Documenting your competitive differences is an easy, low-cost marketing strategy that works. Though many centers print and post documentation of learning to help parents visually understand what children are learning from program activities, very few do the same documentation of competitive differences that can help prospective families choose you over other centers they are considering. Here’s how to get started…
1. Determine what I call your Basic Competitive Advantages, or BCAs. These are the features that make you nique from your competitors. To determine these, do some research on your primary competitors, do not guess. As you analyze, go beyond what all centers say, such as “quality program” to what really makes you special. It might be research-based curriculum, Reggio inspired programming, or individualized lesson plans.
2. Decide which BCAs are most important to the new families you are trying to enroll. How can you know? Note patterns of what they ask about on lead forms and in enrollment conversations on the phone and in the center. Is teacher tenure a concern, or is it ratios, class size, teacher credentials, or maybe parent engagement opportunities?
3. Pick at least the top three of your BCAs that address expressed parent needs or desires, and create a one- page document for each to address your unique approach or philosophy. Drop this text into a branded template you can print, post, give to parents during school visits, and use as attachments to follow up messages. For example, if you have ratios below state requirements, your documentation of differences could be a table showing state ratio requirements compared to yours.
4. When you hand this document to a parent, be sure to add a benefit statement to reinforce what your competitive difference means to them. For example, “You can see on this chart how we have chosen to make our ratios of students to teachers less than what our state requires, which means Annabella more individual attention. Is this important to you?”
5. Keep a resource folder of Documentation of Differences flyers, and draw from them regularly. Examples might be teacher tenure, ratios, tuition inclusions such as ancillary programs or lunch, classroom size, high tech equipment, STEM program, parent referral program, teacher education, parent engagement activities, real-time communication, etc. Check them at least quarterly to update them, and make sure your folder includes documentations of differences important to your current prospects. Brainstorm your center’s BCAs with your team and see what documentations of differences would be best to add to your arsenal of effective enrollment building techniques.