Quality after-school programs provide a safe, stimulating environment for children. The after school hours have an increased rate of crime and drug, alcohol and sex experimentation for juveniles, according to the Afterschool Alliance. Marketing your after school program means more children stay off the streets and safe while parents are still at work. Take advantage of community resources to promote the program.
A market plan guides your advertising and other activities to spread the word about the after school program. Whether the program is new or established, there are likely parents and children within the community who don't know about it. Marketing the program makes the community more aware and potentially increases your enrollment numbers. This keeps more kids off the streets and gives you more options for activities and funding for the program. A marketing plan helps you track the marketing efforts you make and make changes to your approach as necessary to increase effectiveness.
Develop your marketing plan based on your goals for the program. Deciding what you want from your marketing efforts helps you narrow your approach. Common goals might be to increase awareness, increase enrollment, receive community support or secure funding for the program. Use those goals to decide on your target audience for the marketing campaign. For example, if you're interested in funding or support, local and state government officials might be your target audience. If you want to increase enrollment, parents, students and teachers in the community are likely on the receiving end of your efforts.
Most after school programs lack funding for advertising so the most beneficial campaigns are low cost. An open house is a way to invite the community into the program to see what you do. Parents and students who attend might decide to enroll in the program. Teachers and school staff might recommend the program to parents in the school district. Consider inviting community leaders and elected officials if they are included in your target audience. Displays of projects and presentations by currently enrolled children allow guests of the open house to learn about the program.
Another option is to go into the community to raise awareness of the program. Volunteer or set up a booth at a community event to share information. March with the kids in a community parade and throw candy. Make a large sign or banner to display.
Direct marketing is also an option. Create a newsletter or flier about the program. Distribute the flier to all of the students in the school. If your budget allows for postage, you might also mail the information directly to the parents to ensure they receive it.
Maintaining the Marketing Plan
Part of the marketing plan purpose is to determine what works well and what doesn't. After trying a specific marketing campaign, assess how well it helped you reach your goals. If you're trying to increase enrollment and hold an open house, analyze how many new students enrolled based on the open house. Try new marketing strategies to replace the ones that weren't effective. Your goals might also change over time. Revisit your marketing plan to see if it still matches your vision for the program.
Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.