This is the most exciting time to market an early childhood education center. Never before have there been so many avenues and channels to reach your audience of parents and caregivers. At the Preschool Marketing Group, we understand that today’s marketing blurs the lines between “online” and “offline.” These two categories now act symbiotically to create a holistic approach that can build your school’s reputation and authority. Here are five modern marketing strategies you can use to start reaching more local families.
Local Search Marketing
A local search happens when a prospective family enters a generic term like “Preschool” into a search engine like Google. This is likely to be your most important source of outreach for new families. You’re targeting millennials and they’re doing most of their research online.
There are many signals that contribute to where you rank in a local search result. First, there’s your local profile (Google, Bing). Make sure you’re using all elements of your local profile (like all photos, description, proper category). Secondly, be sure your website is well-aligned with the profile. Make sure you include copy on your homepage that references your category. And be sure that your address appears exactly as it does on your Google profile (with the same abbreviations, and spellings). Also, make sure you’re encouraging great reviews on your profile from your happy families. Not only are the quality and quantity of those reviews a ranking factor, they’re also an important trust factor. A 2014 study discovered that around 80% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
The last two very important local ranking elements are citations and links. Citations are references to your exact name, address, and phone number (what we call NAP) across the web. Make sure this information is uniform and accurate in top services like InfoUSA and Axciom. If you ever find your information incorrect on a website (for example, if they use a variation of your name), try to contact that website and provide them with the correct information. When it comes to links, you want to earn as many as possible. You can earn links through various efforts, but most links will come in the form of someone sharing a unique and interesting piece of content you have created. Making your blog a valuable resource for early childhood topics in your area is one great way to encourage that type of sharing.
Event Hosting Marketing
Event hosting is simple: you have a treasure of information about youth and early childhood development. Hold in-house events to discuss popular topics for your parents and you will demonstrate thought leadership and build authority.
You can hold a free in-house event about a topic like: how to best approach learning for young children, what are the best toys for learning, and so on. Have your RSVP form offer the option to sign up for your newsletter (a perfect way to continue to build your center’s relationship with the new families). You can promote the event on your website, social media, as well as other free sites like Craigslist and Eventbrite. Make sure you have takeaways for the event, like a summary of the topic discussed on letterhead, or a printout of the presentation slides.
Building local strategic alliances is about connecting with complementary services to cross promote. Both businesses win because there’s a sharing of expertise and audience.
Think about other family-related businesses around your area. This often includes pediatricians, pediatric dentists, dance schools, music schools, family photographers, etc. There are many great ways to cross promote: educational event promotion (like above), guest blogging, newsletter mentions. All of these are perfect ways to gain exposure with a new audience.
Google is the primary place families go to learn about educational opportunities for their children, but it’s important to make sure that your information is complete, current, and accurate on not just your own profiles (Google/Bing) but also on other, third-party websites that rank highly in search results.
Here are a few of the important websites for early childhood centers: Yelp, GreatSchools, and Noodle. Depending on your geographic area, there may also be local directories like PreK Smarties, or Mommy Poppins. Make sure your profiles take advantage of all information available (like descriptions, categories, photos).
Advertising is a great way to get your center in front of more local families. There are many ways to advertise your amazing programs, here are a few of the major opportunities:
Pay-per-click (PPC) – This includes services like Google AdWords, which allows you to purchase on specific keywords, for example “preschool” and allows you to target people in your local area.
Facebook – Offers an advertising platform, which allows you to target not only areas but also psychographics (subscribers to magazines like Parenting).
Local advertising channels – This includes opportunities such as sponsoring mom groups on Meetup, and local parent networks.
You can use advertising to reach new families during key decision-making time periods, or during your slower months to drum up more interest. The key to advertising success is tracking your efforts to determine the best possible allocation of your advertising budget.
The Preschool Marketing Group is a full-service marketing consulting and creative studio founded with the mission of helping preschools thrive through smart marketing. We specialize in helping preschools increase enrollment and revenue by maximizing their marketing efforts, focusing on ethical, effective, and modern strategies.