Episode #87: “You have to be found and then build trust”. How effectively are you using digital marketing to maintain and improve enrolment? New families, especially millennial parents will use social media to solve their challenge and share moments with their family online. A strong Google presence is critically for improving enrolment numbers. “If you are under-enrolled – you’re leaving revenue on the table by not investing in digital marketing” How much revenue? $100,000, says Murray.
Have you considered the nuance of which keywords to use on your website to better appear in Google search results? Kris Murray of Child Care Marketing Solutions provides valuable concrete tips on how to improve your digital marketing and social media presence to improve enrolment which in turn allows you to dedicate more resources to paying Educators and creating high-quality child care environments. The landscape for how you need to market your center has completely shifted. We’re so thankful to have Kris join us this week to help us navigate the wild world of the web!
Resources in this episode:
– Kris Murray’s Training Programs, Courses and Books
– Child Care Marketing Strategies Enrolment Bootcamp
HiMama Preschool Podcast, Episode #87 – Kris Murray Proofread and revised by Andrew Hall – March 19, 2018 – – –
It’s really important, Ron, for preschools to get it right, and for them to spend time understanding how to be visible so that they can be fully enrolled and they can provide the best value, the most innovative childcare experience, the highest quality of what their vision is. But it’s very difficult to do that and pay teachers well if you are under-enrolled.
Chris, welcome back to the Preschool Podcast. It’s great to have you on the show.
Thank you, Ron. I’m thrilled to be here.
So you’re one of our return guest to the Podcast. And it’s always interesting to speak with you because you’ve got very different angles on things in what’s happening with childcare and early-childhood education. And also you have, I feel, put in a lot of thought and insight into a lot of the things you bring to the table. So [I’m] always interested to hear what you have to say.
And today we’re going to talk a little bit about digital marketing and social media strategies for childcare owners, which is something that we don’t talk about all that much in childcare. So let’s start with the big picture. Why are marketing strategies important for childcare?
So any business – whether it’s a childcare centre, preschool or a dry cleaning business – needs to market so they can be found by clientele, by their best clients, and build their business and build their growth and maximize their enrollment. So with today’s focus on digital media, with what we hold in our hands a majority of the time – which happens to be a smartphone, especially millennials – it’s really important, Ron, for preschools to get it right, and for them to spend time understanding how to be visible with and getting in front of the eyeballs of their clientele, which by far the majority are Millennial parents of preschoolers, and so that they can be fully enrolled and have the most successful business with the highest level of income so they can put that money back into their schools. They can pay their teachers more; they can have an outdoor classroom; they can have organic food they can provide the best value, the most innovative childcare experience, the highest quality of what their vision is. But it’s very difficult to do that and pay teachers well if you are under-enrolled.
And so if you are 60 or 80 or even 90 percent enrolled to capacity you’re still leaving thousands of dollars on the table. Even at 90 percent enrolled you’re still leaving around $100,000 a year in revenue on the table, depending on your capacity. So it’s important.
Okay, excellent. And I was going to ask you why growth in enrollment were important, but you answered that question excellently. So thank you for that.
So we know why digital marketing is important now, not just for the growth of our business but also so we can have quality education delivered by teachers that are paid well, which is what we all want. Now how do I go about this? And maybe we can start with what digital marketing is and how it works. How would I go about doing this?
Sure. So digital marketing, the way I think about it is, when people go online and they are either… I kind of think about it in two buckets. I think about it in, either I’m looking for information about a topic or something that I want to either purchase, a product or service, or I’m researching something. So I’m going to most likely go on Google and search up something about my community, or whatever I’m looking for. And in this case it’s millennial parents, mostly, looking for preschool for their child. Or they just discovered that they’re expecting, or they are moving into an area and they’re going to be researching that they’re moving into Topeka, Kansas, and, “Let me know more about parenting stuff that’s going on in Topeka, KA.” Or that they just got a great job and they’re going to go back to work, and it might be [that] mom’s going back to work. So they’re using digital media to solve a problem or research something that’s going on in their life. That’s the first bucket, is having great Google presence.
And then the second bucket is, they’re also using digital media to engage with friends, with their parents by showing pictures of their child on Facebook so that the grandparents and the extended family can see all of their pictures – a picture of their sonogram of their newborn baby in their tummy. So they’re using it for the social media aspect to relate and make connections with other human beings that are important to them.
So those are really the two main buckets that childcare centres need to give thought to and have a presence, so that when their clientele are on either Google – primarily, in search – or Facebook and Instagram that they are there. They are found; they are seen. They can have a presence and be visible. And that’s the first key to having full enrollment, is being visible, so that in the context of digital media those are the two main places where you need to play.
