Opening a new child care center does not just consist of literally opening the door and hoping people come in and enroll. In order to attract families, you will need to make an effort to get the word out and let people know that you are open for business.
“Marketing” is one of those terms that you hear all the time and might make you think of TV commercials and billboards. While those would be fantastic to create for your business, they are also almost certainly well beyond your budget — but that doesn’t mean you can’t do marketing for your center!
Marketing is the act of promoting and selling your services, so anything that you do to contribute to those activities is a form of marketing. These can range in scale from a commercial during the Super Bowl all the way to handing out a business card.
It is never too early to begin marketing your business, but at minimum you will want to give yourself at least three months to work with before you officially open.
Below is a list of a wide variety of marketing tactics for you to try. Be sure to take note of how each one performs so you know which are working best, which will let you know which to focus on in the future — for example, asking people who inquire about your business where they heard about you.
Often the first place a new parent will go to find child care is the internet. It doesn't take a big budget or a degree in computer science to use these ideas in your marketing plan.
Add your business to a Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCR&R).
Create a specific email address for your center.
Design a website for your child care center with your phone number and email available.
Make sure you are searchable on Google and Google Maps.
Ensure your listing is on your state or province’s child care search website.
Add your child care to your state’s Chamber of Commerce website.
Add a Yelp listing.
Create a Facebook page for your business.
Set up an Instagram account for your center.
Find local mother or mom-to-be groups in your area through Facebook and share your contact information.
Create a post on Craigslist and/or Kijiji.
Create a post on Nextdoor.
Create a profile on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website.
Buy Google Adwords ads for your website targeting parents in your city or local neighborhood.
Add a listing on Daycare.com
Add a listing on Care.com
You know where your future customers live - they're down the street! Take advantage of local advertising and events to make connections close to home.
Host an event to entice new families: a BBQ, art day, or carnival to collect new parent information.
Put up flyers in your neighborhood: around schools, grocery stores, coffee shops, libraries, etc..
Advertise in your local newspaper.
Put out an ad on a local radio station.
Give your flyers or balloons on the street to families walking by your center.
Send personalized mail to families in your neighborhood (local mail companies can create a list for you).
Sponsor a local child-friendly event.
Host a child care open house so parents can tour your center.
Ask local child-friendly businesses if you can leave flyers there for families (e.g. children’s clothing stores or toy stores).
Create a coupon for local coupon books.
Create a short TV advertisement with a local station.
Find local parent or mom/dad-to-be groups or community programs and offer to give a presentation on child care to give them a chance to learn more about your business.
Get involved in local politics around child care access to meet engaged families in your neighborhood.
Pitch a story on your child care center to a local reporter.
Connect with your social media contacts to see if they are looking for child care.
Finding quality child care isn't easy - a referral can be a great help for families who are on the hunt.
Ask friends & family to refer potential customers through Facebook
Ask your staff to send emails about your center to friends and family
Offer an incentive for referrals (e.g. a percentage discount, or a small gift)
Create a referral "raffle" where for every referral from a parent they get a ticket into a draw for a prize
Offer discounts for families that enroll more than one kiddo
Get customers to write testimonials and reviews online on Google, Yelp or your own website.
Join your state or provincial quality rating program and advertise your rating on your website and social media profiles.
Have your center accredited (e.g. by NAEYC or NAFCC).
Take additional training for child care owners and directors (e.g. the NAC).
Create an “About Us” section of your website with your staff’s qualifications and your center’s learning philosophy.
Use a child care app to provide digital documentation and communication to families.
Make sure your classroom age groups align to demand in the area.
Offer flexible child care hours (e.g. after school, late night or weekends).
Have your staff receive additional training and accreditation (e.g. through the CDA council).
Offer drop-in spaces and hours.
Create a weekly newsletter for your families.
Encourage parent participation in center activities.
Spruce up your center’s exterior with attractive landscaping, a new paint job or a large sign.
Decorate your classrooms and share photos of the space on your website and social media.
Create a blog on your website.