Brave New World of Marketing

Things sure change quickly.

Fifteen years ago, way back in 1991, how many summer camps had a Web site? How many even had access to the Internet? Maybe we were fooling around with Prodigy or Compuserve (anyone remember them?), but for the most part the Net was something for the science-club crowd.

But the Internet has proven to be an invaluable tool for most summer camps, and for many, the Web site is the best, first and most efficient way to stay in touch with campers and their families, past, present and future.

New Tools On The Horizon

Now, while it has taken some time for many camps to recognize the Web as the strong marketing tool it has become, there are new tools on the horizon that can make your marketing even more targeted and efficient. But like the Web, they will take some getting used to before their potential can be appreciated. And using one or more of these tools along with your traditional marketing can give you added leverage as you work towards creating a complete brand for your camp.

In this article, I will be looking at some of the most promising and important innovations on the technology horizon, and how your summer camp can use these technologies to your advantage: Ezines, Blogs, and Podcasts.

E-zines

E-mail has made staying in touch with campers and staff incredibly easy and efficient. Contact can be made almost instantaneously; creating an e-zine is a great way to utilize this modern technology.

E-zine is short for electronic magazine. It is basically a newsletter delivered through e-mail. It differs from your regular e-mail blasts, in that in an e-zine, the emphasis is on delivering content with style.

Your e-zine should look a lot like your printed newsletter (and if you don’t have a regular camp newsletter, you should seriously consider one). Of course, there are economic considerations to take into account. Indeed, there are reasons for opting to go with only an e-zine, rather than a conventional newsletter.

One is cost. There is no printing cost associated with an electronically delivered newsletter. This fact alone can make a big difference when considering how to deliver information to your campers, though if it is practical and/or within your budget, it can be a good idea to offer folks the choice between receiving a traditional mail newsletter or your e-zine.

Points About E-zines

There are many things to take into account when deciding to deliver your newsletter as an e-zine.

-Make your content useful. Don’t send one out unless you’re sure you have enough interesting and exciting information to make the issue worthwhile to your reader.

-Don’t bury your intended reader with too many issues. As easy as it is to create and send one, no one wants an inbox saturated with your newsletter. Make an informed decision to have a set pattern for mailings. Once a quarter, at the least; once a month at the most.

-If you are not gifted in design, or don’t know someone who is, you might want to consider using a professional design firm to create a design template for your e-zine. The better the e-zine looks, the more impact it will have. Some companies will even create your content and handle the e-mailing of each issue as well.

-You need valid e-mail addresses and permission to e-mail to them, so if you’re not collecting your campers’ e-mails and appropriate permissions, this coming season is a good time to start.

Blogs

You may have heard the word “blog” bandied about a lot lately, and for good reason. It is quickly becoming one of the most important ways for individuals and organizations, from corporations to church groups, to deliver timely and valuable content.

A blog, which is short for “Web log,” is basically an online journal, with content updated as desired. Some do it every day, others whenever the mood strikes. But because so many young people are in touch with today’s technology, a blog may be a great way to reach young campers.

How A Blog Works

Blogs can be created and delivered any number of ways, but the most common way is through what is known as an RSS feed. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It allows folks to create content, and deliver to anyone who may be interested in a simplified, easy-to-access way.

Let’s look at how you can make a blog work for you.

First, let’s look at how a blog works. To get a good idea of how much information is out there in the blogosphere, just go to any RSS site, like Bloglines (www.bloglines.com).

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