Make it a point to leverage the holiday season to market your child care program. One of the best ways to do this is through community marketing efforts. This means that you are getting involved with your community a variety of ways.
Community marketing can mean to:
Participate in a community event
Invite your clients and/or prospects to an event at your center
Make special visits to targeted members of your community
Here are 9 ideas to help you spread some holiday cheer and share your child care program with your community:
1. Deliver Christmas Cookies
Plan a holiday-inspired “Muffin Run” and bring baskets or trays of Christmas Cookies to members of your community. You can choose to hand-deliver these goodies to the workplaces of your clients OR deliver your holiday treats to local businesses that you have (or would like to have) a reciprocal referral relationship with.
In either case, your “special delivery” is bound to create some buzz in around their “offices.” Who was that? What did they bring you? How do you know them? Oh really, is it a good program?….
When you deliver your goodies, thank your recipient for being a loyal client or community partner and encourage them to share with their co-workers. Always be sure to leave a few flyers or brochures with your basket of treats just in case anyone is curious about your services.
2. Host a Food Drive or a Toy Drive for a Local Charity
Tis the season of giving. Everyone loves to give a little extra during the holidays, but your preschool families are BUSY!! Make it easy and convenient for them by organizing a food drive or a toy drive to benefit a local charity. Get some marketing leverage from of your efforts by providing press releases.
3. Host a Holiday Children’s Performance
Parents LOVE to see their littles doing super cute stuff. Try organizing a very simple holiday performance and invite parents and families to attend. Have the children dress in some super cute costumes, build some props or backdrops, and have your kiddos sing a couple of holiday songs (they are even cuter with motions!)
You can either have the whole group sing together or have each classroom do just one or two songs.
You will need to be practicing these songs with the kiddos daily for at least 3-4 weeks and have a couple of “dress rehearsals” the week of your performance. However, you need to know and expect that no matter how much you practice with your children, it will never go perfectly. One child will be picking their nose, another will get stage fright and want to sit with mommy, and another will lift up their special Christmas dress in front of the entire audience. None of this matters. IN FACT, it adds to the cute-factor of the performance when our munchkins do this stuff. Parents LOVE IT!!
When they see their children demonstrating what they are learning, they are filled with warm fuzzy feelings of pride and loyalty to your school. They see all the other happy families also proud of their kiddos, and the fact that they have chosen “The Right Preschool” for their child is reconfirmed.
This idea not only strengthens the loyalty fence of your current families, but it gives a great impression to friends or family who also attend. If the subject of child care comes up in any future conversations and they had a great experience at your community event, they are likely to tell others about it!
IDEA: For a backdrop, use donated, recycled refrigerator boxes and paint them with cute wintery scenes.
4. Host a Holiday Dinner for Your Enrolled Families
Use the holiday season as an excuse to host a parent event. If you have a large multi-purpose room, take advantage of it and host an evening meal. If you don’t, consider hosting your family dinner off-site (rent a church fellowship hall, for example) or invite parents to come in for a holiday lunch in their child’s classroom.
You can make this type of event work for whatever type of budget you have. If you are wanting it to be fancier, or want to spoil your families, you can provide everything. If you need to do this on a budget, ask your families to sign up to bring a dish to pass. The point is to have an event that allows that gets parents involved.
This type of event not only allows you and your team to build relationships with your clients, but it also strengthens the bond your clients feel toward your school and your program. It is easier (and cheaper) to keep your current clients happy than it is to acquire a new one. Finding small ways to reinforce the fact that the parent made a good decision choosing your school should be a major part of your overall marketing plan.
5. Pictures with Santa
See if Santa can find time in his busy schedule to visit your school. You could do this in conjunction with your Holiday Dinner or as a separate event.
If Santa himself is too busy, maybe Mrs. Claus or a couple of his elves can drop by to read a story or do some crafts with the children. Finding ways to make special experiences for your children and families is always a good thing.
Have a photographer take photos of Santa (or the Elves) and the children, and brand them with your school logo. Provide the photos to your parents, and the super cute pics will be shared all over facebook! Free marketing and word of mouth!
6. Adopt a Family
Rather than (or in addition to) hosting a toy drive, choose a specific family or two and provide Christmas for that family. You could choose from your enrolled families, or contact a charitable agency that will be able to provide details of a family in need. Women’s shelters, foster care agencies, homeless shelters, and food pantries often know of a multitude of people that could use extra help at Christmas time.
Get your clients and staff involved in purchasing gifts or donating funds for this family. Try to get a list of wants, likes, and sizes so you can personalize the gifts and make it really special for this family. Consider also providing all the ingredients needed for a traditional Christmas Dinner.
Be sure to leverage your charitable works in your marketing by sharing what you are doing on social media (as listed in #2). However, if you know the names the recipient(s) of your good deeds, DO NOT share them!! This could be rather embarrassing for that family. Most people do not want it known that they had to rely on charity to provide Christmas gifts for their children. Share what you are doing, but not who you are doing it for.
7. Hold a Cookie Decorating Event
Host a “Mommy & Me” style cookie decorating event. Be sure to have enough sugar cookies baked that each child can take home about a dozen finished cookies, and plan extras for the ones that get dropped on the floor…..or licked!!!
Provide frosting and sprinkles or keep your costs down by asking parents to donate some needed items.Take lots of photos of your event and share them on your social media channels. Tag parents so more people see the fun atmosphere you have at your school
If you have space and are able to host your event on the weekend or in the evening, you could also allow your families to invite their friends with children to this event. This would be a great, non-salesy, way to share your school with members of your target market and their children.
As an alternative to cookie decorating, you could host a special holiday craft or ornament making event.
8. Host a Family Christmas Movie Night
If you have a large multi-purpose room, consider hosting a family holiday movie night. Choose a kid-friendly movie such as The Polar Express and invite enrolled families to attend in their jammies. You can also choose to invite members of the general public, it depends on your marketing goals. Provide snacks such as popcorn & hot chocolate.
A free family-friendly event like this gives families something fun to do with their kids while not having to shell out a ton of money. You create a great experience and they leave with warm fuzzy feeling about your school……which will eventually lead to great word of mouth marketing down the road.
9. Participate in Your Town’s Holiday Parade
If your local town hosts a holiday parade or downtown “Open House” during the holiday season, find a way to get out in your community and participate.
This might mean designing a float and recruiting staff and families to ride it during a parade. It could also involve providing or manning a hot chocolate booth or leading some sort of children’s activity (craft or game).
Find out what your community does to celebrate the season and get involved to get your school some public visibility in your community.
Also, building relationships with other business owners and community leaders is a great way to get the word out about your school.