Family Daycare Advertising Ideas

Ideas collected from the members of Provider's Playground Facebook Group

Marketing Your Child Care!

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    Craigslist. Also, if your city allows - sign in your yard with your daycare name or website and number. A website, make sure you have information on there about yourself, how you came to the decision to become a provider, information about your program and for each age group. You can also put your business on yahoo, google and bing maps, giving you free advertisement. Also placing an ad in a local newspaper. Have some business cards made up and ready to hand out at places you go, there have been sometimes that people will strike up a conversation with me and we begin talking about daycare....then I can give them my business card. And always word of mouth, let your current parents know that you still have openings.

    I use the internet. Nowadays everyone uses the internet to find anything. I've never used the newspaper. Here what has worked best for me:

      ~ Posting a sign on the nearest busy street stating "childcare my phn# and address." Just got 2 kids enrolled only after 3 weeks of the sign being out.
      ~ go to your city on the site and post an ad under childcare services.
      ~ or any free site that lets you advertise.

    I have an idea for referrals... .do you use a local beauty shop? Every time I walk in the door of my hairdresser, I get asked if I have any spaces. If you have a friendly place, I say let them know you are open!

    Keeping business cards in your purse and letting everyone you run into know that you have a daycare. Tip; I stapled a little sheet of stickers to the back of my business cards. About 2 or 3 stickers on it. Got them from the dollar store. They had cartoon characters on them. When out and you end up talking to someone in the store about their kids, say stuff like how cute they are and what not, ask the parent if you can give them some stickers. When they say sure, hand the parent the card with the stickers facing down. Parents like the idea. Pass them out on Halloween night. I really don't care for Halloween but I enjoy the opportunity it brings to make more money!

    I also offer referral coupons to my current parents who refer another family to enroll.

    I emailed all my friends a flyer to print off and hang around their jobs and churches. I offer them a special gift if someone enrolls from those flyers.

    And network with other providers in your town. Exchange info. Tell them that you will refer folks who call you for daycare if you don't have any openings or if they are too far from you. Oh also if the services they need you don't provide. And if you feel like the parents aren't who you want to work with. More then likely the other providers will refer folks to you. I have had calls from parents who were referred by other providers.

    I got these helpful hints from my aunt who has a masters in marketing. She can sell anything!

    One tip I got from an old timer in my area who has been doing daycare for 20 years told me that when you run an ad, make it short and not make it long and descriptive. .....don' t put in what ages you take, or what your hours are, or anything like that.....make your add as brief for then people will call wondering what you have to offer...she also told me not to put in my hours I am might get a call from someone needing earlier hours than usual, and you might be willing to do that.....I always put adds out stating I am licensed, years licensed, that I offer preschool, and meals etc. but that is as far as I go....and when a client calls, I never give out my rates on the phone...I tell them that their rate is going to be based on their needs and we can sit down when they come over and discuss that.....I want people to see what I have here so they know what they are paying for..... Hope this helps a has helped me a lot ......

    I haven't officially opened yet, but I sent out postcard advertisers to everyone on my community (very small, I sent out 300 total). I got on the USPS website and there is a link for businesses. They did all the work, I just sent them a list of addresses and what I wanted the postcard to read. I even put "25% off your first week with this card!" and got a great response. It was around $85 for 300, including postage. I did very minimal work to get it started, and they did the printing, postage, etc. It took about 5-7 days to get to the recipients. Call your local post office to see what the "general delivery" address would be for your neighborhood. I found that the post office workers were extremely nice and very helpful. Very much worth the $85 I spent!!!

    I didn't come with this one, a friend of my moms did. She gave her card to the florist shop before Mother's Day and every bouquet that went out had her card in it. Keep in mind she's a hairdresser and she said she's been going nuts since then, she also went to a pizza parlor and worked out a deal with them to have her card imprinted on their boxes for their pizza deliveries as well. I don't what the cost of that would be, but for those of you looking for kids or those that offer care for parents to have a night out, that would be another way of going about advertising. Thought I'd share that one as well.

    You can also ask your local hospital if they would include your card in the newborn freebies they give out. Some pediatricians will let you leave cards and flyers. And contact local preschools that don't take young kids. I get a lot of my referrals from a local private school that doesn't take kids under 2. Two out of three of my dck came to me this way.

    You can place flyers at local grocery stores, library, churches, laundry mats, hair salons, beauty stores, anywhere that has a community bulletin board. You should also use business cards. On the back of my cards, I have a place for them to write down their interview apt date and time.

