When you’re ready to sign up preschool students, you need to focus on how to attract your preschool target market.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR YOUR PRESCHOOL TARGET MARKET
We believe that each of the 3 groups below represent a specific group of people called a target market:
- No Value: Some families, regardless if they can or cannot pay, do not place a high enough value on an external early childhood education program to enroll their child.
- No Money: Some families can’t afford to pay for preschool, and they don’t have access to free or subsidized preschool.
- No Options: Some families can afford to pay for preschool, but they don’t want their children to attend the preschool or daycare programs in their area.
(NOTE: We excluded from these 3 groups anyone attending a free preschool. Those families won’t pay for a premium preschool experience, so they would never pay for your preschool anyways. Put your blinders on to anyone attending a free preschool: they are not your target market.)
To understand a target market, imagine we are standing in the middle of a crowded shopping mall, holding a plate with a delicious, steaming cinnamon roll above our heads.
Most people—the “no value” target market—would walk on by, not even noticing us, because they had just eaten at the food court and were full. They found “no value” in the food we were offering.
Some people—the “no money” target market—would smell the cinnamon roll as they passed us and would want it, but ultimately, they would pass on by because they didn’t bring any money.
But some people—the “no options” target market—would see that cinnamon roll from the top of the escalator because they would have been searching for a cinnamon roll to eat and, after they would see it, they would buy it right away.
“NO VALUE” Target Market (#1)
They don’t find value in what is being offered. They either will educate their children themselves at home, or they won’t. Simple as that. In any case, if you showed them your preschool, they wouldn’t care about it, because they wouldn’t value it. In the case of our preschool business model, they are not your target market.
There are 3 types of people in this “no value” target market:
- Full-time working parents
- Stay-at-home nonchalant parents
- Stay-at-home homeschooling parents
Full-Time Working Parents: Now you may be thinking, “But I would have thought that the larger portion of preschool parents would have two parents working full-time to be able to afford preschool.” And while you’re correct in the sense that they would usually have enough money to afford preschool, you need to also remember that their children will probably be in a daycare setting because they need full-time care.
So, if they’re already paying for childcare, they might not be able to figure out transportation to/from your preschool, and they might not even realize that they need your preschool.
Stay-at-Home Nonchalant Parents: These parents don’t believe in educating their children themselves or putting them in an external preschool program. They believe the public school system will educate their children sufficiently once they go to kindergarten.
Stay-at-Home Homeschooling Parents: Some stay-at-home moms value preschool, but they don’t value external preschool programs. They know that they can educate their child themself, whether for several years into PK-12 or at least through the preschool years.
They will generally be very active in playgroups where their children already get a lot of social interaction and (in their opinion) don’t need preschool; or, the moms may have even organized their own free co-op preschools where their children rotate between different mothers’ homes.
These moms may have their own creative ways to help out the family budget by selling a few items here or there on Facebook or Craigslist, or even acting as a consultant for a home party company. These moms are frugal and probably love to coupon, and it’s difficult to persuade them to spend thousands of dollars each year on their child’s education before they’re even in school.
These moms often think, “I stay home with my child all day, so why should I have to pay someone else to teach my child when I can do it myself?” These women will most likely never enroll, so you can forget about trying to market them.
Interestingly enough, it’s also these moms who love to start home preschools. And I’ll admit, I’m one of them! Do you find yourself in this category as well? If so, you’ll need to think like Target Market #3 “No Options,” as those will be the parents you’ll need to attract. The more you can “get in their head” and understand their pain points and desires, the more you can attract and convert them into paying preschool families!
“NO MONEY” Target Market (#2)
They are interested, but unable to take action. They would love to put their child in a preschool program, but they can’t find one with free or subsidized tuition in their area or online. Or, if they do find one, it’s full. If you showed them your preschool, they might want it, but they can’t afford it. They are not your target market.
“NO OPTIONS” Target Market (#3)
They are seeking a solution, and they are ready to act as soon as it meets their needs. They are searching for a preschool program that meets their needs in their area. If you showed them your preschool (and it met their needs), they would enroll. They are your target market.
Stay-at-home parents who are willing to pay for preschool may have more income than the other families not willing to pay for preschool, or the parents may just have a stronger desire to make it work and might skimp in other areas to pay for their child’s preschool.
