Part of our Summer Series: Jewish Early Childhood Marketing Tips
Shariee Calderone and Susan Remick Topek
By this time most of you will be back to “business”, the business of running a high-quality school for young children, a warm and inviting place for families, the core of early learning and discovery.
During the past nine weeks, we have shared what we think are important tips for marketing your school to its best advantage in a highly competitive market. Sharing these ideas with you has been a wonderful experience for both of us. Our goal is to inspire Jewish preschool programs everywhere to think year-round about how they reach out to potential parents and how their school is viewed within the community.
Our series has shared so many good ideas that schools can use to market themselves, advertise to families and promote what they offer that is uniquely specific to them. Questions we hope you are asking yourself are: What sets you apart when someone asks about your program? What is a special take-away that visitors walk away with? What is the community saying about you? How do your teachers represent you in and out of the school building? What senses are tapped into when families come to see your school? Does your web page represent the ideas and vision you have for the school?
Here is a link to the first of our 9 tips and list of all 10 tips below:
For our last and final tip we turned to our colleague Karen Deerwester, owner of Family Time Coaching & Consulting* to share what SHE thinks would be a valuable last tip for early childhood educators. We are honored that Karen has been following our summer series of tips and wanted to contribute through the lens of her expertise with families.
Karen had this to share with us:
Marketing is on-going and emergent, like best early childhood practices. As much as we’d like it to be otherwise, we are never done. Our efforts need to be consistent and predictable. People need to know where we are and what we do in each of our centers or programs. Yet, if the message gets too familiar it becomes stale and clichéd. Marketing is documentation – it’s how we make our message visible to families. Just as in best early childhood practices, when we make our students learning visible, so too should we use marketing to document how our centers and programs are continually growing.
The language that supports this will vary depending on where the information is being shared. Tweeting and blogging keeps your voice in the loop with community members, other educational professionals as well as with parents. Your website should look and feel a little different each year by adding information that is current and that reflects where you’ve been and where you are going. From the bios of your teachers to video and photo documentation of the learning that’s taking place, this information helps you communicate who you are to others and what’s happening in your center. Be sure to also add information in print and on your website about anything that’s new for the year. Things like “extended hours”, “meet the new teachers”, “come see our garden growing”, “now available”, “new mommy and me classes”. The idea here is that when you and your school grow so should your marketing grow.
When I’m thinking about a marketing post and complimentary photo, I often have a feeling I’m trying convey, something very specific I’m trying to share – my excitement over something we’re doing, a parenting challenge (fear of messes), or trying to say “welcome” (e.g., I hear the Bev Bos song We’ve Been Waiting for You and want to create that feeling in the picture). I believe if we aren’t personally engaged in our documentation, we miss the emotional piece. Learning really is personal, and so is marketing 🙂
Selling your school, here are photos that inspire marketing documentation from Family Time at B’nai Torah Congregation of Boca Raton, FL:
We hope you refer to these tips often and apply them to your marketing and enrollment plan. You could procrastinate and delay, or say “I wish I could do this, but…” and come up with an excuse (probably one you have used before). But we hope not. Get busy NOW with an action plan, set goals and deadlines, find those who can help you best and go forward and become “the place where everybody knows your name.”
The Sample Action Plan below includes columns for Objectives, Tasks, Success Criteria, Time Frame, and Resources. Click here and the image to download a template of this action plan.
*Family Time’s mission is to be a leader in parent/child development by providing resources and decision-making strategies to parents and the professionals who support families.
*We gratefully acknowledge being inspired by Childcare Marketing Tips: 10 Must-Do Marketing Tips to Grow the Enrollment of Your Early Childhood Program (July 2012) published by Memberhub. The e-book was coauthored by Matt Harrell and Kris Murray, President and Founder of Child Care Marketing Solutions.