Getting first time campers with 2 easy direct-mail strategies

Getting first time campers with 2 easy direct-mail strategies

Utilizing 2 of the oldest (and still best) tricks in the books to help grow your summer camp

Alright, this one is going to be quite a bit shorter than some of the other marketing articles I’ve written – largely because the ideas speak for themselves. I think both ideas are a lot easier than many people I’ve spoken to think they are, so I am going to lay down a quick how to.

Flyering local schools

So, this is one of the easiest and best ways we’ve grown camp in the last few years. I print single-sided, full color flyers. I’ll even attach what I use for school flyers right here.

A bullet points on what I try to accomplish with these flyers, and why I’ve constructed them the way they do:

1) I always go with color – kids get so many flyers home, that I want to catch their eye.
2) I always go image heavy – kids are looking at pictures first. If I can sell them on pictures, parents will get to see the flyer. That is goal #1.
3) Since parents get so many flyers, I try to bold specific words and phrases that will catch their eye. I try to emphasize the outcomes we’re promising, rather than stuff we do.
4) I still include stuff we do, because this can be a conversation piece for kids and parents.
5) I never include the year of camp, so I can re-use extra flyers in a future year.
6) I always include obvious ways to contact me, separate from the body of text.
7) I try and include images of both fun, unique opportunities, AND kids making friends.
8) I always choose very young kids. My target audience for school flyering is young kids, for a number of reason I’m sure I’ll get to at some point 🙂

I’ve tried a number of different kinds of flyers in a number of different schools, and using the list above has yielded the best results.

Now for the how to on actually getting them into schools.

1) If you have a limited budget for these flyers, choose the districts that most represent your target audience.
2) Look up the name of the superintendent of each district.
3) Call the district office, and ask for the superintendent by name (and fancy title, where appropriate).
4) Introduce yourself and give a 10 second elevator pitch on your camp, not talking about activities, but character-based outcomes.
5) Express a willingness to sort all of your flyers into packs of 25 yourself. They will like this 🙂
6) Fax over a flyer as soon as you get off the phone, for approval.
7) Have someone deliver your flyers in person to the school, and thank the secretaries personally for helping ensure every single kid gets a flyer. Express that this makes a huge difference for your camp.

Our results from flyering schools have been fantastic – we’ve found out how well they’ve worked because parents always seem to lead with, “We got a flyer home with Kaylee’s homework today…” – but if you want to test it for yourself, use the old radio trick, and put a promo code on them for $5 off registration if they mention the flyer on their registration sheet, or on the phone. I can almost promise you this one will work, if you don’t do it already.

I flyer every single district that will let me.

More aggressive direct mailing strategies, including utilizing Every Day Direct Mail from the USPS

I have to give credit to George DeTellis for this one, as it’s something I’ve never done. But it seems like such a good idea that I have to share it.

The way George describes it, he pays 17 cents per post card for 7×9 post cards. He then goes to From there, you can zoom in on specific mailing routes, and pick and choose which ones meet your camp’s demographic best.

And now for the best every day direct mail hack I’ve ever heard. George goes to and uses the satellite imagery to look for mail routes with pools and playsets in the back yards. Pools and playsets = kids, and parents who can afford to send their kids to camp, and he knows he’s struck gold. What a cool blend of old and new technologies!

George’s estimates were that he spends about $1,000 for post cards to 4,000 homes. This is simply an incredible deal. If you’ve used the retention tool to figure out what each of your campers is worth monetarily, you’ll probably find that you only need 1 or 2 campers from these 4,000 homes to make your investment worth it. My suspicion is that you’ll get many more. But if you don’t believe me, go find George on Facebook. I’m guessing he’ll make an even more convincing case than I have!

So I’ve given you one direct mail strategy that worked for me, and one from one of the best directors in the country. What’s your best direct mail strategy? Share it in the comments below, and fuel the revolution for all of us!

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  1. email me at, and I will send you a PDF of the postcard I mailed this year. The cool thing about EDDM is that you get full coverage of the front & back side of the postcard. There is no wasted space printing an address or mailing machine spacing rules.

    • Such a pro move, George. Thanks for your willingness to help others with this! A rising tide will raise all of our camping ships 🙂


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