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A sound marketing strategy is critical to the success of your daycare business, whether you’re an established child care center or a home-based startup. PsPrint has created the ultimate guide to daycare marketing to help you learn how to promote your daycare so you can quickly grow your business by earning positive ROI from your campaigns.
Each week in the U.S., child care providers care for nearly 11 million children under the age of five, averaging 36 hours of care per child, per week. That means there is a strong market for daycares, and demand for preschool and child care center directors is expected to grow by seven percent by 2024.
Each state has its own regulations regarding daycare centers; typically, the larger your daycare, the more regulations you will be subjected to. Home-based daycares and babysitters who care for a small number of children often have few regulations, while child care centers that care for dozens of children and have multiple employees might need to be licensed and pass regular inspections.
Of course, this is a simplified overview of what you need to start a daycare, but it offers a bird’s eye view of the overall process. Your business plan will be the backbone of your daycare; in it, you’ll answer questions such as:
Startup costs vary considerably, depending on whether you want to start a home-based daycare or build a new child care facility, or something in between. According to Entrepreneur.com, the average daycare costs between $10,000 and $50,000 to start; however, your costs could be considerably cheaper with a home-based business.
You might be able to offset some of the initial costs if you can start your daycare with center with government grants.
After your startup costs, you’ll need to pay for ongoing daycare expenses, commonly referred to as overhead. They include:
Your actual costs will vary depending on the type of child care facility you operate and your market; however, Projection Hub estimates monthly costs for a facility with one employee to be around $4,000. In-home daycares would likely pay much less, while larger multi-employee facilities could pay significantly more.
Your business plan should account for all of these expenses.
Again, this varies considerably depending on your market: your city, geography, median income, and other factors play a role in how much money your daycare will make. The more children you care for, the greater your gross; but your overhead will increase as well, especially if you maintain a facility outside your home and have employees. Your salary will depend on your gross revenue less your expenses (overhead).
The average daycare brings in annual revenues of nearly $64,000, but that figure does not represent profits. The average daycare teacher makes around $20,000; the average director, around $45,790.
There is likewise a lot of variation in child care costs. According to Child Care Aware, the average annual cost of full-time care for a four-year-old in center-based care ranges from $3,997 in Mississippi to $12,781 in Massachusetts. You can check out annual child care costs for your state on Child Care Aware’s website.
What about profit? According to Projection Hub, a facility with one employee might expect to profit around $13,683 the first year (after startup costs) and around $40,000 in subsequent years.
You need to research your local market and develop a strong business plan to project how much you can make from your daycare business.
Of course, your daycare won’t make any money unless you’re able to market it effectively. Carefully consider your daycare marketing plan and strategies to identify the best route for your market.
The following daycare marketing tips will help you develop a winning strategy so you can launch and grow your child care business.
A strong brand inspires confidence and trust in your daycare – two critical factors if you want parents to leave their children in your care for hours at a time. Here are some tips for branding your daycare.
Branding is important because people purchase on emotion. Parents choose businesses that share their values, especially when it comes to their children. It's important to identify and promote your branded identity so you can connect with your target clientele at a glance. A well-rounded branded strategy allows you to do just that. Careful critical thinking now pays huge dividends later.
If your daycare is not branded, then you're just another daycare. There's nothing that separates you from the competition. This reduces your potential customer pool to make choices based on factors such as price, convenience and preconceived notions. Without a branded identity, you have no control over preconceptions and therefore you're forced to compete on pricing and location alone. This is not a way to grow your business. Cheap does not outsell quality.
Instead, you should compete based on public perception, which you can control with a branded image. To identify your branded image, you have to consider how you're different from your competitors. What do you offer that they don't (or that they don't promote)? Many parents prefer a daycare that not only safeguards their children while they're at work, but also fosters intellectual, physical and emotional growth through education, play time and cooperative learning. Perhaps you're the "Learning Daycare" or the "Strong Body, Sound Mind Daycare." Maybe you're in a specialized niche such as the "Spiritual Daycare."
To help you define what type of daycare you are, consider the features and benefits you offer your clientele. Understand the distinction between the two. Education is a feature, for example, while fostering critical thinking is a benefit. List all of your features and benefits, and pick the most important that also differentiate you from the competition to base your brand on.
You also have to understand your customers, and what motivates them. All parents want their children to receive the best care possible, but at the same time a daycare located near a university might have clientele with very different secondary motivators than a daycare located near an industrial park. What is your mission, and how does this mission apply to and benefit your clientele?
Once you've identified your differences, strengths, clientele, benefits and motivators, wrap them all together into a singular branded image that expresses who you are, what you do, and how you do it.
Skilled graphic design can transform your daycare's branded identity from a concept to a visual motivator. This image is what the world will see, and your audience will perceive the ideal and emotions that your image expresses. The power of design is limitless, especially when you incorporate sound brand identity design principles for your daycare.