Got it. So let’s attack both of those buckets separately, starting with “search”. So I have a childcare program and I want my enrollment to go up. We need to get more children in the door. What am I going to do?
So you need to figure out where you are today for your keyword. So let me explain, and this could get a little complicated, so I’m going to try to keep it real simple. You have keywords. They are terms that people type in when they’re going to find… remember I talked about going to solve a problem, or find information, or research something. You go to Google, and we’ve all done it, is you type in whatever you’re seeking the answer to. And for people who are searching for a preschool solution for their child, or a daycare or childcare, they’re going to be using those key terms. So if they live in Boise, Idaho they will likely type in, “childcare Boise”, or “daycare centers Boise”, because parents still call “early learning” and “early-childhood”, they still refer to it as “daycare” a lot. In fact that’s the number one search term that parents use, usually, depending on the market.
So if you’re a Montessori school and you abhor the word “daycare”, then you only come up for “Montessori” and you don’t come up for the terms “preschool”, “childcare” and “daycare Boise, Idaho” – if that’s where you’re based – you’re missing out on 90% of the potential eyeballs of parents to find your Montessori school as a choice. So that’s a common problem that we help people fix, which is, “What are your keywords that you’re coming up for?” So figuring out and actually auditing where… What’s the baseline for where you are today? You’re on Google for these search terms. Are you coming up second on the map? Tenth on the map? On page 3? Or you’re not anywhere in the stratosphere for these key terms?
So you have to give it some attention, and you have to read up on some books. I would recommend… I’ve got some resources on Search Engine Optimization [SEO], and I teach a course to help people. And they can watch video training and they can get examples and it’s step-by-step for how to fix this. Or you could go to your webmaster and say, “Hey, Google expert, help me fix my SEO. I want to come and show up at the top of Google and the Google Map for the terms “daycare”, “preschool”, “childcare”, “Montessori”, what have you. Does that make sense?
That makes a lot of sense. And n the way I’ve heard some people use an analogy for this is with real estate, which I kind of like. Because you could almost think of it like the McDonald’s that’s on the corner of the two major roads. They’ve got amazing real estate because everybody’s going by there is going to pop in when they see those Golden Arches. It’s kind of the same thing when you’re that number one Google search for childcare in Boise, ID, right? It’s not enough just to have a website. Your website can be the equivalent of the restaurant at the end of that dead-end street that nobody drives down.
That’s right. That’s exactly right. And you could have a very beautiful, graphically pleasing site. But if it’s not key-worded properly or SEO’d (Search Engine Optimization) properly, and Google’s not finding it, then you have just spent a bunch of money on nothing.
Yeah. And to just further reiterate the point, the only way people are really going to end up on your website way if they type in exactly the URL or the website address of your website. And as you alluded to that’s not the way most people are going to arrive on a website.
Right. If they don’t know about you because you’re the best kept secret, whether it’s a daycare or a restaurant at the end of the street, and they can’t find you then you’re just never going to get any of that business or that traffic, unless somebody refers you. So of course there’s community marketing and non-digital methods, which used to be the way that preschools would stay full. It was all word-of-mouth in the 80’s and pre Internet. And the landscape of how you need to market your school has completely shifted.
So I hope that this podcast and other resources that I can give at the end of the show will help people get this fixed, because you have to… I always say, you have to be found and then build trust. Well, you can’t build trust with parents if they don’t find you in the first place. So this visibility on Google is really important.
Cool, okay. So that’s SEO, or Search Engine Optimization for search, which is commonly through Google. Now what about this other bucket that you talked about, which is around more like social media, interacting with friends and family online?
Right. So social media is changing a lot, every day, and Facebook in particular. So Facebook is a 100lb gorilla that is the big daddy, that has the most traffic, and the most parents and grandparents on it. The most human beings. And you could argue… some people are, like, “Well, Facebook is dead because everybody under the age of 25 is only on Instagram.” And there’s all sorts of debate about, “What platforms should I be on?”, etc. We could talk more about that.
But I do believe that you should have a visibility on Facebook because it’s still where parents are hanging out and posting pictures of their kids because the grandparents are there, and the aunts and uncles are there, and their high school friends are still, [for] a large part, there. So most human beings are there. And so you should have a business page – otherwise that used to be called a “fans page”, or a “life page”. That’s a business page for your preschool on Facebook. And you can get your existing clientele and prospects and alumni clientele to “like” your page, and friends and family. Also you can invite people to “like” your page.
And it used to be all about “likes”, and it’s important to have “likes”. So we’ve got clients with 2000, 3000, 5000 “likes”, especially if you have multiple locations. But they’ve changed it – “they” meaning Facebook and some of the other social media platforms. And, by the way, Facebook owns Instagram, so that’s kind of like if you’re on Facebook it’s also pretty easy to also be on Instagram and have that presence.
