The 5 Most Effective Marketing Strategies to Fill all the Vacancies in Your Child Care Center
If you have empty spaces to fill in your child care center or preschool, you want to get them filled as quickly as possible.
The longer a space sits empty, the more revenue you are missing out on for your business. Since child care is time-based, it’s not like you can keep “last week” on the “shelf” and hope it sells soon.
Once the time passes there is no way to recoup the revenue that could have been.
Considering that, on average, each child enrolled is worth between $10,000 and $20,000 annually (depending on your rates), child care business owners should have a solid, year-round marketing plan so vacancies are filled as quickly as possible.
Keep yourself from scrambling to put a marketing strategy together when you are desperate to enroll children by proactively marketing your school year-round.
Even if your spaces are full, you should be tooting your own horn with social media posts about fun activities the children are doing, your amazing teachers, events you are hosting or participating in, client testimonials, and more.
The key is to be known and loved in your community so you are top of mind when parents are looking for a preschool or child care.
Marketing is simply all of the activities it takes to promote your business, special offer, products, or services. Finding ways to stand out and tell your story to your ideal customer, or target audience, is essential for gaining trust with parents.
There are MANY ways to market your child care business – too many ways to include them all in this short article. Some methods work better for different types of businesses.
For instance, it’s usually not cost-effective for a local child care business to run a national television commercial, and we are not likely to see a company like Craftsman or Stanley hosting local open houses so customers can meet (and feel comfortable with) the people that assemble and package the tools that they buy.
We’d like to share a few marketing tactics that work well for child care businesses so you can concentrate your efforts on activities that will pay off.
The Five Most Effective Marketing Tactics
for Child Care and Preschool Programs:
Be Easily Found Online
First, you need to be easily found online. If you do not have a website, your business might as well not even exist. Parents will start their search online, review several websites, and then make appointments with the schools that “look the best.”
This means that your website needs to be designed well with lots of pictures, videos, and text to share your story and describe your services. It needs to be modern, clean, fresh, and easy to navigate.
If your website still looks like something from 2001, it’s time for an update!
There are plenty of DIY website builders out there (with predesigned templates) to make it easy for you to create a simple website for yourself. There are also several professional services you can hire that specialize in creating child care websites.
Once your website is built, it is crucial that you invest in optimizing your keywords and SEO so the search engines serve up your website when parents are researching child care. If you are not on the first or second page of a Google search, you might never be found.
Claiming your Google My Business listing will help with local searches, and paying for Ads through Google, Facebook, and other social media and online sites will help your website be easily found.
If this all sounds too technical or overwhelming to you, hire a professional to help you. You can find many experts and specialists on sites like fiverr.com and upwork.com that are happy to help you with these types of services, and usually at an affordable rate. Save yourself time and headaches by taking advantage of their expertise.
Grab Attention on Social Media
Not only do you need to be found online, but you need to grab the attention of your ideal client. Be sure you have a business page on facebook (and other social media platforms) and be sure to post regularly!
Find ways to stand out from the crowd with your messaging. Get “punny” with your language, tell your story, and speak to your USPs (unique selling points). Make it easier for prospective parents to identify with you and reinforce to current families the good decision they made to enroll with you.
Use professional branding on your graphics, but don’t be afraid to mix it up once in a while. If your posts look the same every time, they can get lost or ignored.
Hold contests on social media, promote events that you are hosting, praise your teachers, show photos of kiddos having fun and learning at school.
And most importantly – USE VIDEO! The owner or director of the school, and sometimes the teachers, should regularly do facebook lives sharing news or happenings at the school, inviting families to come in for a tour, giving parenting tips or child product reviews, and more. The topic possibilities are endless.
Using video helps your prospects get to know, like, and trust you better and faster than any other media choice. Video is also shown at a higher rate in social media algorithms because it gets users to stay on their pages longer.
If you can find ways to grab the attention of your ideal client as they scroll their feed, you’ll soon become a household name and ultimately the child care program of choice in your area.