    Your best advertisement is word of mouth. I took some of my business cards and glued them to magnets to place on the side of metal newspaper stands, and places where someone can just grab it. For the parents I have I give $10 off referral coupons to them.

    I am finding more and more of my calls originate from the web. Do you have a website? If so list it everywhere you can. Even if you don't have a a google search for free childcare advertising and list your name everywhere you can.

    I recently enrolled 2 families, both came from my flier on the side of their mailbox. I don't put fliers IN the mailbox, I put them on the side between the flag and the box. I've done this off and on for years. I got the idea when I received a flyer from our local video store, they put it between our flag and box. Gosh, now we get them all the time from pizza places and lawn care places. Anyway, I have another family that's been with me about a year, they also came from my flier on their box. I've gotten many many families over the years this way. I have found that some people will hang onto the flier if they don't need care right away. One lady had my flier for 6 months!

    For me I always say even when you are Full keep your name out there. I pass out magnetic business cards at Halloween in the goody bags. I have bought pens with my business name on them and pass them out and leave them places. I also offer the incentive to my parents, if a family they refer signs on and stays a month they get $50.00 off their bill.

    The newspaper did wonders for me, however, you need to continue to run your ad... I ran mine for several months... and eventually became full. I know it's expensive... I paid $55.00 every two weeks... but I became full!

    I also run an incentive program to my current clients, that if they refer a family and they stay full-time they get a week free. I've had this work twice.

    Flyers work great as well... put them everywhere parents and children go. I've had calls from flyers from the local rec. centers, churches, doctor offices, dentist offices, grocery stores, drug stores, real estate offices, resale shops, etc... I've also handed out business cards to places that offer children's classes (karate, t-ball, etc...) and offered to place their advertisement in my monthly newsletter. I just had a call about a flyer at our rec. center that I put up 6 months ago -that amazed me!

    My website has in the past year had over 10 people contact me about childcare... I've been full so I referred them to others in my network. (Hopefully, I will get a few when I need them!:))

    See if a local paper would feature "something special" you are doing with your daycare. I plan to do this when I have my daycares and children perform a "circus" this year. Sometimes news stations do little features on the news... see if any would be interested in doing one on what parents should look for when looking for child care for their child and feature yours! I haven't tried this yet, but I plan to.

    Put a magnet on your car/van

    Pass out business cards whenever you are out and discuss your daycare. I've passed them out at storytime at the library, the pool while mine are taking swimming lessons, at my children's schools, etc...

    Let all local schools close to you know that you do childcare. Most have lists they keep to help parents that inquire.

    And lastly, even when you are FULL continue to market your child care. Have a list of names and numbers you can pass clients to when you are full so that they remember you as being helpful. This has proven to work for me. I always keep a waiting list as well.

    I walk the kids around the neighborhood, give one to everyone passes by. No speal. Just hand em out. I also put a card or two in the bank drive-thru box for the next customer behind me in line. I also leave them on tables at restaurants between the salt and pepper shakers, also I leave small stacks at Doctor's offices on the magazine tables, or in the pages of the magazines. I heard to put them in library books before returning. I haven't tried that one yet. I have a yellow page ad that gets me 95% of my calls. I keep kid's easel in the front yard and bring in nightly displaying how many openings and when etc. I also periodically paint my front window. Today I am gonna do an Easter scene. hope it comes out nice.

    Try these ideas, they usually work well for me. Do you live in an area or near an area with a lot of houses? If so, I suggest getting fliers printed up and driving around putting fliers on the side of mailboxes. Not IN the mailbox (against the law) but fold the flier and stick it between the mailbox and the red flag. I have done this for years and it has always been my best way to get new kids, besides word of mouth. It does take a couple of hundred fliers to get several calls, but I figure what the heck, even if just one family signs up with me then it is all worth it.

    Oh another tip, put fliers on the windshield of cars in parking lots like Toys R Us, Kids R Us, Chuck E Cheese, etc.

    I was talking to another dcp last night. She told me that she fills her spots by a word of mouth thing, she puts up flyers that say refer someone to daycare and receive $25.00. Wither her hours and ages accepted and things. She says she fills almost 80% of her spots that way. When you get paid for the referred family you just take out $25.00 and give it to the person who referred them. I think I am going to give this a try. See how well it works. If you think about it, everyone likes to receive free cash.

    Market your website like crazy on any and every free listing related to childcare that you can. Get involved in local chat forums too. I have had 7 calls in the last 2 weeks from my website alone (I am full so I send the calls to other providers). Can't say enough about having a website and really showing it off, most of my clients came from my site.

