Earlier this week we highlighted some ideas for marketing to parent customers – particularly millennials – now the largest generation in nation.1
But your customers also include children and teens. While some advocates might discourage marketing to children in any form,2 we want to point out that principles for making sales and reaching kids can go hand in hand.
Listen More Than You Talk.
Remember the principle we quoted last week from Inc. magazine? “Selling is 60% listening and 40% talking.”3 Only when you understand what the customer wants are you capable of knowing how to meet the customer’s need – and if you’re even the one to meet it.
Your Expertise: You know how to make kids feel heard, and listening to them goes a long way to drawing them to your program. Return customers are your hottest sales prospects. When you find ways to get to know kids in your program and listen to them, you’re more likely to draw them back. (Note: Sometimes that “listening” will be with your eyes as you observe what engages them and what doesn’t.)
Make it Good Marketing: How many ways are you listening to the kids in your program? Are you training your staff to listen well? Do you take time to interact with young people, individually, as they cross your path? Do you seek feedback through comment cards or evaluations? Marketing experts seek customer feedback in all kinds of ways. One of the best ways to “listen” to your customers is to vary your vehicles of communication.
Provide the Highest Quality Programming.
From a sales perspective, your salesmanship is only as good as your program. Listening will go a long way toward tweaking your program to delight your customers.
Your Expertise: You know how to review your mission, staff, procedures, facilities, and activities with the goal in mind of delighting your customers. The good news is that kids can be much easier to please than adults.
Make it Good Marketing: Brainstorm ways to connect with kids beyond your traditional programming. Can you host a pop-up camp on Facebook Live during your off-season? Can you introduce elements of your programs through alternative venues, like school assemblies or after-school care? To alleviate the fears of children who might not want to commit to overnight camps, consider weekend camp-outs – perhaps even an option where parents are invited.4
Show How Much You Care.
Here’s another great quote by Inc. magazine: “Selling is all about relationship-building … customers will only buy from you if they trust you, respect you, and like you. Everything else pales by comparison.”
Your Expertise: You’re already pursuing this type of authentic relationship with young people. When you show them you care by listening to them, helping them grow, and encouraging them, you draw them into your programs, and you keep them coming back. You also show you care for the community at large through local partnerships – groups and organizations that you support with your time and resources.
Make it Good Marketing: What do kids love about your programs – especially those things that reflect your core values, mission, and target audience? What are the ways you’re contributing to your community? How are your students helping you serve others? Be strategic with the stories you choose to tell, and then share them in multiple ways – on social media, your blog, your website, and your face-to-face presentations.
Communicate on Their Level.
One California company developed skincare products with names that kids can relate to. The company described their products using words like “friendly,” “sunny,” “happy,” and “funny.” Brightly colored packaging and designs also were geared to kids. And the product line included a CD with silly rhymes and songs to serve as mnemonic devices for developing good skin-care habits.5
Your Expertise: You know how to create fun, messy, and creative activities for kids. You’ve got the gear, the supplies, the know-how, the cleanup techniques, and the staff – all boiled down to a science. You’ve probably even got the latest teen jargon on the tip of your tongue. You’re already experts at communicating with kids.
Make it Good Marketing: When you make a camp or class presentation, how do you incorporate good, old-fashioned fun? Take advantage of this time with kids to give them an experience to share with friends and family. How do your facilities and teaching environment reflect the whimsy of childhood? Perhaps you can make cost-effective updates to reach children on a more visual level.
As you can see, some of the values you bring to kids in your programs can easily translate into good marketing. The key ingredient is communication. When trying to connect with one child in your program, you may try a half-dozen ways to connect – conversation, an activity, technology, a meal, a walk, or free play. But you’ll keep trying until you make that connection. When you commit yourself to various ways and means of marketing, you’ll find ways to show you care and make an authentic connection.