In a previous issue of Child Care Information Exchange, in my article, “How to Be Bullish on Marketing Child Care in a Challenging Economy,” I offered this advice on positioning as a way to connect with prospective parents . . .
Positioning is the impression created in the minds of your customers and prospects by the image you communicate. Sometimes that impression has no real base in reality. For instance, a major airline learned in a customer survey that passengers who found the tray tables dirty immediately assumed that the engines were not well maintained. In a feelings-based business like child care, your parents want to feel they can trust you. To enroll or remain as customers, they need to believe that you will do what you say you will.
What can make the difference between how you and one of your competitors are positioned in your prospect’s mind are often not the big things like convenience, staff tenure, or program. Look carefully at the little things around your center. Does it smell good when parents first walk in? Are enrollment or special program banners left hanging for weeks with one corner torn and flapping in the breeze? Is someone always up front to greet parents at regular pick-up and drop-off times?
You, as the director, can distinguish your center, if you position yourself as not only the manager of your school, but as a helpful professional expert. A center in Las Vegas was looking for a unique positioning in its increasingly competitive marketplace. The director decided to run a ‘Child Care Hotline’ column in the monthly newsletter she distributes to parents, prospective enrollees, and local businesses. In each issue she publishes the center’s number, hotline calling hours (when she knows she will be there to take calls), and her response to a question she received the previous month. This technique markets her as a professional expert and available child care resource, and a manager in touch with the market’s need. That’s good positioning! And the benefit to her is that, with almost every hotline call, she has a chance to subtly market the services of her specific center.