    I post ads in the Sunday paper, Yellow pages, local laundry mats, post signs in the neighborhood, I am also listed with childcare agencies.

    My best way was at Halloween when I made copies of my business card and attached 'em to the candy I handed out! Copies were a lot cheaper than handing out the actual cards as I have a lot of Trick and Treaters.

    Word of mouth of current clients. No cost involved. Unless you want to do 1 day free for a new enrollment after 30 days in care. You're still ahead.

    Newspaper ads seem to work for me. But I am in the process of doing very colorful flyers to post all over town in local business, hospital, library and such. I also give my current clients an incentive, if they refer someone and I enroll them and stay for 30 days, the current client has a choice of a free vacation day or $10.00 of the weekly bill.

    I do the standard putting up fliers with my phone number on the bottom to tear off. I also like to "leave" business cards neatly at ATM machines and I donate children's books to my doctor's office with my business card inside :-).

    Client referrals. Also fliers with a pocket on the bottom. Inside the pocket, I had teddybear cutout shapes (large die-cuts) with my information on it. A couple of parents brought it to their workplace - all a possible client had to do is pull a teddy bear out of the pocket (in place of a business card).

    I've never advertised. I told a few people ~ within the school system ~ that I was going to start a home daycare. Within 6 months I had 3 clients for a total of 5 kids and have never looked back in the just over 2 years I've been in business. All of my new clients are strictly on a word of mouth basis and for the past 4 months, I've had to turn clients away.

    I have never had to advertise. All my clients have been by word of mouth or through our childcare network.

    It has been a while since I have had to advertise. The best thing has just been word of mouth. I get phone calls from my dcparents to see if I have room for any other kids. It is so nice.

    When my daughter had her birthday party I put my business cards in all the goodie bags. You can also do this for Halloween. I thought about buying t-shirts and also maybe pencils with my childcare name and number. I have advertised in the paper but had no luck. I have made flyers and put them up in grocery stores, libraries. Another good idea is at the local parade in your communities like Christmas time you can have a float and have all the daycare kids dress up in Santa suits or elves and have your daycare name up in a big banner as you go down the parade.

    I stay current with child care resource and referral. All my current clients I've had for year(s) by word of mouth. I place flyers at Department of social and health services. The most creative way for me is to create your own flyers and business cards then pass them out myself then people can get to ask you questions etc....

    Telephone book yellow pages.

    As I was pulling my dcks in the wagon to pick up dcg from school I thought of a neat advertising idea. I am going to make up 2 print-offs with my dc name my first name and phone no. Laminate them put rings thru them and hang them off the sides of the wagon. Basically free ad.

    Try a poster, flyer, business card or even a brochure for display and extras to be handed out at: the public library, church foyers or rectories, public and private elementary schools (especially speak with the front desk secretary as they always are the ones to get the questions), local pediatrician offices and Family Practice Dr. offices. I even leave a card at my dentist and my hairdressers. They have contact with many people! It is worth the investment in business cards. They are easy to print in MS Word. You can buy the supplies at Staples very reasonably and you can print them yourself! The directions are on the package (Avery).

    I took the one childcare kid I have right now and went to garage sales. I used this chance to market my childcare by mentioning that I am a childcare provider and have the childcare name on the back of the car. Today I had a mom interested and gave her the business card and she said she would call me likely. I will wait and see but thought this was a great idea when you don't have a bunch and can take them out or as a treat for reward do this on Friday with someone that got the most stickers that day or whatever.

    How about going to the local fair, carnivals, home shows and setting up a booth or passing out cards, flyers there? I have Teddy Bear Daycare t-shirts with my logo on front and the saying Teddy Bear Daycare.....your child's home away from home on the back! I wear them out when I go to fairs, shopping etc.

    Create a website and advertise it on the net. My last 4 clients are from my site. Also, if you have a local referral agency, make sure you are a squeaky wheel and bug them all the time saying that you have openings. If you have a local state assistance program, contact them to get signed on. Our state program has a long waiting list of parents needing care (they filled me up within a week of my signing on with them). Don't waste any more cash on newspapers, they just do not seem to work. My fliers generated only 1 phone call. Best of luck!

    For me, advertising through the newspaper was a big hit for me. I received a lot of calls. I also received a few calls from people who saw my flyer at grocery stores.

