How to market your business

Tracey is a childminder in south-west London. Previously a marketing professional, she used various techniques to fill her places.

I started off by advertising locally, just putting up posters and flyers in shops and on community noticeboards. I also advertised on childcare search websites as well as my local authority’s childcare information website. I found most clients initially came from my local authority, but this was soon replaced by word of mouth, as people in the area heard about our service and other parents recommended us.

My daughter helps me run the business and is more tech-savvy than me, so she’s created a great website for us. It’s got a bright, vibrant layout, is full of photos, as well as all the crucial information such as our policies and daily routine. I regularly point people who initially enquire towards the website – and they are always impressed and want to come for a visit. I also provide potential new parents with at least two current parents’ contact details so that they can get feedback on the true experience of the service we provide.

In terms of ongoing communication with parents, we have a closed WhatsApp group for sharing a daily update of what the kids have been up to, which has been a real hit. We used to do daily diaries, but found they were frequently forgotten by parents and took up a disproportionate amount of staff time. We flag up any individual issues from the day verbally with parents at pick-up time, and use an online development tracking programme that parents can access anytime. This has revolutionised parents’ engagement with their child’s development and learning, as they can login whenever they like to see photos and observations, and can even add some themselves.

We also have a termly newsletter, where we mention new children, those who are leaving, as well as any staff changes. We write a summary of the recent themes, activities and trips, which is very popular – it often gets forwarded to grandparents, who also like to see what the children have been up to! I’ve also started a ‘development matters’ section, where we talk about a different aspect of the EYFS or development in general (e.g. potty training) and let parents know how they can support their children’s learning – this has been received well by the parents, who are genuinely interested in some of these key topics.

Tracey's top tips:

  • Set aside a small marketing budget to start with to make sure you are seen in the right places
  • If you aren’t an expert when it comes to marketing, social media or websites, speak to friends and family – you might just find there are people you know who can help you
  • Word of mouth is vital, but it will take a while for you to be able to rely on recommendations, don’t forget parents of children in your care can be the biggest advocates of your service, so focus on ensuring your communication with them is the best it can be.
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