The current economic climate has had an impact on budgets, especially marketing and promotion. I am therefore pleased that my friend and colleague from across the pond, Julie Wassom, has taken the time out of her busy schedule to be my guest blog. Julie gives an overview of her 10 unique effective marketing tips.
Julie is a trainer and consultant who has helped thousands of directors and managers worldwide build significant enrolment in their early care and education programmes. An internationally recognized authority on marketing child care services, Julie is president of The Julian Group, Inc., a marketing firm specialising in the early care and education industry. She is the author of The Enrollment Building Success Library of training resources, and the free online newsletter, Wassom’s Child Care Marketing Wisdom.
“How do you generate more enrollment inquiries when you have little time and even less budget for marketing? By making Smart Marketing Moves.
I define Smart Marketing Moves as those actions you can take to promote your child care service with effective results that stay within your budget. Some of these moves cost you absolutely nothing, but do a lot to promote your unique image and communicate the quality of your program and services. When that message is out in the marketplace again and again, in multiple ways, you generate more inquiries from qualified enrollment prospects.
Here are ten lost-cost actions you can take now.
- 1. Do a “Sherlock Holmes Check” of your center or home appearance. When parents visit you, they come with an investigative eye, and quickly form an impression that influences their enrollment decision. You never get a second chance to make that first impression! So check carefully how your center or home looks, sounds, and smells to a parent visiting for the first time. Include your parking lot, sign, landscaping, front door, and inside your entry. If it looks like something needs tending, your prospects wonder what else is not getting attention – the program, safety precautions, the children?
- 2. Market professionally in your email signature. Think about how many people a day receive emails from you. You can maximize the repeated exposure your email signature gives you without it costing you anything! In addition to your name, make sure your email signature includes your center or home care name, logo, tagline, contact information, and a directive statement that is a call-to-action with a link, such as, Click here for a virtual tour of our program.
- 3. Make your voice mail a marketing tool. If your voice mail message does not include your company name and a statement to direct callers to your web address, you are missing a free marketing opportunity. Adding your tagline to your message can help drive your unique niche. Giving callers a time frame within which you will return their call gives you the opportunity to fulfill their expectation and begin building a solid relationship. Here is a sample: “Thank you for calling Little Learners, a special place for children to learn and grow. We are not available now, so please leave a message with your name, number, and how we might help you. We will get back to you within 24 hours. In the meantime, please do visit our website at littlelearners.com. We look forward to talking with you soon. Goodbye.” See if you can pick out each of the recommended elements for a good voice mail message in this example.
- 4. Wear those company-labeled clothes everywhere! Those shirts and hats and umbrellas that have your company name and logo on them are for way more than wearing only at your center and during community events. You never know where you will find your next inquiry or referral. You want to cause the people who see your name all over town to ask about you and the nursery or child care services you provide. Having your company-identifying shirt or jacket on can easily help begin that conversation.
- 5. Design a great business card. This can be your most cost-efficient marketing tool. Keep it consistent with your image, use heavy enough paper stock, print on both sides, and distribute them widely. It’s smart marketing to get business cards for your staff, as well. Have them printed with a blank line where staff can fill in their names. It markets your staff as the early care professionals they are, and as an important part of your child care service team. That communicates a good message that makes parents want to know more.
- 6. Generate good publicity about your early childhood program and services. Yes, this takes some time and a little know-how, but the exposure and third-party endorsement it gives you can pay big dividends. It costs very little, if anything, to obtain good publicity. When you do, the image prospects get of your program quality and services is often more believable than your saying the same thing in an ad or on your website. The good feeling that causes in your prospects yield inquiries, and that’s effective marketing!
- 7. Label everything that goes into your prospects’ hands with your center or home’s identity and contact information. Label articles, brochures describing other services or partners in your community, anything that does not already have your name on it. What should you use? – Make or purchase stickers printed with the words, Compliments of…, then add your company name and logo, your web address and your phone number.
- 8. Cooperative marketing. Share resources and responsibilities for event promotion, such as a Hop-a-thon for Muscular Dystrophy, with a few other early childhood program colleagues in your area for maximum reach and impact at minimal cost. Even if parents then investigate all of you, it gives you the opportunity to get inquiries you would not have gotten otherwise. Once they contact you, use your enrollment building skills to communicate your differences that can meet their specific needs, and invite them to your center or home for an enrollment visit. Marketing mission accomplished!
- 9. Build a database and follow up. Time is the biggest expenditure you will have on follow-up, but it’s where the fortune lies. Gather prospect names everywhere – from telephone and online inquiries, in guest books at events, in person. Be sure to request email addresses and permission to send them information of value in selecting quality child care. Note this, along with their special interests and concerns, on the prospect profiles in your contact management system. With permission to contact your prospective enrollees, you can cost-efficiently set-up and maintain a follow up program that pays off big time.
- Finally, develop and USE a marketing action plan. Consider a good marketing action plan as your GPS, directing you to more enrollment inquiries. In a good plan, you will have noted the low-cost marketing actions you plan to take, the timelines for implementing them, the budget you have allocated for each (if there is any expense at all), the people involved, and the results you will use to evaluate the effectiveness of each effort. A good marketing action plan helps you know where you are going, how you will get there, and what worked best. Smart marketing!”
© The Julian Group, Inc. 2013
Follow the conversation on: