Promoting events is always a struggle for youth workers. And one of the most important events that happen every year is summer camp. Have you found yourself struggling with keeping up the promotional energy year after year? Here are some tips and tricks to help keep your summer camp promotion excitable and impactful.
It’s never too early to announce at least the date of next year’s summer camp. You might not have all the details set but what parents first want to know is when is it. So think fall of the previous year as the latest to send a “save the date” email or postcard so families know when camp is and don’t forget to put when registration opens as well! This also encourages families to plan around summer camp dates.
Begin promoting camp about 3-4 weeks leading up to when registration opens and again when you have a deadline coming up. Like an early bird or final deadline.
PROVIDE CLEAR COMMUNICATION
Many parents have a million questions about camp and you can’t always answer all of them personally. Create a website (or at the very least a flyer) with all the information on there. Basic information like date, price, location, deadlines. But also other things like why camp is important, what to bring, what activities are there. Imagine your target audience as a parent of a freshmen boy who has never been to camp and doesn’t pass on any details. This can be used and just updated every year. If it’s a website you can put the ability to register for camp at the bottom. Believe me, having information all in one spot is completely worth it. It also builds trust with parents who are detailed oriented!
Remember, you can never over-communicate with parents when it comes to events like camp!
BONUS: Make sure both deadlines and your scholarship process is clear. If your deadline date is different from the website vs. your flyer or promo it makes things difficult. If students don’t know how to ask or apply for scholarships you might miss out on them even going. Your scholarship process should be clear, fair, and sensitive for families to receive or even ask for some.
HIGHLIGHT PREVIOUS YEARS
If you have pictures and videos of previous years show them right after camp as well as leading up to this year’s camp. Having someone create a recap video is one of the best ways to get students excited about going to camp. If it’s done by a professional it’s worth every penny!
CREATE AN SENSE OF URGENCY
For big events like this, you want to build excitement and the best way to do that is to highlight deadlines and inspire people to sign up early. One of the best ways to do that is to use phrases like “Don’t wait!” “Sign up today!” plus don’t forget how powerful the phrase “space is limited” really is. Another idea is to reward the first few people who sign up with a prize or discount.
PROVIDE FINANCIAL INCENTIVES
Look no matter what camp is expensive for someone. There is a balance between what is worth it and how much it costs for parents. When promoting always keep that in mind that they might not believe or know how good camp is compared to you. So as the youth worker, you might be willing to pay more than them, so there is a level of convincing that you have to do to show that camp is worth the cost.
If there is any way to find some donors or budget money to lower the cost do it! Reward people for signing up early for early bird deadlines. Or maybe pay for travel costs. Anything to keep the camp costs low.
FIRST TIME DISCOUNT
Offer a discount for students who go to camp for the very first time whether that is freshmen or any grade. A student who has a good experience at camp is more likely to come back the next year without many promos needed. So target the ones who have never gone and this makes your promotion even more impactful! It’s better to offer no discount for returning students if you can give a big church or percentage to first-time students. Anything less than 15% is not that impactful.
COMMUNICATE USING A VARIETY OF METHODS
- Verbal announcements at youth group each week
- Emails to parents with the details
- Social media posts and videos
- Postcard in the mail with a QR code
- Have past campers come up and share their experience
- Offer an in-person or online Q and A for parents
- Utilize small group leaders to remind their groups
- Add questions into the small group curriculum on what they are looking forward to for camp or if they have registered yet
DON’T BE DESPERATE IN YOUR PROMOTION
One final tip is don’t come across as desperate or needy in your promotion (even if you are). If the early bird deadline has passed and few students have signed up… don’t push it back. Make it a bigger discount the next year and push harder.
Don’t publicize the list of who is going to everyone. Keep it private. The last thing you want to do is have students decide if they are going to camp based on who else is going to camp. They will talk on their own you don’t need to help them.
Don’t use boring promo that “we do this every year… so it will be fun”. Keep things fresh and new. How you first promote it sets the tone so keep things exciting even if few students have signed up… yet.
Treat camp like a big deal because it is a big deal!