Your daycare colors, logo, corporate identity package, website, and other marketing materials are all a reflection of your brand; so familiar, cohesive design must be applied to all mediums. The goal is for your prospects to be able to glance at your material and instantly recognize who it's from and what you stand for. When you achieve this, you've developed an excellent daycare brand identity.
One of the biggest mistakes many daycares make is printing their own marketing materials. They view marketing as an expense, when it is actually an investment designed to make money. A professional presentation will always achieve more responses than desktop-printed materials, so choose an affordable online printing company such as PsPrint to deliver your message with professionalism.
Business cards - Business cards are cheap and expendable. Print as many as you can hand out, and make sure everyone you meet has one. This includes your mom and your banker, and everyone in between. Compare different types of business cards to see which best suits your daycare brand.
Postcards are likewise extremely cost effective and are a great way to get your clientele to take a closer look at your daycare.
Strategically placed posters can grab attention. Try community bulletin boards, and if you're close to a large institution such as a university, tech firm or factory, see if you can purchase some ad space in hallways and on bulletin boards and place your posters there. Maybe you have someone on the inside who can do this for you free of charge. Keep costs low by printing short run posters at discount prices.
Like posters, flyers can be placed on bulletin boards and anywhere else your target audience frequents. Under windshield wipers in the grocery store parking lot is a good option. You can help your daycare stand out with die-cut flyer printing.
A rather unique, yet extremely effective approach to daycare marketing is to print booklets that educate parents on child development: intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. Not only will your booklet add value and have shelf life, it will demonstrate that you're an expert in this field and build trust and confidence.
Daycares are not retail businesses by trade, but that doesn't mean you can't upsell. See if your suppliers allow you to become resellers so you can profit from selling kid-safe and kid-friendly products to parents. Some companies sell green products for kids, a hot trend among many parents today. Send your catalogs home with your clientele.
A full-color brochure tells parents everything they need to know about your daycare so they can make sound child care decisions.
Everyone loves (and uses) free calendars. Make yours kid-friendly and interactive with important date reminders, stickers, vivid images and other fun add-ons that draw attention to your company 365 days a year.
Few businesses are as personal as daycares, so send your parents greeting cards in appreciation. Better yet, send your children greeting cards on birthdays and holidays, and include a small token of appreciation (such as a coupon for a free ice cream cone at a local restaurant).
Kids love stickers. They'll use them. Everywhere. Make sure yours have your name on them, and let your kids get a'stickin'!
A formal approach to staying connected with your clients. Highlight new advances in child care, what you're doing in your daycare, and include photos (with permission) of your kids at work and play.
Why a corporate ID package for a daycare? If you're close to a large institution, you might be able to contract daycare services through the company, and a corporate ID package is exactly what you'll need to make the professional presentation the decision-makers are looking for.
The 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing states that 40 percent of your success is based on the quality of your mailing list, another 40 percent is contingent on the perceived value of your offer and the remaining 20 percent is everything else.
If you can't properly articulate your offer or speak to your customers, however, they might not even understand what makes you so special. This is why harnessing the power of copywriting is so important to your daycare marketing success.
Design is equally important; it should work with your copy to command attention and lend a favorable impression of your daycare.
Your headline is the introduction to your marketing piece. It tells your clientele whether it's worth reading on, which is why it's so important to craft a powerful headline that gets attention, elicits curiosity and motivates response. Headlines play on emotions and solve problems or address your audience's desires or fears. When possible, include your offer in your headline, since your offer is integral to the success of any direct-marketing piece.
Many amateur writers list features but forget to include benefits in their marketing copy. Make sure you list both, because it is the benefits of your daycare that will motivate your clientele. Features are facts about your daycare; benefits are how those facts will make life better or otherwise help your clientele. If your daycare uses only green cleaning supplies (feature), then you can say you provide a safe learning environment (benefit).
Despite the fact the perceived quality of your offer is vital to direct-mail success, few daycares include one in their marketing materials. It's likely that your competitors do not make a compelling offer as part of their marketing strategy, so you can leapfrog them by including an offer in yours.
Your offer is not simply a "safe, fun, educational daycare for kids." That might be part of your branded image, but it is not a direct offer despite the fact that it is what parents are looking for.
A good offer is actionable and time limited. Perhaps you want to bring parents and kids in for an open house so they can learn more about your daycare. You might offer a free pizza or $10 worth of video game tokens at the nearest kids' restaurant to entice families to check out your daycare.
- A call to action tells your clientele exactly what they need to do next to take you up on your offer. Do not be ambiguous here, and provide several ways to respond (call a phone number, visit a website, visit your daycare, etc.).
You have several options for designing your daycare marketing materials. If you’re already a savvy designer, you can do it yourself. If not, you could hire a professional designer who has the experience and skillset to motivate clients to call.
The DIY method is free, but if you’re not a graphic designer you’ll likely sacrifice quality. A professional designer offers high-quality work, but the fees can add up. You can get the best of both worlds with free templates and PsPrint’s free online design tool.
Getting the word out about your daycare takes more than simply printing postcards and launching a website. You have to get the right message in front of the right audience, at the right time.
