Millennials are the new parents on the block.

And while we definitely don’t buy the hype about millennials and their reputation as entitled avocado lovers, they do have some distinct expectations about the brands they choose to buy from.

And make no mistake, your preschool is a brand.

If you’re looking for ways to stand out among the competition and attract more millennial parents to your center, you’re in the right place. Here are five creative ways to sidestep the marketing hype and build a lasting connection with millennial parents.

1. Know what you stand for

Instagram, email, blogging…it’s easy to get caught up in the many instruments of marketing. But with millennials, your message matters most.

Fact is, these digital natives already know how and where to find you. You just need to give them a reason to look.

According to the 2018 Edelman Earned Brand study, 64% of consumers now buy on belief. That means, they will gladly choose, switch, avoid or boycott a brand based on where it stands on the political or social issues they care about.

(And with the millennial cohort, you can probably go ahead and make that 100%.)

So before you hit Facebook with a queue of automated posts that look just like everyone else’s, sit down and give some real thought to the following questions.

  • What makes your school or center unlike any other?
  • What’s the ONE thing you’re not afraid to take a stand on?
  • Is that message clearly conveyed on your website, social channels and all other marketing material?

2. Make the tour memorable

When parents stop by to check out your classroom, it’s game on.

This is your shot to make a personal connection in a day and age where most of us (not least, busy millennials parents) are starved for it.

“The good news is that parents know more about child development than ever before,” says Rebecca Parlakian, program director for Zero to Three in an article for the New York Times, “Google is the new grandparent, the new neighbor, the new nanny.”

But info overwhelm is very real, especially for millennial parents. The tour is your chance to show them you’re a living, breathing expert and ally.

Here are a few ways to give them a tour they’ll never forget:

  • Get to know the family beforehand—ask them about their needs and goals
  • Explain how your curriculum connects with core ECE learning foundations
  • Give them something fun to take home with them like stickers, magnets or a children’s book
  • Be clear about your preschool’s tech philosophy and show them the tools you use
  • Listen more than you talk
  • Don’t forget to follow up!

3. Think social proof (not social media)

We know Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat all have their benefits but it’s social proof, not social media, that’s the real new word of mouth.

In fact, 82% of millennials seek other’s opinions and reviews before buying.

That’s because they know when they’re being marketed to. Rather than weed through a bunch of half-hearted marketing messages, millennial eyes have been subconsciously trained to seek the stuff that counts. They want proof.

  • Showcase real family stories on your website, blog and social media channels
  • Ask parents to review your center on Google (also great for SEO), Facebook, Yelp and anywhere else you’re listed
  • Add awards and authority badges to your website
  • Ask happy parents to share a testimonial or story about how you’ve helped their children and family

4. Host unforgettable community events

We’re sure you’ve heard this one before.

Counterintuitive as it may seem, in-person events matter more now than they did before the days of social media and email marketing.

According to a nationwide survey by Cigna, millennials experience a greater level of loneliness and social isolation than both Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers. And community could be the cure.

For millennial parents, it’s easy to forget the preschool ad you scrolled past in your crowded Facebook feed. It’s much harder to forget the neighborhood event where the kids had a total blast.

Here are a few ideas to try out:

  • Organize an open house, BBQ or family fun night on a weekend so families can spend quality time together
  • Plan seminars for expecting moms, workshops on how to help kids transition into preschool or how to support their child’s learning at home
  • Host an out-of-the-box event like a neighborhood block party, theme night or mini family photo shoot

5. Build the right partnerships

If you’ve learned anything by now, it’s that in the eyes of the millennial parent: who you partner with speaks volumes about who you are.

It’s one thing to hang a few flyers on the bulletin board at your local library, it’s another to organize a charity event with a well-respected non-profit whose brand message genuinely supports your own.

  • Connect with local parent groups in your neighborhood
  • Invite your most engaged and influential parents to speak at an event
  • Partner with local charities, libraries, business and religious organizations to promote events with a clear theme and message

By partnering with like-minded parents and organizations, you ensure that the parents you’re targeting are the kind who will understand and appreciate what you do, making them that much more likely to enroll.

But as with all things “millennial”, it’s important not to blindly follow the herd. Instead of trying to be in all places all the time, focus on a handful of marketing tactics that align with your center’s unique beliefs and philosophy. Do that, and the millennial parents will follow.

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