Marketing is a vital part of any business, one that is often overlooked or misunderstood for many early childhood services. Since marketing is often very time consuming and expensive, early childhood services need to get creative and choose the strategies that offer them the most bang for buck!
Almost Free Things EARLY CHILDHOOD SERVICES must do (<$200)
Google Local: If you don’t already have one Create an account on Google Local. Enter your company name, address, phone number and website. Verify the information with a postacard or telephone call. In a few weeks you will help you get a map listing for your company name or industry and town.
Get Reviews: An integral part of the Yahoo Local listings are reviews. Ask your good customers to write reviews for you on Yahoo local. Businesses with higher ratings will get preferential listings.
This really isn't as hard as it sounds, but it is an absolute must for all early childhood services (even family day carers!). If you are not on the web, parents will not find you. You really don't need anything more than a homepage but on that homepage you should:
- Ensure you have your full contact details and address;
- Embed a google map of your service (this will ensure people will find you on google and google maps);
- Basic summary of your service.
- Have some really great photos of your service and/or you and your people
- Create social media pages (Start with facebook)
Nearly 11 million Australians use facebook with the greatest proportion of these aged between 25 and 45 - a key demongraphic age for child rearing!
This is so simple and effective. Once you have created and logged into your own personal facebook account, you can visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php which will take you step by step through how to create a facebook page.
All you need to do is upload pictures and regular posts including event reminders, latest news etc.
Remember word of mouth and viral marketing is free and often more effective then any other form of marketing. As facebook encourages sharing and to leverage this you need to post fun interesting things people will share or comment on.
Facebook pages also rank very highly in Google.....
- Advertise your Facebook page
You can create a highly targeted campaign ad for your facebook page, targeting people who live a certain number of kilometeres from your centre, of a certain age and/or even of a certain gender. Here's a quick link for some helpful advise on how to do this! http://www.facebook.com/advertising/
- Add a link to your website and your contact details to local business directories including council websites
It is madness for any new business not to be listed on these free directories. Really you don't even need a website (you could just provide your address and phone number) but unforutnately your service won't really stand out against your compeitor without a website.
- Create a simple add in your local business trader and local school newsletters
Regularly giving news and interesting pictures about your work to your local newspaper (see PR
below), or perhaps even writing a regular column relating to your specialism in the local free newspaper or parish magazine.
Offering existing customers an incentive (gift of some sort, or money off your next supply) for introducing a friend as a new customer for you.
Marketing ($500 - $1000)
- Advertise in your local newspaper but BEWARE of the timing and location of your add or you will not see any return for your investment. We recommend placements with feature articles about childcare or shared adverstising spreads in feature specials. Keep your add eye catching and simple...don't be tempted to write everything you offer in your add or people won't read it.
Marketing ($1000 - 2000)
Create a flyer. Print in large runs as printing costs per flyer are substantially reduced. Our top tips for effective flyers are:
- never forget your address & phone number on the flyer;
- make sure you consider the size of your flyer...make it stand out by being a different size to your standard letter;
- consider the weight of the paper, the higher the weight the higher the cost but remember you need it to be strong enough and look good enough for your application, for example genergally 100gsm is strong enough for single sided printing and 130gsm is recommend for double sided printing
- always drop your flyer at least 3 times to the same address. Remember there is only a X% change of your flyer being seen so it is better to hit an area close to your service more often then it is to waste your money distributing to a larger area. Unless you are enroute to where they travel, throwing a larger net is unlikely to get you more parents;
Hold a face- painting stand at your local festival or shopping centre. Keep a wad of flyers handy. Parents are always happy to get their children's face painted and it provides you with a few minutes to talk to each parent and tell them about your service. This method is time consuming and hard work but that time you take to make those connections always pays off in the end!
Marketing ($2000 - $3000)
Hand out printed balloons at a local festival or at a local shopping centre.
Printed balloons are the biggest cost here, but they make a significant impact as children walk around the festival or centre with them. They create a talking point.
Magnets are expensive but designed well, they can be a long term marketing in people's homes!
Make sure they look beautiful and don't scrimp on the magnet (make sure you magnet can hold at least 3 pages) up or they will end up in the bin. No one likes it when magnets or pages fall on the floor!
We also recommend to take care when distributing these in a mail drop. Use them to support face to face marketing methods such as your shopping centre visits.
It is also great to place bundles at shopping counters at local bakeries, hairdressers and the like as people who like magnets will grab them and not through them in the bin.