Kidcam Camps has 17 company-owned and franchised summer camp locations for children ages 3-13. Although we plan for our summer business year-round, we heavily market to our prospective customers for only about 5 months. Each location is treated a little differently, but there are a few initiatives we have found effective regardless of location.
Even though our business is all children, it's the parents making the decisions, and we know our customers choose us primarily on location. How close are we to their home or work? We look at a lot of reports in our off-season telling us where our campers attend school, where they live, and how they found out about us.
We use every type of marketing, including mail, print, and online. But in the last year, we have shifted the majority of our marketing spend from print to online. We found we can be much more targeted and effective looking at individual marketing opportunities by area, versus casting a wide net to the masses.
In the early stages of our marketing, we place our existing camper base into Google Earth and study where they live in proximity to the camp they attend. From there, we use the USPS Every Door Direct Mail program to target prospective neighborhoods that are close to schools, have a fair number of our campers living in a specific area, or have household incomes that meet our customer profile.
Google AdWords and Facebook advertising are also proven methods of successful advertising for us. At least 50 percent of our website traffic comes from Internet searches, and with AdWords I can "cast the wide net" of anyone searching for a summer camp in the New Orleans area where we have seven locations, or I can be more targeted to the more rural areas where parents might be searching for summer camps in a smaller city; the same with Facebook. A good portion of our business is also referral-based. We play a lot with sponsored posts, as well as online promotions through social media to help us garner new business and get our loyal customers talking about their positive experiences with Kidcam.
We have a short window of opportunity to get into the hands of parents as they are making their decision on summer camp. The three opportunities we find most effective are: 1) getting our existing parents to commit to their decision early, 2) getting them sell the Kidcam experience to their friends, and 3) being extremely targeted in finding new families based on what we know about our existing database.
The one thing I have learned through my years of experience in marketing is that the ideal customer is best identified by modeling them after a real person. I spend a lot of time watching and listening to our customers in person and through social media channels to get a sense of who they are and what they are looking for in a tax preparer. In many ways that expectation is all over the board, but there is one constant that rings true throughout our customer base: they want to be treated with respect by a friendly person who makes them feel good about their experience with us. Sounds simple, but in fact it is not easy to do with consistency.
To effectively target our customers, we have to know them, see them, and watch and listen to their interactions with our franchisees and their employees. Too many marketers are so far removed from the actual customer that, in my mind, we can sometimes get swept away with the latest "cool" technology or some brilliant creative product that in reality does not speak to the needs, wants, and desires of the people we are trying to reach.
Social listening is one clear way to identify those needs, wants, and desires. We take a very active role in monitoring and responding to the social conversations that take place about our brand. It is here you can identify the pain points your customers have and strive to adjust your business model to eliminate those problems. It is also through social listening that you can hear the good things customers say about your business and capitalize on those strengths. Messaging can be modified or changed to be responsive to the social conversations.
Once you have set up the mechanisms to listen to your customers, the targeting and delivery vehicles for the marketing programs become so much easier to create and execute with confidence, as opposed to sending a strategy to market and then hoping it resonates.
My three key pieces of advice are:
A targeted, quarterly magazine that takes CEO's, VPs and Sales Executives to the cutting edge of franchise development.