Generally, these parents have a strong desire for three things to happen: have free time away from their child(ren), have their child(ren) learn appropriate social skills, and have a loving, secondary caregiver prepare their child for kindergarten.
As much as these parents love staying home with their child, they see that their child could benefit from learning from someone else other than them. They’re not only willing to pay top dollar for it, but they’re also excited for the whole experience.
Online preschool parents want their child to be prepared for kindergarten, but they don’t want to (or can’t) take them to a local preschool.
2. UNDERSTAND TYPES OF PRESCHOOL PARENTS
Once you discover what the majority of parents in your area want, you can showcase your preschool by showing how it fulfills their needs. Now that we’ve identified your general target market is the “No Options” Target Market, let’s define them even more into the types of parents who will be attending your preschool.
I’ve noticed a distinct difference in what the following types of preschool parents want in a preschool based on these 3 characteristics:
- Preschool parent employment status
- Preschool parent age
- Preschooler birth order
Preschool Parent Employment Status
If I had to list the percentages from my own preschool, I would say that:
- 60% of my preschool parents have one parent (typically the mother) who stays at home with their children and does not work. 20% have one parent (typically the mother) who works part-time at home.
- 10% have both parents working full-time so grandparents bring the child to preschool.
- 10% have both parents working full-time so the daycare provider brings the child to preschool.
Stay-at-Home Parents: 60% of our preschool families are stay-at-home parents, and more specifically: stay-at-home moms. The reasons they put their children into preschool are varied and are often dependent on the birth order of the child in question, but we’ll discuss those reasons later. First let’s talk about why stay-at-home moms are first and foremost my target market. Generally, if a mom is able to stay at home, that usually means that her husband has a steady job, they can afford to live on his income, and usually have extra money in their budget for extra-curricular activities for their children.
Part-Time Working Parents: 20% of our preschool families work part-time at home, so they work when their child is at preschool. They appreciate being present when their child is home, and love to drop off and pick up.
Full-Time Working Parents: 20% of my preschool families are full-time working parents, yet they have realized that their child would benefit from being in a premier school setting to get ready for kindergarten, and they make arrangements for someone to transport to/from daycare to your preschool. While you don’t want to focus your marketing efforts strictly on working parents, you don’t want to exclude them either. NOTE: This percentage might be higher in online preschools, as many working parents appreciate evening or weekend online preschool classes.
Preschool Parent Age
My target market of preschool parents is between the ages of 25-40. Why the gap, and what does it mean?
Younger: Looking at the lower end of my preschool parents’ age range (25-35) tells me that some of my preschool parents are bringing their first child to preschool, having given birth to the child 3-5 years earlier. As the age range continues onward, we find more parents putting their middle children into preschool.
Older: We even have some parents nearing their 40s who put their only child into preschool (or a “surprise” baby after their older children are grown.)
Preschooler Birth Order
And while the age of the parents usually doesn’t dictate what needs they want the preschool to fulfill, we have noticed that the child’s birth order presents a greater significance to what the parents want to get out of preschool.
First (and/or) Only Child: These parents are generally more cautious, in every sense. Some of these parents coddle their child, and therefore the child may have a hard time separating from them. In general, these parents are looking for: a safe environment, a loving teacher, lots of feedback about their child’s behavior and progress, proper social interaction with other children, constant communication about the preschool’s happenings, adult friends for themselves, and a structured curriculum with goals in mind to prepare their child for kindergarten.
By giving the parents a clear understanding about what they can expect during the preschool year, the parents should be able to relax a bit and actually enjoy the experience.
To these parents, the world is a bit scary and their child is simply growing up way too fast in it. You need to alleviate these fears and concerns, as well as give them a foundation of what to expect during the preschool year. They will probably be your most vocal parents, with phone calls like “Mary says Johnny hit her today. What happened?” (when really they only bumped into each other at music time.)
If you can listen with respect to their concerns, and always be honest and forthcoming in your response (remembering to educate them about developmentally appropriate practice, then you should have a great preschool year with them.
The benefit to having these parents in your preschool is they will also be the most vocal about your preschool in a good way. These parents are often in several mom play groups, so when they say how much their son or daughter loves preschool, you can bet that kind of referral goes a long way!
