Employing some easy childcare marketing techniques can make a difference in keeping your center enrolled to capacity. It will also help you build and maintain a great reputation within your local community. You can set yourself apart from the competition to attract and retain new families with a few simple childcare marketing tips. Sticking with these strategies will help ensure you always have full enrollment and wonderful engagement within your community.
Create childcare marketing plans
Before starting on your marketing strategy, you need a marketing plan. Your strategy should describe how your childcare business will execute its goals and objectives. To start this process, you need to know what information to put in your marketing plan. The components to include when building your childcare marketing plan are:
- Market research
- Goals and objectives
- Unique selling proposition
- Target customers
- Competitor analysis
- Marketing tactics and strategies
- Key performance indicators
Market research is a combination of customer information and economic trends. This information will allow you to project the success of your childcare business. Consider looking into your customers’ demographics, needs, and buying decisions while focusing on what your industry competitors offer in the childcare business.
Some questions you might ask during this process include:
- What is the size of our target market?
- How many potential childcare customers are there?
- What are the demographics of our target market?
- Are our competitors advertising their childcare businesses online?
- What consumer trends are currently present in the childcare industry?
- Where do we get most of our customers from?
- Who makes up our market and what are their challenges?
Market research can help you to understand your industry more clearly. Research is also helpful to learn more about your current and potential customers—their wants, challenges, and pain points. Once you’re equipped with this information, you can begin strategizing how your business will be the solution.
Goals and objectives
Your childcare business goals and objectives work together, and you’ll want to consider both when planning. Business goals are what your business plans to achieve; objectives are measurable results of your goals. When working on this part of your childcare marketing plan, ensure that your goals are SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.
Unique selling proposition
What makes your childcare business unique? Your unique selling proposition (USP) is the one thing that makes your business stand out from your competition. There are likely other childcare businesses in your area—what makes yours different? What makes it better, and why should families choose you? Once you have your USP, it can help guide your business strategy in areas like preschool promotion ideas or daycare advertising. If your USP is clear, you can create your marketing style in a way that clearly demonstrates it.
Who is your ideal customer? Take some time to think about it. Once you can identify your target customer, your marketing strategies and plans can speak directly to your target customers. The first step to strategizing how to attract families to your childcare program effectively is knowing exactly who they are.
Develop a profile of your target customers, and keep it current and updated with local trends. These are the people you want to attract to your childcare program. Outline their demographics—age, gender, education level, occupation, family dynamic. Once you know who you’re talking to, you can strategize how to talk to them.
Next, work on identifying your competition. While some businesses have to worry about competing on a national or global scale, your childcare program may be operating against local competition. Taking some time to research these businesses and evaluate them using a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis can help you to find gaps in your own offerings. The SWOT analysis technique allows you to determine the performance and potential of a business. While this is a helpful tool in analyzing your competitors, it’s useful in evaluating your business as well. Is there anything your competitors are offering that you could add to your program as well?
Additionally, some questions you might ask when conducting competitor analysis for your childcare program include:
- Do our competitors offer more flexible hours for drop-off and pick-up?
- Are our child-to-teacher ratios on par with other programs?
- What services do our competitors offer that we don’t?
What marketing channels do our competitors prioritize?
Taking a look at some competitor analysis strategies can help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competition and use that information to boost your marketing strategies.
Marketing tactics and strategies
A complete marketing plan can include the marketing tactics and strategies you plan to use now or would like to work toward implementing in the future. Some of the promotion ideas you might outline in your plan include:
- Direct marketing
- Local advertising
- Business website or social media
- Public relations
When brainstorming your marketing tactics, remember to tie it back to your target customers and where and how they’re likely to consume the information about your childcare program.
Key performance indicators
To determine whether your business is successful, it’s helpful to identify markers that indicate success. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a large part of any marketing plan. They’re measurable values that gauge your business performance and allow you to determine how successful it is, and to compare performance over time. KPIs can vary based on the industry, but there are common KPIs every business can use to begin.
