Creating Your Preschool Marketing Plan: The Biggest Myth

Feb 8th, 2012 | By | Category: Featured Articles, starting a preschool

The easiest way to teach you how to create your preschool marketing plan is definitely to start off with a story.

This past week I’ve done quite a lot of window shopping for a bigger car, now that our 5th addition is on its way this summer!  After doing my research on the safest, most cost effective, and rewarding car that could fit my family, we finally decided on a Honda Odyssey.  And while doing my research, I came to find out that low mileage was my first priority, and low price was right behind.  And that’s when I discovered my biggest pet peeve in the car shopping experience:

Finding the right car, with the right mileage…  BUT NOT KNOWING WHAT THE PRICE WAS!

You see, I did all my shopping online because I didn’t want to actually come face-to-face with a salesman.  And sometimes I would click on a link from a dealer, look at all the pictures of the car, check out the mileage and the features, and then scroll around for about 30 seconds trying to find the price.  But all I would find was “Please contact the dealer for price.”

How frustrating!  I didn’t want to call the dealer, who inevitably would then have my name and number and call me back, trying to sell me a car in the future.  What if I had to call 3 dealers to find prices?  Then I would have 3 dealerships hounding me for the next few weeks!

I had found the perfect car, but I still didn’t know if I could afford it.

So what does buying a Honda Odyssey have to do with creating your preschool marketing plan?

A lot, actually.

(Keep reading to find out how you can ask me questions about how to handle the first phone call from a perspective parent.)

Because one of the biggest myths in marketing is that if a company can make their product/service irresistible enough to customers, then price isn’t really an issue; but if it becomes an issue, in the end at least they’ll be talking to the customer and can try to convince them that their product/service is worth it.  Sounds a little “sales-y” to you, doesn’t it?  I don’t know about you, but when I created my preschool marketing plan, I made sure it required as little “selling” on my end as possible!

But what these companies forget is that customers make decisions EVERY DAY based on quality -and- price.  I mean, how many times do you walk into a store to go shopping and end up looking at a price tag?  Or hundreds of price tags?  Every time you consider buying an item, you weigh the benefits to the cost.  And if it has enough benefits to warrant the cost, then you buy that item.  You’re constantly weighing your budget to how many items can fit into that budget, and choosing a preschool is no different.

So what’s a prospective preschool parent supposed to do when they receive a flyer about your preschool, and after they get so excited about it, realize they can’t find a price anywhere on your materials.  What’s going on in their heads?  ”Can I afford this?”  ”Maybe they didn’t list the price because it’s expensive.”

Do you really think they’re going to call you to find out how much it costs?  They’re not even ready to make that commitment to take the first step of communication with you, let alone be led down some path where they might be asked to come take a tour.  Because as much as they might love your preschool, they don’t want to be let down later on by knowing they can’t afford it.

And that is the biggest myth in creating your preschool marketing plan: Not posting your prices on EVERYTHING you market.

But your preschool marketing plan extends way beyond just including pricing.  You should include as much as you possibly can about your preschool, including pricing, class times, the fact that you’re not a daycare, registration fees, location, website address, phone number, curriculum used, your education and experience, licenses acquired, ages accepted and potty training requirements.  Post this information on your website and every flyer, postcard, and brochure you hand out.

Why must you give SO MUCH information about your preschool, you ask?  Isn’t it better to just give a little, get them interested, and sell them on the rest later?  Sorry, folks, but “selling” and “convincing” them in the future is just a huge hassle, and we’re not in the sales business.  We’re in the preschool business, where you need to be straight-forward about how you run your preschool, and if they don’t like it, who cares?  You shouldn’t be talking to them in the first place.

I know that’s a bit dramatic, but I’m thinking of a fellow student who mentioned to me that she’s super nervous about pleasing every parent, and often will change a policy to accommodate that parent’s wishes.  Don’t discount her just yet… because she was a lot like ME before I finally grew myself a backbone and decided how to run my preschool like a business.

Now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t ask for parent feedback and try to IMPROVE your preschool (on the contrary: please please please always make your preschool better every year and use parent feedback to help you grow), but it certainly does mean that if you were planning your preschool to be a certain way because you felt strongly enough about it, then stick to your guns!  It’s called a preschool marketing plan, isn’t it?  So plan for it and put into action.  Parents will see your confidence and believe me, they need to feel that you’re capable enough as a business owner -and- preschool teacher to take care of their child.