Second (Or in the Middle Somewhere) Child: These parents are generally more laid back and have perhaps already gone through a preschool experience with an older child. They know what they want in a preschool, and they know when they’ve found it.
They’re looking for: a break for themselves, fun activities that keep their child engaged and learning, a safe environment, feedback about their child’s behavior and progress, social interaction, and a loving teacher.
Last Child: Generally, these parents are usually laid-back, but they also have a hard time letting go of their “baby.” They see their child as growing up too fast, and every moment is a moment to cherish. They’re usually busy with older children’s activities but still want to make sure they don’t miss out on their last child’s childhood.
They’re looking for: a break for themselves, fun activities that keep their child engaged and learning, feedback about their child’s progress, a safe environment, and a loving teacher.
As you can see from all those examples above, our target market (which may be yours as well) is a stay-at-home mom. By marketing ONLY to them, we can fill up our preschool.
Put yourself in their shoes and imagine that you are now looking for a preschool for your child. Where would you look? Would you search on the internet, ask on social media, or ask other parents? Whichever places you listed, that’s where you market!
And lastly, how could you reach other parents who might not be looking for a preschool yet, but should be? How can you get your preschool information in front of them so they can say, “Hmm… I wonder if that would be good for my daughter or son?” You’ve got to analyze where those parents spend their free time outside of their home. Where do they shop, hang out, eat, take their children to extracurricular activities? What places in your town would they visit monthly?
3. ATTRACT YOUR PRESCHOOL TARGET MARKET
Consider this analogy: You’re going fishing. You know there are fish in the lake (WHO your target market is and WHERE they hang out). However, you can’t just stick your hand in the water and grab a fish! You have to fish with a worm (bait) to attract the fish to you. Then, once they’re nibbling, you have to hook (convert) them quickly before they get away.
The way you ATTRACT your potential preschool families to you is by reminding them of their problem, and then showing how your preschool will solve their problems and give them their desires.
(If they know their problem and know that a preschool is a solution, we call them a “warm” audience. Refer to “Section Three: Set Up Your Preschool – > Easy Peasy Social Media -> Build the Know, Like, Trust Factor” for more.)
You can ATTRACT any warm potential parent by using this 4-step BAIT & HOOK Framework. Once you master this basic foundational framework, you can go even deeper with more training (our 3×3 Marketing Multiplier framework taught later) but for now… focus on these 4 foundational steps:
- YOUR HOOK (their pain points or fears or problems)
- YOUR PRESCHOOL’S FEATURES (the bridge between their problem and their desires)
- YOUR PRESCHOOL’S BENEFITS (their desires or hopes or solutions) NOTE: We always include the words “so your child will” or “so you will” before listing our benefit.
- CTA WITH URGENCY & SCARCITY (tell them what to do (local: call to take a tour & reserve their spot; online: register to get 1-week free trial) and why they must act NOW (limited spots with deadline for offer)
We asked parents: “What is your biggest question or concern with your preschooler?”
Their responses (often rooted in pain points or desires) are OBJECTIONS that we could overcome using the “Bait & Hook” framework. Remember: Thoughts lead to words, and words lead to actions. You’ve just led them one step closer to action by asking them to put their thoughts into words!
Here are several of the pain points and desires we discovered when we surveyed potential preschool parents:
PAIN POINTS (THEIR PROBLEMS – YOUR HOOKS)
- Local and Online
- Will my child be ready for kindergarten?
- Will my child be able to make friends?
- My child is bored
- I need time for myself
- I don’t want to teach my child
- I don’t want my child going to a free preschool
- Online Only
- I work during week and can’t drive my child to preschool
- I don’t want my child to be unsafe at in-person preschool
- I don’t have time to drive my child to in-person preschool
- I don’t have money for in-person preschool
- I don’t want my child on electronics anymore
DESIRES (THEIR DREAMS = YOUR PRESCHOOL’S BENEFITS)
- Local and Online
- I want my child to be prepared for kindergarten
- I want my child to have friends
- I want my child to socialize
- I want my child to have fun
- I want my child to be entertained
- I want some “me time”
- I want to be part of a community
- I want a family to belong to
- I want fun events for my family to attend
- I want to get my money’s worth
- I want to create lasting memories
- Online Only
- I want to save time and money by not driving my child to preschool
- I want to pick the very best preschool in the world for my child I want to keep my child and our family healthy