In the January/February issue, we spoke with the leaders at JCC Chicago about marketing summer camp programs to the community. Below are the combined answers of Addie Goodman, the president and CEO; Ariel Friedman, the manager of program marketing; and Beth Miller, the director of city camping.
Can you share about the primary marketing strategies for summer camps at JCC Chicago?
JC: Our primary marketing strategies for JCC Chicago summer camps, Apachi Day Camp and Camp Chi overnight camp, consist of a multi-channel approach spanning across paid search and display, direct mail, print advertising, email, social media, our websites, internal digital signage, and grassroots marketing efforts executed by full-time camp teams. Our two target populations are new campers and existing camp families. For new camper acquisition, we have defined demographic targeting criteria and use it for paid digital campaigns and to purchase mailing lists for our direct mail. Our day and overnight camp directors offer tours, execute calling campaigns to provide a personal touch for reregistration, lead informational webinars, attend camp fairs, participate in tabling events, hang flyers promoting camp programs at local businesses, encourage referrals and put up signage in high visibility areas.
For existing camp families, we nurture and steward them through monthly email communications and camp-inspired events during the school year. We also offer existing families priority registration with early access to secure their child’s spot before registration opens to new campers. Since we have both day and overnight camps, we encourage our campers to stay within JCC Chicago camps for their entire journey by promoting the connection between Apachi Day Camp to Camp Chi overnight camp.
What are some creative ways the JCC showcases camp activities/programs?
JC: Some creative ways JCC Chicago showcases camp activities and programs are through experiential events taking place during the school year that engage both current and prospective families. At Apachi Day Camp’s annual “Endless Summer” in the city and “Fall in Love with Apachi” in the suburbs, families enjoy camp-like festivities and special entertainment. It’s a time where current families can reconnect with one another, and new families can learn all about our summer offerings and meet the Apachi camp family. Our Camp Chi overnight camp offers kids-only and family camps during the school year in Lake Delton, Wisconsin, on Camp Chi’s summer grounds, so new families can get a glimpse into Camp Chi’s magic-filled summers and current families can experience their child’s summer home. For Camp Chi’s outdoor adventure camp, The Outpost Village, we hold events for prospective families where they can experience outdoor adventure-inspired activities and attend an information session led by the Camp Chi team.
What essential lessons have you learned from previous marketing campaigns?
JC: For paid digital campaigns, regularly refresh creative to improve campaign results. Use insights gathered from one marketing channel to influence your strategy in another channel. For example, the geographic regions that responded most positively to our digital campaign influenced the locations we targeted for our direct mail campaign. Use clear messaging that’s tailored to your target audience and adapt messaging by channel. Use consistent imagery across channels to encourage brand recognition. Overall, the effectiveness of marketing campaigns really centers around relevance, creativity, authenticity, innovation and the ability to connect well with your targeted audiences.