But it’s more about engagement, and also advertising to your best clients and getting your clients to engage with posts versus just “likes”. So it used to be kind of like a popularity contest. Like, if you have 5000 “likes” versus the school down the street has 50, you’re going to win. You’re going to show up more in people’s newsfeeds and … when they’re scrolling Facebook. You’re going to show up… well, these days for businesses you pretty much have to advertise and spend money with Facebook in order to show up in people’s newsfeeds. But it’s still a great idea to get people engaged. Get your current clientele to engage with you on Facebook. And you can do that through contests and all sorts of polls, and asking people their opinion about different questions and different parenting techniques or tips, newsworthy stuff like Tiger Mom and all of these things that are in the media. And you can get your parents to weigh in and start a discussion.
And really, Facebook is, as opposed to Google where people are going to get information and solve a problem, Facebook and other social media sites are a coffeehouse or a cocktail party. It’s people hanging out, connecting with each other. It’s not really a sales platform. On the other hand if you do cute ads and you have great calls to action – and we can talk more about that – you can get lots and lots and lots of business through Facebook, through Facebook ads and boosting posts.
So there’s a lot there. I would say if somebody is completely brand-new to it, just create a Facebook page for your business, a business profile. Get your clientele to like your page and people that you’re friendly with and start posting engaging and fun content and pictures on Facebook and see what people like. See what the response is. You’ll see, some posts will get a tons of response and some will be kind of crickets. So just testing different things, trying different things and being engaging and fun and informative as if you were hanging out in a coffee shop or a cocktail party. And don’t be real sales-y there. But just have a presence and try to engage and build relationships there. So it’s a lot different than Google.
Yeah, that makes sense. And sort of going back to the real estate analogy, sometimes I think of the social media accounts kind of like some of the amenities around the building. So if it’s a McDonald’s, what’s the parking lot like? Is the drive through accessible? Is it easy to use? And is there a lot of people there? So if you think about that sort of online – especially for millennial parents, which you’ve mentioned a couple of times – I think they’ll sort of poke around and say, “Oh, do these guys have a Facebook page? Do they have an Instagram page? Oh, okay, wow, they’re really with it. They know what they’re doing and they’re open to having conversations on social media.”
Yes. So this is a big deal because millennial parents in particular – but parents in general, we’re in a digital age – will judge a business based on what their website looks like. Is their website mobile-friendly? Do they have reviews? What are the reviews saying? All of these pieces I’m mentioning could be their own podcasts. I think we could probably talk for an hour or two on each of these things. So do they have a good reputation online with reviews? And then do they have a nice Facebook page? Do they look professional, but also fun and engaging? Are they real? But if they care about social media – if a preschool is doing a good job, digitally – that tells the millennial parent, “Hey, these guys kind of have their act together. They are doing a great job. It looks to be, on their digital media, they probably will do a great job with my child, and I’m going to check them out.”
So there is a correlation there that they’re judging you. They are checking you out at 11:00 at night on their phone, laying in bed, surfing and thinking about making some calls to preschools tomorrow. And if you don’t come across well you probably won’t get that phone call. So it’s important to get it right. And this is hard for preschool owners because a lot of them are more oldschool. They’ve been in the business for 30 years. They don’t want to learn digital media. They didn’t get into the business of preschool to become a marketer, let alone somebody that understands websites and HTML code.
So it’s hard for a lot of preschool owners to fix this or get it right because they’re just not technical people. So that’s where we come in, and we try to help give them solutions to make it as pain-free as possible to fix this so that they can get clientele and be fully enrolled.
Yeah. So I do want to touch on that in just a moment. But an interesting word that you use there that I just want to touch on really quickly for our listeners is being “real” on social media. And I think that’s something a lot of businesses in general struggle with, and also I think especially in the world of childcare, because this is really what millennial parents are looking for, is brands and companies and organizations that are human.
It’s almost like you feel like you’re interacting with a person through their digital media channels and social media networks, not with an owner or a business or a company that is selling their product or being very picky about what they’re posting online. So I think my feedback is sort of to err on the side of sharing more and being more transparent, being more human and having that sort of people-side of the equation with your social media.
Yes, I completely agree. So we help people with this, with regard to telling their story, their personal story. And a lot of childcare business owners or preschool owners don’t want to do this. They feel uncomfortable; they feel like it’s bragging, or they feel like their self-aggrandizing. And they’re not. If you have a cool story, that you’re a multigenerational family that’s owned this school for 35 years in this community, or just charming stuff about you that you are a dog lover and you rescued five chocolate labs, and you love to cook, and you just visited and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, and telling some things about your personal story and your interests, either the director and/or the owner is really important. Because people want to do business with people that they know, like and trust. They don’t want to do business with a quote-unquote corporation or a chain.
