Tell Your Story. Start with Why.
By WHY, I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your camp exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning as a camp owner or director? And WHY should anyone care?
“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
- Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why
Simon Sinek’s book and his contention that great businesses of all kinds should start with “why” sparked a major international discussion on the nature of leadership and marketing. What does it mean, people were asking, to “start with your why?”
For us, it means you don’t start your marketing conversations with news about your camp’s benefits or features. Tempting though it may be to discuss your facility’s improvements or recent technological enhancements, resist that urge. Instead, start with what you believe in.
“Your WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you,” Sinek says.
It’s your chance to answer the question: How do you think differently? Armed with that knowledge, your prospective families can understand your why and begin to see their place in your story.
Why focus on the Why?
By focusing on your why, you can do a bigger business and build a more loyal base of campers than if you focus on what or how. Marketing, after all, is not just a process for acquiring new camper enrollment at the fastest rate possible. It’s also about keeping those campers coming back summer after summer by building loyalty and emotional connection to your camp’s brand.
You can only create that kind of relationship with your families when you’ve taken the time to know your organization intimately. You understand your camp’s history, its community, and its values. In fact, you understand those elements so deeply that prospective families recognize your brand’s stamp in all their dealings with you.
You’ll eventually need to answer all three major questions – Why, What, How. But knowing your purpose – your “why” – first gives you focus, clarity, and passion. The parents that you are marketing to will sense that and respond to it.
Your marketing story should start with your reason to exist.
Modern marketers make much about the idea of storytelling. Christopher Ratcliff, editor of Methods Unsound, said, “Storytelling in marketing terms isn’t just about telling ‘a story’ (producing an advert where a narrative arc occurs), it’s about telling the story of the ‘brand’ across multiple channels and using various tools and methods.”
Storytelling is not just a marketer’s buzzword. Scientists have verified that stories connect people and ideas in our brains in ways that deeply affect us. As human beings, we’re a race of storytellers. And as a camp director, you’re surrounded by new and interesting stories every day of the summer that prospective campers would love to hear!
Parents and kids alike respond to great stories, but few of us can tell them well. What makes a great story then? It starts with “why” and moves logically through purpose, process, and result. It’s full of the author’s or speaker’s original voice. That means you do not have to write in bland marketing speak anymore. In fact, you shouldn’t. Your story should be filled with your camp’s distinct personality and unique purpose. Great stories are not only original and distinct, they are also simple. The more complex a story becomes, the more likely the reader or listener is to either abandon it or mistrust it. Find your why to simplify your verbiage.
Most importantly, your camp’s story should be authentic. Prospective campers and families can sniff out a phony story. Instead, your narrative needs to be so woven into your mission and brand identity that you can’t help but tell it no matter what you’re talking about.
How will you know when your story is great? Neil Patel, a leader in digital storytelling and marketing, says, “When a customer purchases your product, they must feel as if they are buying part of the story.”
You’ll know your story is working when the customer is so engaged that he or she wants to buy a place in the narrative – in your case, having them enroll their child in your camp.
Your camp’s story must connect with your families (we relate to you, we understand you, we are like you).
The best marketing is fundamentally emotional. We may use our technological knowledge to sharpen our messaging and improve our reach, but ultimately, we are just people talking to other people. Robots aren’t making decisions about sending participants to your camp.
As Erik Sherman wrote in Inc., “Even as you trot out your list of customer benefits, it’s possible to miss the forest for the trees. People not only purchase products, but they buy experiences.”
That is, families may compare your camp’s prices, review your testimonials, and read your mission statement. Ultimately, however, they will choose the camp about which they feel the best about, the one that they feel their child is going to enjoy the most.
After all, that’s the psychology of how human beings make nearly all decisions. We follow our hearts and then find the data to justify what we already want to do. Your customers and campers are no different.
People buy your story because they want to join you on your journey. And to do that, they need to know why you’re out traveling in the first place.
Contact us to learn more about why you should start with why and how to tell your camp’s story in an engaging and effective way!