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    “Early mastery of a range of cognitive, social, and emotional competencies makes learning at later ages more efficient and therefore easier and more likely to continue.” -James J. Heckman, PhD, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences 2000
    Children who attend preschool are 5 times more likely to own a home at age 27.
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    What is a marketing plan?
    An effective marketing strategy begins with a marketing plan. The marketing plan is a living guide to how the program plans to build customer relationships over a period of time to fulfill the mission and vision detailed in the business plan. It details the strategies and tactics designed to create awareness on the part of the customer and to build a brand and loyal customer base. The marketing plan provides a consistent message to the customer and creates the opportunity for the provider to close an enrollment.

    How does a marketing plan help me compete and recruit families?
    The program's mission and core values set the tone for the marketing plan and inform the initial steps in writing the plan. The approach to the market must be defined and includes the message, differentiation tactics, channel strategies, and performance goals. Choosing the wrong approach can result in the families not understanding the service being provided. Choosing the same approach for all families will ensure that not everyone can be satisfied. Selecting a solid marketing approach is based on a thorough understanding of the community and what parents want, what they need, when they need it, and where they want to find it. Review your marketing plan on a monthly basis to ensure that it is effective in meeting the needs of your program.

    What are the benefits of a marketing plan?
    The principle benefit of marketing is that it enables the program to maximize potential and reach the right families at the right time. A proper approach to marketing involves understanding and identifying the needs of the families in your community. It is always important to understand market needs, rather than to attempt to sell your services, because you think they are better than anything else available. A proper marketing strategy is based on the right level of research into a market's direction and its key players. You have to identify exactly where your business might fit into its market, and how it will succeed within it.

    General benefits of marketing include:

    • Establishing name recognition.
    • Gaining and retaining families.
    • Enhancing customer service.
    • Establishing a solid reputation within the community.
    • Providing prospective families with information about the program's benefits.
    • Establishing trust in the program.
    • Distinguishing the program from other programs in the community.
    • Establishing word of mouth referrals.

    Developing Your Marketing Plan
    When developing your marketing plan, consider the following points:

    • Target Market: Briefly mention your target market for your program including any important demographics.
    • Industry Trends: Are there any industry trends that would affect your marketing strategy?
    • Goal(s): What is the goal of your marketing efforts? What do you want to accomplish? Make your goals specific and measureable.
    • Strategies: In a general sense, how do you plan to reach your goals? These should not be specific tactics (like send a weekly newsletter), but should be broad in nature (such as increasing the number of phone calls, tours, or enrollments).
    • Yearly Marketing Budget: Simply include your predetermined marketing budget so you are aware of your spending limits when planning out your marketing tactics.
    • Marketing Mix: Tackle the 4 Ps of Marketing:
      • Product (or service): What services are you offering?
      • Price: Is your program free or low cost? Consider your parent investment fees. Do you offer fee for service opportunities during the summer months?
      • Placement: Placement means where your services are offered. Is your program easily accessible?
      • Promotion: Provide a very general overview of how you intend to promote your program services. How will you build your brand?

    • Top 3 Competitors: Who are the top three competitors that you need to position yourself against? Keep this as realistic as possible. Who is competing against you in the most direct sense?
    • Your Strengths: What are your program's particular strengths which might help you position yourself against your competitors?
    • Your Weaknesses: What are your weaknesses or potential barriers to positioning yourself against your competitors? (Everyone has them!) Are you new to the industry? Are your teachers degreed? What curriculum do you offer?