    Rather than thinking of "advertising" your business, look at it from the viewpoint of "marketing" your business. There are many means to do this. The cheapest is word of mouth. Tell everyone you know that you have an opening for a particular age. Someone always knows someone who is in need of childcare. Ages 2 and up can be found by locating Moms who are returning to the workplace after being home. Contact your local Childcare Referral, Health and Human Services that serve your area, WIC, Church rectories, Dr's offices, school secretaries (public & private) are always asked if they know where to find childcare. Contact HR people in local businesses, Hospitals, and Colleges that are open while you are open. Participate in a community function and get in the newspaper. All these can be done and it does not cost you money.

    So, you spent weeks getting your house set up perfectly, you are registered and licensed, and all ready to run your home daycare. All you need now are clients and kids. Easier said than done! Does this sound familiar? Read on for creative ways to get new kids!

      * Wrap a label or business card with info on your home daycare around the candy you hand out at Halloween.
      * Instead of just putting up flyers at the grocery store, mall, etc, tape a small cardboard box to the lower corner of the poster, and put some of your business cards in it.
      * Coupons! Ask your local gas station or grocery store if you can leave a stack of flyers about your daycare, and put a coupon on the page with something like 10% off your first 2 weeks.
      * Have magnetic signs made and put them on your car. Make sure to park at the mall and near the school a lot :)
      * When handing out flyers and placing ads, remember to go to children's clothing stores, indoor playgrounds, etc.
      * Word of mouth! Ask your currents clients to recommend you to a friend!
      * Also, ask your friends and clients to post your business card on the bulletin board where they work.
      * Buy a magnetic sticky sheet, put your business cards on them and clip out and give them to friends, family, and clients. Also, give them to teachers, leave them at the doctor's office, the library, the video store, anywhere there might be kids.
      * After going on a field trip, send pictures and a thank you note, and of course your contact information. Most places will hang these up for the public to see.
      * Make t-shirts and sweatshirts with your logo and name on them. Have all the kids wear them when you go on a field trip. People are sure to notice.
      * Offer three mornings of free daycare at a silent auction. Free publicity!
      * Contact your local hospital. Most hospitals send out some sort of a welcome package to all the new babies. Ask if you can put a flyer or business card in it.
      * As with business cards, have some inexpensive pens made with your daycare name and number. Leave them everywhere you go! Also, give them to your current clients and ask them to pass them around.
      * Newspaper ads - be sure to include your approximate location, your hours, and something that makes your daycare special (ie computer lessons, etc.).
      * It's best to place a classified ad in the Childcare section, rather than a big display ad, if you're on a limited budget.
      * Offer your current families a Referral Discount. For each referral that signs a contract, their child receives a $10 discount on next week's tuition.
      * Ads in your neighborhood association newsletter - It'll go out to every family in your neighborhood.
      * Fax a flier to apartment complexes, or take some to the apartment office.
      * Fax or mail fliers to new home salespersons and realtors.
      * Give your local schools your name and phone number. Many parents ask the school office where they can find childcare. Some schools will even keep a stack of fliers in their reception area for you.
      * Tape fliers up on the inside of bathroom stalls anywhere families and children are. People have to read something while they're in there, right?

    Be creative with your marketing efforts, and you will have a full house in no time!

    I try to get the magnets, pens, or even Frisbees from Oriental Trading with my name on them. The Frisbees would be great in a parade (too late for this year I know!) you can toss them to the kids! I also do this at Halloween. Put together goodie bags. I advertise all the time, pass out pens or anything to keep my name out there. Not when I am just slower.

    Offer a preschool activities--this brings in clients fast---have an Open House--put a sign on the main street by your house--go to Lowes --or similar place--in the sign section they have a metal sign --like a realtor sign--@ $12--you add your own sign --I would use the foam board--if it is temporary--so you can change the sign--get a few for busy streets--if you ask the person whose property it will be on--just get permission ---you might just want to use it when you have openings---like 1 infant opening---Register now for Preschool Program---Limited Openings at LYHOK--Child Care---make the sign simple --the bigger the letters the easier to read----like CHILD CARE--big letters and phone #---decorate with balloons, abc and 123--do front and back.

    The only other suggestion I would have is hold a garage sale, open house etc & invite neighbors to come by & bring their friends. If there are several homes for sale in your area, take some cards to the real estate companies. The fact that there is a child care in an area could make or break the sale. Another popular advertising idea, is to buy some inexpensive books from the dollar store, tape some of your business cards on the inside cover, add "donated by" above it & place them in any business that has waiting rooms such as DR's, dentists, eye DR's, beauty shops, health depts, etc. These places have parents coming in with children & they will soon see these books. Also, I have taped my business cards to packs of diapers at Wal Mart before!

