Look no further for the rising star of the marketing mix! Inbound marketing is now a firm favourite amongst the big brands to communicate with customers on a regular basis. It is usually seen in the form of newsletters, magazines, direct marketing catalogues or blogs, but increasingly video and audio content is featured.
Inbound marketing represents a huge opportunity to build awareness in your local community, and increase enrolments. You can have regular interactions with new and potential parents, without rudely interrupting them with an avalanche of untimely sales and promotions. That is one of the great benefits of inbound marketing – not only do you get to remind prospective and existing parents of your unique story on a regular basis but in most cases, they’ll actually be looking forward to hearing from you!
What does this mean for Early Childhood Services and Schools?
If you’re the owner of a Childcare Centre, a Director of a Preschool or School Principal, inbound marketing will cost effectively increase community engagement with existing students, parents and staff as well as grow your enrolments by attracting new families. You have the opportunity via some thoughtful and educational advice to get your brand into the family home, and build that crucial relationship with local parents.
Before you get stressed about budget – I know you’ve got Duplo and iPads to purchase – it’s worth keeping in mind that inbound marketing isn’t about expensive, glossy magazines. Inbound marketing is highly measurable and can be designed to capitalise on your investment. There are lots of ways start an effective, low-budget inbound marketing campaign that will position your Early Childhood Service as knowledgeable and trustworthy, and give you the edge over your competitors. A small budget just needs a big idea.
Get started with a monthly or quarterly newsletter. It’s a great way to show off what you know and position your Early Childhood Service or School as experts and thought leaders. All staff can get involved, contributing photos and stories just like the writers at a local newspaper would!
Some really great things to showcase include:
- What’s going on at your centre or school – activities, special visits, improvements or new equipment. Don’t forget to highlight any programs that make you stick out from the rest, such as languages or a specialist art program.
- Tips and tricks for raising children. This can be anything from behaviour, to nutrition, to handy hints for when their child is sick.
- Calendar of upcoming local events, such as fairs and markets.
- Seasonal advice – just before the school holidays you could list 20 great activities for kids of all ages (even better if they’re free or low cost!) or at Christmas time you could include a map to the best local decoration displays.
- And don’t forget to include photos! Allow parents in your area to see who you and your staff are and get to know you – it’s the best way to start building trust (because let’s face it, no matter how terrible ‘those two’ are, you need to place a lot of trust in someone before you’ll leave your children in their care)!
One of the best ways to build your brand beyond your local area is to fire up into the digital space with a blog. You could write a daily piece, with hints, tips and tricks, and then collate the best pieces into your regular newsletter that you distribute via email. Pop it on a WordPress website which has templates that are super easy to use (no coding or tricky HTML stuff required, promise!). Plus – a basic blog is free!
And the best part?
In time, your campaign will pay for itself as your waitlists deepen. In addition to healthy enrolment numbers, you may also be able to fund future promotions. Once your newsletter has proven its value as a local community resource, consider printing it and distributing more widely. For example, you could provide copies to your local community Child and Family Health Services.
Offer parents and other local businesses advertising space. Just a few half or quarter page ads can help subsidise the cost of printing and distributing – and you’re building some great relationships with other local businesses (who may have kids themselves!). Just remember to think carefully about who you allow to advertise – in the same way the editor of Child Magazine carefully selects the brands who will grace the first few pages of each month’s magazine, you should ensure your advertisers fit what you stand for, and who you’re talking to!
Now you have some basic tactics to market your preschool online! Don’t be left behind, now is the time to put these proven marketing techniques into action to increase enquires and grow the enrolment in your preschool program.