Marketing your setting

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

When you move into a leadership position in the early years sector, often the nitty gritty of business development is something that you have to work out as you go along. Marketing your setting is one of those tasks that is essential for occupancy growth, but not something that is taught during your early years degree. Marketing is crucial in any business and as the early years sector becomes more and more competitive, marketing your setting is an important part of a leader’s role. However, leaders often don’t know where to start, what marketing methods to use or how best to reach their target customers, and so marketing becomes pushed down the priority list.

As we find ourselves in this difficult climate, with parents feeling worried at leaving their children in early years settings due to the risk of Covid-19, marketing is now more important than ever. In difficult times, keeping occupancy high is essential, and having a flow of children ready to fill the spaces left by September school leavers will ensure your setting is financially stable.

At the Key Leadership, we often work with leaders who feel that their great reputation for offering high quality care and education will see them through. Having a good reputation is important, but only if people have heard of you! Leaders cannot rely on a reputation if people don’t know about that reputation in the first place. This is why marketing is so important.

However, just the very thought of marketing may fill some leaders with dread. With limited budgets, its hard to know where to start and what to spend the tiny budget on for the best results. It may even be that there is no marketing budget at all. Traditional advertising methods, leaflets and newspaper articles may be expensive and who knows if they are getting under the noses of the families you hope to see them.

The most important thing is to know who your target customer is. By really understanding your ideal customer demographics, geographics and psychographics, you can effectively plan your marketing. Check out our customer profiling toolkit for further info on segmenting and profiling your customers.

When it comes to choosing your marketing methods, its often the simplest of tasks that provides the greatest return on investment. Word of mouth marketing, families recommending your setting to their friends, is often the best marketing method. People buy on recommendation from others, even more so when it comes to finding the best early years setting for their child.

Having a website that is easy to navigate and shows your unique selling points is a great asset as parents will often check out a settings website before contacting them to arrange a viewing. Your website is your ‘shop window’ and gives potential families their first impression of your service. Make sure it shows your unique offer and your settings personality along with the important thing’s parents want to know such as opening hours.

Online, social media marketing is becoming more popular as families use social media to shortlist settings and find reviews. Using websites such as to showcase your setting can be useful. Its important that information like this is kept up to date.

The marketing methods you choose will depend on your setting, your community and your families What is important is that marketing is targeted to ensure a good return on both your time and financial investment.

Throughout July we will be bringing you tools and resources to support your marketing, ensuring it is truly effective. Heres what you can expect:

Staff training activities on brand awareness

Industry expert podcast

Social media & online marketing guide

Sources of marketing poster

Editable setting marketing plan

Local marketing ideas

Reflective Practice toolkit

Marketing monitoring spreadsheet

Why not join in our marketing challenge through The Key Leadership App and join in the discussions in our group chats.

Whatever marketing you do, make sure it is focussed, informed and monitored so that you can be clear on what is working for you and what isn’t. After all, an early years leaders role is a busy one, and the easier you can make this on yourself the better. Our resources will help you to make your marketing slicker and simpler, leaving you more time to do the bits you really enjoy!

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