Start by understanding your target audience for a child care service: perhaps local, working parents between the age of 20 and 40. Here are some tips for daycare marketing distribution:
Direct mail is one of the best ways to reach your clientele. A calculated direct-mail campaign represents an investment in profit and should be approached with dedication. Consult a list broker or use the mailing list building tools available at PsPrint, and develop a database of your own customers and define a mailing list comprised of likely prospects.
Instead of one postcard campaign, develop a strategy that incorporates multiple direct mailers during a six-month period. This contributes to your daycare branding efforts and allows you to develop long-term relationships. By the time you launch your incredible offer, you'll have established trust and credibility and will yield a higher response rate.
Send a brochure introducing your potential clientele to your daycare. Offer a personal tour at their convenience. Add value by including a panel with tips for choosing a daycare provider or developmental needs of children of a specific age.M
Send a flyer or newsletter that highlights recent news about your daycare. Include photos (with permission) of children engaging in activities or showcases your children's artwork, experiments or other creations. A "Meet the Staff" section, complete with photos and qualifications, can lend trust and confidence.
Send a booklet about daycare safety and childhood learning principles. Include a statement about your daycare's philosophy and approach. Do your research to identify documented facts you can reference to your advantage. The booklet should be educational in nature, but should also be a branding exercise. Include tips parents can use at home, not just what you do in your daycare, so that the booklet becomes a bookshelf references.
Send a calendar with stickers children can use to mark special dates or complete a scene. Highlight important dates, tips, advice, reminders and other daycare-branding tidbits that parents will take note of.
Send a direct-mail postcard inviting parents to your open house or other special event. Be sure to include an offer!
Send a follow-up greeting card to everyone who attended your daycare. Include a voucher or gift coupon to express your appreciation and offer to personally answer any questions parents might have. You should also consider sending greeting cards to families who received the postcard but did not attend: "We're sorry we missed you ... Can we answer any questions for you or schedule a private meeting?"
You can deploy advertisements online or in the yellow pages, newspapers and magazines; as well as on the radio, television, billboards and any number of published mediums.
You can also take your ads street side by placing flyers and posters on community bulletin boards, and university, office and industrial social hot spots.
Word of mouth is the most powerful advertiser, so make sure friends, family, and colleagues know what you do and are prepared to spread the word for you. You should consider handing out stickers and business cards to everyone you know for distribution.
Test, track and tweak: These three T’s will help you develop winning daycare marketing campaigns. Always test different variations of your marketing materials on small portions of your mailing list before launching the full campaign. Sometimes a single word change can make a big difference in return on investment.
Track your response rates and record who responds so you can further define your target demographics. Tweak your subsequent marketing materials to cater to this audience.
Keep a database of customers and respondents, and evaluate recognizable trends so you can customize your offers. This is just another form of knowing your customers, but from an analytical perspective it allows you to make intelligent business decisions based on honest, proven statistics.
Creative marketing generates buzz, delivers value to your clientele and increases profits for you. Try these creative daycare marketing ideas and resources to boost your business this year.
Events can help you connect with your clientele by showing them what you're all about and engaging parents and children in fun family activities. Open houses are good marketing tools, but you can also host an art day, kids vs. parents activity day or other special family bonding event. Make sure you have take-away information on-hand, demonstrations or a way to schedule private appointments and/or collect name, address and demographic information so you can capture leads.
Consider partnering with complementary and non-competing businesses. You could split the cost of giveaways with a family fun center and hand out vouchers or coupons in return for event attendance. You don't have to develop elaborate cross promotions.
Sometimes just going in together with a partner or two to decrease marketing costs is enough. For example, you could form a "Safe Kids America" alliance with a fun center, dentist or even your local police department to reduce marketing costs. A joint newsletter sent regularly could offer tips and tricks and simultaneously market your collective businesses. (NOTE: Your local police department is not likely to pitch in, but it could be a great PR move if you made the department or chief an "honorary member." If you're lucky, you might get the department to contribute a regular tip column.)
We've already discussed placing posters and flyers where your target audience is likely to see them, especially at places of work. Seek out creative marketing opportunities whenever you can. The less distraction you have from competitors and the more unique your approach, the more likely your message is to be remembered.
Stickers are perfect beacons, because you can stick them in creative places. How about placing stickers on waiting room magazines, in restroom stalls or even on dentists' ceilings that say "Who's watching your kids?" and includes your URL?
Capitalize on what makes your daycare unique by applying creative naming conventions. For instance, our example Tenderfoot Daycare calls the children it supervises "Tender Kids".
Just because you're a daycare doesn't mean you can't upsell. Become a reseller for green or other kid-friendly products and print a take-home catalog so your parents can "keep their kids as safe at home as they are at daycare." If you have a large staff or young assistants who babysit, offer to book after-hours babysitting appointments for them in exchange for a commission. You can offer this additional service right from the front desk.
Links to daycare marketing resources you can use to bolster business:
Many local communities also have daycare associations and organizations. Run a quick Google search for your local, state and regional daycare and childcare associations and organizations for additional resources.