The Secret to Child Care Marketing

Local newspapers? Flyers? Open houses? Online ads?

No. No. No. And No. None of these are the secret to child care marketing.

To most child care providers and preschool directors, marketing seems enigmatic. If you are running a preschool or a family child care program, you may not have any formal business and marketing training. It is much more likely that your education and expertise are in early childhood education, child development, or family studies. And that’s a good thing!

So what does that mean? Does that mean you shouldn’t run or own a child care center? Does it mean you are doomed to failure? Does it mean that you are incapable of using marketing get more enrollments and grow your business? Of course not! All you need to do is learn some marketing concepts and apply them daily. Yes, daily. Starting with the secret to better child care marketing (and marketing in general.)

So, what’s the secret?

The secret is in the numbers and in tracking. I know, boring right? Statistics. Graphs. Data. In general, these are not the things that child care providers and preschool directors are trained to interpret. You are probably more interested in phonics, cognitive development and motor skills. And again, that’s a good thing!

Even if you don’t like it though, that’s the secret to better child care marketing. Data and tracking are the only way you will find out what works to get more enrollments and what doesn’t. It’s the only way you can strategically invest your time and marketing dollars.

But wait, there’s good news!

Before you leave this page, overwhelmed by the idea of data tracking, here are 2 things that will make you happy:

  1. You are already ahead of the curve, congratulations! If you are reading this, you are probably marketing your child care program… or at least considering it. That’s better than the vast majority of child care centers out there! Many child care providers rely on word of mouth and assume that their name will get out there. They spend zero dollars on marketing. That rarely works.
  2. The data that you need to collect in order to track which marketing campaigns work for your child care business are not nearly as confusing or overwhelming as you may think. Read on for a few simple tips and tracking templates.

So, how can you start tracking which marketing works?

The word “data” may sound intimidating but it’s really just a matter of collecting information about your customers. The easiest way to do this is to ask every single prospective parent how they heard about you. Yes, every single one. Take notes. When parents enroll, find a way to notate that as well. That way, you will have a record of where people heard about you and also which of those people actually enrolled their child in your preschool.

You can do this on a notepad, on your smartphone, or on your computer. Make a chart, spreadsheet or whatever is easiest for you. Here is a sample of a chart you might make:

[table id=2 /]

Obviously, this is a highly simplified version but if you look at the data, it is clear that most parents heard about you from an open house and from seeing you on the CareLuLu website. That’s also where enrollments came from (that’s really important because you don’t just want parents to know about you, you also want them to enroll.) That will help you make future marketing decisions and decide how to allocate your marketing budget (if you don’t know what your marketing budget is, you can learn how much you should spend on child care marketing here.) (link to “How much to spend on your marketing budget” article.)

People who sell newspaper ads or flyers might tell you that it’s the best way to get new student enrollments, but in this example, the data says otherwise. Open houses and the CareLuLu website are what works. Of course, I would love to tell you that CareLuLu is the single secret to child care marketing, but the reality is that only data will tell you, and that will vary from preschool to preschool (however, you should create a free CareLuLu profile to get online exposure.)
So that’s it. The secret to child care marketing is data, data, data. You must keep records. If you are not keeping records, then you are making all of your business decisions blindly. That’s like throwing money into the wind. You don’t have to be a business guru or a data specialist to ask parents where they heard about you. You probably have strong record keeping skills and are adept at asking questions, right? Those two things are strengths of most early childhood educators and, when put in that context, should seem far less intimidating. So, get to it!

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