When I started up my own home daycare, I didn’t have a ton of money to do it with. So, I got a little creative when it came to advertising. If you really look into it, there are lots of ways to let people know about your services. Don’t be afraid to overdo your advertising coverage. My Rule of Thumb is that a person needs to hear about a service 3 times in 3 different ways before they consider using that service. The more ways you can get your name out, the better. That said, here are my Top Ten:
1. Kijiji or Craigslist. Use free online advertising to your advantage. Word your ad carefully, including your experience, the activities you provide (or plan to provide), your general location, your hours, any perks that set you apart from others, your website address and your contact information (ideally email, phone and text). DO NOT give your street address, for the safety of the children in your care.
2. Word of Mouth. Ask everyone you know to tell others about your home daycare.
3. Social Media. Post status updates or tweets about your daycare in every social media site you’re a part of. Not only can you post openings, but pictures of artwork, pictures of activities you’re doing with the kids (with no faces), links to kid-friendly recipes or printables. Not only will this keep your home daycare in people’s minds, but you’ll get some great ideas to use later ;-).
4. Free Online Business Listings. Google business listings for your area and then submit your information to every one that you can. This will increase your searchability when potential clients do an online search for daycare in your area.
5. Free Online Daycare Listings. A site like www.DaycareBear.ca lists daycares and their current openings for free. Sites like this will be some of the first to pop up when parents do an online search, so take advantage of that!
6. Invest in business cards. There are websites that offer free business cards online, but read the fine print to see if they’ll put their own advertising on the back of the card. This may be my Print Broker bias speaking, but your daycare will look much more professional and much less fly-by-night if you invest in business cards that don’t “look” free. Once you’ve got your business cards, give one or two to everyone you talk to, leave several on grocery store or community bulletin boards, leave a stack in the library and at local schools if that’s allowed (check first), leave one or two on the side tables in doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms, and give a few to established home daycares and ask them to pass them on to families they can’t accommodate. Keep several on you and hand one over when chatting with other parents at the bus stop, at church, at play group or at indoor playgrounds. Even if a few of your cards go straight into the recycling bin, your daycare’s name will have first been read by at least one or two people. They’ll remember it if someone in their circle mentions that they’re looking for care.
7. Make up posters and/magnets. In my area, everyone collects their mail at Super Mail Boxes, and these are prime advertising locations. Every household receives mail at some point or another, so by putting your daycare name on one of these mailboxes, every household will become familiar with your name. And it will come to mind when they or someone in their circle is looking for care. If you put posters up, make sure they’re laminated or weather-proofed somehow. I personally prefer using business card-sized magnets though. Several can be put on each Super Mail Box, and people can take one if they’d like your contact info. Magnets could also be put on each metal door in a neighbourhood (but this could get really pricey!).
8. Design a daycare website. Yes, you need a website. When you’re looking for any service, what do you do first? Right, you Google it. You need to have a web presence for others to find. You can hire someone to do this for you, but there are several easy ways to make up your own website for free. Try www.Wix.com, www.Weebly.com or www.Webs.com. They all have super easy, drag and drop website designers. You could use the free domain name that comes with your free site (ie. www.yourdaycare.wix.com), you could spend about $10/year for a custom domain name (ie. www.yourdaycare.com) or you could get a free .tk domain name from www.Dot.tk (ie.www.yourdaycare.tk). There are a ton of options and ways to get your daycare website up and running. And it could be a simple landing page with your contact info, hours and services, or it could be more complex, with your policies and handbook posted, a contact form, your routines and philosophy and more. It’s completely up to you.
9. Add your daycare name and contact info to your email signature. Make sure that every email you send has your daycare information in the signature section.
10. Have shirts made up with your daycare name. This is a bit more of an investment, but one of the best ways to advertise. Have a week’s worth of shirts made up and wear them while you work with the kids. Wherever you are with the daycare kids — at the park, the bus stop, the library, walking down the sidewalk — your daycare will be advertising itself. This is the best form of mobile advertising ever. Just make sure you have your business cards with you to give to anyone who asks if those kids are all yours!
There you have it: the Top Ten Mostly Free Ways To Advertise! Now get out there and start advertising!