How to promote effectively to children (promoting camps to children)
If you don't target your marketing materials directly to the prospective camper, while still including a message for the camper's parents, you may not be reaching the individual who has the most influence on the family's camp decision.
Many camp directors know the purchase power today's children have. They see it when giving camp tours, while meeting families in the camp office, and in home visits. Yet a tendency to avoid marketing directly to the child still exists. Camp professionals should draw on their vast experience to craft responsible marketing messages that are designed to reach children.
Camp offers wholesome benefits
Don't hesitate to promote to children. Camps offer a wholesome and beneficial product for families. If you promote your product with honesty and integrity, you easily earn the right to be one of the top kid advertisers in today's marketplace.
Review your current materials
Once you have budgeted for a comprehensive brochure, some form of direct-mail program, and a video aimed at campers' parents, how can you justify the cost of a second campaign aimed at children? Fortunately, your camp's appeal to children does not require a totally separate marketing package. While special kids-only materials, such as a black-and-white activity book, an audiocassette, or a special gift item, are ideal, they aren't always necessary. Evaluate your current materials for their "kid appeal." You may find you need only to revise or augment your current brochure by adding a page that says "Special Message Just for Kids." This page is sure to catch your prospective campers' attention.
A kids-only piece will not be lost on parents. In all likelihood, they will want to see what you are telling their children. When they note that you have made this special effort - and that you delivered your message responsibly - they will have reason to trust you when you try to persuade them that you do indeed understand the needs and interests of children.
Putting it on paper
Even though camp directors spend their careers working productively with children, the prospect of writing something to persuade children can seem daunting. Here are some guidelines.
Kids like fun
If you do not make your message fun to read, hear, or watch, you have no need to even begin. Children seek fun in their camp experiences so your promotional materials themselves should be fun and appeal to youthful readers and viewers.
Kids are smart
Do not underestimate children today. Their exposure to television, movies, popular music, and the Internet begins at an early age, and they bring a high level of sophistication to their marketplace.
Kids like positive outcomes
While they are sophisticated, young people are generally not cynical. They want things to turn out well, especially for themselves.
Kids want to grow up
Children focus their lives on trying to do what older children are already doing. They seek maturity at each level of their growth, so don't talk down to them.
Kids detect lies easily
Children have become savvy consumers and will turn against an advertiser who uses exaggerated claims or deception. This is the best reason to eliminate superlatives (for example, the best camp ever) from your message.
Reaching your audience
Since you are good at communicating with children by nature of your profession, you need only a brief refresher course to prepare yourself for marketing to them. Consider these tips.
Kids like stories
Television commercials aimed at children often begin with a conflict, which is followed by a resolution and a positive outcome. If you can work such a pattern into your promotions, you will be on a child's wavelength.
Kids like to get involved
Opportunities for interaction will help to draw children more strongly into your message. Include games and puzzles, just like in camp programming.
Kids love detail
Include a lot of stuff, such as maps, lists, and schedules, in your layouts. If you keep the brochure interesting, children will gladly study your message and find the parts that look most fascinating. (All those rules about the value of white space on the page don't apply here!)
Kids crave what is current
You may need extra help here. Children seek the new and the now; they need to know what's cool. Staying on top of their trends is difficult. Make sure you know what they will find exciting.
The future is now
As a camp professional, you are aware of children's need to define themselves. In today's society, they use the decisions that they are allowed to make, such as what to wear, what to eat, and what to do with their leisure time, to create this self-definition. Like their parents, they use the stimuli they receive to help make those choices.
Children's growing role in the camp decision process may represent the future of successful camp marketing. Capitalize on that idea and lead your camp into a new era of marketing.
Steve Cony is a marketing consultant who assists children's camps with the development of strategic plans and the execution of multimedia promotional materials. Camp directors may contact him at 914-271-8482.
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|Date:||Sep 1, 1997|
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