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Often people think of marketing simply as advertising. Of course this is an important part of marketing, but there's much more to it. The formal definition of marketing says:

"Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements."

So, marketing is about trying to see things from your customers' point of view – existing and potential customers. Everything you do affects the image you convey to those customers – how you answer the phone, how you respond to complaints.

When should we do marketing?

Often marketing only becomes an issue when a setting finds itself with lots of vacancies. In fact it's about keeping existing customers as well as attracting new ones. Marketing should be on ongoing and planned activity, and not just something you think about when you have a crisis. Parents and children have an increasing range of choices available to them, and their expectations and needs may have changed over the years so you need to make sure you are giving them the service they want.

How much do you know about your existing customers – do you need to find out more?

The definition of marketing talks about 'anticipating' demand, so planning ahead is an important part of marketing. All your places may be full now, but what about next year when the next group of children moves on to school?

Do we have a clear picture of the future? What information is available to help?

Planning your marketing activities

Is marketing something that’s on your agenda at the moment? One way to ensure that it doesn’t end up just as a crisis management activity is to have a marketing plan.

Also see the separate guidance on producing a marketing plan.

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