10-minute quick read…
There’s no denying that 2020 was a challenging year for the Early Years sector, but as childminders start planning and preparing their settings for 2021, marketing and raising brand awareness will be a core feature on the agenda over the coming months.
Advertising your setting can feel like a mammoth task – and much like writing a book, knowing where to start is often the hardest part.
But once you get into a rhythm, the “marketing machine” quickly becomes a well-oiled operation. With any good marketing message, what’s really important is to capture the ‘soul’ of your childcare – conveying what day-to-day life is like and offering a real-life insight into the culture and support available. After all, that’s what can really help parents to make the decision that you and your setting is right for their children.
Of course, show-arounds and open days are one of the best, and most widely adopted ways to do this, as parents can physically come into the setting and see what it’s like with their own eyes. But with a little flair and creativity, marketing can take many physical and digital guises which are equally as impactful.
Tip 1: Getting savvy on social media
Social media is used by billions of people across the globe, so it’s no wonder why marketing on these channels is widely embraced by businesses across many sectors.
But with so many platforms out there, how can childminders identify the ones which would really work for them – and to prevent uploading posts from feeling like a chore?
Pick one or two channels where parents are usually most active and post content regularly. Facebook is one of the most popular choices for childminders, as there are over 44 million users in the UK alone, and almost three-quarters of online parents (74%) use this channel.
Choosing what to post can be difficult, but here are some social media ideas to help you get started.
Tip 2: Embracing the blog
It’s a great idea for childminders to have a blog if they don’t already, as this acts as the perfect hub to house all your news and parent updates. And it’s a platform where you can communicate your voice on industry news and sector events too.
As a result, this makes it a fantastic place to link to via social media – informing existing and prospective parents about what’s been happening with your setting, while at the same time helping to drive traffic to your website and increase the content reach.
Tip 3: Varying the content
Simply setting up a profile doesn’t mean that parents will automatically land on your page and interact with it though. The more useful and relevant subject matter you create and share – and your followers engage with – the likelier it is that your posts will reach the newsfeeds of not only your existing network, but that of their connections too.
And if settings aren’t sure exactly what to post, a useful exercise is to ask, ‘does this inspire, educate or inform my followers?’ If the answer is ‘yes’, it’s time to go ahead and click ‘post’.
While publishing pictures from the setting – with the appropriate parental consent if they contain children – are always great for giving prospects a real-life view into the setting, there are other content ideas managers and practitioners can harness too, to help keep it diverse.
Competitions, blogs, videos, GIFs, live streams – of storytime or playing an interactive game – and news articles are all effective ways to vary the pace and keep profiles current.
Tip 4: Involving parents
One area which shouldn’t be overlooked in 2021 is what role parents can play in your marketing.
Parents are influential people. And as many trusted recommendations often come by word of mouth, it’s in this sense that parents are a childminders biggest – and often most overlooked – marketing tool.
It could be as simple as drafting a spotlight Q&A, which features five quick-fire questions that glean their thoughts on the setting – their favourite element, plus how they’d describe the setting and the staff, for instance. Or it could be in the form of a client-led testimonial.
Either way, it’s this first-person insight that can be a really powerful and influential form of digital comms.
It’s an easy read, which helps to build trust and credibility in the setting and is content that can be shared across all relevant social media channels. Graphics can also be created to complement a specific blog series.
Tip 5: Revamping your website
With technology forming a huge part of our everyday lives – both personally and professionally – it’s no surprise that having a strong online presence is one of the best ways for settings to get noticed by prospective parents.
As a result, first impressions are rarely face-to-face – with many visitors having looked up a provider long before they make the decision to pay them a visit.
Most importantly, settings don’t need to have a website with all the bells and whistles – which costs thousands of pounds to develop – but they must ensure that they can be found.
Of course, the brand colours and layout have to represent your ethos and personality, but some simple content additions such as parent testimonials or snippets from latest Ofsted reports, can really go a long way towards illustrating both credibility and personality.
Additionally, if a website always has fresh, informative content available – with some relevant keywords – this will help to show that it’s an environment where there’s always something new going on. This is also an important factor when improving a website’s ranking within the search engines.
Where budget constraints prevent you from setting up your own website, you could consider setting up a profile on childcare.co.uk and Google’s my business, so you will be found by users searching on google.
With busy days flying by in the blink of an eye, it can sometimes feel tricky to dedicate an extra minute to anything other than the task in hand, which is why a pre-made marketing strategy works wonders for time-poor schedules.
Sharing your news is important, but it can quickly feel demotivating and burdensome, being realistic is key here. Start simple and make sure you have a clear strategy in mind, focus on just two or three “channels” (social media, website, email) so you know that the time you spend on these will result in good work.
Be clear on what you want to say that week, what your topic or focus will be and don’t forget to make it fun – after all in a world hit by such enormous challenges recently, a bit of light-hearted fun and lighter tones of voice can go along way to helping people and future parents engage with your setting.