Now, if you’re thinking to yourself, “But if I post everything about my preschool (including prices), then parents might not call me.”  Then I would probably reply: “If they don’t call you, then there’s some reason why they would never sign up their child in the first place.  And why waste your time trying to convince someone who will never sign up their child?”

I don’t mean to be rude by saying that your time is valuable, but isn’t it?  You have a family to love, preschoolers to teach, and a business to run.  Not to mention anything you want to do in your spare time.  So make your time you spend on the business as productive as possible, instead of wasting your time trying to convince people why they should sign up in your preschool.

For instance, up until last fall, by using my preschool marketing plan, I had a 99% rate of parents calling me about my preschool and then taking an interview.  From that point, I had a 99% rate that they would sign up.  So you can see that I had done a great job of weeding out non-interested parents way before they even called me.  And that’s because I followed my preschool marketing plan of putting all my preschool’s information on our flyers and website.

But last fall, when we opened our second preschool location and put a huge vinyl sign in the front yard advertising our preschool, my conversions fell WAY down.  All of a sudden I had 3x as many calls, but only 75% of them converted into an interview.  Why the difference, you ask?  Because so many passersby thought we were a daycare–all they saw was the sign and the children–so after I found out on the phone they needed childcare, I didn’t ask them in to interview.  Thankfully, my rate of parents signing up after having an interview stayed at 99%, because I was able to weed them out during the phone call.

So while you may have a random parent call you out of the blue and not know much about your preschool, try to have the majority of those prospective parents be as well-informed as possible so when they call you, they’ll be ready to setup a time to take a tour.

And as calling you is the next step to creating your preschool marketing plan, stay tuned for my next post that teaches you EXACTLY how to handle that phone conversation to get 99% of parents to commit to an interview.

 

YOUR TURN:
To help make sure I answer all your questions about how to handle that phone conversation, what are your biggest questions about talking to a prospective parent on the phone?

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16 comments
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  1. Dear Joy,

    I’ve been a Kindergarten Administrator for more than 13 years at Saint Annie’s International Kindergarten, and I’d like to say that this article is right on the money! …So true, in every aspect, when dealing with parents, (and Monster Parents…). Keep up the good work, and congratulations on opening the new location.

    Cheers!
    MH

  2. GREAT advice Joy!!! I’ve always struggled with getting people to commit to a time to come see my preschool. I end up playing phone tag with them for days and never knowing if they were really interested or if I’m just hoping they are. Tips?

  3. Thanks for the article. Enjoyed it.

    - Marv

  4. Joy, I just want to tell you thanks for all the advice! I am getting my city license this week, and also my state license and home insurance for the business. I am committed to this preschool because I also just renovated 1/2 my garage into a really cute preschool room. Now I am really needing to know about how to get kids!! Thanks so much for sharing all your expertise!!
    Carrie

  5. I live in Long Beach California and I also would like to start a preschool but I’m not sure if that’s what people need in long beach. I feel that people need longer care. What do you think or do you know of someone in my area that would be able to help me. Thank you for all your help.

  6. 5 questions regarding payments, in case they ask (and so I am prepared) —
    1. Do you always write up a receipt for every monthly payment a parent makes?
    2. Will they expect a tax document from me in late January that states what they have paid in preschool tuition for the previous year? If so, how to I get or make such a form?
    3. How do you charge monthly for those months like December that may only have 2 or 3 weeks of classes — do you just keep the same monthly rate no matter how many class days are in that month?
    4. How do you handle payment regarding unexpected needed personal days or sick days when you have to cancel classes — do you maybe include 3 personal days a year in the payment plan, or do you ever refund them?
    5. When/how do they pay you — through regular mail, or hand it to you, or put it in a tray in your room, or leave a check in a file folder you have in your room — what is safest and best?

  7. Wow Joan! Good questions!
    Another one that I have is, How to educate parents to pick up their children on time? Since we’re not offering Day Care services, and we just have about 30 min before our next group comes, and sometimes, it happens that a parent doesn’t come on time, the classes for the next group start, and the kid is still there! Need help with this please!!!

