You’re a brand new activity provider. Wahoo! You’re starting a brand new adventure – you have exciting ideas and are ready to share your unique talents and gifts with your community. You’re researching your competitors, found an available space, and have talked with a few parents in your area. You might have started drafting your business plan for the year with enrollment and financial goals in mind, but aren’t really sure where to begin when it comes to filling those spots.
You’re an established activity provider. This ain’t your first rodeo! You’ve worked hard to build your business and awareness in your community. Your existing families are happy and you’ve seen growth in your business through word of mouth. You’re considering adding new activities to your schedule, but you’re not seeing significant growth in customers over the past year.
The First Impression
How do new customers fit into each provider’s growth plan?
It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting on this adventure, or have already established your business in your community. A solid new customer strategy is essential to ongoing success when running children’s activities, and should always remain an area of focus for your business. Why? The reality is, children age out of programs, families relocate, and new competitors may pop up in your area. By continuously focusing on filling the “new family funnel” while also developing strong service standards for customer retention, you’ll be on your way to a steadily growing and healthy business.
We all know first impressions are important, but it’s a whole different ballgame when that first impression happens online. With that in mind, there are a few different ways that families can find you outside of traditional paid advertising or partnerships. Your job, as a business owner, is to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward when it comes to making a great first impression.
Think of your website as the digital version of the in-person experience you are providing to your customers. That means you want it to be reflective of your story and vision for your brand. The great news is, it’s easier than ever to make a stunning and functional website without spending a ton of money. There are solutions for business owners like Squarespace, WordPress, and Weebly (to name a few) that allow you to customize the look and feel of your site all on your own! (If you’re interested in trying Squarespace, use the code SAWYER10 at checkout for 10% off your first website!)
The first step is to audit your website to identify the areas where there is potential for improvement. It’s good practice to do this on an ongoing basis through customer testing! Connect with your friends and a few key families from your customer base to see how they navigate and interact on your site. This is a great way to gather insights and understand what may not be as clear, where information is missing, or any additional challenges with your current user experience.
Here are a few things to consider and ask when reviewing your website:
Is it clear what you offer and who you are as a business?
Is there a clear instruction or immediate action for a new customer to take on your website (e.g. call to action or CTA)?
New Customer CTA Examples - buttons or links on specific activities to “Enroll now”, “Learn more”, “Enter coupon code for your free visit”, or general inquiry CTAs such as “Click here to request a tour/information or join our mailing list”
Do you have a clear way for families to get in touch with you such as phone number, email, contact forms, or facebook messenger plugin for chat?
How many clicks or steps does it take for a parent to complete common actions on your site?
Examples of common actions would include enrolling in an activity, finding pricing information for specific offerings, and submitting contact forms or request fields.
Learn more about how Sawyer Tools can help to optimize your website experience here.
2. Social Media
Your presence on social media is a window into the DNA of your business. Families often turn to Facebook and Instagram to get a pulse on your business – think of it like a preliminary gut check! You want to make sure to showcase all of the amazing things happening at your business through engaging content, vivid photography, and features on your families and staff.
Things to consider when reviewing your social sites:
How often are you updating the content and posts?
Are you creating engagement with families through contests, prompts, and social share?
Do you have a variety of images that show what you offer?
Are you showcasing diversity in your family and staff driven content?
Are you engaging with families when they comment or follow you?
3. Online business listings
Websites like Google, Yelp, and Sawyer can help you get discovered by families who are looking for new activities in your area – the more places you are, the higher the likelihood that you’ll be found!. You want to make sure that your business information is accurate and up-to-date with your current address, website, contact information, and hours of operation.
As we mentioned before, first impressions are everything. So make sure your profile also looks good – choose a great photo and make sure your business’ branding is front and center! Want to learn more about listing your business on the Sawyer Marketplace? Learn more about how we can help you find your perfect customer at no-upfront cost, with no need to discount your offerings.
Things to consider when reviewing business listing sites:
What is the cost to list your business?
What is the current customer reach of the site? (i.e. how many visitors, users, audience)
How will the platform support your growth goals?
Will you need to discount the services you offer for the site?
4. Community Events
When it comes to children’s activities, it really does take a village. Events and activations are an awesome way to engage with your community, which is not only great for visibility and for driving awareness, but also incredibly valuable for acquiring new customers! For any local event, you want to make sure you have created marketing collateral such as flyers, schedules, postcards, or a fun branded item – that way, people have something to take away to remind them of your business! A fun raffle or giveaway is an easy way to encourage families to give you their contact information and join your mailing list.
Not sure where to begin in your quest for local community events? A great starting place is to see if you can join your Chamber of Commerce or attend town hall meetings as these are often open to local business owners. Great events to consider participating in would be local farmers markets, street fairs or block parties, school fundraisers, seasonal and holiday events, and any other family friendly venues such as libraries, parks, and community centers.
Things to consider when researching community events:
What is the cost to participate and the targeted audience?
What are the logistics of the event - will it be outside, enclosed space, seasonal?
What marketing materials/project make the most sense for the audience?
How will you collect contacts of attendees - clipboard, iPad, giveaway?
Get Ready to Invite & Delight
Hooray! You’ve made a great first impression and caught the eye of a parent in your area. Maybe they’ve entered their email on your mailing list, met you at a local event, attended a birthday party, or sent a general email inquiry to you. Now what? The next step is all about the experience and nurturing each new customer from visitor into a loyal fan. Stay tuned for Part 2 - the invite and delight phase!