    Do you have signs on your car? My sister in law gets a lot of children doing that. Another thing you can do is to call other providers who have been doing it longer and give them your name if they cannot take a child. The first time I was licensed I met another provider at a local park. I went every day. Well she had gotten all her children from parents she met at the park. I sponsor little league and soccer teams. Its kind of pricey but it gets your name out there.

    I have found that most businesses have community bulletin boards & they will let you put up a flyer if it is neatly done, and removed or replaced as it becomes tattered. Check grocery stores, Laundromats, libraries, etc. Check about putting children's books in waiting rooms of local businesses & tape your business card to the inside cover, adding "donated by" above it. Tape your business card to packs of diapers, cans of formula etc at Wal Mart, Target, K Mart, grocery store etc. I have even found that business cards when bent just right will fit in the slots at the front of the shelves at stores where their UPC's are & their prices!!! LOL!! Take business cards to local real estate offices for sharing with prospective buyers. Also, utility companies might let you leave some in their offices so new people in the community will find them & if they are needing childcare, they will call. Also, what about the Chamber of Commerce, Welcome Wagon (do they even have these anymore?), attached to balloons at parades, & Labor Day is coming up, plan a neighborhood parade with kids dressed in red, white & blue on bikes, trikes, wagons etc. and passing out cards to adults along the parade route.

    A few years ago I sent out a letter on professional letterhead with business cards and a flier to be placed in their employees break room. I will try to find a copy of the letter and send it if you would like. I mailed these packets out to businesses all around, doctors offices, accountants, nursing homes etc. I did end up getting one child from the mailings. I was picky as to the businesses I sent them to also.

    Ok here is an idea that I am using for my DC. I am also a Mary Kay Consultant so this was taken from that venture. If you are in a small town and are looking to fill some infant spots this idea could be for you if your local newspaper has a cradle call (birth announcements).

    Look in your local paper each day to see if they have posted the cradle call and make a list of the parents names and when the baby was born. Take that list to and see if you can locate the parents address. Then make a 4"x6" postcard to "Introduce" your DC.

    This will get your name out there and you may get calls. I have 16 names from babies that were born in March, April and May of 2003 and I am mailing them out today.

    High School counselors! They have to counsel the young Mommies who are attending school & they need care that is usually subsidized, but great hours & off for Spring Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas etc. then by Summer, they will be getting a job & will still need childcare! Also, maybe the Health Depts with everyone getting back to school immunizations. Also the WIC offices!

    Getting a sign to post on your vehicle side and back window is a great way to market your service. Placing a sign on your lawn is one of the best ways to get noticed, if you are fortunate enough to be allowed to post a sign without infringing on zoning and local business license regulations of course. I am unaware of any regulations that can keep you from advertising on your vehicle however. I'm sure the benefits of doing so well out-weigh the cost of having a sign made. Even better, if your vehicle is sitting in your driveway or in front of your DC and accessible for public viewing. I also read somewhere about a guy who would put magnetic business cards on the side of his vehicle when he went out so people can take them. That was before the widespread use of vehicle alarms mind you, but the idea is still worthy, given you can buy the magnetic cards at some stationary stores, print them up, and stick them where you think they'll get noticed. Heck, if you wanted to, you could even do a bunch, put them on your vehicle, then let the press know about this wacky way of advertising.

    Let the teachers know. I've gotten lots of referrals from my kids' teachers. In fact, one of my clients was my kids' teacher... LOL and I have an interview tonight with someone that she referred to me...Some things I've mentioned before are:

        Medical/dental offices....some of them in our town have childcare referral lists for their patients. I'm not even sure how I got on some of them, but I have gotten several calls from people who got my name from their doctor/dentist.

        Send a flyer to maternity ward of your hospital..some hospitals give out little kits to new mom's..ask if you could have your childcare flyer included in those.

        Call Realtors-many realtors give out "welcome envelopes" with information about local businesses, coupons, etc. You could put in a flyer and a coupon for $XXX off your first week of childcare. (though I would suggest you have that discount be eligible only AFTER a 2 wk trial period.

        Local business, especially industry if you have any....they have bulletin boards that you can often advertise on...ask if you can put up a flier or two there, send one to the Human Resources dept....

        If you have openings around Halloween, put a flyer or business card in with each kids bag that comes to your door...

