Marketing strategies for childcare owners to boost enrolments
How do you set yourself apart from the competition? How can you get more parents to come to your daycare, preschool or kindergarten? We've put together a guide to help you kickstart your childcare's marketing efforts.
Parents today do a lot of research before making childcare choices. Gone are the days when proximity to home and the timing of child care were determinative of these decisions. Parents seek daycares that provide high-quality care, are updated with the philosophy of the curriculum, and provide a safe environment for children. In this day and age, parents are a lot more involved in the early education of their children. They want to stay connected to their child’s growth and development. No matter how good is your childcare, parents will not come to your doorsteps unless they know about it and come across a compelling reason to do so.
Hence it is important to keep your story out there and attract parents to your childcare. A good marketing strategy will make your customers aware of your services, boost sales and build a strong relationship with parents.
So how do you devise a marketing plan to showcase your childcare to the world? How do you do it while maintaining focus on your core business? The right marketing strategy can differentiate between thriving childcare and a center lacking children to look after. In this article, we will share with you cost-effective yet fun-to-implement marketing ideas to boost your enrolments and build a long-lasting reputation.
Low cost marketing ideas
1. Tell your childcare story. What makes your childcare different from everyone else?
You must build a story around your brand and what makes it special. According to Harvard Business Review: “Persuasion is the center-piece of any business activity.” If you are not able to convey why your childcare is better than everyone else then no marketing efforts can get you results. Your story should tell the experience behind your brand, philosophy, and values that make you special as an establishment. Your story will allow you to build a narrative and connect with your parents on an emotional level. In short
- What made you start this childcare? Talk about your process, your foundation, and your values.
- Why should a parent choose your childcare center?
- What makes your childcare different from others?
- How do you ensure that you hire the right teacher for your school? Talk about your staff, their qualifications, and relevant points from your hiring criteria.
- How do families describe your childcare?
- What do children and families love most about your childcare? It can be the books you have in your library or your unique potty training methodology or your outdoor play area.
- How do you ensure that parents are a part of the growth journey of the child?
Your story should be the cornerstone of your marketing messaging. It should be honest, truthful and come straight from your heart.Parent should be able to feel the same passion as you feel for your childcare when they hear your story.
Once you have your story, you’ll want to build out assets to share your story. This could include:
- Photos of your childcare
- Video testimonials from parents, staff, and even children
- Video tours of your center with narration
- Photos showcasing your curriculum, activities, and events
2. Make your parent tours a memorable one
A parent tour can mean getting a new client or a parent picking another child care over yours. It is imperative that you have a plan for giving a memorable parent tour. A tour that will make the parent love your childcare and jump to enroll their child. Here is a detailed step-by-step plan on how to ace your parent tour planning.
PS- You can let users book appointments with you by registering with Calendly . It will help you in scheduling meetings professionally and efficiently, eliminating the hassle of back-and-forth emails so you can get back to work
3. Create a website
Attractive and professionally built websites help build a strong online presence, communicate quality information to potential customers, and provide legitimacy to your business. Without a website, customers may question your legitimacy. When someone hears about you, the first thing they do is to check your website. If the website is not well made, then even if you provide world-class service, you will lose the bulk of your potential customers.
Your website should include the following:
- Services offered- include the services you offer, their timings, and the age range of kids who are allowed for admission in them.
- Contact form – You should use a contact form that lets parents submit their details. Illumine lets you design the contact form and admission forms. You can embed those forms in your website and the incoming leads are automatically created for you. You can then assign tasks, follow up and schedule meetings as well. It is a real-time saver
- A glimpse of your center– Include photos of the classroom and highlights of your curriculum, mission, and values. This section is important because it will let parents who access your site get a feel for what it’s like to send their child to your center.
Pro tip 1- Hire a professional photographer to do a shoot for your center. It is a one-time investment that will give you life long results
Pro tip 2 – If you want to do it on your own you can buy one of these beautiful templates from Themeforest
Pro tip 3 – If you do not want to get into the hassle of buying a domain, maintaining your website, etc then you can head over to WIX. It has a drag and drop builder and it will help you get started in under 2 hours.
