An often overlooked strategy to fill your program with children quickly is what I call “good old-fashioned, ‘pound the pavement’ style community marketing.” This is truly one of your most powerful tools for success – are you using it effectively and often? Getting out, shaking hands, spreading your flyers all over town—these are the ways to connect with your community business potential and make valuable connections.
If you, as the owner or director of the business, are not doing this kind of marketing, you are missing out. Think you are too busy? Afraid to step out of the comfort zone of your office? Nervous about what to say to get the ball rolling? I challenge you to drop all excuses, make a plan, get out of your comfort zone and put this strategy to work!
An easy plan to follow to succeed at community marketing is to identify 3 or 5 (or, better yet, 10!) business associates with whom you could partner in your community. Get started with a few and build your ‘partnering’ momentum. Ideal partner prospects are those businesses that attract the same clientele or customers that you seek. For instance, here are some easy, sophisticated ways to tap your community potential:
- Who are the key realtors or top relocation specialists—buyers’ agents rather than sellers’ agents—who are working with families as they move into your community? You can figure this out by driving around looking at the yard signs and seeing who has the most business. Then, once you identify the top ones on the signage, talk to the realtors who will help you figure this out.
- Apartment buildings, especially new ones, are a great resource to connect to families as they move into your area. New renters can be tapped by your arrangement with the apartment managers to have special offers or coupons in the lobby or even inserted into mail slots (with management permission). Apartment managers are especially receptive if you offer a special value. You can easily code each flyer or offer, asking the customer to bring that in to your facility, to keep track and know which apartment complexes are your richest sources of prospects. Which ones are the more family-oriented apartment buildings? Simple coding helps you to figure that out.
- Pediatric dentists or pediatricians, especially those who you partner with to come into your center and do presentations about their services, can have your flyers in their offices to promote your center as a service to their clients, just as you promote their business as a service to your families.
- Do you have enrichment programs coming into your center, such as Itsy Bitsy Yoga, Mommy and Me, KinderMusic, etc.? These are perfect business partners for you to trade flyers and promotional offers.
- Hair salons and nail salons may be another source of your ideal clients. The back of a restroom door is a great place for an ad featuring your center. You have a captive audience to look at that ad! Work with the salons to arrange a trade. They could come in to do a quick free manicure for your moms, for instance. Don’t forget kids’ hair salons too!
- Toy stores are a no-brainer. These shoppers are your ideal customers.
- Craft stores, such as Hobby Lobby and Michael’s have ‘child and mom’ craft time, and these are the perfect clients for your business. Think creatively and offer to co-promote their programs and your business.
- Join the Lions Club, Rotary and The Chamber of Commerce. These are ideal venues for reaching out to your community business partners.
Themed flyers and seasonal promotions—pumpkins, turkeys, all the holidays—as well as any special enrollment offers, are all ways for you to constantly refresh and renew your visible and valuable connection with community marketing partners. Many of you are not doing effective community marketing, and yet it is the most natural networking approach!
Your Success Assignment: Get out of your comfort zone, think outside the box, make your list of potential partners and tap this great resource to fill your child care program!
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