How to: market your summer camp to new audiences

Regardless of how long you’ve been the owner of a children’s activity business, one thing stays constant — the need to attract new customers. Maybe it’s your first year as an owner of a business, or maybe you’re a seasoned vet. Putting your experience aside, it’s always important to keep your foot on the gas when it comes to promoting your activities to parents in your community. 

With summer camp around the corner, the time to showcase your activities is now! According to the Sawyer Trend Report, 86% of parents are exploring summer camps during the first four months of the year. With elevated interest from parents for in-person and virtual summer camps, it’s important to think about the current practices you use to attract new families — and if they can they be used for your summer camps?

In case you need some help or inspiration, we put together three ways to market your summer camp to new audiences. After all, when it comes to finding families for your camps, there’s no harm in casting a wider net. Looking for more support to jumpstart your camp? Check out our ultimate guide to starting and running a kids camp.

1. Explore Facebook Groups

What was once perceived as the site where you go to see long updates from extended family members has actually turned into a discovery platform for...basically anything. And that includes families searching for enriching classes, camps, and activities. That’s right, Facebook’s community of “groups” is effective ways to attract new customers.

What are Facebook groups?

They’re spaces for people with similar interests to share and discuss topics of all sorts. Groups are a place for discussion about products, services, and (for your purposes) present the opportunity to cultivate awareness.

You might be thinking — “there are a gajillion groups, where do I even begin”. We hear you, it can be intimidating to dive in. But it’s best to start broadly and work your way down. For example, are there groups for your neighborhood, community, or town? Maybe it’s a group for parents of a specific school near you. Doing a little investigative work into not only the groups near your location, but also the parents that are a part of them. 

To join local parenting groups, try following these steps:

  1. Search “Parents of [Your Town]’ or ‘Parents of [Your Neighborhood]’ — these will help you find groups with families near you.
  2. Request to join these groups.
  3. Be mindful of community guidelines around posting and advertising.
  4. Search for posts from parents looking for camps of children’s activities.
  5. Respond to parents, even if posts aren’t recent.
  6. Ask parents in your community to post about your business in local groups — this often won’t be seen as advertising, but rather a recommendation.

2. Join a marketplace dedicated to children’s activities

Thousands of families find camps, and classes for their children using Sawyer. By using Sawyer Tools to run your business, the activities you create will automatically be listed onto the Sawyer marketplace. Becoming a marketplace customer costs businesses nothing, and automatically makes your programming discoverable to thousands of parents. 

Creating channels like this can be a huge driver of new sign ups for your business. Because parents can easily filter for virtual and/or in-person classes, categories, age-range, the types of class, you’ll be able to attract the perfect families for your offerings.

What’s the best way to get a paying customer?

In 2020, the Sawyer team found that parents were excited to try free activities from educators. 30% Of registrants who took a free class became a paying customer. But, what does that mean for your business? By offering free classes and trials to potential customers, parents have the option to try your activities before they commit. Leading up to summer camp season, this can be a great method to market your programming. 

Once a family takes a free or trial class, they become part of your network, and they see how amazing your classes are...without the upfront commitment! It’s a great way for families to get a sneak peak at how great you are.

3. Don’t forget about local newspapers, magazines, and listservs!

Where does your community read and get their information? Believe it or not, not everything is digital. Focusing on various publication sources in your area can be a great way to get the words out about your camps. Whether you’re listing your offerings in a listserv, newspaper, magazine, or any other local outlet — here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Relevancy: What about this publication is relevant to your target audience? Do your research to make sure that content and other ads align with your business. 
  • Distribution: How and where is this publication distributed? Can you find it at local businesses? Do you get it delivered to your home? These are all important — you’ll want to make sure that your ad is distributed to the right audience!
  • Content: If your camp is for kids, you need to be mindful of what content you’re advertising near. Look into family publications in your community to make sure parents are interested in a magazine’s content before you start advertising. 
  • Tracking responses: When considering advertising with a magazine or newspaper, make sure you have a way of tracking new customers who come from it. Consider adding a special coupon code to your ad or an exclusive offer!  

Get ready for summer camp! 

Feeling inspired going into this season of camp? You should! It’s going to be an exciting summer. With parents booking both virtual and in-person activities, there’s no shortage of amazing programming you can create. For more strategies to help you acquire customers, check out our series on getting more customers for your children’s activity business. And, if you're looking for solutions that make running camps fun — Sawyer for camps can help you out!

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