Last Saturday I spent the morning working a booth at the Raising Arizona Kids Magazine Camp Fair. Each year in late February or early March, they host a camp fair where parents can get all the information they need about summer camps in and around Phoenix for their children to participate in.
Now I could spend time talking about whether or not to do a summer camp, how to do a summer camp or even why it matters that you begin marketing them this early. But I’ll save that for another time.
What I want to talk about is how nearly all of the vendors at the camp fair were making this one mistake that (I promise you) costs them thousands, if not tens of thousands in lost business every year.
The staff at Raising Arizona Kids Magazine does a great job organizing this event and it seems to be getting bigger and better every year. Yet every year there are companies that don’t come back because they say things like, “it didn’t work for me last year”, “it was a waste of money” or some other excuse.
If I promised you 200-300 families who are looking for something for their kids to do over the summer were going to walk by your booth, and you can’t figure out a way to capitalize on that, then shame on you.
This is the third year I’ve participated in this event. Every year I spend a little time speaking with the other vendors to see what they’re offering and who I’m competing with for attention. However this year, not only was I interested in what they offered, but I was also interested in how they were offering it. Specifically, I was wondering why so many were producing such poor results.
It didn’t take long to realize that nearly every booth there was making the same critical mistake.
There were some impressive booths there, but having the best, most attractive, attention getting booth is no guarantee people are going to register for your camp. There was a science camp blowing things up, someone with a wheel-of-fortune type wheel for kids to spin and win prizes, a lego camp giving away yellow lego head masks, some sports camp with someone making balloon animals, a trampoline camp who paid for the Phoenix Suns’ mascot, the Gorilla, to show up for an hour and lots of candy and little give-a-ways being handed out.
There was a lot of excitement and people were having a great time, but there were also a lot of vendors working harder, not smarter.
Having a big flashy booth is nice and can help, but it’s not necessary.
I had a very simple booth. I laid out a uniform, a belt, the camp sales letter, black belt wrist bands to give away, a 2×3 ft. Taekwon-do sign behind me and two stand up signs that said “ENTER TO WIN A FREE CAMP!” and cards for them to fill out. I was wearing a school t-shirt, Taekwon-Do pants and my belt, and my son was with me in his uniform.
Now, the critical mistake most of the vendors made was not understanding WHY they were there. That may sound silly, but let me explain.
For starters you need to know what your goals for being there are. Then realize that everything you do is either taking you closer to reaching that goal or not. It’s that simple.
If you asked the vendors why they were there you’d get an answer along the lines of “to fill my summer camp” or “to get in front of a large number of families.”
Those reasons are fine, but will produce no results. If you have a booth at something like the event I attended or have an info table set up at a public place, a festival or during a demo your school is performing, you have to understand the mindset of the people you are dealing with.
In this situation, nearly all of the people you interact with aren’t ready to sign up or enroll in something. Additionally, just being there may get you some exposure, maybe a nice conversation, and some people who take your information but will rarely produce any results.
You have to understand that at this level of your relationship with your prospect, you are doing nothing but generating leads.
That means you must have a way to get their attention and to gather their information so that you can contact them in the future. They don’t want to sign up for anything and you can’t count on them to get back to you because the second they walk away, their attention is on something else.
Think about those who attended the Camp Fair last weekend.
Family after family came by looking for ideas for summer camps for their kids. They moved from table to table gathering information about camps that they think their kids might be interested in.
This next part is going to sound obvious, but it requires some thinking. And from what I saw last weekend, all of the vendors must have been thinking about something else.
Why were the parents there?
To gather information.
What did the parents want?
A summer camp for their kids.
Sooooooo, I had information about our camp. Question 1, CHECK!
And I offered an opportunity to register to win a free camp. Question 2, CHECK!
The key here is that people REGISTERED to win the free camp. That means I got their info. And because I offered something they really wanted, they happily filled out the form, giving me all their information!
Over the course of the day I generated 25 hot leads for the summer camp that I can now follow up with. And as a bonus, many of those leads were also interested in lessons for themselves or their kids. So not only will I begin filling my summer camp that starts June this week, I’ll add at least another 5 -10 new students.
There were over 100 vendors at this event and I was the only one offering a free camp as an incentive!
You don’t have to do exactly what I did, but you do need to ALWAYS make sure your marketing is centered on your prospect. You will produce incredible results when you attack your goals (generating leads) by getting the right message (free camp) to the right market (Phoenix families) through the right media (Camp Fair).
Over time, doing this little bit of thinking before any event or marketing campaign can be the difference between enrolling two students this month or 20. The choice is yours.
About the Author:
Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt. He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline, leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world. He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do. He has won numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy. Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children. Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org