I’m really excited to write this post.
You see, I’m going to be able to take off my website building/marketing hat and help you come up with advertising ideas for your daycare from the perspective of a parent.
I’m about to walk you through the exact process my wife and I took when finding and choosing a daycare center for our son.
This is hopefully going to allow you to quickly filter through what works and what doesn’t, and arm you with some great advertising ideas that will help drive your business forward.
At the tender age of 13 months, we had to make the difficult decision to place him into daycare three days a week so my wife could return to work.
I have to be honest, this was one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do.
It may sound silly, but at just over a year old, the last thing either one of us wanted to do was hand him over to a stranger(s) who’d be responsible for his well-being for half of the week but we were left with no choice.
We didn’t care if the daycare was in the form of an individual working from home or a larger more established business as long as they were registered, had a good track record, genuinely had a passion for children, and finally, we felt comfortable in the environment before handing over our bundle of joy.
I know it may seem like I’m getting a little side-tracked but I think it was important to explain our situation because it translated directly into the way we searched for our daycare.
Traditional Advertising Methods and The Role They Play
Just before I show you the route we took, I wanted to share with you some other methods that I’ve seen marketers, as well as other daycare owners, recommend as ways to promote your business.
Below the list, I’ll tell you exactly what role I personally think they play in the grand scheme of things.
- Ads in local papers
- Community notice boards
- Business cards
- Networking with other daycare centers (to refer clients when full)
- See if local schools have a recommended list and apply to get on it
I have to be honest, I wish we’d have thought of contacting local schools to see if they had a recommended list, that would have been a great place to start, and something you should definitely consider doing.
As is the idea of networking with other centers in the area so you can refer people to each other should you become full.
I should point out that if you go down this route, you’ll need to do your homework on the other company first as parents will remember that you were the one that referred them and your reputation could be at stake.
As for the other traditional methods such as flyers, business cards, and printed ads, I’d be very surprised if you generated any new business as a direct result.
There’s no way we would have chosen child care based on a flyer.
Having said that, these printed ads are a great way of building your brand and getting your name into the community.
If a little further down the line, a person decided they needed daycare, your business name may pop into their head or be triggered when they come across again in the future.
I believe that sub-concisely, the more exposure a brand gets, the more we tend to trust them.
I’d definitely recommend implementing these things, just don’t expect a hoard of parents banging on your door as a direct result as I don’t think it will happen.
Okay, as promised, here’s the exact process we took when trying to find childcare for our little guy.
Step 1. Word of Mouth Recommendations
Where better place to look for recommendations than from the people we trust?
The first thing we did was to contact friends ,oncerns and listened to what they had to say. We made a list of their recommendations which came to a grand total of 2 local centers.
Although we didn’t end up with many, we would give them serious consideration as they came from people we trust.
No matter how many hundreds or thousands, companies spend on advertising, you simply can’t beat the recommendation of friends and family. Don’t you agree?
Step 2. Next, We Headed Over To Google
I don’t know about you, but we use Google to search for just about everything these days and sometimes can’t remember what we used to do before.
And it’s not just us.
As more people turn to the internet to find local businesses, if you don’t have a presence there, you’re seriously missing out and as time passes your business could seriously suffer as a result.
Our trip to Google was actually twofold;
- To find daycare centers that our friends and family hadn’t mentioned.
- To look for any reviews directly inside Google.
There are plenty of sites out there that people can easily access and leave a review of your services. Personally, I prefer to read Google reviews that have been directly inside the actual business listing.
The reason being, Google is fantastic at helping to put local businesses on the map but for some reason (and I have no idea why) the process to leave a review isn’t the simplest and they seem to make people jump through hoops to be able to do so.
My thought process is as strange as it may seem, if someone’s prepared to go through the extra effort to leave a Google review, then they probably have either something very good to say about the business, or something very negative.
Either way, we wanted to know.
We were able to add an additional two daycare centers to our list after step giving us a total of four. Some of the other places we’d seen in our Google search, we had been advised against by friends and family so they were non-starters.