    When I was struggling to get kids here in Sacramento CA I called the big churches and called around to find some mom's groups and I got to know them and then I started to give them my cards and asked them to spread word that I had child care spaces and the next thing I knew I was full. I have not had to advertise in 2 years. Hopefully this helps.


    - Trifold brochures to local businesses
    - Door to door with brochures to neighborhood
    - Magnetic vehicle signs
    - The almighty Word of Mouth
    - Special thanks to people who refer
    - Website
    - Online listings with referral directories
    - Listing with local referral service
    - Newspaper ad
    - Yellow page ad
    - Flyers at groceries, colleges/trade schools, pediatricians and vets' offices
    - Open house
    - Your business name all over stationary (business cards, fax cover sheets, parent correspondence, etc.)

    About advertising...I put an ad in the paper once, got no response. Word of mouth, given business cards and fliers out to schools, restaurants, churches, etc..., are good, but one that has helped me the best is using the Sunday paper! I look at the garage sale section for those selling baby items, clothes, toys and such. Get the address, which is listed in the paper and send them a flier. This has been my best way to advertise.

    The big newspaper never worked for me, and it's expensive. I like the little local paper that covers just our local area, comes out once a week to everyones mailbox. This paper has been very good for me. Word of mouth of course has been great too. Also, I keep business cards in my purse at all times. I put them on the drivers side window of cars with car seats. If I need to fill a spot quick, I put fliers on car windshields in the parking lot of Babies R Us, Toys R Us, Chuck E Cheese, etc. Sometimes I get calls right away and other times it takes months, but you never know. Last week I got a call from a lady who said she had my flier for over 6 months, she held onto it till she needed care. Unfortunately for her, my spots are all filled now but I kept her name & number for when something opens up.

    I know of a great source of advertising for a home daycare.

    Get ahold of a "domestic" or family page journalist that works for your local newspaper. Have them do an article or series of articles on working mom's and the use of home daycare. Tell him or her - usually it's a her - that you would be willing to have her at your daycare for a week or so.

    You could also give them another idea for an article. The Government is always doing one study after another about "quality" daycare. This type of study offends me to no end. It usually starts off by saying that "quality" daycare is not readily available. Pffffttttttttttt! Just because someone does not have an opening does not mean they ARE "quality" and just because someone does have an opening doesn't mean they ARE NOT "quality". By saying that Quality childcare is not readily available is a slap in the face of those of us who work our hinnies off. Anyway ... tell this reporter that they should do a local follow up to the most recent childcare study, and you would be willing to participate.

    I know several ladies in my neck of the woods that do this regularly. They are inundated with phone calls after one of these articles appears in the paper.

    Employ all feasible, reasonable methods ALL YEAR LONG, even when you are full and plan to be. With people calling you year around, you are more likely to be getting calls when you need them (when a vacancy occurs) than with one-time advertising blitzes. However for the times you are full, you must become a resource person for parents if you want them to remember you and call you back again in the future, to give out your name to other prospective clients who are searching, - if you are full, thank them for calling (& thank the person/s that sent them your way) ... have some names of providers or places you can suggest they call. Offer to put them on a waiting list as well.

    Newspapers (though I've never advertised in one), listing with Resource & Referrals , joining a USDA food program, a provider association, the parent/teacher program at your school, leaving a note with the schools and church offices in your area, BUSINESS CARDS (homemade with rubber stamps or stickers are fine!), as well as those you can have made through mail-off catalogs, at office supply stores with business card computer programs, home computer generated - there are some nice papers and graphics to use nowadays; flyers, brochures, posters all help. Go back often to check the supply and condition of anything posted. Keep it fully stocked and replace if starting to look shabby and worn.

    On pull-off tab posters, be sure your child care business name is listed with the phone number so parents can readily identify what the number is for.

    Don't put address on advertising, just approximate location and phone number. You don't want to invite strangers over for an "open house" when you aren't having one! (And this has happened to some!) Great retention factor is bright yellow or bright lime green for backgrounds of cards or posters. Pulls the attention, helps keep it in memory. Black for wording. Never use yellow, orange, red for wording. However, primary colors - red, blue, yellow are exceptionally great highlighters. Have some colorful zigzags around your poster or highlight some of the balloons, features of any graphics will red, blue & yellow for more attention.

    Anything that goes out the door has your child care business name & number on it. Stamp it on artwork you are sending home. Stamp it on the back of cards the kids make for their parents. On the back of murals and placemats. Attach it to any goodies you distribute on Halloween.

    Let every and any business place in your area know of your service with a personal letter and follow up phone call.

