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Marketing Matters: The Care and Feeding . . .
As you strive to perfect your total management capabilities, there is a fine art to extracting maximum results from those who contribute toward your camp’s success.
For example, sessions on staff training and motivation are always sellouts at the national and regional camp conferences, as directors and owners endeavor to learn how to optimally leverage the innate people skills within their counselors and specialists. From each season’s first day, you want staffers to summon up every ounce of their abilities to work with and lead and nurture campers. Thus, you provide them with tools and with motivation to keep them going — right through the summer doldrums — right up to the very last day.
Another management function that deserves this kind of attention is the development and production of your marketing program. It is likely that you enlist the services of outside resources to help produce brochures, videos, your camp’s Web site, direct mail programs, and public relations/publicity programs. Knowing how to interact with these creative resources and how to encourage their work on your behalf will reward you with better, more hard-hitting, and more convincing selling messages.
Who are these resources? They can be as mechanically based as the local copy center or printer. It could be the local newspaper’s advertising department. Moving up the ladder, there are photographers and videographers, graphic designers, and copy writers. Finally, it could be the services of a local or regional advertising agency with whom you entrust much or all of your coordinated marketing campaign.
When a graphic designer is to prepare an advertisement, a direct mail piece, a brochure, or Web site design scheme, ask for alternatives. After all, the best way to be convinced that you like a certain design is to compare it with one or more, which you like less. When creative professionals, present their work — be kind! People who perform creative functions are very protective of their work — after all, it is a display of their imaginations. Your critique should be constructive, and outright rejection must be accompanied by a strong rationale. The worst way to lessen motivation in a creative professional is to say, “Nothing that you have presented grabs me very much! Go back and do some more!”
It is often wise to show layouts or manuscripts to others for a wider variety of opinions. However, choose this “jury” carefully. Many people have no ability to make judgments such as you may be requesting, yet it seems everyone loves to be an “advertising expert.”
Photographers and videographers
Once hired, make sure to leverage the ability of your new advertising agency to provide strategic thinking. Advertising agency professionals are marketing experts. If they cannot get beyond basic design, layout, and copy writing to really help you expand your business, they are probably not the right resource for you.
Ask an advertising agency — point blank — where you fit among all their priorities. It is unlikely that your budget will make you one of the agency’s largest clients, but the uniqueness of your “product” should give you a reasonably prominent position on the agency’s roster. Make sure you are getting your fair share of attention and that you do not become lost in the shuffle.
Identifying and Achieving Objectives
Regardless of where you go for assistance with your marketing program, your objectives should be threefold:
To achieve these objectives, you must make sure any and all of your resources understand the need for:
When you work with outside resources, it is critical for them to understand these objectives and strategies before they begin their work. They must know that you are looking for more than just words and pictures to fill up a specified amount of space in a brochure or on a Web site, or to fill out a predetermined length for a video.
First, all must understand the sanctity of your logo. It should be used with perfect consistency, regardless of the medium. The logo should be simple, easily reproducible, and fun to look at. The name of your camp should be expressed in a font that communicates the essence of your camp and the experience that children benefit from while with you.
The best way to get the most out of your outside marketing communications resources is to be a good client — one who is demanding yet fair, who wants the professionals to do good work and to make a fair profit in the process, and who is appreciative at the end of the process.
Steve Cony is a marketing consultant who assists children's camps with the development of strategic plans and the execution of marketing materials. Camp directors may contact him at 914-271-8482.
Originally published in the 2002 May/June issue of Camping Magazine.