How To Market Your Children’s Activity Business For Children’s Activity Providers in 2023

Written by Topodium Group

Transforming Journeys, Inspiring Possibilities. Topodium Group is the transformational ecosystem where creative marketing, training and consultancy, and innovative technology work in synchronicity to power the sport, health and wellbeing industries. Locations in the UK (Basingstoke), USA (Denver) and SA (Johannesburg).

January 16, 2023

Running a successful and profitable children’s activity business is no easy feat! If you’re a children’s activity provider, you’ll know all too well the challenges of managing a business whilst also trying to grow it at the same time.

Every children’s activity provider wants a thriving business with full occupancy, great customer feedback, and parents eager to join your waiting list. And, whilst the children’s activity sector becomes increasingly competitive, standing out from the crowd, attracting new enquiries from parents, and nurturing the loyalty of families already registered with you is only going to become more crucial.

No matter where you are in your children’s activity business journey; if you’re just starting out or if you’ve been up and running for a number of years, the success of your business can be determined by your ability to market effectively.

Why Do You Need To Market Your Children’s Activity Business?

Marketing plays a key role in any business plan. Not only does marketing impact your bottom-line, it directly contributes to your long-term success.

It’s important to not think of marketing as simply ‘doing’; a list of tactics that are carried out when you have a spare 15-minutes. Marketing is a process. It helps you better understand your market, your niche, your positioning, your audiences and your customer needs. Marketing helps to guide the positioning of your products and services in a way that can meet or generate demand. It’s also not a one-and-done project.

Marketing should be a living and breathing part of your business that is integrated into your business decision-making, and revisited regularly. Making marketing a priority enables you to adapt quickly to any changes in the market, enhance your products and services based on your customers and industry trends, and ensure your children’s activity business is competitive.

As a children’s activity business owner, it’s not unusual for marketing to sit at the bottom of the to-do list, whilst you have day-to-day operations and responsibilities to manage. It’s also not uncommon for marketing to be a skill set you simply do not possess. No one can be an expert in everything!

Of course, you can learn and gain marketing knowledge over time, but there are better ways to save you additional hours, money, and failure! Instructing an agency that understands your sector, has a wealth of knowledge and experience, and can do the hard work for you makes life much easier, helping you to focus on running your business.

Done properly, marketing can transform your children’s activity business and expedite your growth.

Why Market Research For Children’s Activity Professionals Is Essential

It can be overwhelming when you don’t know where to start with marketing your children’s activity business. Nevertheless, it’s important to take your time and do the hard work in really understanding your market and customers. Firstly, we’d recommend undertaking a situational analysis, which is basically looking at your industry and the external factors which are at play.

A good model to use for this is the PESTLE or PESTEL framework. This may help you understand the Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors that may influence your business or industry. It’s a useful tool for helping guide your strategic decision-making. Next, you’ll want to think about how these factors impact your business. A quick and easy way to evaluate your own business is a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.

For example, you may be aware that a local children’s activity provider has opened up in your vicinity, but you’re not able to move quickly enough on your marketing to secure loyalty or gain market share due to a lack of resources in your team. On the flip side, you have a more robust service offering a range of children’s activity clubs they don’t – but you need to be able to communicate that differentiator.

Staying abreast of your local children’s activity market, as well as the changes in the wider national sector, will help you reflect and continually improve your service provision and how you can market your business.

Another element of market research which business owners sometimes overlook is the very thing right in front of you – your own customers.

Invite parents to join a focus group, take part in an online parent satisfaction survey, or a simple questionnaire. You may be surprised at how willing people will be to help you gather feedback and participate. Even more so if you’re able to incentivise them!

Again, the key to this is not to make it a one-time thing. Make providing feedback from parents easy, accessible and regular. They should be able to contact you with their views and suggestions in different ways. Don’t forget to ask simple, straightforward questions that will get you insightful responses. Don’t overlook the fact that improving your service is a great way of building loyalty with your existing customers, and is a great demonstration to any new prospects that you take your commitment to actively involving parents and children in shaping your service and provision.

Know Your Audience  – Who Am I Marketing To?

It’s pretty obvious that parents and local families are likely your core customer segments for any children’s activity provider. Though how you tackle marketing to them can differ greatly! Once you’ve understood the wider landscape, deep-dive into your services and who you’re providing them to/for. Rather than creating customer profiles (no two customers are really ever the same!) try pin-pointing customers’ pain points, requirements, ambitions, and jobs-to-be-done.

It’s often better to work back from this point and make your marketing about solving or providing a solution, rather than simply selling. We find that using the ‘Head and Heart’ balance helps to identify both the logical and rational decision-making of your customers, and the more emotional-based motivations. You’ll want to ensure you’ve considered all angles.

