Summer is just around the corner. Now is the time to create, market, and promote an attractive and unique summer camp for your client families to ensure that your summer enrollment is maximized. In most communities, parents have lots of options to consider, so delivery of your marketing message is best when it is timely, enticing and creatively competitive.
Whether you scramble for ideas and struggle to fill your summer program whenever this time of year rolls around, or are new to child care marketing, early and effective spring planning can pay off in profitable rewards. Even the smallest providers benefit through timely communication of your summer program plans. If you want an in depth system to fill your summer camp look here.
Many parents prefer that children maximize outdoor time, water play and nature activities in the summer, while minimizing time spent indoors. Summer camp is the best way to do this! Seasoned providers can gain insight from past summer program experiences and feedback from parents.
Try some of these creative theme ideas as you plan your own summer program or camp experiences for 2014:
- Around the World – ‘Travel’ to different countries with local field trips and outdoor-themed experiences that relate to each country.
- In the Garden – Plant a garden with your theme tied to all the things you grow there throughout the summer.
- On Stage – Put on themed dress-up plays and shows in a backyard mini-amphitheater or puppet theatre, and invite the parents to watch the results.
- Outdoor Art – Organize weekly creative projects – such as painting clay pots, sheets/banners hanging on the fence, or t-shirts/aprons – and then exhibit the products.
- When I Grow Up – Feature a different professional theme each week, and tie in visits from themed guests or field trips to their occupational settings.
With these and your own ideas for summer programming, you’ll then want to take the next step to fill your summer camp by taking a look at what has happened for your programs in the past.
Look at past revenue trends to help you determine your summer camp policies, promotions, and marketing in order to fully maximize your summer revenue. Look at the ups and downs throughout the weeks.
If you have a 95% full summer camp because parents are taking all thirteen weeks you are doing extremely well! But that’s usually not the case. Most child care center summer programs have pockets of really full weeks and then some weeks that are not so full. So take a look at when this is and adjust both your policies and marketing to fill these gaps.
A few ideas for maximizing your revenue this summer:
- Reach out to alumni families who have been to your summer camp before, asking them to bring a friend or refer.
- Create an early bird promotion. This could be something like, “when you enroll for at least ten weeks of summer by April 15th you will save 10% off the entire summer.”
- Create an incentive if someone signs up for all thirteen weeks, such as savings on activities fees.
- Or roll activity fees into tuition and make it sound like you’re eliminating the activity fee. You can reduce the activity fee by doing free field trips and getting creative with activities.
Then you’ll want to develop a strong marketing campaign with these promotions.
Target key marketing elements to effectively communicate to current client families and to the larger community:
- Website – Highlight your summer program and feature it in your parent newsletter.
- Press release – Send one to all local media outlets a few times between now and the end of April to maximize your program’s exposure.
- Flyers – Deliver descriptive program information in your neighborhood and community with incentives for early enrollment, such as a free week of care (see below for more).
- Referral Reward Program – Reward parents for any enrollment referrals they bring or send to you, clearly outlining this benefit up front. Want ideas?
- Testimonials – Include great testimonials from last years’ pleased parents in your promotional materials to leverage this year’s success. Don’t know how?
- Advertisements – Well-placed ads in local summer camp publications can be very worthwhile. Contact all local media to inquire on deadlines for these special issues.
Those are some thought starters but I have also developed a highly effective training system that shows you how to create, promote and fill your own wildly successful summer program or camp. Childcare leaders from around the country have used these exact strategies to grow their summer enrollment quickly and easily, often working less than they did before.