Anyone involved with youth programs will (or should) know that the parents are where it all starts. Sure, it’s vital the kids have a good time because there is absolutely no chance of them not telling their parents if they had a good time or not. That said, it’s the grown-ups you need to win over first.
So, what do you do? I’m not about to teach anyone to “suck eggs”, but you obviously need a decent program, or it just won’t attract the attention you’re looking for. Another thing to remember is that rewarding people for supporting you is where it helps it all start to happen. If you’re a bit stuck for ideas, take a look below.
Events, Events and More Events!
Families love nothing more than being able to get together and while away the hours on a weekend. With this in mind, think about the sort of events you already offer. It could be anything from an afternoon of fun and games for the children and adults to a social event that allows parents (current and new) to have a chat.
Use an event to help promote the programs you have to offer, and welcome comments or ideas from the adults. This will give them a sense of belonging and will also help them understand they’re really part of a serious youth program.
These days, it’s no good just visiting a social networking site once a week, or even just once a day for that matter. Make use of platforms like Twitter and Facebook constantly. It’s worth remembering that millions of people are constantly posting on both these sites, so it’s not hard to get lost. Make sure you think about the information you put on.
For instance, feel free to promote what your program has to offer but avoid the hard sell. After all, you’re about the kids and making sure they’re comfortable and can learn as well as play. Again, get the parents involved. Encourage them to add comments or post photos of the latest event they attended.
Know Your Customers
Offering incentives is always going to be a winner but understanding what the parents are looking for is paramount if you’re going to get the right balance. It’s no good offering a discount on the current enrollment fees if wavering a registration fee will work better for them.
It’s the same if you decide to give out some merchandise such as T-shirts, toys or uniforms. It could be that you’ve managed to secure a decent deal on say, T-shirts. If so, it makes good business sense to offer those as an incentive for the kids. Don’t forget the parents either. Things like key-rings (with a bit of advertising of course), or cups can be a good idea.
Word of Mouth Should be a Friend
Word of mouth is always going to help get the programs you offer out there. In fact, this could be your strongest marketing tool of all. Parents listen to each other and are likely to take the advice they have to offer. Plus, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the tom-tom drums can move when they get to work!
The children shouldn’t be forgotten either. These little guys and gals probably won’t have learned much in the way of diplomacy just yet, so they won’t mind telling anyone who will listen if they really like a particular program. Equally, they won’t mind letting you know if they’re not impressed.
Enjoyment is What Matters
If you’re in the business of offering youth programs, the one thing you can never forget is that it has to be fun – for everyone! Sure, it takes a lot of hard work but can be hugely rewarding. Being at the heart of the community is what matters, and as long as you can continue to offer the very best service possible there isn’t any reason why your programs can’t grow.
Just remember not to “sit on your laurels” as far as exposure on social media is concerned, and it won’t be long before everyone, parents and kids alike will be talking about your programs.