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April, 2012

829 Studios Founder Peter Ross on Marketing Summer Camps


After Choice Camps, 829 Studios began specializing in developing camp websites (e.g. Camp Wekeela), managing SEM campaigns and designing camp brochures. This summer we also began producing virtual tours (e.g. Camp Cody). They're an amazing way to introduce a family to camp and have proven to be a key differentiating factor.

1) How did you get involved in the camp biz?

We got our start in the camp industry with the launch of  ChoiceCamps.com.  Choice Camps is a online network of over 500+ summer camps and teen tours that combines the reach of an online directory with the personal touch of a referral agent.

2) What does 829 Studios Do and what specific services do you offer the summer camp industry?

 

After Choice Camps,  829 Studios began specializing in developing camp websites (e.g.  Camp Wekeela), managing SEM campaigns and designing camp brochures.  This summer we also began producing virtual tours (e.g.  Camp Cody).  They’re an amazing way to introduce a family to camp and have proven to be a key differentiating factor.  Our virtual tours can be (1) integrated into a summer camp’s website, (2) emailed to families when they request information, (3) used at trade shows/home visits and (4) ported to iPhones/iPads.

3) I see you have launched a new type of virtual Tour system, can you explain to us how it works?

 

Producing a virtual tour is fairly straightforward.  The 829 Studios team usually spends 1-2 days onsite capturing the necessary footage followed by 80-100 hours of post production at our Boston offices.  When it’s all done we send the virtual tour to the camp director and if necessary integrate it  into their website.  There are no monthly fees, subscriptions or setup charges – just one payment and the camp owns it free and clear.

4) What marketing/social networking tips do you offer camps?

 

Wow, where to begin.  There are so many different ways for camps to market themselves these days.  One of the most effective strategies I’ve seen is to generate an off-season marketing plan broken up by customer segments.  In other words, have a week-by-week/month-by-month marketing plan for each different type of user your business is looking to solicit - (1) returning parents, (2) new parents, (3) returning campers, (4) new campers, (5) returning staff, (6) new staff, (7) older alumni, (8) younger alumni and so on.  With so much going on, it helps to have a roadmap for all off-season communication.

5) Any new trends?

 

According to Google, Nielsen’s and other major analytic providers, parent interest in overnight camping has declined.  The following link illustrates seven years worth of metrics for “maine summer camps”, “new hampshire summer camps” and “new york summer camps”.  It’s sobering - http://bit.ly/IeSRiX .

6) Any advice you can give camps on SEO strategies?

 

For most camps, SEO is probably a waste of time and resources.  The effort and resources spent to win a second rate keyword could be utilized more effectively with a targeted SEM campaign.  If you’re paying anyone monthly for “SEO consulting” I would stop.  Moreover, all keyword related strategies essentially became irrelevant 3-4 years ago when google changed its search algorithm (e.g. http://bit.ly/Hd1BI8 ).

You can learn more about 829 Studios at www.829llc.com.


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