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Topic: Getting in the door at daycares & preschools
Message: Posted by: The Mighty Fool (Mar 1, 2011 12:51AM)
It seems like times have changed, but I still show up at the daycare unannounced, ask to see the director, hand out a card and flyer and do a couple of examples (if they want). I've heard & read that many kid's show magi call ahead first, and that security is so tight you have to. For all you daycare performers out there: How do you do the pitch?
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Mar 1, 2011 09:13AM)
Great question. First off I would never show up at a day care or preschool unannounced with the intention of trying to pitch my show to them. It just does not work for many reasons. There are much more effective ways in which to actively market to day cares and preschools to get them to “hear” you.

First off, we must allow ourselves to get into the mindset of the consumer. In this case we must start to think like a day care director. The key to landing any show is to understand the prospect’s needs and then provide a solution that best meets those needs. This does not only apply when you are selling the features and benefits f the show, but even through the art of engaging them in the sales process.

My wife is a day care teacher and also a magician. We both do shows for day care and preschools. I bring this up because she has opened my eyes to what goes on daily at a day care. This information helps me to really see the best ways to target market and the best approaches.

The first reason why showing up unannounced doesn't work is the simple fact that the director is extremely busy all day long. There simply is no time in their schedule to stop what they are doing to devote time to you. If they are not in the process of running the daily activities, they are either on the phone or helping a parent take a tour through the school. To have time to devote to seeing you, just simply doesn't happen.

A bigger reason is simply security and safety of the children. In this day and age, day cares and preschools take security and safety to extremes. They have to make sure that the kids are safe and that proper protocol is followed every time. In most every location, you will not be able to even get in the door unless your name is on a list and they know who you are. Even then, you must be a parent and they must have you on an approved parent or vender list.

Now another common reason why this approach does not work is the fact that you are seen as soliciting at a center of learning. It instantly sends the wrong impression to the decision maker. Instead of them feeling comfortable and eager to hear you, they are putting up their defenses wondering why you are there and trying to make sure you are not trying to hurt the kids.

With this said, then how do you market effectively to them? Well you take a marketing approach via mail and /or email. Day cares are used to getting mail every day and they do read it. They are also used to checking email every day as parents often will communicate to them in this manner.

An effective postcard that tells about you, your show and the benefits of it, works really well. If this is mailed out to a day care mailing list, you can get some pretty good responses. The postcard needs to have an engaging image and needs to sell your show well through how your show benefits their kids and the director’s needs. It also needs to have a powerful call to action that gets them and directs them to take the next step. Postcards work well because they are cheap to have digitally printed and they are instantly seen by the director as they are going through a lot of other mail. It simply stands out. It is also very easy for them to place it on a bulletin board for future reference.

However, any mailing is not good as a stand alone process. You really need to do a follow up system with them. Typically I would mail out a postcard and then wait 5-7 business days and send an email follow up to them. It is a simple email asking them that I hope they have received my postcard in the mail and have had time to look it over. It also asks them if they have any questions to check out my website or simply write or call me for more details. This gets your name back in their mind.

If I do not hear back, I will send a final follow up email 2 weeks after the first one as a simple final email reminder to them asking if they have any questions and that dates are available but filling up fast. After this, I leave it alone. If you do more then a 2 step follow up on any 1 mailing, it may be seen as spam. This mailing and follow up system has worked very well for us over the years and gets results.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: Sam Sandler (Mar 1, 2011 09:46AM)
Kyle is right daycares really don't want people showing up to pitch their biz.

I have used a post card campaign to great success however I don't follow up with an email I use a phone call. I sell much better via live and in person then an inpersonal email .

that being said email is becoming a much more accepted way to do biz and I do use it effectivly in other areas.

one thing I can tell you about booking day cares is that you really need to have a show that meets their needs. educational is great but what ever you do it must be engaging to all the kids. day cares are a very special breed and the kids well you got 50-80 kids with the oldest being 6 years old. sure there are some day cares or early learning centers that have a wider range of ages and older kids but the point I am making is that this is no birthday party show.

have fun and good luck

sam

ps I can confirm that Kyles wife really is a day care worker as I performed at her day care and she wittnessed my $1000 prop break right in the middle of performance- the look on her face - priceless. LOL
Message: Posted by: francisngkl (Mar 1, 2011 09:55AM)
Hi,

I run childcare centres in Singapore. I totally agree with Kyle. Advertise in monthly preschool/parenting magazines because childcare centres themselves do that and therefore will read the magazines. It is very effective for us and we do use the magazine as a resource for service providers.

Cheaper alternatives include sending personalised email or brochures (success based on high volume and low hit rate) or attending in preschool seminars.

You may want to be a volunteer for non-profit preschool centres. Teachers do move from job to job, so the teachers become your advocates, and at least, you are doing something charitable.

Francis
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Mar 1, 2011 10:28AM)
I agree. I was looking to fill in my shows during the week and I got a very fast education:

1) Price point does not RULE -- but it's critical. These folks run on tight budgets. Take what you get for a birthday party. Reduce it. THEN make your pitch.

