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 you? It may be because you're close to a particular school, because of the hours you offer or some other reasons.
What are your aims?
Do you need to get more children in general, or on certain days? Maybe you are full now but you are about to lose some children when they start school? Being clear about what you want to achieve is important.
Who are your competitors?
Are you in an area where there are lots of childminders? If so how can you make yourself stand out from the crowd? Are your competitors full or do they have vacancies as well? Is there anything you can do to give yourself the edge? Knowing who your competitors are and what they are doing can be helpful. Is there a gap in what’s available that you may be able to fill – perhaps by being more flexible about the days or hours that you work?
Who is your target audience?
Your target audience is parents and carers of children who live work or go to school in your area. Are there any workplaces near that you could targets – perhaps somewhere that some of your current parents work?
How can you reach this audience?
For many childminders, word of mouth is the most effective way of getting new customers - existing or past parents pass on your details, or other childminders may pass on customers that they can’t take.
Make sure you spread the word amongst friends and colleagues when you have vacancies.
If you need to advertise, think about places that parents of young children in your area visit. These might include surgeries, local shops, toddler groups, baby clinics, Sure Start buildings, libraries, leisure centres. Target these with cards or leaflets – see the separate guidance on producing written materials. Ask your existing parents for ideas on good places – you can ask them to take some information along to places they visit.
Maybe there are notice boards in the local blocks of flats where you could put some information.
What's your unique selling point?
If you're designing cards or leaflets to distribute, think about what makes you special and don't be afraid to shout about it! A simple message that says “Childminder in xxx area has vacancies” might do the trick, but think about what might make your advert stand out from the crowd if it was on a notice board with several others.
What’s special about you? Is there something particular about your home – perhaps a dedicated play room or a large garden? What sort of activities do you do with the children? Have you done any training? What can you say about yourself as a person that might make the advert more appealing? What sort of things would appeal to you as a parent?
Make sure that you always keep the Family Information Service informed of your vacancies. Just sign in and submit an update. Otherwise contact them on 023 8083 3014.