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.
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?