Welcome to the Summer Camp Leadership blog. For those of us who lead summer camps, making a positive difference in the lives of young people is our passion. Turning that passion into a reality, however, takes more than the ability to lead songs, teach archery or plan craft projects. Creating camp experiences that truly transform lives takes leadership. Leadership that creates a vision for the future, leadership that inspires and engages others, leadership that remains focused and stays the course. My hope is through this blog you'll find ideas, inspiration and tools to help you be a great summer camp leader.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Selling the Camp Experience

As camp directors we're regularly in situations where we have to "sell" the value of the camp experience to others.  It might be to convince a family to send their kids to camp or to entice a great young adult to apply for staff position. You might be soliciting a donation or seeking other types of support from community members. Regardless of the situation, there are some key techniques we can learn from sales professionals that can help us to "sell" the camp experience.

One of the most basic concepts in sales is to sell benefits rather than features. What's the difference between features and benefits? Features are the characteristics that describe a product or service. Benefits on the other hand are the results or outcomes the customer can expect from these features.

Any car salesman will tell you about a car's bells and whistles (features), but the best will then tell you how they'll help you (benefits.) 40mpg (feature) is good, but saving money on gas (benefit) is better. Cruise control (feature) is good but reducing fatigue from driving long distances (benefit) or making it easier to drive a constant speed to avoid tickets (benefit) is better. The most effective salesman uses benefits to answer the question "what's in it for me?" for you.

Too often as camp directors when we talk with folks about camp we talk about features. The new swimming pool, the awesome ropes course or the unique drama program. We don't take things a step deeper and answer the "what in it for me?" question by describing how these features offer benefits of value. 

Perhaps one of the features of your camp is a low camper to staff ratio. In and of itself telling people about the low ratio might be helpful. The real selling power, however, is in the benefits campers receive from low ratio. The true value to the campers is in the more individualized attention and closer relationships the lower ratio facilitates. You'll have a far greater impact on a potential camper's parents talking about individual attention and relationships rather than a ratio.

Next time you prepare to "sell" someone on camp take a few moments to go beyond the features that you commonly mention and answer the "what in it for me?" question by focusing on benefits.