Does it sometimes seem like the competition is eating away at your enrollment and your profits?

Fierce competition from other centers, public school programs, and changes in government funding are making it mandatory that you sharpen not only your pencil but your marketing tactics. To capture and keep more enrollments in today’s competitive early care and education marketplace requires a keen awareness of what’s happening in your center’s community, a proactive and positive approach to marketing and enrollment building, and a willingness to take the competitive initiative.

What actions can you take now that will help make you the parents’ preference in a competitive menu of child care choices? Three initiatives that will help you increase enrollment no matter what the competition is doing are to investigate, differentiate, and educate.

Investigate Your Market

Knowledge is power, especially if you use it wisely. Determine who currently are your three stiffest competitors. Then decide who is most likely to be the biggest threat to your enrollment one year from now. Investigate each competitor to determine what they do that is similar and different from the way you do it. Go visit your competitors looking for three things they do as well as you do, three they do better, and three things they do not do as well.

Investigate what is important to your parents. Do they perceive that you will meet their changing needs better than your competitors can?

Also investigate your industry. What are the most significant changes taking place in early care and education? How will they impact your competitors and you?

The sooner you investigate your competition, the better equipped you will be to keep your center full, despite their presence.

Differentiate Your Center from Competitors

The more you learn about your competition in comparison to your own services, the easier it will be to differentiate yourself from them. Promote the benefits of your differences in your marketing efforts with prospects and parents.

Don’t forget enrollment building skills as a competitive differentiation. Telephone skills, in particular, can make a decisive impression on parents who are your enrollment prospects. Be sure to state some differentiating features as benefits during inquiry calls.

Educate Your Target Audiences

Educate your target audiences as to why you are the best early care and education choice. Point out your differentiating benefits in all your marketing communications. Focus on the features you have found to be most important to the parents you want to attract and retain. Highlight the differences in your written marketing materials.  Do this without putting down your competition.

Practice your enrollment building skills, so you can easily discuss differentiating features as benefits of enrolling in your center. Remember, parents may now be more well- educated and informed about child care options, but many people drowning in information are thirsty for wisdom. Be the helpful expert.

Investigate, differentiate, and educate. Make these moves and you will be way out ahead of your competition and well on your way to building and maintaining high enrollment.

Julie Wassom
The Child Care Marketing Coach
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author