4. Register on Google Business
A free marketing strategy to get listed on Google is to register on Google My Business. Your Google Business Profile will help you reach more parents and by verifying your business with Google, you add legitimacy to your preschool. If you have not registered yet then head over to Google Business and register yourself immediately . Once you create an account, your business will then start appearing in Google searches and on Google Maps.
To make your business listing stand out in Google searches, here are some easy techniques :
- Describe your business. Show a list of services your daycare provides to parents, like meals, subject-level training, etc.
- Add photos and website link to your listing
- Answer all the questions asked by users.
- Always reply to all reviews (the good, bad, and the ugly) – it shows that you care about your families and children. Do not get disheartened by a bad review.
- Make sure you have a system in place to get reviews from parents. Those reviews will help you assess what’s going well for the daycare and which department needs changes.
- Choose the appointment booking button for your daycare to let parents book a visit as per their convenience.
- Ensure your contact details and hours of operation are up to date and none of the content posted on your profile is stagnant.
A good vs poorly done Google business listing
- Create your Instagram and Facebook pages
- Video testimonials
- Optimize your Instagram and Facebook page
- Register on search directories
5. Use technology
Integrating technology into your facility is a highly effective marketing strategy that will set you apart from the rest. Letting parents know what’s happening when they are away gives them peace of mind and could be the reason they choose to enroll at your center vs. a competitor. Illumine offers a parent communication system and childcare management reporting tool that gives parents peace of mind while they’re away from their children. It also lets you manage your leads, billing, parent communication, digitize attendance, and much more.
“In a recent survey, 82% of parents indicated that technology is important to them when they opt for child care. They would switch to child care, which provides them with regular updates, photos, and detailed report cards. “
6. Facebook Page
Like your website or Google Business Profile, a Facebook business page is another place for parents to discover more information about your business. You will also be able to collect reviews from current customers to help add credibility to your business. Share your childcare events, photos, and videos on your Facebook page to get more traction.
You should also join local parent Facebook groups. You can find parent groups in your city by searching for “[Your City] Parents” and selecting “Groups” at the top of the search results. Joining these groups will give you a sense of what matters to parents locally. Do not post ads in these groups unless asked! Instead, become an active member of these communities. Offer to advise, share your wisdom and answer questions when you feel like you have a great experience or some resources to share.
7. Host events and open houses
You should consider hosting events like game nights, the book reveals book fairs, craft nights, movie nights, and art shows. You will get to showcase how your students learn by doing. Upload this content online to give other potential parents a glimpse of what your daycare does. You can also host parent walk-ins and tours for new leads to get them excited about your childcare.
Few event ideas you can consider
- Society clean up
Out with the trash, in with the community building. You can host a trash pick up on the beach or clean your playground. Invite families and friends of families by putting out flyers and posters well in advance. Make sure you supply everyone involved with gloves, trash bins, and any other safety equipment they may require.
- Theatre night
There’s nothing that gets families to bond like drama. You and your students can work on a theatre production (Shakespeare is always in demand). Invite the parents to watch the enacting; you can even get them to pay a small fee for food and drinks. You can even get the local news journalists to record the event for media coverage.
Bond with the parents by inviting them to an informal storytelling session. Throw some cushions on the floor, have the cafeteria serve finger food and pass on a book to everyone in attendance. They can read aloud from the book or retell a life experience. You can use this opportunity to share updates about your daycare with the parents and guardians present.
- Workout together
You can host a gymnastics or a yoga session with the families of the students. This event will ensure they familiarise themselves with the sports arcade of your daycare and the facilities you provide to ensure the physical fitness of the students. You may have to rope in trained child yoga teachers if you’re inviting them too as their attention span is limited and they may not be able to keep still like the adults do.
- Silent dance party
Wait, isn’t that an oxymoron? No silly, it’s the latest in-thing. Get the parents to carry Bluetooth headphones, a pair each for them and their children. Let everyone dance to their own tunes. You can either host the party outdoors or have a makeshift dance floor.
- Cooking class
Every child, for better or for worse, likes getting their hands dirty. Well, let kids be kids for once. Pair children up with parents and host a cooking challenge. You can get a local chef to host the event and to even share the recipe of his most famous dish with everyone on board.