2) Only email seems to work. I've not tried direct mail. But I send an email...follow up a week later and then usually wind up sending it again because the daycare director simply didn't notice it.

3) They are loyal. Usually one booking will become three over the next few months.

4) It helps to have a theme that makes it easier to "sell" the idea to parents and daycares. "Storytime Magic" works for me.

5) Often the sell is much easier if they are having a special occasion.

6) The kids are great!

David
Message: Posted by: jakeg (Mar 1, 2011 01:32PM)
There is an excellent book on Day Schools written by one of the people on the Café. I'll be dang if I can remember who wrote it, but I'm sure someone out there will help me. Anyway, I felt that it was one of the two best things that I read on booking shows, and the best on pre-schools. (By the way, the other book that I really thought delivered is CJ Johnson's, More Shows! More Money!)
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Mar 1, 2011 01:42PM)
Tom Boleware is a day care owner and a magician. He wrote an ebook on the subject and it is very good stuff.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: themagiciansapprentice (Mar 1, 2011 01:46PM)
Most of my day-care / toddler shows have come from the client seeing me a show elsewhere or recommendations.

Lots of UK magicians pick up gigs by using vehicles that decorated with a magical image and their contact details. Mail shots or e-mails are not popular with educators as we get so many (I get about 100 per year at my current school.)
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Mar 1, 2011 02:07PM)
Link for Tom Boleware's book:

http://www.tomboleware.com/daycaremagician.html

(Clarification to Kyle's comment. It's not an ebook. It's a printed book.)

- Donald
Message: Posted by: TomBoleware (Mar 1, 2011 02:16PM)
Thanks for the link Donald. Yes not an ebook, but a printed book.

Thanks Kyle. You said it really well with the post above. Well done.
Some do just walk in, but it is much better to set something up ahead of time.

You guys wouldn't want me to come backstage during a show unexpected
and try to enroll your child in my daycare, would you? lol


Tom
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Mar 1, 2011 02:42PM)
You are most welcome, Tom. Sorry about the ebook. I couldn’t recall which it was. Lol I do know it is filled with some GREAT information.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: wbzwolinski (Mar 1, 2011 05:47PM)
I second the recommendation for Tom Boleware's book. I purchased it from him years ago and it got me started in a great niche of the market.

Thanks Tom!

Wolly
Message: Posted by: Bill Scott (Mar 1, 2011 05:48PM)
I can second that. Tom's book is excellent and filled with critical information.

Bill
Message: Posted by: Leland (Mar 1, 2011 06:20PM)
Yes cold calling does not work. Kyle you did a great job of explaining how best to get daycare business, well done as always!
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Mar 2, 2011 08:28AM)
Thanks guys for the kind words.

Cold calling can work to a degree if handled in a certain way. If you do a mailing first (like a postcard mailing) and then follow up 5 –7 days later with a phone call, then it can work a bit better for you. The reason is that you can state that you are calling to see if they received the postcard, had time to look it over and if there is anything you can answer for them.

Just keep in mind, that even this approach you have to be ready for the fact that the director just simply may not have time in the day to devote to talking with you. It is a bit of a gamble, but it can work.

I prefer doing a mailing and then email follow up process as I know day cares and preschools check email all the time. They are use to doing so. This way I can pretty much be sure that 1) they get my message and 2) they can reply in their own time without feeling so pressured.

I have a better response rate by following this system and approach over others I have tried over the years. Just work on standard good email marketing practices. That could be an entirely new thread right there to talk about. One big thing is to make sure the subject of the email makes sense and does not trigger a person’s spam filter. I usually try and keep it pretty generic as my intention is to get them to open it up, not trigger spam filters and get them to take action.

I also try and use their name in the subject line if I can as opposed to just “your preschool”. So my subject line might be:

- Entertainment for ABC Daycare
- ABC Daycare Information

Something like that. It is based on the idea of what are these folks used to seeing coming across their email? What will get them to open it without trigger a SPAM filter or causing them to scan the subject line and delete?

Hope these ideas help.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: Sam Sandler (Mar 2, 2011 11:44AM)
If you are cold calling shoot for wednesdays around 9am or 1pm the first days of the week are always the most hectic days at least this is what I have found.

also if you have already performed at say ABC daycare and you are calling another ABC daycare that you have not been to FIRST ask the one you were at if you can use their name when you call now its not so much a cold call anymore

when I call daycares I start by asking for the director and in that line I mention so and so from ABC in blank town thought you might be interested in our show. now you have an in.

takes the heat off of it being a sales call.

just some added thoughts

sam
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Mar 2, 2011 12:40PM)
Good stuff, Sam.

