Figure out your ‘elevator pitch’ for potential camp families, donors, staff, and the general community.
An elevator pitch is a short persuasive sales pitch designed to get across your key points in about 30 seconds or less. About the time it would take you to get from point A to point B in an elevator. You can take up to 60 seconds… but that’s pushing it. If it’s longer than 60 seconds… well, I hope you’re not claustrophobic cause your elevator just got stuck.
Chances are you’re going to be attending camp fairs where people are just going to be stopping by dozens (or hundreds!) of booths to grab a pamphlet and a free pen. You want to be able to make an impression on them before they start slowly backing away from you (Bonus tip: that’s never a good sign).
So here are some tips on creating your super awesome, very convincing elevator pitch.
1. Be enthusiastic! C’mon, you work at summer camp – we all get super hyped up when we talk about camp. If you’re enthusiastic about your program, they’ll feed off of your energy.
2. Decide who your pitch is for. You are probably going to use a very different approach when you’re speaking directly to a camper vs. speaking to a camper parent. And you’re certainly not going to highlight the same things for a potential staff as you would for a potential donor, so keep that in mind when you’re collecting your thoughts. (Bonus tip: you can pretty much use the same approach for everyone, just tweak a couple of words or points here and there) For the purposes of this post, let’s assume we’re trying to attract parents.
3. State what it is you do. “We are a residential, co-ed summer camp located on the shores of the beautiful Lake MacLeod. We provide campers with a traditional camping experience, while teaching them independence, survival skills, and teamwork.”
4. Focus on the quick and dirty details and throw in a number or two. “Last summer we provided over 700 campers a chance to ‘unplug’ for a week and experience nature first hand.” Or “Once a camper visits Camp Whatchamacallit they will never want to leave, in fact we have a 95% return rate each summer, that’s because we have a fantastic integration program for new campers to make them feel right at home, right away!”
5. End with a call to action or a question. “Do you think that your child would benefit from a week of canoeing, hiking, campfires and ‘getting away from it all’? And think about what you could do with your time if you had a week to yourself?” (From my experience, asking that question to parents makes them list off a whole lot of household chores. Poor parents!)
6. Practice. Say it in the mirror, say it in the shower, say it to your cat, just practice it enough that it doesn’t feel rehearsed (counterintuitive – I know) practice it so much that you feel confident saying it and it comes off conversational. The goal of an elevator pitch is to make them want to hear more about your program, so if they stick around and start asking follow up questions – you’re golden!
(Well not completely golden, you still need to sign em up for camp but you are definitely on the right track. And hey, your elevator pitch did its job! Awesome!)
My final Bonus tip is something I had to learn the hard way (through a lot of missed opportunities):
It’s not enough to give them your business card, a brochure, or even an application (although those are all great things… do those things! And don’t forget the free pen, people love free stuff!), you need to get THEIR contact info too… woah…
According to the business folk, it takes three or more contacts to make a sale, heavy on the more. So follow up with the families that you meet. You can’t follow up if you don’t have their info, so use a sign up sheet for them to write down their phone number (and email address, but kick it old school and give them a call).
And now that you’ve read this whole post (thank you) I’m going to change the name, because we’re camp folk after all, so let’s call it a “zipline pitch” instead of an elevator pitch from now on. That means we’ll double the energy, double the enthusiasm, and triple the experience!! Wheeee!
There ya have it, a simple way to sound like you’ve really got your act together when you’re trying to promote your camp! Do you have any great tips on crafting a ‘zipline pitch’, or an example of an awesome one? Tell me about it in the comment section below.