Top Tips for growing your Early Years and Childcare business – ‘Understanding the parents journey’

With government legislation and changes to funding arrangements for the early years and childcare sector, it is becoming increasingly difficult for childcare providers to grow their businesses and to get their marketing right.

In addition, if you are to be successful with this, as the owner or manager of a setting, you must not overlook the big part that social media platforms and digital marketing has in effective business development.

When you first came in to early years and childcare you may not have realised that you would need to be a business expert as well as a highly trained and effective leader and manager.

If these issues resonate with you it is likely that you will find my ‘Top Tips on growing your Early Years and Childcare Business’ useful.

Please see below my top tips for ‘understanding the customers’ journey’ – of course this is ‘marketing jargon’ but if you really want to grow your childcare business then you must put on your ‘marketing head’ as a matter of urgency and see the parents of your children as the customer!

Understanding your audience

  1. Carefully consider your customers i.e. the parents of your children or those parents that may use your services in future. You need to have a clear vision of WHO you are talking to and what will resonate with them.
  2. Create one or more ‘customer personas’ as your parents are likely to be different for the different services/products that you offer or intend to offer (see ‘Top Tips for developing a customer persona’ coming shortly).
  3. Once you have your ‘target market’ you can consider exactly what you are going to offer in the future or how what you offer now meets their needs.
  4. Break down your market and decide what they MAY need or want. Research has shown that only 5% of the market will want to buy now. Therefore, you need to target those that MAY ‘want’ or ‘need’ a service (or product) from you at some point in the future.
  5. Be aware a potential customer (parents) will research what they are looking for – how can you get to them first?
  6. As a ‘seller’ (marketing jargon) you therefore need to be helpful and supportive prior to their need to buy – how can you do this? Present a problem/pose a question and then say what you can do to provide a solution – use clear messages and bullet points. Keep in contact on a regular basis but not too frequently. Send snippets of information or useful tips to keep them engaged and informed.
  7. When quoting a price for your services state ‘The fees cover the following special things‘ and include a bullet point list – or say/do something similar to this.
  8. Consider your organisation’s values and beliefs (or your own values and beliefs if you own the business yourself) and promote these briefly but clearly in all your marketing and through your ‘branding’ (see separate ‘Top Tips on branding’ coming shortly). Ensure every single member of staff, including trainees know what these are.
  9. EDUCATE people and COMMUNICATE with people that may want your services in the future – remember to repeat, remind and illustrate.
  10. Build trust and good relationships with your target audience (including your parents of the future).

Make the most of your marketing

  1. Focus on marketing and engagement.
  2. Research suggests that there are more than 50 strategies to generate ‘leads’ in marketing. The most common and most effective are advertising, having a website, using email, asking for referrals, telemarketing, direct mail, networking, and building strategic alliances (links with other trusted professionals that may be able to offer different expertise to your target audience that compliment your services).
  3. Use a range of marketing but not too many different ones which may dilute your efforts. Concentrate on the social media platform that your target audience uses – no good using Twitter if your audience does not know what it is all about.
  4. Seek referrals and then give your referrer a discount/reward.
  5. To get a ‘conversion’ from potential customer (new parent) to a buying customer, measure success with any chosen method, have a Unique Selling Point (USP), offer guarantees, train person taking enquiries i.e. have scripts and guides available, ensure all messages in all promotional materials and through all direct contacts made with your staff are consistent, carefully consider your  branding (see Top Tips on branding for more information), add value to what you do and what you offer, provide testimonials from happy customers (parents), make it easy to ‘buy’ your services, always follow up on enquiries and have quality promotional materials.

Managing costs

  1. Sell higher margin services (in EY terms this MAY mean allocating more places for non-funded children e.g. more baby places, more places for non-funded 2 year olds or by developing out of school childcare or holiday places for school aged children).
  2. Increase prices in a timely way.
  3. Charge for all costs.
  4. Use technology where possible.
  5. Stop using advertising that is not effective and does not have desired outcome.
  6. Don’t continue to pursue problem customers or those that take up your time.

Email: debra.mcandrew@earlyyearsadvocacy.co.uk
Tel: 07470 235 250