- Pottery class
Get children mixing and measuring clay to their heart’s content. Hire a potter to show everyone the ropes. Parents can pair up with their children to carve bowls and plates out of clay. If a child insists on carving animals, allow them to let their hair down. The important thing is to have fun so that the event can later be the talk of the town.
- Scavenger hunt
Who doesn’t enjoy a scavenger hunt in the outdoors? Create a list of items parents can take pictures of on their smartphones and share it with the parents before the hunt begins. Go for simpler items so that children too can feel included, like an unusual coloured rock, or a marigold. Whoever takes the pictures of all the things on the list first, wins.
Churning content consistently for your blog can be overwhelming for any business, let alone a daycare. This is why we suggest content clustering and repurposing. Blogging will keep you updated with the latest trends as you will have to be a good reader to write good blogs. It will build your brand and increase your reach.
Topic clusters help you internally link other pages on the blog by creating a close-knit framework where each of the posts is contextually relevant to each other.
Repurposing content, on the other hand, refers to extracting content from webinars, podcasts, case studies, white papers, and eBooks to re-orient it into multiple blog copies. This ensures that you never run out of ideas for producing blog content. You can follow hashtags like #childcareActivities, #PreschoolGoodPractices, etc on Instagram and Pinterest and repost the ones you like and want to share with your audience.
9. Video marketing
What is the point of a daycare having a YouTube channel? Millennials aged 25 to 34 watch more video content than any other generation. These young parents are influenced by what they watch. You can harness the power of video marketing to leave a mark in their minds. Here’s a checklist for you to follow to create awesome video content.
Video Marketing checklist –
- Include both informative and promotional content
- Use a call to action and optimise the videos for SEO
- Slice your Youtube videos to re-share them as Instagram reels
- Add subtitles for accessibility
- Promote the video on different social media channels
- Videotape parents sharing their daycare experiences
- Share behind the scenes at your daycare centre
- Highlight success stories of students
- Highlight unique initiatives or upcoming projects
- Give a virtual tour of your facility
10. Facebook Ads
Facebook ads are a great way to reach a highly targeted audience. You can start by selecting the area you want to cover, you can target by selecting parents in your city with children within a specific age range.
Tips for strong Facebook ads:
- Choose the right ad objective- Facebook has different types of ads to help you achieve your goals. The goal can be either to get more visitors on your website, complete a lead form, brand awareness etc. The complete set of goals Facebook ads offer can be found here.
- Select the right budget for your business- When setting up your ad, you’ll select a budget, which is the amount of money you spend on showing people your ads. Do not go overboard with your first few Facebook ads as the budget gets spent quickly. Go slow and learn from it as you progress.
- Stand out with great ad creative- The right message and eye-catching visuals can help your ad stand out, so people are more likely to notice it and take action. Use Canva to design your ad creatives. Videos work best for Facebook ads. You can even create slideshows to create a video ad in Facebook
Make sure to refresh your ads often. Facebook is very targeted, so you may see ad performance drop over time. That’s normal! Add in fresh versions regularly.
11. Engage with the local parent community
Build partnerships with parent communities in your area. Part of child care marketing is networking in your local community or your field of interest. Child care marketers know that mothers-to-be in their communities would welcome a chance to hear from someone who knows more than they do about early education, choosing a child care service, and getting ready for preschool.
You can sponsor the event where your certain parents will show up or families will frequent. Once you’ve identified such local businesses, set up a referral program to drive traffic to your daycare and grow its reach. You can donate to charitable organisations that most parents in your community are affiliated to. Alternatively, you can partner with services like indoor playgrounds and host events to get people talking about your business.
12. Send monthly newsletters
You should send a monthly newsletter to all your current parents and leads who shared their email. Your newsletter should include the highlights, events, and photos. There is a high chance a cold lead can turn into a customer after seeing your newsletters. There are many tools like Mailchimp etc which will have templates and will allow you to send emails. Below is a newsletter designed with Canva
13. Print marketing
Creating thought leadership content for social media is not enough. You’ve to position yourself as the expert in the childcare/daycare/preschool field. To do that, post your brochures and flyers on bulletin boards across your town or city. Hand potential leads a business card to make sure they remember you. Make sure you print sufficient material for parents to take back home after a tour of your daycare or an event. Make sure the USP of your daycare stands out in the messaging of your posters and flyers.
