Marketing a childcare centre has changed, it has become more sophisticated and there are more centres competing for enrolments than ever before.
The biggest area of change in marketing, is created through virtually everyone using hand held devices to source their information. Whenever they hear of, or need something, they will search for it on their phone or tablet almost immediately, irrespective of what time of the day it is. And that certainly applies to parents or carers looking for a childcare centre for their child.
Traditionally, centres used letterbox flyers, newspaper adds, TV adds, street signs, word of mouth, school newsletters and other methods. Then came websites. All of these are what you call static marketing. They only have an impact at the point you see them, after then, it is up to your memory to recall the information on that particular centre, and there was no follow-up information provided.
Because of the growth in numbers of childcare centres, parents are seeing and hearing a multitude of messages from childcare centres and if they only hear something once about a centre, the likelihood is that they will forget about that centre and take more notice of the centres that they are seeing messages from on a regular basis
Over the decades, research has shown that on average, it takes a person seeing something 7 times, before they will make a purchase. So if they only see information on your centre once or twice and other centres 5, 6, 7 times or more, the likely hood is they will tour their centre before or instead of your centre.
The good news is, any centre can be as good or better at marketing themselves as any other centre, even against the larger groups of centres. In fact, the single privately owned centres have some key competitive advantages over the larger groups.
The biggest change in marketing has been created through technology. Today, we can set-up our marketing message so it is delivered automatically at any time of the day and follow-up messaging provided automatically. No longer is it a case of someone seeing or hearing your message and then having to remember it. We have various tools enable us to deliver follow-up messaging about you and your centre that helps educate them about the benefits of your centre over the other centres in your area.
Through this marketing, you are able to make your centre stand out above those around you, helping you to fill your centre.
There are two key stages to marketing;
- The strategic marketing message – This is the first and most important step in marketing. Has been for centuries and always will be. Your marketing message needs to be developed around the people you are selling to, not your product. If it is not relevant to them in the present, they will take no notice.2.The delivery channels – These are the tools that you use to deliver your strategic message to your prospective families. These tools change and it is important to keep up with the changes. They are things like, flyers, signage, videos, websites, social media, emails etc.
The process is, develop your messaging strategy and then develop your system and methods for delivering your strategic message.
The whole purpose of your marketing is to bring parents or carers in to do a tour of your facility, to enable you to showcase your centre based on what they are looking for and to obtain those enrolments.
The message and visual presentation conveyed in your marketing needs to be obvious and enhanced when they visit your centre.
So how do you do this?
This is now a big question. To develop a competitive marketing system for your centre, will take more effort and knowledge than what it has in the past. It requires knowledge in social media marketing, website marketing, automated email marketing and how to link them all together. And then keeping up with the changes.
Every centre needs to be more competitive in their marketing, because if they are not, they will not grow their enrolments and in fact, will start to see their occupancy levels drop as we see the growth in centre numbers and other centres start using these marketing practices.
I have been coaching in the childcare sector for over 6 years, working with centre owners and directors in areas such as time management, team development and marketing. I now believe that it is not viable for a centre owner/director to try and run the day to day operation of a centre and successfully market the centre as well. The skills and knowledge required are simply in a different direction to running a centre and keeping it compliant and children and parents happy. Let alone the time required to learn and develop these systems and consistently market the centre.
There is the option of attending courses where you can learn how to market your centre, however, there are some questions you need to ask yourself;
- Do these courses cover all areas of marketing that is required?
- If there are things that I need to do that just do suit me, will I do them?
- Will I have a tendency to shortcut items or maybe not do some of the things required?
- If I do the course, will I have the time available to do everything that is needed to make the marketing system work?
I ask these questions, because my experience shows that this is what will happen and the time and expense on the courses will be wasted.
Centres now require professional marketers to help them achieve 100% occupancy. That marketer needs to have knowledge and skills in all facets of strategic marketing. Having someone just look after your social media or website is of very little value. Your marketing person needs to have knowledge and skills in strategic message development, websites, social media marketing, Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) tools, video development, business automation and other forms of marketing and how to connect them all together to work as one system.
The cost for providing the whole marketing process, should be less than the income generated from half of a license position in your centre. i.e. If you charge $100 per day for care, then 1 license position is valued at $26,000 per annum. Half a license is $13,000, the cost of the marketing service should be less than $13,000. This does not include subscription to automation tools and platform advertising costs.
If you are struggling to achieve a high level of occupancy in your centre and finding that what you used to do for marketing doesn’t seem to work as well any more, it is time to look at having a marketing professional work with you in your centres marketing.
Have a great week.
Peter Johnson – The Time Retriever is an business productivity coach with over 12 years experience coaching business owners and childcare centres in the areas of time management, marketing and team development. To find out more on marketing your childcare centre, please visit;