Marketing Matters: Sound Ideas

by Steve Cony

A consistent challenge in marketing summer camps is finding new and exciting ways to attract significant attention to your camp’s message. Camp marketing packages almost always involve two primary tools, the brochure and the video. Over the past several years, many camps have added a web site as a third significant technique to reach prospective families. Some camps also rely on direct mail. However, when you want to add a unique strategy to your package, consider the audiocassette. The cassette remains a strong conveyor of the spoken word.

If you add an audiocassette to your marketing package, the uniqueness of the medium itself will set your camp apart from competitors. In addition, this surprisingly cost-effective item can help solve the common marketing problems that many camps face.


Parents rely on the sincere referrals of other parents, and children respond positively to hearing other children’s affirmations about their camp experiences. Because not all parents and children personally know members of your current or recent camp families, you can help bridge the gap by recording testimonial statements and offering an audiocassette of glowing praise for your camp with your brochure.

Post-tour Follow-up

Most camps encourage prospects to tour the facilities. Unfortunately, tours often take place out of season when camp is desolate and devoid of all the sights and sounds that can help close the sale. A cassette filled with the sounds of camp can provide needed enhancement.

Negativity Neutralization

Consumers have a natural tendency to want to find fault. Many camp directors believe that the ride home after a camp tour gives family members a timely opportunity to recount the isolated negatives that they might be feeling. Since most cars have cassette players, tapes can be given as souvenirs of the visit, and families can be encouraged to listen to one more creative and supportive message on the way home — at the very moment when they would otherwise be inclined to criticize your camp and program.

Guidelines for Producing Your Camp’s Audiocassette

Producing a professional-sounding audiocassette is not for the uninitiated. But if you or your staff members have had experience with recording, the following guidelines are suggested to help you add this new medium to your package without excessive effort or expense:

  • Use high-quality recording equipment. There is no substitute for capturing quality sound, and you need a good quality portable recording device to do it.
  • Take control of interviews. When you go for effective testimonials, do not be afraid to ask respondents to say it one more time. Coach them about the things you might have heard them say before and record multiple versions of their statements for later editing.
  • Make sure to record enough information for efficient editing. For a superior finished product, you will need to be able to choose from various statements and various expressions of those statements.
  • Review your recordings to confirm you set the volume controls correctly. Listen for clarity and expression. If you aren’t pleased and if the speaker is still available, do not hesitate to re-record.
  • Watch carefully for excessive background noise. Do not hesitate to bring an important respondent into the quiet atmosphere of a cabin or your office.
  • Use camp songs and cheers as excellent sound effects. You will be delighted with the real sound of your camp, as long as you remember to capture it while it is happening.
  • Rely on a professional to help you edit and prepare the master tape. Check the Yellow Pages in your local telephone book under the subject Recording Service — Sound and Video. These studios can edit your tapes and then add music and sound effects to give the tape a professional image. Make sure the service specializes in recording and editing of spoken-word tapes rather than music.
  • Order a large quantity of copies of your tape from a professional duplicating service. The professional recording service can recommend a duplicator who will make your tapes sound and look very professional. The duplicator adds a label to each tape, either on paper or by printing directly on the tape cassette. You have several options as well, including color labels, foil labels, various types of cassette boxes, and shrink wrapping of each boxed cassette.

A Valuable Staff Recruitment Tool

In a marketplace where camp directors find staff recruiting more difficult every year, the audiocassette can serve as a powerful recruitment tool. Young adults and high school students still view cassettes as one of their favorite media. A cassette featuring interviews with your staffers can be an excellent give-away item at college summer job fairs. Have a select group of counselors and specialists talk about the personal rewards of camp employment, and make sure they emphasize the belief that their summer experience at your camp will serve them well in their upcoming job searches and career.

Consider adding this unique communications tool to your marketing program, and you will be surprised at how efficiently you can tackle your camp’s marketing problems. You will come to recognize the audiocassette as a very sound idea.

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 1998 May/June issue of Camping Magazine.