If a parent is searching for a child care or preschool option, nothing will build trust more than the stamp of approval from another parent or customer that has experienced the service you provide. Happy parent reviews are marketing gold!
When a parent mentions to you that they are happy with your school, you need to do all you can to capture that moment and share the heck out of it.
If something comes up during a conversation, just whip out your phone and ask them if they’d mind saying that again on video. Most of the time they are happy to do it.
If not, ask if you could write down what they said, show it to them for their approval, and then use the review on your website.
Credible endorsements from real families will carry more weight in the eyes of prospective families than anything YOU will ever say about your program.
If you know a family is happy, just ask them to write a review on google or facebook. Asking people to do it is usually all it takes to build up your number of online reviews.
To get started, or to add to your pool of raving reviews, you could try holding a contest where everyone that submits a review during the month of June is entered into a contest to win a big prize. (Note: you cannot pay for testimonials or reviews – that’s not legal, so do your research first.)
When sharing reviews, video is best. It’s the most authentic. But if it is a written review, include at least the first name of the parent and child, and a photo of the parent. You could also include the town/city,”mom of Kara,” “client since 2019,” or similar description. The more you can do to show that this review came from a real person, the more believable it will be.
Post reviews everywhere! Be sure there are several on your website, share them on social media, include them in your epacket, add them to your email signature, be sure they are in your promotional brochures. If you are creating any marketing materials (printed or digital) find a way to include reviews!
Like we said above, nothing builds trust faster than a recommendation from a parent that has already been using your services. Find a way to leverage that by creating a referral program that incentivizes parents for referring their friends and family members to you.
You could also extend this incentive to your staff and community partners. Basically, anyone who sent you a referral would be rewarded with a financial gift!
New families that enroll based on the endorsement of someone they already know and trust tend to stay enrolled longer and be happier with your services than the average newly enrolled family.
Reinforce your culture of referrals by publicizing when you get a new enrollment from a referral. Take a picture of the family holding their cash reward, or print a large, oversized check that they can hold as a prop. Then make a social media post thanking them for the referral and include the photo. (This will remind your other families that you love referrals.)
If you have a tv or large screen in your lobby that displays slides or photos, you could include your referral “thank you” pics in the slide show. Or you could just print and post the pics on a bulletin board. You can also include the pics in your newsletters (printed or digital).
Do what you can to consistently remind parents and staff of your referral program, and they will remember to send their friends and family your way when the topic of child care and preschool come up!
Keep In Touch
Do what you can to stay in contact with families that are interested in your school. Whenever you get a new lead, they should be entered into a nurturing email drip campaign.
Email marketing helps you build relationships while you sleep – meaning you can set it up once and automate it so staying in touch is easier than ever.
This helps you to connect with your prospects and stay top of mind, even if they are not quite ready to enroll. Include things like invitations to come in and tour, reasons parents choose your program, your vision, mission and core values, parent reviews, program highlights, and more.
You can set up email drip campaigns for the different stages of the client life cycle, such as: prospect, tour scheduled, tour no show, tour completed, newly enrolled, enrollment “anniversary,” birthdays, and more.
Then be sure that you stay in touch, even if a family never enrolls, by sending monthly newsletters and invites to special events. You never know when a family’s needs might change. Plus they can opt-out of emails anytime if they truly no longer interested.
We hope these tips give you some direction and inspiration when it comes to marketing to fill every open space in your child care program.
If you are in need of staff members, all of the above tactics work well for attracting teachers and caregivers as well. You just need to adjust your messaging a bit.
For instance, use teacher reviews from happy employees, reward staff and families when they send you an awesome new employee, and/or create email drip campaigns that speak to prospective employees (rather than parents).
If you have a brilliant marketing tip that helped you successfully gain several new enrollments or staff members, please comment below and share your wisdom with our readers!! We all could use more ideas and inspiration!!