As the new school year approaches, it is a good time to think about fresh ideas for marketing your child care center. Making sure local families know when you have slots available continues to be important in the aftermath of the steep enrollment declines caused by COVID-19. And, revisiting your marketing plan gives you an opportunity to identify and communicate the qualities that make your program stand out.
1. Differentiate Yourself
Think about the qualities and approaches that make your program unique and effective. Maybe the children in your program spend most of their time outdoors, or perhaps you have multilingual classrooms. By communicating the unique features of your center, you are also helping families know whether or not your program will be the right fit for them and their child. A shared understanding of what makes your program special can also become the foundation for a relationship of trust between families and the members of your staff.
Ensure that you highlight everything that makes your center unique on your website and in any of the other places that families might go to find out about your program. Points of differentiation that are particularly important to families are location and learning philosophy.
Location is a major consideration for families seeking childcare. Being close to public transportation, such as bus stops or train stations, can be particularly helpful for some families. Many families rely exclusively on public transportation to get around, so being in a location that is easily accessible without a car can make their commute significantly easier. If you are near any large offices or other workplaces, you might try to market yourself directly to parents who work in those locations.
Your program’s specific curriculum or early learning philosophy is a great way to differentiate your early learning center. Think about what kind of approach you and your co-teachers use in your classrooms. Whether you use play-based, Montessori, or Reggio philosophies, or maybe even a combination of several different approaches, parents will be eager to know how your curriculum will support their child’s learning. If you are not sure how to best describe your approach or learning philosophy, it might be helpful to review this G2K article from the archives: Honing & Articulating Your Teaching Style.
2. Highlight Strengths
Every program has a variety of strengths, from location to size to diversity. Think about your program’s strengths, and make sure you mention them whenever you talk about your program or create marketing materials. A few examples of early learning program strengths that are important to highlight are listed below.
Bilingual staff. Having multilingual staff members is a unique advantage for early learning programs. By offering instruction to young children in multiple languages, you are helping dual language learners feel welcome and comfortable in your center. Staff members who speak different languages can also help translate paperwork and handouts into the home languages of families enrolled in your program. For children and families who speak only one language, bilingual teachers can offer them exposure to languages and cultures they might not have otherwise experienced.
Mixed-Age classrooms. Many home-based early learning programs serve children of different ages in a single learning space. These mixed-age environments can be beneficial for young children’s development. Peckie Peters, Head Teacher at Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School, shares that “older children view younger children as needing their help, whereas younger children perceive that older children can offer instruction and leadership. When these two forces combine in mixed-age classrooms, it creates an environment of cooperation, which is beneficial to all.”
Diverse community of families. Children learn and develop through the interactions they enjoy with their peers. A diverse community offers the added benefit of exposing children to different cultures, perspectives, and ways of thinking. Interacting within diverse social groups enables young children to develop important social-emotional skills, including communication, empathy, and collaboration.
Make sure you feature your program’s strengths! They can be added to your website, flyers, Facebook page, or any other advertisements that you do to get the word out about your program!
3. Add Your Program to Local Directories
Having a website and social media presence provides you with a platform for promoting your business. You’ll want to extend that visibility by ensuring that your center’s name comes up on local directories families use to search for programs on the internet. Examples of effective places to list your program are included below.
Google. The most common way for parents to begin their child care search is through Google. To ensure that your program appears when families are looking for childcare, you’ll want to set up a Google Business Profile. Setting up the profile is free, and once it is created you can manage your business from Google Search and Maps to reach more families. Click here to learn more about setting up a business profile through Google.
Yelp. After Google, a very common place for families to search is Yelp. On Yelp, people can view your center’s location, photos, and reviews from other parents. Setting up an account for your program on Yelp is free-of-charge. Click here to learn more.
Winnie. Winnie is a website that can be used by parents to discover local child care centers and preschools. Child care providers can post information about their program on Winnie, including photos, tuition information, licensing status, availability data, and more. Winnie is free for child care providers to use (there is also an option to sign up for a paid account that has additional features – but it is not necessary for creating a profile). Click here to learn more.