    Ask to display children's art in local stores during The Week of the Child - add your business name and number, as well as photos and comments from happy parents, to the display!

    You can buy a number of items that are imprinted with your advertising: pens, pencils, magnets, calendars, paper holders, and mouse pads. Carefully weigh the price of advertising with these methods against brochures and business cards which may be homemade or computer produced for a significantly lower amount with much more frequently happy results.

    Check with pediatricians' and OB/GYN offices and ask if you can leave some cards or brochures in the office. I tried this in a veterinary clinic and got many calls! Also, baby stores, toy stores... check with the management before posting on bulletin boards for size and duration requirements (some want to limit the size, others want them to be removed after a certain period). This way you show concern for the management and their business and you show yourself off as a professional in person (they are more apt to refer prospective to your card if they've met you...).

    Check with Chamber of Commerce about providing a list of first names and phone numbers for them to distribute to area newcomers. Check with real estate salespeople and offer some of your pamphlets or cards to them to give out to purchasers with children.

    Signs on the car window (magnetic) - keep cards in your purse or glove compartment to follow up on inquiries generated by this type of advertising. They need something to take home with them.

    Signs in your house window or yard - make them attractive, bright and easy to read. Not too much information. The words describing the service "Family Child Care" and your phone number are enough for passersby to try to retain! Check first with city ordinances to be sure signs are allowed and that yours meet requirements if there are any.

    Bumper stickers, sweatshirts, t-shirts - drive everywhere in a car that announces your commitment to quality care; wear clothing that proudly states who you are and what your business is!

    Give some business cards/flyers to the mail carrier, the milk delivery person, the garbage collector ... let them know who you are and that you really appreciate referrals.

    Some areas have children's fairs or children's health fairs where displays and activities are held and providers can frequently participate at a nominal charge - or a group of providers from a local area or association. Getting known and passing out those business cards or brochures to back up meeting people personally is an excellent way to advertise. with providers in your local association and/or providers from your area. Call and chat with a fellow provider. Let him/her know what your openings are and suggest an exchange of referrals. If they get a call from someone they cannot accommodate, ask if they would refer the call on to you and you will, in exchange, refer calls to them.

    Press Releases Mean Free Advertising and Community Focus on YOUR Child Care Business. I send out a press release every chance I get. I sent one out when I first opened, and I sent one out when I expanded my daycare from family to group for example. I included all the necessary info and a couple of photos of myself with the kids. I sent it to the business editor or the new or changing business department. They picked a photo and Printed my release. It was about a 4 x 6 inch article all together. When I began offering preschool and swim lessons, I sent another press release titled "Happi Kamper Child Care offers more than just Babysitting" This one was printed also.

    We also create our own news. For this type of release, I sent it to the people editor. For flag day one year we had a flag day parade. I contacted the local paper and they took pictures and ran a small story on the front page! Last summer during the Olympics we had our own Olympics, complete with parade, events, and medals. Sent a nice press release with photos, (before the bombing) printed that one too!

    When I received Accreditation, I sent a release that got printed. I have also sent small releases when my assistants completed college degrees.

    After 3 years of receiving my press releases, The local paper sent a reporter and photographer over to do a business profile of my daycare. It resulted in a full page spread on the front of the business section!

    I am always looking for new ways to create news. The trick is to plan something during slow news time. I've sent releases during the presidential elections, forth of July and other holiday seasons, etc, that do not get printed. I also send my releases to all the local papers, even the small ones. Better luck of getting it printed somewhere!

    I have had great luck with press releases. I have had 8 releases printed over the 4 years I've been in business. I have each one framed and hanging near my licenses etc. on a wall that I make sure that all interviewing parents see. It makes a good impression on them, and it's an easy way to "blow my own horn". We get so little recognition in this business, that I grab every bit I can!

    An ad written from the perspective of a 2-year-old brings great results to a couple of providers! Hi! My mom has openings in her home daycare and I would just love a new friend to play with. We will have lots of fun every day. Sometimes we finger-paint, and then we play outside on my swing set. I really love my mom and think you will, too. I've heard other moms and dads say my mom is flexible and has very reasonable rates (whatever that is). All I know is that all the kids love my mom. I hope to see you soon. Here's my mom's number, give her a call. I used a really cute font and printed it on bright fluorescent paper. Of all the ads I have ever run, this one got the absolute most calls. I mainly use this one as a flyer that I posted in our local post office and supermarkets.

