteristics or at least the philosophical elements that guide you?  If your identity is featured appropriately, it may well grab a parent’s attention and give you the first opportunity to connect.

Take Action Now!

Test your messaging.

Test your messaging.

  • Confirm Authentic Outcomes.  What do you intend for your campers to metaphorically ‘take home in their back packs’?  What positive changes in kids do parents notice and write to you about?  Work with your leadership team to come up with a list of benefits that your experience actually delivers consistently to the majority of your campers.  Be certain that these outcomes align with your mission, reflect your philosophy and apply to all age groups.
  • Translate Your Outcomes to Resonate with Parents.  If you can get kids to ‘unplug’ and parents have trouble making that happen, they will likely respond.  If you’re building skills, increasing confidence or teaching social skills, parents might want to know more.  If your camp gets kids started on 21st Century Skills, there may be a connection.
  • Refine Your Key Message & Use It Consistently. Present your camp’s name, logo and key message, but please don’t use the attached examples because they are not likely to accurately portray your actual product.  Avoid using FUN & FRIENDS as parents indicate that these should be elements of every camp experience which should be conveyed through great visuals. 
  • Test Your Messaging.  Even if your team unanimously agrees on your ‘positioning statement’ or ‘tag line’, run it by your parents who are zealots and those who are more neutral about your experience.

For some camps, this process is easy; for others, it takes months to figure out the right words to capture the essence of their programs, but, trust me, it is definitely worth the effort.

Joanna

Send me your statement finalists and I’ll give you my honest reactions.  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email campconsulting@verizon.net

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already, you should sign up to receive these HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/)