Marketing - promotional materials
When you're looking for more families to use your childcare service, whether you're a childminder, or if you work in a nursery, it's important to ensure that you have a range of marketing materials.
Leaflets and posters
Leaflets, flyers, posters and cards can be an effective and simple way of reaching parents in your area. You can put them up on community noticeboards or simply pop them through doors.
If you're struggling for ideas of places to advertise, start with the places you regularly go to. Do you attend toddler groups or the local library? Are there any child- and family-friendly coffee shops near you? Focus on places you know that parents of young children go to. Think about children's centres, sports centres, GP surgeries and libraries.
If you are offering after-school care, ask the local schools if they offer advertising in their newsletters or if you can put up a flyer on their noticeboard. Consider holding a stall at school fairs and fêtes where parents can meet you.
Make sure your literature is clear and concise, with all the relevant contact information. Don't forget that if you are offering funded hours, this should be highlighted on all your publicity material – many parents of 2, 3 and 4 year olds will be very interested in using their entitlement. If you're unsure about whether, or how, to offer the free entitlement, read more about the funding in England here or read about the funding in Wales.
Keep a stack of business cards or flyers with you all the time, too. It's great to be able to hand out a card to an interested parent on the spot.
Social media can help you to promote your service to your customers. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and many other channels enable you to promote what you do and build relationships with your followers. See our resource on making the most of Facebook for further guidance.
It's likely that you already have one or more social media accounts for yourself. If you're planning to use social media for your business, it's good practice to set up dedicated accounts. This will help you maintain a work-life balance, and maintain separation between your own personal social media accounts and those of your business.
Social media can help build brand loyalty, drive traffic to your website or blog, promote your services and link with others. But being active on social media takes time. You will need to monitor all channels regularly and respond to queries – and deal with any negative comments quickly. Social media can take over – so do watch out for that!
As an early years practitioner you also need to be aware of some social media potential pitfalls:
- You must observe client confidentiality at all times – commenting about a parent or child on social media is not advisable
- Make sure you abide by copyright, equality and diversity legislation in your social media activity
- And make sure you have permissions in place so you are not sharing photos or other information about the children in your care without their parent's permission.
Read Hannah Mallaband's blog about Using Instagram to inspire others and her top tips for social media.
Keep up-to-date with and get inspiration from PACEY's social media channels.
Things to consider
The key to marketing your services is to anticipate the key points in the year when you need to promote your setting so that you keep ahead of the game. Many childcare practitioners find that September is their busiest month, marking the transition into school for most children, so thinking about a boost to your advertising and promotional activity in the run up to the summer period can be a good idea.
When you're advertising your business, it's also worth spending some time thinking carefully about how much information you want to share about where you live. For example, because childminders work from their own homes, it's important to balance the need to advertise your business to attract more clients, and to maintain the security of your home.
If you are a childminder, be mindful of the information that you share online and in vacancy matching services. Consider scheduling a privacy review every year to look at the information you're sharing. This becomes especially important if you are caring for vulnerable children.