I also take that approach in my email marketing as well. If I can state that so and so suggested I contact you, then it gives more validity to what why I am calling. As you stated, it is less of a cold-call and they do not see it so much as soliciting to them. Having a name to reference does help make a difference.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: Sam Sandler (Mar 2, 2011 12:54PM)
Thanks kyle,

yes I also on my post card campaign list about a dozen other daycares by name it helps add credibility right away. of course also a quote or two from the day cares.

day cares and early learning centers are fickle about getting entertainment for their kids and if they see that you are at other day cares or even at others of the same company they are much more likly to to contact you.

again as kyle myself and others have stated you need to do a lot of leg work and follow up but boy is it ever worth it!

love performing at these places the kids are awesome and its guarenteed fun and to think we get paid for this!

sam

ps kyle did you see in my earlier post the comment about being at kelly's day care and my prop breaking!! still cant believe it happened but it sure is good for a laugh now. LOL
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Mar 2, 2011 02:24PM)
Sam: yeah I did see that. Kel came home and told me and she was like the only one that even knew just how pricey that was. Glad you got it fixed.

Daycares are also a great source for marketing for birthday parties. Once you are in at a daycare or performing at one as a scheduled gig, there are many ways in which you can utilize the show to get your name out for birthday party events.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: The Mighty Fool (Mar 2, 2011 11:48PM)
My my! What a fountain of information!! It's the Tom Boleware book for me! And Kyle, hearing your expertise....I just might have to get one of your books after all!

I've done walk-ins simply because I've always embraced the philosophy of "There's NO substitute for being there!", also I thought emailing would be pointless...that there was no way a daycare would stop & absorb it while sifting through all the other assorted spam. Buuuuut if you guys say they DO read them, I'll just have to give that a try. Thank you all.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Mar 3, 2011 06:24AM)
You are most welcome. My pleasure. Any questions, please let me know.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: Sam Sandler (Mar 3, 2011 03:20PM)
I can vouch for kyles quality and what he writes. he put a lot of time and energy into these writings.

Kyle is that what you wanted me to say!? did it sound good! LOL just messing with you kyle

yes kyle really does write some good stuff!

Yes kyle I agree I always get many bday parties from the day cares. I actaully have a special card that goes home with all the kids and I provide a coloring sheet as well and all the kids take that home or some get hung up at the day care. yes the sheet has my info on it too.

I figure for every day care I do I get at least 2 bdays out of it. do the math! you can do 10,20,30 daycares just in the summer that adds up to lots of other shows and not just bdays.

I actaully got my illuionshow booked at Merk yes the giant medical company for a corporate fun night. and form that 2 other big gigs
so never right off a day care you never know where it can lead.

sam
Message: Posted by: drosenbe0813 (Mar 3, 2011 09:50PM)
I do cold calling to daycares...and in my area, it is impossible to get the 'director' on the phone..she's always 'with a parent' or something. And, of course...if I do speak to the director....then the 'owner' is the one who makes the decision...and she's never there!!(Is my frustration showing?)

It must be my area of the country, because when I call to a different area, in 8 out of 10 times...the director picks up the phone..and is usually very pleasant!.

I have a big question...how do you find out the email of the centers without calling? Is there a directory?

Thanks.

David
Message: Posted by: Hansel (Mar 4, 2011 03:47AM)
WOW! Great thread!
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Mar 4, 2011 06:23AM)
You usually can find a ton of good information through a simple Google search. most day cares and preschools will have a website. The website is aimed at getting parents to contact them. because of this, most have contact information available there that you can utilize. it is a good starting off point.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: SWFB (Mar 4, 2011 09:45AM)
Where do you get a listing of daycares in your state? Do you Google "daycare centers" and then copy each one to a spreadsheet?
Message: Posted by: TomBoleware (Mar 4, 2011 09:50AM)
As always, good advice Kyle.

Great tip Sam. Saying, "I've been talking to the other daycares in the area" does help when calling.

I can't say this very loud, Kelly may hear me, but us daycare people are nosey and we want to know what
others are saying. LOL. But seriously, any business wants to know what the competition is doing.
Daycares are no exception and while they may not book you on that call, they will appreciate finding
out what others are doing in the area. Like magicians they do often share information amongst each other.
So if the call is to offer them the same as you offering the other centers, nobody is going to be offended.

David,
You could do a search on the internet and find those who have a site. Contact them through the site. Those who don't have a site may not be the type that works through email, but getting other contact information is as easy as asking who ever answers the phone. If the director is not there just ask whoever is on the phone if they have a website. Let that person know you just trying to get some information to the director and you needing a mailing address.

I understand the frustration with the calls, but don't give up, keep plugging away. Not all centers will have sites,

Tom

Posted: Mar 4, 2011 11:00am
SWFB,
Yes Google can find most of them. Even those who don't have a site may be listed on one of the phone book sites.
Not all daycares will have websites, depending on the area you working. Problem is, the little lady who keeps eight kids at home may be calling her business a daycare.

Lots of work sometimes sorting through all the names, but hey, that's what working people do.

Tom
Message: Posted by: drosenbe0813 (Mar 21, 2011 02:54PM)
Sorry I let this thread lapse. Regarding creating a mailing list, I have created a couple of macros in Excel, where I can copy a result set from a Superpages.com search, and turn it into a usable spreadsheet in a few minutes. The only issue is now I have a list of hundreds of contacts to work through (smile).

Take a few minutes to learn Excel macros. It saves an enormous amount of time. I would offer mine, but superpages changes their result formats slightly every once in a while, and I have to tweek them, so the ones I have might not even work now. I can give people some pointers though in creating your own.