There are several critical elements to developing a strategy for Marketing.  A marketing plan involves a systematic process to identify potential participants, to know and know about those persons and groups, to develop goals for meaningful and measurable involvement , and to craft a series of specific steps to meet those goals.


We understand marketing as "the set of influences an organization has in relationship to a decision-maker to enable them to make a positive decision to participate with that organization as a program participant, donor, or volunteer."

The first step is an in-depth analysis of groups or individuals currently served and potential populations.  Factors such as rates of return, distance from the site, demographic and economic patterns all provide  objective data about participants.

Special attention should be paid to "rates of return" (i.e., retention rates) and the characteristics of returning participants.  It is both more effective in terms of mission, and more efficient in terms of costs to retain participants than to attract new ones.


Additional subjective information should be gathered from current and potential participants of what their current experience with your organization is like, or what they would like it to be.

It is especially important to explore the ease with which a person or families can become involved in your organization or program.  The more difficult it is to act upon a decision, the less likely a person is to pursue it.


Goals should be established that are realistic and yet ambitious.  Those goals should reflect the financial intentions (i.e. budget) of the organization as well as programmatic considerations.

Groups sometimes utilize "incentives" for persons or groups to participate.  It is critical that these incentives be fully funded (e.g., special discounts should be funded with real dollars not just be a reduction in rates), and should be traceable (are they working?).  Value-added incentives are often more effective than concessions.


Approaches to any group of persons must reflect what you know about the factors involved in the decision.  The factors which are involved in a person deciding to bring a group to a facility are much different than the factors involved in parents considering camp for the first time for their child.

The timing of any marketing approach is crucial.  Persons are more apt to make certain decisions at a particular time of year or day of the week.  They will decided more readily if you are able to meet their decision timetable.

Developing a marketing plan consists of correctly identifying those persons who are possible participants, the decision-makers involved, and the factors which may influence their decision.
Marketing is not advertising, promotion, or coercion.  It does not involve pressure or deception, but is a way of extending an invitation to persons who can benefit from what you offer.


Developing marketing materials, such as web sites or brochures comes only after the work of identifying potential participants, becoming knowledgeable about them about them, and setting specific goals and benchmarks.  Materials are the last step in the process!  



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Revised: 02/27/2012 .