So how do you establish a niche, develop a brand, and market that unique image of your early care and education business?
The first step in creating your business image is to determine exactly which products and services you offer. Are you in business to care for children while their parents are away at work, to provide a quality learning environment for preschoolers and young children, to provide employer sponsored child care services, to offer innovative, leading edge forms of education, or a combination? Is your environment more like a home or a school? Are you a child care center, preschool, an after school program, an enrichment center, or a day care? Do children enrolled in your center spend most of their time in educational or free play, on STEAM, in Reggio-inspired activities or something else? Is your philosophy of service delivery built upon education, unstructured activities, guided play?
Once you can define what you offer, the next step is to determine what sets you apart that is also desirable to your prospects. Start by writing down five things that are unique about you, your early care and educational services, and the way you do business. I call these your BCA’s or Basic Competitive Advantages. Go beyond “quality program” and “caring teachers.” Managers in nearly every center say that, and though important, it is not unique in the prospect’s initial perspective. What do you have or do that is just a bit different, or more focused, or a cut above the norm? Once you have your list, circle the two or three that are the most true for you and will be important to the kinds of customers you want to have.
Using two or three key image phrases, brainstorm combinations of words that briefly define your niche. Doing so will create a unique image message, or tagline, for your early care and education business.
A tagline is a short phrase or motto that conveys your niche clearly and precisely in seven or fewer words. The tagline message should create an image of you in your prospect’s mind. That image has strong impact on their decision to investigate further and ultimately to enroll. Here are some examples of taglines and image messages for existing early care and education businesses. What niche do they claim to hold? How have they branded themselves?
Where Lil’ Minds Grow
Excellence in Educational Child Care
Care You Can Count On
For the Love of Children
Building a Foundation for Success
Once you create your own tagline or image message, try it on some industry colleague; then on friends and a few people who don’t know what you do. Ask them what image your message communicates to them about your business. What does it say you provide? More importantly, what do they think they could get from you if they were your customer? Does it make them want to learn more about you? If their response is what you want to hear, you are ready to begin marketing your niche or brand to potential buyers and referral sources.