Focused on Management

Let’s Clear the Confusion About Marketing

May 4, 2021

There seems to be a lot of confusion between a marketing plan, a marketing program and a marketing campaign.  Each one has its own set of requirements and means of accomplishing those requirements.  You can be somewhat successful without a marketing program or marketing campaign but I can almost guarantee that you will spend more money and get marginal results if you don’t have a marketing plan.   Let’s take a look at the three and see if we can figure out which is which.

Marketing Plan: Before you embark on any activity to sell your product, whether it is site nights, supplies or activities, you should have defined the overall objective for your business. It may seem have an obvious answer but once you put your answer down on paper you may find that it isn’t as well thought out as you believed it to be. Even worse, you may find that what you put down on paper is too vague even for you to be able to take the next step of breaking out your goals.

This is where your marketing plan starts to develop your overall strategy on attracting new business. Don’t worry about being terribly formal, but do put together a document that you can follow for the next year and then follow it. You will be amazed at how much simpler your advertising/marketing decisions become when you have a well defined objective in mind.

Be sure to answer the following questions in your Marketing Plan.

  • What are my goals and objectives? Be specific about what you want to accomplish (i.e. increase site nights by 15%, increase store sales by 10%, etc.)
  • Who is my target audience? Break this down at a high level.  For example 50% returning guests, 25% new guests, 25% RV groups.  Within each of these segments give as much definition to the group as you can (returning guests that stay for 1 week every year, new guests that have just purchased an RV, RV groups that  have 25 or less members and rig sizes that are 35’ and under)
  • Where am I going to spend my marketing budget? I can’t emphasize enough the importance of putting a budget together and sticking to it faithfully.  Ad salesmen can be quite persuasive and before you know it you have spent your budget for the year without actually meeting your goals and objectives.
  • What is my budget? Take a look at how much you spent last year for marketing your RV campground.  (Hopefully, you can pull these numbers together easily.)  If the dollar figure looks too small, it probably is.  You may not have included some of those last minute, middle of the season expenditures that you thought were cheap enough to do.  This tends to be particularly true about things like listings on web sites which only cost $25 per year.  If that $25 isn’t returning at least one new guest, it is a waste of money.


Marketing Program:  Within your marketing program, your objective from your marketing plan is going to be the guiding principle behind the marketing programs that you develop.  Before you get very far into your marketing program, ask yourself if this program is going to advance your objective.  If every marketing program you think of answers yes to this question, your objective isn’t focused enough.  As an example, if my objective is to increase the site nights in the RV Park, a marketing program that targets teenagers isn’t going to meet that objective.

Your objective on any marketing program must support your marketing plan objective by taking that objective and breaking it down to a more narrow set of goals.  You should also have several marketing programs for the year, not just an advertise my RV resort for the year program.

  • How many programs do I want to run? Make this a manageable number but you should have a different program for each of your identified goals and objectives.
  • How am I going to meet the individual objectives? As an example, to attract new visitors create a Guest Loyalty program that rewards a returning guest for bringing a friend that hasn’t been to the park before.
  • How is the budget going to break out to cover each of the programs?
  • Some of your marketing programs are going have high level components. This is where advertising in Trailer Life or Woodall’s would be addressed.
  • How are you going to measure your overall success?


Marketing Campaign:  This is where the rubber meets the road.  A marketing campaign will take the goals from your marketing program and break it down further to define how you are going to meet those goals

For instance, the campaign would address what types of advertising you are going to use to promote the park (print, direct mail, social media, etc.), what the schedule is for the campaign, how you are going to measure your success rate, and who you are actually targeting (snowbirds, families, RV groups, etc.)

  • What is the subject of the campaign? This could be increasing your reservations for opening day at the park.  If you are a park that has both summer and winter seasons, you would have two or more separate campaigns that address the specifics of those seasons.
  • What is the campaign going to address and how? In the case of site nights, this will be specific, short term actions that are going to be taken such as print advertising in the FMCA magazine.
  • What is the budget for each of the campaigns?
  • What is the method for measuring the success or failure of the campaign?

If there is one thing that I would emphasize more than any other it would be to take the time to outline your marketing plan and describe what and how you are going to accomplish those goals.  I have seen a lot of money wasted by trying everything that comes along and not measuring the effectiveness of those efforts.


Focused On Management is a company dedicated to helping you manage and promote your campground to RVer’s everywhere, using printed materials, press releases and social media.    For more information, or email her at

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