Here’s a checklist of things to include in your childcare parent handbook:
- Philosophy, vision, and mission statement
- Student and parent forms
- Registration and tuition fee details
- Modes of parent communication
- Health, emergency, and discipline protocols
- Holiday list and operational info
- Drop and pick up schedule
- Day schedule
- Enrolment and withdrawal policy
- Assessment policy
Preach what you teach. Never stop learning about the technological innovations and advancements in the daycare field that you can extend to your business. Attend workshops to grow personally and professionally. Network with other professionals in this field and pick their minds about the marketing tactics they use to grow their daycare businesses.
15. Register in local directories
Getting registered on online directories helps you rank faster on Google and also lends credibility to your daycare business. There are a bunch of free directories you can reserve a spot on to help families locate you easily. The top-ranking childcare directories you need to be listed on are:
- Paper Pinecone
- Child Care Avenue
- Angie’s List
To make parents participate in your referral program, educate them about it. Once you get the word out, choose a way to incentivise them. That’s the whole point of a referral program–you reward the parent. You can either pay them in cash, give them an Amazon gift card, free tickets to the Super Bowl, or a discount on the next quarter’s fee.
Here are some easy ways to promote your referral program:
- Have a dedicated section in the child’s daily report to put in a word about the referral program or use a communication app to put up a post about its benefits.
- You can encourage the teachers to gently nudge the parents towards signing up for the referral in parent-teacher meetings.
- You can put up a flyer on the bulletin reminding parents to sign up.
- You can use your newsletter to market the referral program. Celebrate the parent who brings in a referral by giving them a special mention in it.
- Don’t forget to include it in your daycare handbook.
High cost marketing ideas
There are multiple ways to market your daycare–billboards, clothes with your logo on them, direct mail, paid ads, radio ads and email campaigns–that cost a ton of money. Here are ways to not let that money sink.
1.Run an ad in the newspaper
If you can afford to shell out $200-$5,000 per ad for a newspaper, make sure you get your ad placed in a national daily. It will ensure you get maximum exposure. Also, negotiate the size, placement, and colour choices of your ad. If your ad is on the second or the third page, chances are that it will draw more eyes. If you’re running an ad in a digital newspaper, make sure your ad is not covering the content and it is contextual. By placing a discount code on the ad, you can market your daycare business more aggressively.
2. Put up a billboard
Let’s say your daycare is a stone’s throw away from a highway or a high traffic road. Yet, you aren’t getting potential leads visiting your daycare because your offline visibility is poor. In that case, invest in a billboard at a location where the possibility of parents driving home from work is high. It will make it convenient for the parents to drop their kids at your daycare if it’s on the way. You can expect to incur a one-time charge of $1000-$6,000 for putting up the billboard. However, there’s a catch. You’ll have to negotiate the amount of time it stays put.
3. Use direct mail campaigns
You can target particular pin codes using direct mail campaigns to make sure your daycare reaches the right audience. This kind of geotargeted marketing will cost you $1,300-$5,000 per campaign, which includes designing the direct mail and then printing them for distribution.
4. Leverage search engine optimisation
Any parent would hop on online to find the best daycare for their toddler. Chances are they’ll compare features of 15-30 preschools before they decide to visit an open house of the best 5. To get shortlisted, it’s important to create an online presence. By shelling out $1,000-$4000 monthly, SEO service providers can redo your digital presence to make sure you stand out in this highly competitive market.
There are various ways to leverage SEO for appearing on the first page of Google, like sprinkling semantically related keywords in your website and blog content, optimizing metadata (title and description tags), getting backlinks from high domain authority sites, and writing competitor blogs for sales enablement, to name a few.
5. Utilise email marketing
Email marketing can only work for you if you invest time in creating content, building an email list, segmenting it based on user preferences, and analysing your opens and click through rates to assess what to double up upon.
6. Radio Ads
Radio ads work well for all customers. It is cheaper than showing an ad on TV and in newspaper. You can get in touch with a radio artist to compose a catchy jingle, contact a radio station and get your ad running during office hours.