You’ll also want to research when, how, and where your customers consume their information. Are they researching online through search engines? Are they active on social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook? Do they typically prefer short video content over written content? Identify the channels and mediums through which you can reach your potential customers, and when you’re likely to get more interaction and engagement.

Now that you have a thorough understanding of your children’s activity customers and their behaviours, you can craft your marketing messages based on how you provide value, solve their problems, and make their families’ lives fun, enjoyable and easier. Define your messages and iterate them for the best communication channels and methods to appeal to each customer segment.

Don’t forget you have more than just one audience. You’ll want to include a plan for communicating and marketing to other stakeholders too, such as local authorities, employees, volunteers and supporters, and the local community.

Developing a Children’s Activity Business Marketing Plan

At this stage, you should have a clear idea of how your children’s activity services map to your potential customers, the channels and methods that will work best, and the marketing messaging to support the positioning of your business in the right way.

Review all of your market research and use the information to develop defined objectives. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) is the cornerstone of your marketing plan.

You’ll also want to define your marketing approach. What is going to be the best way to achieve those objectives? When making this decision, it’s a good idea to revert back to your SWAT analysis. Do I have enough time, resources, or money? Do I need to focus on driving new leads? Do I need to focus on improving my service? Do I need to position my children’s activity business in a different way? Should I revise my pricing strategy?

There are many marketing approaches to take depending on your goals. For example, you may consider inbound marketing or outbound marketing. Marketo describes these in a helpful easy-to-understand way. “Outbound marketing involves proactively reaching out to consumers to get them interested in a product. By contrast, inbound marketing centres on creating and distributing content that draws people into your website.” You can read their full inbound vs outbound marketing article on their website.

You may deploy different approaches for different goals, though having these in mind will give you a guiding principle for your marketing activity.

Marketing Tactics For Children’s Activity Providers

The next steps in your plan involve choosing marketing tactics and activities which will enable you to reach your objectives. Here’s the thing – don’t simply choose to set up a TikTok account because that’s the latest trend – you’ll undermine all that market research and hard work!

Scrutinise which activities are going to be achievable and realistic with the time, financial and staffing resources available to you. If it’s not helping towards achieving one or more of your objectives, then don’t take it on. Tip: It’s better to start realistic and aim for consistency. Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Consistency will be regularity, reliability and trust with your audiences. Here are a few examples to get your ideas flowing!

Content and Social Media

  • Organic social media
  • Develop a blog with regular articles and guides
  • Develop a YouTube channel with educational/entertaining content
  • Create a promotional video
  • Incentivise user-generated content
  • Launch competitions for reach and engagement

Relationship Marketing

  • Tell your brand story
  • Tell the story of the people behind your brand/business
  • Promote word of mouth with your customers
  • Independent reviews and testimonials
  • Create a referral programmes
  • Launch an open day or special event
  • Network with local nano- and micro-influencers
  • Hold special assemblies or competitions with local schools
  • Create a loyalty points programme/scheme
  • Partner with other children’s activity operators and providers (particularly if you offer something they don’t and vice-versa!)

Email/SMS Marketing

  • Set up a mailing list
  • Set up automatic email flows for your existing customers to notify them of new clubs/classes/programmes
  • Use SMS for quick, timely updates and information
  • Birthday email promotions
  • Holiday email promotions

Digital Marketing (Pay-Per-Click)

  • Launch search engine advertising campaigns
  • Launch social media advertising campaigns
  • Launch social media remarketing campaigns
  • Launch multi-channel brand positioning campaigns

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

  • Optimise your website for high-intent search terms
  • Produce regular blogs/articles with valuable content and quality search terms
  • Develop links between recommendation/signposting websites, such as your local Family Information Service.
  • Add your listing to major children’s activity listing websites or search platforms

PR/Media/Advertising/Traditional

  • Take out print advertising in local newspapers
  • Create a business card
  • Create flyers and posters
  • Radio advertising
  • TV advertising
  • Write local/regional press releases
  • Execute a direct mail campaign to local families
  • Leaflet drop at your local play park/cinema/library (seek permission where necessary)

There are so many possible marketing tactics and activities to choose from, and our list above is certainly not exhaustive. The key is to remember that different activities have different intended outcomes, and even if they work for others, they may not work for your business, audiences or location.

Just like we tell our children, every day is a chance to learn and have fun in the process. Mistakes will happen, and problems will have to be overcome – but don’t worry. So long as you’re making sound judgements based on what you feel is right for your business, and that you keep testing, reflecting and refining your marketing approach, you’ll have a growing and successful children’s activity business in no time.

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