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Childminding 101: Why you Must Market your Business, and How

“It’s the little touches that can get you noticed,” says Sue McVay

  • Childminding 101: Why you Must Market your Business, and How

There was a time when word of mouth would be sufficient to maintain a childminding business, but with growing competition, having a good marketing plan is becoming increasingly important.

The good news is that marketing your business doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and you don’t have to be a creative genius. Here are some top tips to get you started.

What’s your plan?

First ask yourself what you want to achieve with your business. Are you looking to fill a few more places, or do you want to expand? Are you aiming at families with younger children, or are you focusing on those of school-age? Then think about what local families need – some market research can help you establish a basic marketing plan to help keep you focused.

There are lots of templates and interactive tools available at pacey.org.uk/business.

Know your USP

Key to any marketing plan is understanding your USP (unique selling point). That is, what is it you’re offering that sets you apart from other childcare providers locally?

As a general rule, if you’ve got it, flaunt it! Parents are overwhelmed by choice when it comes to childcare, so highlight what it is that’s special about your setting.

One of the best ways of identifying this is to ask your current parents what was it that attracted them to you originally. A powerful marketing message is to get testimonial quotes from them and use them in your literature or website. You will be surprised by the things they value that you may not have considered important.

Shout about it!

Having a range of marketing materials will help you promote your business locally. Leaflets, flyers, posters and cards can be displayed in community areas, libraries and noticeboards.

This needn’t mean engaging a design agency, but thinking about using a simple logo and having a consistent design for your material can help build recognition for your brand.

‘Brand’ may sound a fancy word, but everything you do helps to promote the essence of your business, and it’s as important for a childminding business as a commercial enterprise.

Get online

Having a strong online presence is becoming increasingly important. Make sure your setting is listed on your local authority’s childcare portal, often called the Family Information Service (FIS).

There are also a number of national childcare search websites, including PACEY’s searchchildcare.org.uk, which is completely free for providers and parents.

Having your own website allows you to show what your setting offers in more detail. Creating your own doesn’t need to be daunting. Hosting sites such as Webs, Vistaprint and Wix allow you to create an impressive-looking website with no specialist knowledge.

Social media can help build brand loyalty, drive traffic to your website or blog, promote your services and link with others. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and many other channels enable you to promote what you do and build relationships with your followers.

If you’re planning to use social media, it’s good practice to set up dedicated accounts. This will help you maintain a work-life balance, and maintain separation between your personal accounts and those of your business.

Being active on social media does take time. You will need to monitor all channels regularly and respond to queries – and deal with any negative comments quickly. It can can take over, so watch out for that!

Existing clients

Regular communication between you and the families you work with can help you to retain your current clients, and encourage them to promote you to others. Daily diaries, online journals, newsletters and noticeboards are all great ways of showcasing all the things you’re doing on a daily basis.

At PACEY, we love hearing examples of how childminders offer those added extras to their clients. One childminder finds a blog really helpful to promote their expertise and offer support to parents.

Another has written and designed books that parents can read with the children on healthy eating, exercise and other topics. It’s the little touches that can get you noticed and help your existing clients promote your service to others.

Sue McVay is Director of Partnerships at PACEY. You’ll find lots more tips in the Business Smart toolkit, at pacey.org.uk/business.

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