Are traditional print marketing platforms still worth it?

Are traditional print marketing platforms still worth it?

Deciding what print ads (if any) are right for you

I have to be honest with you: sometimes, print marketing vexes me.

Let me explain.

With all of the “modern” ways of marketing, like creating an awesome website, or powerful and targeted online ads (more on that coming soon), print marketing feels a little… scary.

The reasons for this are two fold.

1) It’s very hard to know if someone found you via a print advertisement, whereas our websites will tell us exactly where people have come to us from.

2) Print ads are, per capita, simply more expensive.

Now, you might be ready to hit your “back” button and go read about some other opportunities. But it isn’t so simple.

While it’s true that our marketing dollars are scarce, and their are a LOT of low hanging fruit opportunities out there, it doesn’t have to be a question of “should we take advantage of these marketing opportunities while ignoring these others?” That’s what I like to call “narrow framing, or a decision making approach that thinks of things in terms of “do I do this, or do I do that?” while ignoring the fact that for every single dollar you have, there are infinite possibilities.

You don’t need to decide between print OR online marketing, you can certainly decide for both. The important question is: should you?

Deciding if Print Marketing is Right for Your Camp

As always – we need to return to our “What each camper is worth” figure, which can be derived from the retention tool. Once you have a figure as to what you estimate each camper is worth to you monetarily, you will have a better springboard with which to make these decisions.

So, let’s try a case study.

Your “What each camper is worth” (weciw) figure is $1,000. So, over the course of his lifetime, 1 camper nets you about $1,000 in profits before considering other benefits, like referrals, etc.

A local magazine calls you with an offer – a 1” x 3” column in their April and May periodicals. It costs $375 per month if you buy 2 months worth. They claim around 30,000 households in circulation, and say they are right in your target demographic (they are a family magazine, let’s say).

So, that’s $750 to hit the same 30,000 households twice in two months during peak summer camp decision making time. Do you think you can get 1 camper from the investment? If the answer is yes, and money is no object, you buy it.

Seems pretty simple, right?

Now, if you have to choose between spending $750 on an advertisement in this magazine and $750 on a Ga ga court… I’m going to steer you in the direction of the Ga Ga court. Keeping a camper is FAR easier than getting a brand new camper, and I’m here to tell you that getting a Ga Ga court will be worth at least 2 campers for you next summer.

Now, if you can spend $750 and get 1,500 clicks from a Google adwords campaign? People who have searched a term, and have intent to look for specifically a summer camp for the upcoming season? We have a much closer decision.

Before we move on – here’s a quick check-list of things to check on before paying for any print advertising:

1) Will my ad show up in front of my target audience?
2) Will my ad be buried amidst thousands of other ads?
3) Does this advertiser have any references that have achieved demonstrable results?
4) Have I checked the ad’s cost against my “what each camper is worth” figure?

And the key:

5) Have I checked to see if the money I’ll be spending on this ad can be better used on some other marketing platform?

If you do run print ads, here’s a quick hack to track their effectiveness

If you decide to run print advertisements, I have a quick way to track whether or not they are successful. You’ve seen or heard this before, and I’m not breaking any new ground here – but I don’t see a lot of camps doing it. It’s simple – add a coupon code. When you send out a print advertisement – give your spiel (remembering to focus on WHY your camp is important, not WHAT you do at camp) – and then offer $5 off for coupon code Vanderkamp20 or whatever. People like getting $5 off, and if they register at your camp, giving them an easy way to let you know your advertisement worked can be crucial.

And this is a cheap and easy way to tell you if your advertisement was a worthwhile investment, or if it wasn’t.

The print advertising approach that’s worked for our camp

A quick aside – The #1 print marketing technique we’ve employed, by FAR, is sending flyers into our target school districts. Getting these materials in kids’ backpacks in the same folder as all the tests Mom or Dad have to sign at .08 cents per “impression” really is some of the lowest hanging marketing fruit out there.

But after that, I personally believe you start running into diminishing returns.

If I were establishing a marketing budget for a brand new camp, I would start by creating a super website, and then I’d focus on driving traffic to that website via free means (like having a nice social media presence), and then I’d make sure that I had focused on obtaining every single thing I think would help boost summer camp retention for that summer, and then I’d flyer the local schools (as described above) and then I’d do some paid advertising online via Facebook Ads and Google Adwords, and THEN I’d look for print opportunities.

Print opportunities can absolutely be profitable. But successful camp marketing strategies are all about prioritization. Most camps have a fixed budget when it comes to engaging in promotion… and in the digital age, print media opportunities will frequently wind up benefiting us less than other ways we can spend our money.

So what do you think? What are some print marketing strategies that have worked for you, and how do you best employ them?

Are you ready to grow your camp and change more lives?

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