Camp Marketing 101

It is always interesting to do these talks on marketing and see who shows up. It is odd to have people that I consider to be very established in the camp industry show up at my sessions; but it also reassures me that I have something to say and that people want to hear what I have to say.

Marketing 101 – How to Create an Effective Camp Marketing Strategy for Your Community.
Joe Richards – Administrative Director
Pearce Williams Christian Centre, Fingal, Ontario

Marketing is the biggest challenge facing most camp communities. It is a process that seems to be hit and miss. What methods work? What should you be investing in to better market your facility? How can you be successful at marketing your facility?

There are a number of steps that you can take to help define your marketing plan and marketing goals.

What is your vision? What is your story?

What do you want to accomplish? It is very important to know what you want to achieve with your marketing; if you don’t know what you want to do how will you know when you do it?

What will you consider successful? Success is a difficult thing to measure – unless you have set out your goals. When you set out the parameters of your success you can then take pride when you achieve the success.

Do not limit yourself – dream big dreams… Think of what you want to do first – not what money or resources you will need to do it. Creativity is a dangerous thing – once you have your dream you can make many things happen.

Have you made a plan?

Once you know what you want to accomplish you need a plan to get there. Planning requires knowing what tools you can use, what resources you have. Planning will also lead you to discover other resources – people, places, supporters – which you may not have known about.

Talk about the plan – other people want to know what you are up to. By talking about it you will think about it more and it will come to be a more hands on experience.

Marketing is so much more than advertising. Plan the entire package – you are sharing a story that people can believe in. Sell the story with everything you do – from newsletters to business cards, from advertising to websites – your story (message) needs to stay consistent.

Plan the work & work the plan – refer back to the plan and revise it if necessary. The plan is not a sacred document it is an ever evolving work in progress.

What tools can you use for marketing success?

There is no right answer. Different things work for different groups. You might find success in newspaper advertising; you might not. You might find success through your website; you might not. It is different for every camp.

Marketing is everything – business cards, letterhead, brochures, advertisements, websites, clothing, community involvement, news articles, appearances, staffing, partnerships, word of mouth, alumni, past staff etc. The list includes any aspect of your camp that the public can see.

Do you have Community Connections working for you?

Have you worked on your partnerships with organizations in your community? Making sure that the community knows about you and what you offer will make all the difference. Do you have an alumni base? Alumni can be the best part of your marketing strategy, use them, and ask them what they want to do for the camp.

Word-of-mouth – the most powerful tool in camping…

You will find no greater tool (if you can harness it) than word-of-mouth. People talk…a lot. If you give people a positive experience they will talk about it.

Find ways to offer assistance to your best word of mouth people. Give them the tools to be successful.

Try and make sure that your story is easy for people to share with each other. This will increase the word of mouth.

There are numerous books on word of mouth, many of them do not apply specifically to summer camp, but many of the ideas can be adapted.


Marketing is an ongoing process. You need to evaluate the success of the plan that you initially put into place on a regular basis. If it needs to be adjusted, then adjust it. Make the effort to bring all aspects of the camp and the story together to that the message is consistent and concise.

Every situation is different. Make sure that you adapt to your situation. Use the information you can and leave behind the information you can’t use – that is at the heart of great marketing.

The Seth Godin Handout can be found by clicking below

Godin Knows – Marketing insight from Seth Godin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *