The importance of producing accurate and attractive promotional material about your school or setting
‘Promoting your services’ (EYU 51) looked at how to capitalise on the marketing opportunities afforded by personal recommendations, press releases and coverage in the local media and by listings in childcare directories. This article reviews the printed and web-based information that any early years provision might produce and points out some of the key priorities to address to ensure that the information you produce for parents and carers is both accurate and attractive.
Printed promotional material
This category covers adverts, leaflets, brochures, posters, signs and banners. The design and presentation of all these promotional materials should be consistent and should be designed to reflect the image of the setting. This will include details such as the size and position of the logo, the colour scheme and the layout and the design and typeface used. Remember, if photographs of children are to be included it is essential to obtain parental permission in advance.
Leaflets and posters
Leaflets and posters are expensive to produce so it is important to be meticulous about checking every detail to make sure all the important information has been included and that no typos or grammatical errors have crept in. Be realistic about the turn around time needed to produce a professional-looking result. Try to allow a reasonable timescale so that the work is not rushed, and be aware that it will probably be necessary to go through several draft stages before the finished article is produced. When checking advertising copy it is useful to involve several different people in the process – everyone will see something different, making it an effective way of picking up errors and spotting omissions. Think ahead about all the ways the printed material might be used over the coming year in order to avoid including any information which will go out of date quickly. Larger initial print runs are cheaper in the long run than ordering a succession of reprints so it is cost effective to ensure that your leaflets have as long a shelf life as possible. Make sure all the important contact details are included – telephone number, email address and postal address – to make it easy for people to get in touch for more information.
Brochure or prospectus
The brochure or prospectus is one of the key documents which a setting or school can use to promote itself. This document is not just a source of information, but also an opportunity to send out some very clear messages about the philosophy and values which underpin the way you work. Basic information which should feature in the brochure/prospectus includes:
- the vision and values of the setting
- how the early years provision is structured and the arrangements for different age groups of children
- a brief résumé of the policies and procedures you have in place to ensure children are safe and secure
- the arrangements for mealtimes and some sample menus
- an overview of the learning and development opportunities provided for the children
- staff qualifications and your commitment to continuing professional development
- an invitation to visit and be shown round
- opening times, address and contact details
- a map showing the location of the setting/school and directions of how to find it, including public transport information where appropriate.
Information on fees and charges is likely to change annually so it is often better to have this on a separate sheet which can be updated easily.
Signs and banners
Signs and banners are frequently used to advertise the location of an early years setting or school. These will need to be large enough to be easily visible by car drivers as well as to people on foot, but their maximum size and exact location may well be covered by planning restrictions. To avoid any complications it is advisable to check with the local council planning department for guidance. Remember to include a contact telephone number so people can get in touch for further information.
Websites and e-brochures
An increasing number of people are turning to the internet as their first port of call when looking for information. A well-designed, easy-to-navigate website is now almost an essential part of the marketing strategy of any form of early years provision. The advantage of a website is that it provides information round the clock, and is easily accessible from anywhere. A website allows parents planning to move into an area the opportunity to find out about the range of early years and childcare services on offer. It also gives local families a source of information which they can browse before making any formal contact with the setting. A good website will include a ‘contact’ section, which enquirers can use. Any enquiries should always be followed up speedily and efficiently to create a positive impression of the efficiency of the setting. Websites can also be used for staff recruitment purposes to attract candidates to fill job vacancies or to apply for trainee positions.
The information on the website should mirror much of the content of the brochure or prospectus, including up-to-date information on session times, fees and charges. Special events, open days, parents’ meetings and fundraising events can all be advertised via the website, giving a useful overview of the range of activities which the setting/school is involved in. To maintain a good image it is very important to keep the website up to date and accurate. It is good practice to check the website regularly to make sure it is functioning properly. Links to other websites help to generate more visitors to the site which may in itself generate more enquiries.
An e-brochure or prospectus is an electronic version of a normal printed brochure/prospectus. It contains the same information but in the form of a series of web pages rather than printed pages. The advantage of an e-brochure is that it can be updated regularly and, once set up, is less expensive to maintain. However, as it is only available through the internet it will only reach a limited audience and may, therefore, not be appropriate in all circumstances. Many companies which specialise in nursery management software also design and host websites for early years settings. These include:
Nursery Web Cam
Read the other articles in this series:
Part 1: Creating an image
Part 2: Knowing your customers
Part 3: Promoting your setting
Part 5: Running a marketing campaign