Employing some easy childcare marketing techniques will go far in keeping your center enrolled to capacity. It will also help you build and maintain your reputation within your community. You can easily differentiate yourself 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 a healthy waiting list.
What you need to begin
Before starting on your marketing strategy, you first 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 the 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 business?
- Where do we get most of our customers from?
- Who makes up our market and what are their challenges?
Market research should help you understand your industry better. It should help you 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 should work together. Define your business goals as what your business plans to achieve. Your 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 child care businesses in your area. What makes yours different? What makes it better? Once you have your USP, it can help guide your business strategy in areas like preschool promotion ideas or daycare advertising.
Who is your ideal customer? We can’t stress enough that your marketing plan should often come before your marketing strategies, and your plan should outline your target customers. Managing a classroom of children is hard, but the marketing side doesn’t have to be. How can you strategize ways to attract families to your childcare program without knowing who they are?
Develop a profile of your target customers. 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.
Identify your competition. While some businesses have to worry about competing on a national or global scale, your childcare program is likely operating against local competition. Conduct research on these businesses and evaluate them using SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. The SWOT analysis technique allows you to determine the performance and potential of a business. Although this is a helpful tool in analyzing your competitors, it’s useful in evaluating your business 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-teacher ratios on par with other programs?
- What services do our competitors offer that we don’t?
- What marketing channels do our competitors prioritize?
Ultimately, competitor analysis will help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competition and use that information to boost your marketing strategy.
Marketing tactics and strategies
Your marketing plan should include the marketing tactics and strategies you plan to or would like to use. Some of the promotion ideas you might outline in your plan include:
- Direct marketing
- Business website
- Public relations
When brainstorming your marketing tactics, it’s important to remember 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, you need 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. KPIs vary based on the industry, but there are common KPIs every business can start with.
Use 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
It’s hard to imagine a business these days that doesn’t have a website, and the childcare industry is no different. Families looking for care most likely start their search online. Establish an online presence so they can easily discover your program. Give searching families as much information as possible about your program by maintaining an up-to-date website that offers everything a family would be interested in when on the hunt for child care. Photos of your center, staff, and activities are essential to include. The more details you can share the better, as choosing child care isn’t an easy decision for families. You’ll want your website 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 website content is highly effective at piquing a potential customer’s interest. Luckily, there are great, low-cost options these days for building websites—no programming skills required.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are terrific channels for you to engage in childcare marketing, depending on your desired client base . Build a Facebook page for your business, ensuring you’re searchable to the public. Yelp and NextDoor are other great places to have a listing. The key is to post your business in as many online places and groups as possible to increase your search visibility.
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.
Create an engaging, professional family handbook for your center that includes relevant information about your program and your policies and procedures. Download our template below to get started.
Engage with your local community for networking purposes. Get to know other small business owners, regardless of whether they specifically serve families with children. 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. If you want families to trust you with their children, building trust in your community is a great first step.
Offer evening/night care on a rotating basis. Bring in a variety of enrichment offerings regularly, such as art, music, and dance. Host local community events at your facility. With many childcare options to choose from, you’ll need to grab the attention of prospective clients by differentiating yourself from other childcare centers in the area.
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 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.
Plan first, strategize second
The idea of planning and strategizing can become confusing because they often seem like the same thing. When creating your plan for your business, think long-term. Where do you see your company 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? As you prepare your business for growth, use the tips in this article to guide you towards success.