Proactive marketing - Advertising too late?
The process of marketing is in itself a proactive action in that it is a series of initiatives done in advance to attract more business / place take up. However, it makes a transition from a ‘proactive’ to a ‘passive’ situation the minute the continuity of marketing stops.
“Unless you continually have all places filled, you need to be marketing!”
Some examples of this logic include, Facebook pages, word of mouth, and websites to name a few. If we consider the setting up of a Facebook page or website, that in itself is a proactive activity to stimulate more customer interest and hopefully secure more place take up as a result of that. However, once that page / site is up and running it’s just a passive entity sitting there waiting and hoping someone might see it and contact you.
“It only becomes a proactive tool again if it is constantly updated with new content, images and information!”
Therefore the difference between doing ‘proactive’ marketing versus taking a ‘reactive’ approach boils down to consistency of effort. We see this a lot when we are reviewing websites and Facebook pages. Websites generally don’t have much new content added to them very often making them less useful and less visible when online searching. Often they contain out of date information like, staffing, opening times, policies and references to statutory information.
This is also true of Facebook pages, but the overriding issues we find with providers use of Facebook for advertising, is that they rarely let potential customers know what vacant places they have, what free early education offers they deliver or what events there are for new parents or ways to get information and access places. Facebook posts tend to be based around what children have been doing, which is fine but misses opportunities to actually give strong marketing messages and information, there needs to be a blend of both.
“See social media pages and websites as “dynamic” entities to be updated and a provide constant conversation in your marketplace, not a “static’ repository of outdated information”.
Websites and social media rely on a constant flow of information and good quality content. If the posts or updates are only occasional, they are likely to be missed or worse still overlooked completely!
Advertising too late?
When is the right time to advertise vacant places you might have?
If, for example you are full but have places becoming vacant at the beginning of next term, you will likely be marketing now! …. Actually perhaps marketing well before now would have been a good idea because by advertising late you are essentially restricting the time you have to generate new enquiries and fill places.
The point is that new parents will all have different ways of operating. Some will look for childcare places very soon after their child is born, (or even before that!), others will leave it until the last minute before realizing they need to secure a place for their child.
To maximize place take up and be more sustainable it makes sense to secure take up as early as possible, not just leave it until the term before there are vacant places. This means planning ahead, searching out new parents and aligning marketing activities to encourage early place take up. It provides the opportunity for those parents who like to be organized way before their child is starting, to secure children in places early whilst still attracting other parents who wait that bit longer or even come at the last minute.
Even if parents are not ready to commit to a place earlier than they need, by marketing and communicating with them early you are extending the time you have to build a relationship and trust with those parents, subsequently leading to a greater chance that they will take up a place at your setting.
“Essentially looking further ahead and advertising earlier helps to secure more places overall and brings more consistently across all terms. An added benefit may be as you book in places further ahead you also find that it makes you more desirable and encourages local parents to seek out a place earlier!”
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