After school programs give kids the opportunity to be with friends and mentors, participating in hands-on learning, creative enrichment and artistic expression. Because of the pandemic, that physical space has been taken away. While many class managers were initially worried about the future of after school programs, this past spring we learned that virtual after school programs are a hit.
We can continue to ignite enthusiasm for ongoing programs like your upcoming fall virtual after school classes by utilizing the following marketing tips:
Spotlight Unique Qualities
When the entire country went to online schooling last spring, most after school programs followed suit and didn’t miss a beat. Now is time to promote your program's uniqueness, whether you’re offering a special way to code a new computer, the latest trend in baking (remember “pop cakes”?), or how to groom your pet. If you’re implementing a new program or something different, now is the time to promote it.
Communicate a Class Discount
Because your in-person event would have included the cost of such things as rental facilities and paying additional staff and overhead, you’re saving money on virtual programs.Your online class offerings won’t be as expensive, so do some community outreach by offering virtual class discounts. Make this a critical point in marketing your classes, especially to participants who might not be ready to commit.
Participate in Local School’s Open House
Most schools offer an open house to get kids comfortable with their new classrooms and teachers. The majority of school districts haven’t determined how they will be teaching this fall, so be prepared to participate in an in-person or a virtual open house. Your program’s involvement can also help strengthen your relationship with school partners. Use this time to share your program’s after school stories using pictures, videos or testimonials.
Get Mentioned in School Newsletters
Talk with the staff that puts together the school newsletter, and make sure that your program is featured. Request to have a feature article in the “Back to School” issue. Invite the school community to your program’s open houses (in-person or virtual) and other promotional events.
Redirect Marketing Dollars
Redirect marketing dollars into tax-deductible sponsorships to locally impact your brand and support affordable non-profits. It’s a win-win because you’re reaching out to the community while building brand awareness. For example, if your city has a not-for-profit bike rental program, you can use marketing dollars to support the organization while getting your program’s name on the bike kiosk.
Use Summer Programs to Promote Fall
Pair your summer registrations with your upcoming fall virtual programs. For example, if you’re offering a summer art class, pair the registration with a clickable link that brings the user to a similar fall art program. Ideally, the seasonal classes are slightly different, providing participants with variety.
Facebook not only offers organic social media posting but also provides Facebook Ads. Some programs and businesses believe boosting a post will optimize the program. However, boosting a post only goes to your existing audience or friends of your existing audience. To fully maximize the benefits of Facebook, consider paid social advertising.