The Marketing Plan
Now all you need is a marketing plan that will keep your work calendar going. In order for your marketing to be effective, you need to focus your planning 3-4 months in the future and you need to choose a regular interval to be in contact with your constituents. You also need to decide on the best way to build your name recognition in the community.
Our favorite suggestion for building name recognition in a community raises awareness of Hand in Hand Parenting at the same time you build awareness of yourself and your services, and that’s with free parent education talks. These are much more effective than any local advertising you could purchase for your business. You’ve probably heard it before, but you really are your very best advertising!
You can introduce yourself to key community members, increase your personal contacts and build a mailing list by using well-placed talks for parents or caregivers on perennially useful topics such as Setting Limits, Understanding Tantrums, or Helping Young Children Sleep.
It can be very helpful to first offer a teleseminar, Facebook Live, or video on one of these topics so that you have the recording, or a key section of it at least, to share with potential venue coordinators to book your talks. Introduce yourself with the sample recording and an article from the website relevant to your topic by email, then drop by to visit the venue and the person in charge in person with a booklet, card, etc. Take some time to listen to what the venue coordinator feels the community may need and tailor your topic to address that issue.
When you present a talk, take along your phone, tablet, or laptop and welcome each parent as they arrive taking down their contact information and offering them the Hand in Hand Parenting newsletter.
Have a follow-up action ready for each talk. When you begin, your next step might simply be, “Join me for a talk at the local library in two weeks on Tantrums,” and as you grow your audience it will turn into things like, “Take a flyer from the back table to learn more about my upcoming Understanding Tears and Tantrums classes.” (Or consulting services, or workshops on Parent Stress Reduction, etc.)
You might decide to email a quote from one of the booklets to your email list every Saturday morning, or to share the Hand in Hand newsletter with your own comments added each week, or to post something you found helpful or inspiring on Facebook each Tuesday and Thursday, or to write a blog post on using a Listening Tool every other Monday. Whatever the method and interval you choose to keep in touch with your community, allow yourself to become predictable in that communication. You can always add in an occasional special notice or update on a new event you have scheduled, but it’s important that your community understands that you will provide useful, relevant content to them, and that you will do it at a predictable pace, whatever that pace happens to be for you. This builds trust and safety with your community. They come to understand they can rely on you.
Let’s say you decide you want to teach 6 local and 6 online Starter classes in 2020.
It’s hard to start 6-week classes in November or December, so you really have just 10 months to schedule 12 classes. While we’re at it, you may want most of July with the kids, so make that 9 months to plan start dates for those 12 classes.
It might look something like this: in January, you start an online Starter class, and in February you start an in-person class, March two online classes, April in-person, May online, June in-person, August both in-person and online, September again both, October in-person.
Now, where are you going to teach those 6 in-person classes? Let’s say there are 12 parent-participation preschools in your area, 15 elementary school PTAs, 2 or 3 parent groups or mothers clubs, a city-run community center, 2 stores that sell baby goods, a birthing center, a children’s hospital, and a YMCA. The model we frequently suggest is that you offer one of your free talks for the year (that help you build your list and keep your classes happening) at one or more of these 36 possible venues in exchange for that space being willing to host a Hand in Hand Parenting Starter class or Understanding Tears and Tantrums class. Ideally they will advertise both the free talk and the upcoming class to the community there. And if the class fills to the size you like, you can offer a free seat in the class to one of their teachers/members/service coordinators or a scholarship student of their choice to further cement the relationship.
Now, simply rinse and repeat. 😉 Keep reaching out to new people and locations as demand for your services grows so that new parents are always coming down the pipeline toward your more personal services. After a few Tantrum or Starter classes, you’ll be able to add a SkillBuilding/support group or consulting services, or both, and soon you will be able to identify a few parents who might be able to assist you in serving larger groups of parents. From there the sky is the limit.
Here’s an example list I put together for Kristen Volk to begin extending her outreach as she worked on her goal of running 12 local Starter classes in the next year. Now that she has the list, Kristen will need to look at each of these links, identify 15-20 she would like to start with, find the contact information for the group, and choose how she would like to make contact with that community. Maybe someone Kristen already knows is a member of the target group and could introduce her. Maybe she will need to drop by with an article or booklet and introduce herself. Maybe she will decide to forward a short clip from a TSM and a testimonial from a local parent to the group and follow-up with a phone call. Whatever method she chooses, Kristen will find a way to make contact, demonstrate some of the ways she can be helpful to that community, and let them know about her upcoming events.