If you don’t differentiate yourself from your competitors, you may as well close your doors.

That may sound harsh, but it’s the nature of the childcare industry right now. How families perceive your business is everything.

As families search for the perfect childcare solution, they can scroll through hundreds of different options. If nothing about your service grabs their attention, they’ll move along. Something needs to make them want to stop and learn more.

Fortunately, we’re experts at teaching you how to differentiate yourself from competitors. Here’s how to find your angle and turn it into leads.

Common Mistakes in Trying to Differentiate Yourself From Competitors

A differentiator isn’t just a feature of your childcare business. It must actually set you apart from your competitors. 

You still need to list all your school’s features on your website, even if they’re the same as your competition. But you don’t need to highlight all those features in your marketing — just the elements that set you apart.

Often, businesses don’t have a “true” differentiator — i.e., they choose something too vague, or they try to focus on too many features at once.

Saying, “We do age-appropriate activities,” for example, isn’t a differentiator. Everyone does that. Or, you might be tempted to highlight every aspect of your business that’s different from (or better than) the competition. Instead, highlight a few features that make the biggest difference.

Finally, highlight your differentiators in all your marketing: your web copy, physical signage, digital ads, images and videos, etc. All of it needs to reflect what sets you apart.

How to Differentiate Yourself From Competitors

Start by compartmentalizing your differentiators. Choose one main differentiator for each part of your business. Then, make each differentiator obvious on the corresponding page of your site.

You don’t have to dig too deep into this. Instead, try putting yourself in a family’s shoes. What would make them schedule a tour?

We’ve included some examples of where to start below.

Infographic: How to Differentiate Yourself From Competitors (the Easy Way)

Philosophy and Teaching Style

What’s your philosophy on raising and educating children? Are you play-based, nature-based, or tech-based? Are you a Montessori school? Do you lead children in a meditation time each morning?

Answer questions like these and pick the most impactful differentiator. Call it out in your marketing and across your website.

For example, if your school is particularly tech-forward, then it’s important to feature examples of how children at your facility interact with that technology. You can even ask parents for testimonials related to this aspect of your school’s approach.

Kindergarten Readiness

On its own, it’s not unique enough to claim that you focus on kindergarten readiness. All schools prioritize it, to a point.

Instead, show proof that you deliver on kindergarten readiness. If you can, share statistics on how many of your kids are ready to advance. If you can’t, don’t highlight kindergarten readiness as a differentiator.

Environment

What’s the theme inside your building and in your classrooms? Do you opt for calm and soothing, or exciting and stimulating? Are there colors, letters, and activities around to promote constant learning?

We work with one nature-based school that features nature in every room in some way. While many schools do this, they are the ones talking about it and capitalizing on it. They took that feature and turned it into a key differentiator that sets them apart from competitors. 

Some owners consider technology part of the environment as well. Do the kids in your school have access to lots of tech, or do you foster a learning environment without technology? Do you offer supervised internet time?

These are all questions families have. Give them the best answer before they even ask. 

Nutrition

Nutrition is a no-brainer when it comes to differentiators, and not just because some children have food allergies.

Nutrition can mean allergies, but it can also mean clean food served without processed ingredients. It can mean meals served family style so that kids learn table manners.

Not talking about nutrition is the same as telling parents you don’t do anything special. If you do food differently than your competitors, families want to know.

Security and Cleanliness

Do you offer key fob or security code access? Do you have cameras on the outside or inside of your building? What are the cameras for — are they security only, or can families check in to see their kids during the day?

Security is more important than ever; if your systems allow parents to check on their kids remotely, that can be a huge point in your favor. 

Beyond that, what are your security protocols? How do you keep children safe? Always list your security protocols on your site, no matter what they are. Call out the big ones, though — especially those that go above and beyond.

As far as cleanliness, what do you do to maintain a safe, sanitized space? Mention any special cleaning protocols, high-end equipment, and products you use to keep things pristine. 

Special Programs

What extracurriculars and special programs do you offer? Do you offer extended after-hours care? Do you teach sign language or Spanish? What about meditation programs?

List all the special programs you offer on your website, even if they’re paid. Note their availability as well, especially if you have open spots. These programs can be a huge selling point — don’t treat them like an afterthought.

How to Highlight Differentiators in Your Messaging

You probably already have unique features you can capitalize on. It’s just a matter of picking them out and highlighting them. You don’t need to change the way you run your school. 

If you truly don’t have anything that sets you apart, build something from scratch that makes you stand out from your competitors. It can be small or nuanced, but you need to speak big about it!

Once you’ve identified your differentiators, tell your marketing agency. That information will impact your digital ads, website copy, and even how your staff answers phones and gives tours. We want to tell your story, but if you don’t tell us what that story is, we can’t share it with others!

If you’d like to learn more about our marketing services and how to differentiate yourself from competitors, reach out or schedule a no-strings-attached Power Hour. We want to help you find your niche!

Quote Card: How to Differentiate Yourself From Competitors (the Easy Way)

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