Step 3. We Visited Their Websites
We had our list so now we wanted to find out more about them. My favorite way to do this is by visiting their website.
I think each time you click on a business website, it’s like swinging open the front door of the business and taking a peek inside.
I know that a professional looking website that is full of bells and whistles isn’t any indication of the quality of childcare available, but most of us still go by our first impressions whether we like it or not.
When I say first impressions, I don’t mean how the website looks but more of what information is included on the site.
If we were to walk through the front door of any of the daycares on our list, I’d expect to see the following things which are the same things I’d also hope to see on the website;
- Childcare license information
- About us page with background information
- Pictures of any staff members
- Pictures of the facilities
- A list of activities.
- An example of a typical weekly menu
- Opening times
- A list of FAQ’s answered right there on the site
- Prices (nice, but not essential)
We were able to find the majority of this information for all four of the daycare’s on our list. At this point, it was looking good!
Step 4. Facebook Sorted The Men From The Boys
I’m not the biggest fan of Facebook (or social media in general), but I do have a personal Facebook account that I hadn’t used for quite some time. I dusted off my username and password and proceeded to log in.
Although I couldn’t really care less what my friends had for breakfast, or who’s dating who, you’ve got to admit that Facebook is a place where people tend to say what they really think.
Now, add that to Facebooks increasingly popular business directory and you have a winning formula to find out people’s true thoughts on a given business, local or otherwise.
The major benefit of this social networking site is you’ll often see reviews from your friends or people that you know from the are, that’s why we chose to do a little research there.
Wow, what can I say?
We were actually disgusted by what we read about one of them, and a little put off by another.
We wouldn’t have minded so much if they had attempted to defend themselves so we could have heard both sides of the story which would have allowed us to make an informed decision but they hadn’t.
This was a very quick, yet invaluable exercise that cut our list in half.
Step 5. Finally, We Visited The Premises
I don’t want to step on your toes here. It’s my job to show you how to get people through your door and then it’s over to you as that’s what you do best.
However, if you don’t mind, I’d like to share a couple of things with you that happened upon visiting both daycare’s that led us to make our final decision and just in case you were wondering, it had nothing to do with cost.
As soon as we visited “Daycare A” as we’ll call it, we were made to feel welcome and so was Liam (our son).
We were taken on a tour of the whole place and it was great to see his reaction to everything. He was then taken off by a member of staff to play with the other kids while the grown-ups talked over a coffee.
We had all of our questions answered thoroughly before going to watch him play for a few minutes. He seemed to love it.
We left the building feeling happy and secure with an enrollment pack under our arm that reinforced all of the information we had been given along with pricing information etc.
Then we went to Daycare B….
Daycare B is quite a well known and respected nursery in our area so we had high expectations for this place. Upon our arrival, we had to wait for our appointment for around ten minutes as they were running behind.
Hey, we weren’t going to hold that against them, I know what it’s like trying to be on time with one kid, let alone a whole bunch of them.
We met the manager and she quickly passed us off to a member of staff who ushered us through the building on our so-called “tour”.
It didn’t feel like there was any time to take a breath, let alone get any in-depth answers to our questions.
At the end of the visit, we were given an enrollment form and told to give them a call if we wanted a place.
To be honest, it was a good thing it was all over so quick, I don’t think I could have taken the overpowering smell of dirty diapers for much longer.
Needless to say, we got straight on the phone the Daycare A and secured our place.
We were then offered a “settling in day” two weeks prior to the start date which was fantastic.
Looking back, I couldn’t have been happier with our choice. His confidence grew and learned some vital life skills which gave him a huge headstart when starting school.
Over To You
Well, I hope you’ve been able to learn something here after seeing the actual process a set of parents when through and I know for a fact that we’re not the only ones.
Even though our journey started out with word of mouth recommendations, the internet played a huge role in deciding which daycares we liked enough to visit.
And the moral of the story?
Your daycare business needs to be online these days if you’re serious about growing it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts
If your daycare business has been around for a while, what methods have you tried in the past, what worked and what didn’t?
Or are you just starting out? Let me know in the comments section below and I’ll get right back to