Totally, it’s a really good example. And you could even go a step further and do little profiles on all your teachers, for example, and some fun facts about them. That’s great.
Okay, so, like you said, we could go on with this for hours on all these different various tangents. And certainly it’s a topic I’m interested in, and I think childcare and early-learning programs in general could learn a lot about and implement a lot more. And you do support childcare programs with these things. Can you tell us briefly what it is that you do to help childcare programs with digital marketing and social media strategies, and where they can find out more about you?
Sure, thank you. So we have two main areas of focus: We have training where we can put you in a program and give you step-by-step training that’s very affordable. Our signature training is called the Enrollment Boot Camp, and we’re just redoing it now, Ron, so this is really timely, because literally this morning we re-did a bunch of videos all about digital marketing and showing you screenshots for exactly what to fix on your website to optimize your Google search engine results. So we train you step-by-step with a visual and a bunch of tools that we hand you. So we want to improve your toolbox around this and give you the tools to be successful, and to know enough that that you aren’t taking advantage of by vendors. Because there might be a lot of SEO companies out there that aren’t really reputable. You need to know enough to manage it from the owner’s or director’s perspective. So we give you that knowledge.
So you can learn more about that www.Childcare-Marketing.com, is my main website, where all of my services and training and coaching and everything that we do, Ron. And our podcast is there, too, because we have a podcast. And you’re going to be a guest on my podcast here, pretty shortly. But you can learn more about that and me at Childcare-Marketing.com.
You can also learn more about the Bootcamp at www.EnrollmentBootcamp.com. And then we also have “done for you” Facebook service. So if you just want help with just your Facebook ads and your Facebook social media success and Instagram and all of that then we have services around that as well. But I would say just go to the main website and you can find out more about us and get all of our contact info and give us a call.
And we would be happy to work with anybody, and it doesn’t matter what your budget is. If you want to fix this problem… you know, the thing, Ron, that people really need to understand is that an average enrollment is worth around $10,000 to a school because it’s around $200 a week, times 52 weeks. And so if you can grow your enrollment by 10 kids, that’s an additional $100,000 per-year to you. And I think a lot of childcare owners don’t do the math, and they don’t think about the impact on their early-learning business. And especially if they’re 80 or 90% enrolled, that revenue that I just talked about is almost all profit because you’ve now covered all your fixed expenses. You’ve covered your teacher salaries for the most part and your costs. And so that all that profit can go right back into the business and make it a better business, and also help you sleep at night and make sure that you make payroll and you can have a great savings account, etc.
So this is important, and we realize there’s a huge ROI [Return On Investment] for people. If they can get this right and maybe spend a couple thousand bucks doing it and getting it right they will stand to get a 50X ROI or more in the first year just because doing the math, I think it helps people to understand when they actually do the math.
100 percent. So first of all, yay, I’m so happy I’m going to get to be on your podcast. So I’m looking forward to that.
Me, too. Yes.
Secondly, one thing that I just wanted to tell the audience a little bit more about before we finish up here is that, like Kris mentioned, there is a lot of SEO or Search Engine Optimization quote-unquote experts out there. But a lot of them aren’t really experts and they just want your money. I think what’s really, really great about working with Kris is that you’ve got someone who understands digital marketing but also understands childcare and early-childhood education, and that’s actually a very rare combination. So that’s pretty cool and, again, quite rare to find. So if you are looking for help with your website and digital marketing I think that’s really an excellent place to go for that reason.
And then the last thing I just wanted to say to everyone listening out there is, you’re all doing some awesome stuff. And don’t be so humble. Tell the world all the cool stuff that you’re doing with the kids, all the creative things and all the stuff that they’re learning and how they’re developing. We want parents and families to know about this stuff, and they want to know about it. So make sure you tell them about it on your website and on social media. Don’t be shy. That’s my message to you.
Yeah, I mean, I was just on the phone yesterday with a client and she’s doing all sorts of cool stuff with nature-based learning and Peruvian art and a Peruvian dance and music program for our preschoolers, which is, like, the coolest thing. And it’s, like, we need to tell that story in a bigger way. Let’s take some pictures or some video of the Peruvian music and dance and put it on Facebook. And let’s put that on the website and let’s talk about that in a bigger way. You’re absolutely right. People are doing such cool, innovative stuff, Ron, and let’s make sure it’s not a best-kept secret. It’s not that restaurant at the end of the cul-de-sac that no one knows about, because that just breaks my heart.
Totally. We want families to know about all the amazing things we’re doing. We want the whole world to know, so let’s get it out there. Kris, thanks so much for coming on the show today. It’s always great to have you.
Absolutely. Happy to do it, and I had a blast.