  8. Hi Joy,
    This advice is very helpful & could not have come at a better time! I’m opening my preschool in the fall & am in the process of getting my website completed & fliers made to start registration. Here’s my worry: I’m brand new & want to fill my spots…..how do I not sound desperate when talking to parents? Thanks again!

  9. Joan,

    1. – I don’t write receipts unless a parent pays cash and wants one, so basically never. I tell them at the Meet n Greet at the beginning of the year that their duplicate or cancelled check is their receipt.

    2. – Their education is not tax deductible, unless you are providing care for two working parents or a single parent who works. If they are a stay at home mom who wants school, it’s not a deductible expense.

    3. – I state at the beginning that I charge an annual tuition, broken into 9 monthly payments. They pay the same rate each month, even December.

    4. – I include a few personal/sick days each year. I am also lucky enough to have an assistant who can teach for me if I am sick. I’ve only closed 1 day in the last 2 years for illness.

    5. – The parents either hand me a check or I have an envelope taped to the side of the cubbies for parents to place a check. Both ways work out great.

    Good luck! I’m very pleased with Joy’s program. It’s been truly helpful.

  10. Yvette,

    I did a search for preschools in Long Beach and could only find day cares that offer a preschool education. Some have half day programs. Do you know stay-at-home moms, or women who work part time and could use a short day program? Does your library offer a storytelling program. If so visit it and see if moms are bringing their young children or if day cares bring students. If there are several moms with children at the storytelling class, you know they are looking for something for their child to do during the day. From my very brief search it doesn’t look like you would have much competition, but there are A LOT of childcare centers so you will want to focus on getting your website up and going, and on as many childcare, preschool, education sites as possible or you may find your website will be lost among the others.

  11. Thanks joy. You are really empowering people like me with all this information. Thanks for your action plans! I’ve become a DIY carpenter and am building walls in our unfinished basement and hope to have it all ready by summertime so interested people can take a tour. I am nervous and full of unspoken fears but hopeful and faithful :) i want to run a pre school that is not traditional, and do things like make music yoga and gardening as well as free play with open ended props. I am drawing up my website by hand, scanning it, and then coding links into it using HTML. I am running the risk of giving too much information but I want all the right people because it’s an unconventional pre school. I want to give my bio and give a complete representation of what this is about for me and what I hope it will bring for the kids. All this in the name of authenticity, do you think I could go too far?

  12. Thank you Joy. I appreciate your marketing information. Do you think it is best to give parents all info over the phone when they call or direct them to your website that has all information and registration form? Thank you again!
    Becky

  13. GREAT ARTICLE!!!

  14. Wow..great wealth of information. You are an inspiration Joy, and sounds like you’re doing a fabulous job with your business! Congrats! I too have become a single mom of 3 kids recently, and thinking of opening a home based preschool, but I am terrified of the change and if I’d be any good at it! You’ve given me the confidence to take the steps to move my plan into action. Thank you!!

    I would love to hear your responses on Joan’s questions, when you have the time!

    Corinne

  15. Hi Joy, i have a quick question I’m currently a home day care provider and i would like to convert to a preschool by next year. What are the fisrt steps I should make with the transition with the parents I have that are working full time schedules.

  16. Wow! All I can say is if you haven’t already, buy the Preschool in a Box immediately! The answers to all of these questions are in it, plus a whole lot more! If you’re trying to start, run, transition, or improve your preschool, it is the investment that you will never regret. I’m sure I sound like a commercial for Joy, but in all honesty, I could and would do a commercial just to let people know how valuable this product is. Yes! Joy is a real person willing, and yearning to help all of us who need it. Sacrifice whatever you can to afford this goldmine. I personally, wrote up a business proposal to convince someone to loan me the money to afford the package, and I am so glad I did. I knew it would help me, but I could never have imagined how much, not in a million years.
    Joy pours her soul into this and doesn’t leave a stone unturned. All of your questions will be answered. She goes beyond, beyond. Of course, if you can’t afford it right now, just keep gleaning and don’t give up. I followed Joy for almost 2 years before I was able to buy the Preschool in a Box, and she helped me keep my dream alive during that time with tidbits just like this one. I wish you all the best!

    Thank you Joy!

    Lisa Renrick

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