Where are you now?
The first step in working out a marketing plan is to assess where you are now. Look at your current customers – who are they and why do they use the service? Do you have lots of working parents who need the service? If parents don't work, what other reasons might they have for using an out of school club? Your knowledge of your school community will be very important here. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then consider a survey – see Know your existing customers.
What are your aims?
Do you need to get more children at breakfast or just after school? Maybe you would like to attract more children of a certain age, or more on certain days of the week. Being clear about what you want to achieve is important. Who is your target audience? Do you serve just one school or more? Remember your target audience is both parents and children – both need to be happy with the service you offer.
How can you reach this audience?
Hopefully you have ready access to parents via the school or schools that you serve. You can send written information home with all pupils but if this doesn’t seem to give results think about other ways of reaching your audience. Then think about other approaches – how can you reach parents of children who are new to the school each September? Written material is important but a personal approach can be good – are there opportunities to talk to parents – perhaps fundraising events at the school where you could have a display and talk to parents? Make sure that you always keep the Children and Young People's Information Service informed of your vacancies. If you're registered in this directory, you can submit an update yourself, or contact them on 023 8083 3014.
What messages do you want to get across?
Think about it from a parent's point of view. If your aim is to raise awareness of your club then a "drip, drip" approach is needed – little and often. Peoples' circumstances and needs change so regular reminders are important. Try and have a standing item in the school newsletter at least every half term just reminding people that the club exists. Make it clear that parents are welcome to visit for a look around and give them a contact number if they want to find out more. If you’re flexible about what days children can attend, make sure you say this – people may assume that they have to attend every day or on fixed days each week.
Emphasise the benefits – what are the benefits to parents and children of using your club? Ask your current users what they like about the club and use their quotes (anonymously) on your marketing materials – potential customers like to hear what other users think of the club, not just what you say. Don't be afraid to sing your praises – if you've had a good Ofsted report make sure people know about it.
Marketing your out of school club
Where are you now?