I’ve talked to many of you at my Success Summit, and at other events, about how important it is to effectively communicate your compelling story to prospective parents and to existing clients. What do I mean by your story? Let me give you an example of my story and maybe it will help you.
Every time I go and speak, or every time I meet with a new or prospective client, I tell the story about how I got into the business of working with childcare programs exclusively. It’s a pretty cool story, and it has to do with me being a mom of two young children and also being a marketing expert, about wearing my mom hat and my marketing hat and melding those two to fill a need in the marketplace. Childcare business owners really didn’t have many resources, if any, to help them effectively grow their enrollment, be more profitable and learn to use other management and marketing techniques and strategies.
That’s the story that I tell, and I also tell the story about how I got into the business with my first childcare client, Allison. That story is compelling, and it is true. I also get to talk about the fact that I’m a mom, and I get to show the picture of my children. This allows you, the prospect, to bond with me.
The same thing is true for any business owner. I think most business owners are often reluctant to tell their story, especially owners of childcare businesses, because you don’t want to put yourself in the spotlight. That’s really a mistake. I’m not asking you to necessarily be in the spotlight; I am asking you to tell your story.
For most of us, there was a definitive point when we decided to jump into what we are doing. It might have been a series of things that happened to you that made you decide to get into the business of actually owning or running a childcare business. That’s the story that we want to know: why you got into the business.
For many of you it was that you searched your marketplace for a childcare program for your own children. You saw that none of the programs were being run the way that you thought a quality program should be run. I hear this story time and time again, but it’s still unique because it’s unique to you and to your market. When you tell it, you can also bring your children into the story, because they were a pivotal reason why you got into the business. Pictures of them and pictures of you as a family, images that help to drive the story home, make it even more compelling. This is why I show pictures of my children and me with our birthday hats and of Allison and her grandchildren with their birthday hats. Those images create a compelling connection for people.
Your story does two things:
- It allows prospective parents to bond with you. You may be frustrated by the fact that it feels like parents just come in, or they get on the phone with you and just want to know your rates. They are in a hurry about making the childcare decision, and you can’t bond with them. They won’t ask questions and they won’t open up. One of the reasons is that you are not telling your story. Telling it allows parents to let their guard down, take a breath and bond with you as the business owner, and this is extremely important. Most of you aren’t telling it at all or are just glossing it over.Telling your story leverages what I call the ‘know-like-trust’ factor, the KLT. People want to know you, like you and trust you before they do business with you—especially with childcare, which is a trust-based business.
- No one else has your story; it is completely unique to you. So if you are looking for a way to set yourself apart in the market and be memorable, which most of you need to do better, your story is the hook that will allow you to be different and noteworthy.
So share whatever you have in your life that is interesting and fun. Maybe you cook. Maybe you are a triathlete. Maybe you race cars on the side. Maybe you play guitar or another instrument. Maybe you’re in a local choir or participate in plays in a local actors’ studio. Perhaps you have kids and grandkids that attended your center. Maybe you’re a ‘foster dog parent’, adopting dogs and then letting them go to the next owner.
Whatever it is that is your passion on the side is what people really want to know about you. They want to know about your life. That’s what makes people really interesting. I’m sure you have at least a couple of these things, and I’m asking you to share them: it’s part of your story.
So share the personal fun stuff and also your origin story. Why did you get into this business? Maybe you inherited the business from a grandfather or from your mother; it was their business and you took it over. Maybe you have multi-generational people in your program, with the moms of today’s kids in the program as children, because you’ve been in business for 30 years. That’s a huge and fun piece of your story, and if you are not telling it, you need to.
The creation and communication of your unique story is something that will drive clients and prospects to you consistently over time, and it will help you increase your enrolment. It’s a great strategy and it will also differentiate you in the marketplace.
Your homework is to take action on your story. Create it. Communicate it. Put it on your website. Put it in your information packet. Put it on the wall of your center in a frame. Do whatever you can do to tell your story more effectively.
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