How ‘Word Of Mouth’ Can Save You Time And Effort And Fill Your Camp Faster
With Travis Allison and Duncan Robinson
- Why ‘WOM’ is so important for Summer Camps
- How you can get more referrals
- Learn where to find more resources about summer camps.
Here are several easy to implement methods we have used to take a camp from break even, to close to 7 figures in profit in 3 years with a very limited marketing budget.
Most camps are short on time and money so being clear on what you want focuses your time and efforts.
So, we focussed on 3 areas and in this order.
1. Our current families – making sure they enrol again.
2. Friends of our families – through referrals
3. Attracting new families – through campaigns and agents
Focus on your current families first
Your lowest cost per enrolment is a family that comes back for more. You need to do everything you can to get them coming back again and again.
1. Let your families know that your camp has limited space and there is limited time.
Scarcity and urgency are powerful ways to make your families take action. Give your families a reason to sign up NOW, else they might start looking elsewhere.
As we closed last year’s camp we started to educate our parents that if they don’t sign up early they may not have a place next year.
It was true, we had grown 100% the previous year and if we did the same again we could be full as early as January.
We sold 100 camp weeks immediately and locked in our returners before they had a chance to look elsewhere. It meant in January, we had double the enrolments compared to the year before.
With a good base of campers already enrolled you can focus on the other ways to grow.
2. Keep yourself in front of your family’s mind.
Send out birthday card, postcards, emails. Anything to keep the relationship going and keep you front of mind when they are thinking about enrolling again.
Well written newsletters, showing your impact and your values keep your camp top of mind.
Email is far from dead and it’s a free way to keep them interested in what you are doing. Messaging, texts, Bonjoro’s. Any way you can keep adding value to your families. (But don’t pester them. No-one likes that!)
Of course, everyone loves a discount. Early birds work really well, bring a friend etc.
Use sparingly though as you don’t want to undervalue what you offer.
Also saving money is not compelling as the possibility of missing out because your camp will be full.
4. Offer a referral incentive.
Lots of camps offer a 5% bring a friend discount, or a cash incentive like $200 for each referral.
Your families probably have several friends that would be a perfect fit for your camp. They are easy to reach and easy to attract. As long as your families love your camp then they will want to invite them.
I like to offer extra things on camp like free wake boarding sessions, or VIP pass. This reinforces the value of your camp rather than discounting it.
5. Put a system behind your referral incentive.
We realised that word of mouth is the best way to market and sell our camps. It has the lowest cost per enrolment and is the easiest to promote. Our campers stay on average 4 x longer if it is a referral so the lifetime value is much higher too.
We developed the system to multiply the number of referrals by making it easy.
Our aim is that in 2 years, word of mouth will be the only channel we need to market our camps.
Focus on attracting new families.
This is the hardest way to fill your camp. You need to get families who have never heard of you to know like and trust you.
Most camps use a mix of paid and social channels like Facebook ads, search on google, agents, blogs etc. Here are 2 of the best ways to attract new families…
But before we start the biggest thing you need to do is evaluate what is working best for you now…
Measure and Focus.
Identify which channel is your lowest Cost Per Enrolment then you know where to focus your efforts.
This simple exercise can return huge results just by getting clarity and focus on what is working best for you.
When you have found it out then focus on that and scale it up!
We found word of mouth is our best channel. Its easy, no stress, low cost and really effective. So we created a referral system called Camp Tree. We have used it to double the size of our camp in a year. You can see how we did it here.
Try a competition or giveaway.
We ran a video competition where you could win a free camp for the winner. We had 60 entries then got their friends to vote for the best.
In terms of exposure for out camp this was awesome. We got our perfect target market seeing what we do on our camp.
We then retargeted those who entered with a free session on camp if they enrolled.
The winner then made a story about their time on camp which we could then broadcast across our channels.
Will Camp Tree work with your camp? Take the quiz to find out….