Finding the right early learning centre for their children is of the utmost importance to parents. While once upon a time it was common to send children to the nearest early childhood education provider to home, today’s parents are looking for more.
While proximity to work or home is still a consideration, parents want to find a centre that provides high quality care, takes specific approaches in their curriculum and aligns with their own values. The first five years of life are now understood to be crucial in laying a strong foundation for children’s futures, and parents want to ensure their children get the best start in life.
It’s no secret that there is a surplus of early learning centres for parents to choose from, so standing out from the rest is vital to a centre’s success. So, how can a centre showcase what sets them apart and attract families to enrol at their service? In early childhood education, marketing is now essential!
Marketing for early learning centres
With improvements in government funding and an increase in both parents heading back to work, the demand for early learning places has gone up over recent years. To meet demand, more early childhood education providers have opened across Australia — of course, this also means more options for families and more competition for services. Standing out for the right reasons has never been more important.
If you are a new service or simply haven’t been marketing your early learning centre up until now, it’s time to start. The first thing to do is to establish what your goals are for your centre. Here are some to consider:
- Reach X% capacity
- Be known for XYZ in your community
- Grow a waiting list for enrolments
Once you’ve worked out what you want to achieve, you can start looking at what you can offer and the marketing strategies needed to help you get there.
What makes your centre special?
To begin marketing your early learning centre effectively and start ticking off your goals, you need to have a clear and in-depth understanding of your offering and who your target audience is. When considering what you have to offer families, ask these questions of your centre:
- What services do you offer?
- What families will be attracted to your service?
- What do your prospective families need?
- What are your values and your mission?
- What do you do differently from your competitors?
Take the time to examine your daily routines and identify what makes you shine. For example, do you do yoga with children? Does your centre have a vegetable garden? Do you take a Montessori approach? Do you have bush kinder incorporated into your curriculum?
This information will help you to send a clear message in your marketing that focuses on your unique selling points. When you know who your audience is and what they are looking for, you can shape your marketing efforts in a way that will be appealing to them.
Marketing strategy for early learning centres
Putting all this information together is creating a marketing strategy, which is important to do to reach your target audience. This means making a plan of execution for your marketing efforts and finding the best places to reach prospective families for your centre. Let’s look at a few of the avenues you might explore as part of your strategy to market your early learning centre.
Online marketing ideas for early learning centres
Build a website: A website that reflects who you are and what you offer is essential. Make it simple for families to get in touch with you to limit the steps between considering you and enrolling with you. You might consider adding a few blog articles to your website with a focus on keywords that will attract your target audience and position your service as an authority in the sector.
List your centre on Google: A Google business listing will ensure that your centre pops up when prospective families are searching for an early learning service in your area. This is free and can be very effective to get in front of families while they are researching.
Get active on social media: Social media is the new word of mouth and you would be hard-pressed to find a family that doesn’t use social media in some capacity. Create a Facebook page and/or Instagram to market your early learning centre. Here you can really showcase your personality and the amazing experience children have in your centre. You can also turn on ‘Reviews’ so that your current or past families can tell everyone just how great your centre is.
Pay for online ads: Advertising online isn’t as expensive as you may think and can get worthwhile results. Paying for ads might include Facebook ads to reach families in a certain area via their social media, or a Google ads campaign to improve your visibility when families are searching for centres online.
Traditional marketing ideas for childcare centres
While marketing online can be effective and inexpensive, it’s good to diversify your marketing efforts across a few platforms. These more traditional, offline marketing activities can work alongside what you’re doing online too.
Host open days: When it comes to getting a feel for your offering, there’s no substitute for having families visit your early learning centre. An open day that invites your local community to come and see how your centre runs and even meet your educators could be the perfect way for families to fall in love with your service.
Create brochures: We all check the letterbox every day or browse brochures or noticeboards from time to time, so having an eye-catching brochure is a useful marketing tactic to keep up. Do a letterbox drop to introduce your service to families within a designated radius, or leave a few brochures at the local library or family-friendly café.
Advertise in local publications: School newsletters, local area magazines and the local paper offer space for businesses to advertise, usually only for a small fee. Design an ad that captures what your service is all about, or enlist the help of a graphic designer to create an ad that showcases what you have to offer.
Encourage word of mouth: Let everyone know that there are spaces available at your centre or simply encourage existing families or people you know in the local area to share the news of your service with others. And don’t be afraid to talk up your early learning centre yourself too!
Marketing your early learning centre is ongoing
It can be tempting to stop putting the effort into marketing your service when business is going well, but it’s important to commit to marketing ongoing. This is also a great way to build up a healthy waitlist and maintain steady enrolments. With the right plan and digital tools to support it, marketing your early learning centre doesn’t have to take up too much time.
To continue to improve and ensure you’re meeting the needs of your families, ask for feedback and keep an open line of communication with those in your community. This feedback can help you to keep your offering on track and make sure you’re marketing your early learning centre appropriately.
Begin marketing your early learning centre now to start seeing results and delivering exceptional care to children in your local community and beyond.