3 Summer Camp Marketing Ideas That Blew Up Enrollment For One Camp

Why use landing pages? f you don't you will be neautralized.

They say a ninja can live in your home for months without you even noticing. Is it possible to lead prospective customers through a complex marketing funnel without them noticing?

Implementing this tactic generated 550+ conversions in the space of 3 months and booked one summer camp solid for the 2021 season months before families usually sign up their kids.

At first glance, this will sound like one of the more boring summer camp marketing ideas but the success generated speaks for itself and surprised the hell out of me.  I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for other camps and even some other types of businesses.

Granted the effects of the 2020 pandemic have also increased demand for camps in general in 2021, but we saw parts of this strategy working in 2018 and 2019. The pandemic just helped us figure out a new and effective virtual component of our funnel.

As a marketer/developer, working with a summer camp for many years, I have had the unique opportunity to witness first-hand the tactics that have increased enrollment. I’m going to share some of those insights with you so that you too may have the same kind of success.

You are going to learn:

  1.  A surprisingly obvious yet effective lead magnet
  2. Tactics to get prospects on your mailing list
  3.  A low-stress, no-cost method to keep your pipeline full of new campers (and you can implement this immediately)

1. The best-kept lead magnet secret

Screenshot of a summer camp marketing tactic.

A screenshot of the way you might use dual buttons to create two calls to action on your site.

You might scoff at this idea but you’d be foolish to do so because this idea has been the single best lead magnet we have ever used for camp. The key here is how you implement this.

Your camp brochure may very well be your best opportunity to get prospective families on your mailing list. Hear me out on this because I’m also going to back up what I’m saying.

We know that the registration sales cycle can sometimes be lengthy. Getting visitors to take action on your website is a step in the right direction, but what can you do to make this happen?

We’ve all seen the typical, vague calls to action like “contact us” or “request more information.” In my experience, these calls to action are not huge conversion drivers.

Enter stage left, the brochure request. This may be one of the most effective, yet highly underrated summer camp marketing ideas I’ve seen yet. Here’s why …

People love brochures. I know this because I have a few kicking around my own house right now and I’ve seen the many hundreds of summer camp brochure requests that come in for the camp I work with.

Google Analytics graph showing brochure request conversions.

335 brochure conversions Jan-March, 2021 is a pretty good start. Notice the 199 open house registration that resulted largely due to the brochure requests.

But this tactic is multi-layered and goes deeper than just adding a link to your brochure because it’s only partially about the brochure.

Once you have your “request a brochure”(CTA) in place (see the dual buttons pictured in the screenshot above), you need to create a form that’s not too overwhelming. My weapon of choice for form creation is the WordPress plugin, Gravity Forms (affiliate link).

See the brochure request form in action

2. The brochure request is the gateway to newsletter signups … BUT nobody cares about newsletters, or do they?

While it’s very helpful to have a great brochure to send to prospective families, it’s through this touch-point that you have an opportunity to capture an email address and get these prospective parents onto your list.

Before we implemented this “request a brochure” CTA on every page of the camp website, there were only a small number of inquiries during the off-season. This changed to hundreds each month as the camp season approached.

This was great because 50% of these folks were opting in to our mailing list. How did we make that happen? Simple, we used real-world scarcity as motivation on the brochure request form and it worked really well.

Here’s the CTA we used:

Get notified when camp enrollment is nearing capacity. Get notified of events, open houses, reunions, deadlines, and important safety and health info.

Giving people  some real reason to be “in the know” is much more effective than saying, “join our mailing list.” Sounds simple, but it’s highly important to word your CTA’s well.

Once your prospects are on your list, you have an opportunity to send them a lead-nurturing sequence of emails once a week or at whatever interval you choose. This email sequence can be tailored to the interests of your prospect.

Remember the “interest” radio button on the brochure request form? (I discussed it in the video above.) That info can come in handy if you’re customizing an email sequence based on specific interests. This email component ties in nicely to the last tactic.

3. Traditional open house events are great, but I’m’ recommending you should ditch that idea entirely in 2021

Instead of an open house event where people need to drag themselves many hours to your camp, change it to a “Virtual Open House Event.” Thanks to the pandemic of 2020, many virtual things have become acceptable, and I might even dare say preferable in some instances.

We were very surprised at the turnout we were getting for Virtual Open House events. It seems that parents love this option. They get to meet the camp staff, see a slideshow, and they can attend with their child. All this from the comfort of home.

The number of registrations that took place after the virtual events were encouraging too. The first one was so successful that we decided to run them once a month for 5-6 months leading up to camp. No stress, no cost, and very easy.

The beauty of this last tactic is that the original brochure request fuels it. Once the prospect submits the brochure request, they get an email asking them to signup for the next virtual open house. Many of these folks do in fact signup for those open house events but that’s not all.

When they register for the event, they also have the option to send their friend an invite to the event (see video above). This further increases the virtual open house registrations.

Lastly, about ten days later, an automated email is sent asking brochure recipients if they received the printed brochure. We also use that opportunity to invite them to the next virtual open house.

So you can see how effective this automation is. All of this happens automatically and it’s fun to watch it all play out without us having to do anything besides answer questions from parents that reply to any of our automations.

Let’s sum it all up

You’ve just learned the 3 basic components of a successful marketing funnel that has been proven to work with an existing summer camp.

  1.  Using the brochure as your primary lead magnet can be very effective when implemented correctly.
  2.  Your brochure request form can be a great means to get prospects on your email list when using a compelling call to action.
  3.  Use Virtual Open House events to close the deal.

If you need help setting up a lead generation funnel like this for your summer camp, get in touch with me, and I can help you out. If you have a question, just leave a comment below, and I’ll respond shortly.


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