Whether you’ve recently started a daycare business or you’re just trying to fill some openings, you’ll need to spread the word to families in your area. As a licensed professional, you will undoubtedly provide excellent care, but the first order of business is to let parents know you exist.
One obstacle you may be facing right now is a lack of funds for marketing your business. Money may be tight until you get new customers, but the good news is there are ways to advertise your daycare business for free or almost free. As an experienced daycare provider, I’m about to reveal the top six ways to advertise daycare for free (or for next to nothing).
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6 easy ways to advertise your daycare for free (or for next to nothing)
1. Make some flyers
You know those flyers and business cards you see on the bulletin board in restaurant lobbies? One of the easiest ways to advertise your childcare services for free is to add your business card and maybe a flyer with tear-off tabs to a nearby restaurant’s bulletin board.
Of course, there are more uses for daycare flyers than just displaying them on restaurant billboards. When I first started my licensed home daycare, I printed up flyers and went door to door with them in my immediate neighborhood. Most parents want a daycare that’s either close to their home or job, and having it close to home is probably the more desirable of the two. This is especially true for couples since they probably work at different locations.
2. Get a yard sign
Displaying a sign in your yard is another great way to let people in your immediate neighborhood know that you’re running a daycare. This does not need to be anything elaborate. A brightly colored sign with your business name and phone number will suffice, but first, check for any zoning restrictions in your area.
3. Tell your friends and family and post on social media
If you know people with children who live in your area, word of mouth and social media are probably the most effective ways to advertise your daycare for free. Many parents would love nothing more than to leave their children with a close friend or family member, so you’ll want to make sure that everyone in your social circle knows you’re open for business.
Years ago, when I was running my own daycare and had some openings, I took out an ad in a local newspaper. I received a phone call in response to the ad, and during the conversation, the mom and I realized that we already knew each other. She was my husband’s cousin! The fact that I was a member of the family sealed the deal, and I immediately started babysitting her kids.
This was before the days of social media, so it was a lucky coincidence. If that same scenario happened today, my cousin-in-law would be responding to a Facebook post instead of a newspaper ad, and she would already know it was me. That said, promoting your daycare on social media is more than simply making an announcement to your existing friends. When you create a public business page on Facebook, anyone willing to help you can like or share that page, allowing you to reach some of their friends with your posts as well.
4. Hold an open house
When parents interview a potential home daycare provider, one of the first things they want to do is tour the provider’s place of business. They need to see that the building is clean, safe, and that there are plenty of enrichment activities.
Safety is, of course, the primary concern for most parents, so an open house is also a great time to show off your camera surveillance system if you have one. Holding an open house will allow people to get to know you and see your facility firsthand, and it’s yet another way to advertise daycare for free.
Provide snacks and educational activities for your guests’ children as a preview of what will be included in your program. Having plenty of educational activities going on at this event is a great way to showcase how your daycare will help enrich your students’ education. Even if you’ll be specializing in infants, it’s important to convey the fact that you’ll be a dedicated teacher, not just a babysitter.
The best time of year to hold an open house is probably during the late summer since parents tend to plan childcare around the school year. This is especially relevant if you’ll be providing after-school care. Have your daycare forms ready so that families can sign up on the spot.
5. Network with other childcare providers in your area
Whether you’re running a home daycare or a large daycare center, there’s always a limit as to how many students you can accept at one time. For this reason, you probably shouldn’t view other daycare providers as your competitors.
Although you may occasionally lose a customer to another provider, your relationship with nearby childcare providers will be more collaborative than contentious or competitive. Talk to other providers in your area and offer to refer students to them when you are full if they will do the same. There may even be a referral service you can join, which will help accomplish the goal of getting you more leads.
6. Follow these tips if you have a website:
- Include your website in your voicemail messages. If you already have a website for your daycare, mention it in your voicemail greeting. You could end your spiel with something like, “In the meantime, visit our website, such and such dot com.” That way, they can learn more about your program while they’re waiting for you to call them back.
- Read up on search engine optimization, specifically daycare SEO for your website. Optimizing your website for local searches using the right local keywords and utilizing other SEO techniques will help more families find out about your services.
- Consider excluding your exact address from the website for security reasons. State only your general area on a public site. Only give the exact location to those who seem serious and have been carefully screened over the phone.
Now that I’ve given you several ideas for how to advertise daycare for free, you can save room in your budget for other start-up costs, such as licensing and background checks, childproofing your home, and paying for a professional-looking website. Even if your daycare isn’t new and you merely need to fill some openings, these tips can still help you limit advertising costs.
Want to know more about child care marketing? Constant Contact offers a free marking tool you can use to start building your website and see what it would look like for free. If you like your new site, sign up with Constant Contact to make it live! For more information about how Constant Contact can help you market your childcare services, get The Download today.