Word of Mouth Marketing for Summer Camps

Building a Great Summer Camp Referral Marketing System

I finally got to visit Frost Valley Y!   Last week I attended the Northeast YMCA Camps Conference.  I was invited to come as a speaker on two of my favourite topics: Getting Things Done (GTD) as a Camp Director _and_ Building Your Word of Mouth Marketing system.

I have attached here the slides for my Word of Mouth session.  You can GTD at Camp by clicking the link.

Wonderful Word of Mouth - Summer Camp Referral Strategy

View more presentations from Travis Jon Allison


Word of Mouth ideas you can actually use at your camp.

There was a lot of theory in this session so I interjected lots of what I am calling WOMBombs (short ideas that you could implement at your camp) into the session.  These ideas cover many mediums so that you can attract people interested in different ways of communication.

  • write a free report: benefits of summer camp using ACA + CCA research
  • create a free checklist for parents to download - prepare your child for first night of camp
  • host an online seminar for new parent's orientation
  • bring in a guest speaker - to a community hall or even an online presentation -  prevent missing home through great parenting
  • Put out a highlight video of your camp's biggest summer  event: campfire, talent show, white water lesson
  • go traditional:   offer in-house slideshows with staff present , teach a silly song or chant, game
  • try a free trial - run a "day at camp" in a community centre twice a year
  • a low risk trial: weekend at camp
  • create a People You Need to Know booklet that can be printed out. include the director, head counsellor, nurse, kitchen manager, administrator.  Make one for parents and one for kids. Laminate it and hand it out as soon as they get onsite
  • Show parents what sessions are at the next skill level: How to know if your child is ready to move from instructional to competitive swimming
  • Write a booklet called Best Practices of Great Camp Parents
  • Have a section on your website called When to start to talk to your kids about going to camp
  • Email out a Camp Buying calendar - let parents know when they need to reserve a space for next year, when their money is due, when the forms must be in.
  • Surprise and delight your parents: give them a gift certificate to a wash and fold service because their kids laundry will be too much for their machine at once
  • Hide a note in each campers suitcase when they go home:  "Have a great school year" and include a pack of pencil crayons
  • Give parents a free car wash after driving up the dusty camp road on closing day

Reward Your Word of Mouth Champions

You already have families who refer you to their friends.  Treat them right and they are sure to do it more often!
Here are some ways to thank them for talking to the right people about your camp.

  • movie passes
  • flowers
  • include in brainstorming
  • exclusive gatherings for Champs
  • introduce them to your strategic partners
  • send them links of things that interest them or will help them in their business
  • feature their testimonial in your marketing material
  • give them free or low-cost camp programs
  • take a bunch out to lunch - let them network with each other
  • allow them to use camp for free: lunches, anniversaries, fundraisers

I owe a huge debt to John Jantsch, who's book The Referral Engine was the main source for the theory part of my presentation.  Read his book - you'll be stunned at all of the great ideas in there.

If you are interested in Travis giving this presentation to your summer camp or private school organization, please fill out the Request a Speaker form.