Try applying the following KPIs to start the marketing plan for your childcare business:
- Gross profit margin: A percentage that represents revenue left over after subtracting the cost of a company’s labor and materials
- Customer acquisition cost: The amount of money a business uses to get new customers
- Customer satisfaction: A measurement that evaluates how satisfied a customer is with a company’s products, services, or experience
- Customer retention rate: A percentage that measures the number of customers a company keeps as existing customers over a given time
- Return on investment (ROI): An evaluation of how well an investment has performed
KPIs are an irreplaceable tool to manage your business and track your goals.
Once you’ve created a marketing plan for your childcare business, you can dive deeper into the childcare marketing strategies explained below.
Childcare marketing strategies
Have an online presence
Families looking for care often start their search online, and having a website or social media presence can boost your visibility to potential new families. Luckily, there are great, low-cost options these days for building websites—no programming skills required. You can try a user-friendly website builder or social media page to create an online presence. These platforms can be great ways to give searching families as much information as possible about your program.
Maintaining an up-to-date website or social media page can offer everything a family would be interested in when on the hunt for child care. Not only are photos of your staff, center, and activities important to include, you can use your own style to really show off your school or center. Choosing childcare can be a tough decision, so the more details you can share, the better! Your website or social media page is an opportunity to make a great first impression on a prospective family, giving them a sense of the quality of your program. Consider including a short video tour and introduction, as this type of content can be highly effective at attracting potential customers.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be really useful channels for you to engage in childcare marketing, depending on your desired client base. Building a Facebook page for your business is free to start and ensures you’re searchable to the public. Yelp and NextDoor are other great places to have a listing.
When you’re starting out in social media, it’s a great idea to choose one platform and post well-prepared content to build engagement before expanding to additional platforms. It can be helpful to choose Facebook or Instagram as a starting point, since lots of folks may be familiar with those apps—bonus points if you or someone who can assist with your page is, too.
Build a reputation
Word of mouth is priceless, especially when it comes to child care. Keep your current families happy and they’ll be your best marketing channels whenever they run into other families at the playground or the grocery store. Encourage happy families to share testimonials, posts, and reviews on your social media accounts. Consider giving current families a discount for any referrals they send your way.
Consider hosting an open house for prospective parents and ask your currently enrolled families to help you spread the word and invite people they know to your event.
Your local community is a fantastic resource to get involved with, share information about your business, and find new families. Getting to know other small business owners, regardless of whether they specifically serve families with children, can be such a great advantage. Word of mouth is still a highly effective marketing strategy, and there are so many ways to spread the news about the important work you do. For example, you can offer to share your childcare expertise with a new parenting support group. One great tip we recently heard from a childcare owner is to make friends with local real estate agents, who can then send families new to the area your way if they’re seeking child care in your area.
When you’re asking families to trust you with their children, building trust in your community is a great first step. Another useful tip is contacting your local Childcare Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency as they have many resources to support childcare providers. Building community connections can grab the attention of prospective clients and differentiate yourself from other childcare centers in the area.
Thinking outside the box and teaming up with your staff or families on marketing plans can yield unique, fun ideas that can draw in new families to your business. Could you consider offering evening/night care on a rotating basis, during corresponding community events? Are there local art, music or dance enrichment groups in your area who would like to come in and work with your school or center? Would it be fun to host local community events or fundraisers at your facility, for a broader range of exposure? With many childcare options to choose from, implementing some creative ideas to showcase your business and your space to new families can make the difference!
Embracing technology to keep your communities engaged is another surefire way to attract new business. Brightwheel is an easy-to-use software platform that will help you manage your center and stay in touch with families. You can use brightwheel to record daily events and activities, and parents get real-time updates delivered to their mobile device throughout the day. It also offers secure, digital check-in/check-out, messaging, and a simple, paperless billing system. The peace of mind this technology will provide your families will be a program differentiator, making you stand out from the crowd. Plus, who doesn’t love to receive a midday photo of an important child in their life?
Plan first, strategize second
The idea of planning and strategizing can be overwhelming, but it’s important to take the time to prioritize both. When creating your plan for your business, think long-term. Where would you like your company to be in the next three to five years? For your childcare marketing strategies, think short-term. How will you get full enrollment for the upcoming year? How will you reach new parents and caregivers? As you prepare your business for growth, implement the tips in this article to guide you towards success.