    Many elementary schools still keep a list in their office of providers in the area. The lists are quickly outdated. School staff certainly does not have the time to keep these lists up. Offer to keep the list up to date for them by taking home a copy, calling the providers listed at a specific interval, say quarterly, and bringing the school back a new fresh copy of providers. Some schools have eliminated this service because of the liability factor and/or on a recommendation from their legal counsel.

    DEVELOP A SHORT MOTTO (OR PHRASE).. Mine is the Sunbeams Family Child Care and our motto here, for instance, is, "Growing In His Love". Others can be "a home away from home" "an extended family for your little one" "special care for your child" "individualized love and care" "supervised planned activities" ..... write down lots of ideas, ask other providers, think of some of the things you offer ... The motto can be a few words or a complete sentence, but it should be short enough to recall.

    Develop a logo - a picture, a graphic, an emblem - a single balloon or a bunch of them - (here is it a smiling, winking sun) - a teddy bear - a rainbow - a smiling child's face - a sandbox with toys in it - a multicolored circle. The sky's the limit (although I would recommend NOT using little pics of guns, swords, .....!)

    Use your name, motto, and logo on EVERYTHING you publish or have printed: your business cards, your contracts, your pamphlets/brochures, your flyers, your posters....your bills, your receipts, your parent memos ...everything. Repetition is a key factor in retention. We want everyone to visualize as well as remember our family child care.

    Provider comment; "The name of my business is Panda Bear Child Care Inc. I use a Panda Bear for a logo and it is on my business contracts and cards. I even had my business name printed on pencils and the kids made t-shirts with bear sponges. At the National Zoo, the panda bear is my daughter's favorite animal."

    Another provider uses computer-generated cards now - she used to have them office supply generated. She comments, "These are great to have when you run into parents searching for daycare - so much more professional than a scrap of paper and relatively inexpensive."

    Wherever people, particularly parents, might go is a good place to distribute your advertising. Keep your materials in good supply and good condition, as mentioned above. Meet the man who fits and sells children their shoes. Introduce yourself to the saleswoman in the children's department in the mall store. I have seen parents pulling off those flyer tabs at the grocery store ... so it isn't an outdated idea to advertise, with permission, to post there. One idea, pull off a few tabs before you put it up to make it look like others parents have been there and considered you already!

    Make a sign with your computer, add a photo of all your daycare kids taken in the warmth of summer and have your moms write comments they like about daycare and sign their names. Hang it up in the local grocery store.

    One suggestion I heard is to put flyers on cars at the grocery store ... here is the catch ... do it in the evening on the cars with car seats in them. If the mom is a SAHM (stay-at-home-mother), they are more likely to go to the grocery store during the day. (Called "selective marketing" where you use your time, energy & dollars to center in on true perspective!)

    How to acknowledge those friends, neighbors, family members, clients, etc. that send you potential clients? Home baked treats, a big pan of spaghetti, some fresh baked cookies or a loaf of bread are wonderful ways to say thank you to your busy clients for referring a parent who becomes a client your way. A thank you card or note, a flower picked from your garden, a small box of candy ... are all great ways to tell the people that have taken the time to refer potential clients to you that you do appreciate them doing so! The key is not how big or fancy the thank you is for is remembering to say "thank you".

    The appearance of both the exterior/interior of our care places may affect a parent's decision about enrollment: "Hard to say this but I guess I care enough to. Have you taken a good hard look at what the parents see and hear when they come???? Appearance is important and sometimes we become accustomed to what is there every day. I have had people come to my Center (paid of course) to look with a critical eye. It has been a tremendous help to us and enrollment." You only have one chance to make a first impression!

    I keep an ad in the paper that runs every-other-week no matter if I'm full or not. It costs me under $10 a month. That way, I keep a waiting list when I'm full and I already have an ad in place if kids drop out of my care.

    My best advertising is with the daycare centers in town that don't take under 2 years. I visit them periodically, especially when I need to fill spots, and bring them a bunch of my cards.

    Get some pens and leave them at convenient stores, banks, etc. If you want before and after school drop pencils off at a preschool for kids to take home to parents. Or get calendar magnets from vista print and send them home with kids at school. Everyone loves a calendar magnet. :D

    I've heard of putting your business card in books and donating them to doctors offices and such. I don't have a local one, or I would. I advertise on different internet sites and got two calls that way. A website is a great advertisement and gets your info out there. Jana makes great websites and even teaches lessons.

    You could put an ad in the yellow pages, but it's pricey. My way around that is I listed my personal phone under my business name, so it shows up in there anyway. Just without the big square.

    Some providers put things on neighborhood doors. Car magnets, signs, etc.

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