These days, more families need child care than ever before. With close to 19.7 million single-parent families in the U.S., there are a lot of parents who need your help.

It’s not just single parents who walk through your doors. For 63% of two-parent families, both parents work outside the home. So whether you run a daycare, provide pre- of after-school care, own a private school, or work as a nanny, these families need your help.

How do you help these families find you?

And how do you convince them you’re the person or business they can trust with their kiddos’ well-being?

If there’s one thing people are protective of, it’s their children. And rightfully so! So aggressive marketing tactics can sometimes backfire, coming off as pushy or desperate. To seal the deal and earn parents’ trust, find fun, creative ways to promote your child care services locally.

Not sure where to start? Here’s how you can market your child care business in 9 unique ways.

1. Join Facebook parent groups in your area.

Ever heard the saying, “Kids don’t come with a manual?” It’s true! But these days, parents use social media sites like Facebook to ask questions, swap stories, and share recommendations for local businesses with their networks.

Facebook parent groups are filled with the most engaged parents, and they can give you insight into your target market’s interests and pain points.

Pro tip: Don’t join groups and push your child care services right away. Join, offer helpful tips and tricks, and then offer your support when it fits conversations naturally.

2. Show the doctors some TLC.

Families expecting children visit the doctor. Often.

Expectant mothers frequent their OB-GYN offices as often as weekly in the month leading up to delivery. And as they approach their due dates, many even interview local pediatricians in preparation for Junior’s arrival.

Visit local doctors offices with business cards and flyers in hand, and ask if they’d be willing to swap promo materials with your business. Ask if they’ll display your business cards or flyers at the front desk or checkout area, and offer to do the same for them in return.

May doctors even offer expectant families free kits packed with giveaways and new parent promo materials. If you’re nice enough, you could earn placement in one of these too.

3. Place a grocery store cart ad.

One of the most overlooked advertising channels is the grocery store cart. But it’s such a great way to get in front of busy parents.

Since most people shop for groceries close to home, you can easily reach prospective client in your neighborhood. It’s also relatively inexpensive to advertise in just one or two stores.

Surprisingly, these ads aren’t purchased through the stores themselves. Instead, buy an ad from specialty shopping cart marketing companies like StarKart and IndoorMedia.

4. Say, “Mi casa, su casa.” (Host an open house.)

One-on-one tours can be intimidating and feel high pressure. Give parents a chance to explore your child care business in a more informal setting with an open house.

A few tips for a successful open house:

  • Schedule your open house to coincide with another major local event to capitalize on the added traffic. Think farmers’ markets, back to school drives, even sporting events like soccer and football games.
  • Set up some low-maintenance activities to keep kids occupied while you chat with their parents.
  • Have business cards, brochures and enrollment packets on hand for parents to take home.
  • Have every visitor check in digitally or sign a guestbook with their name, phone number and email address, so you can follow up after the event.

(Oh, and don’t forget to actually follow up after the event!)

5. Give a Halloween treat…wrapped in a business card.

Halloween isn’t all about sugar rushes and creepy costumes. It can be good for business too.

In fact, what other day of the year do you have potential customers literally beating down your door?

Even if you’re passing out candy at home, mark your sweet treats with information about your business. Apply adhesive labels to wrappers, attach your business card with a ribbon, or make a little goodie bag with your business card inside.

Pro tip: Be picky about the type of candy you include — kids (and parents) will be judging you. If you don’t want to turn anyone sour, consider splurging on the jumbo size.

6. Dress your clients’ kiddos in branded T-shirts.

Have the kiddos you care for wear T-shirts branded with your business’s name to get the word out. Whether you require them to wear the shirts while at your business doesn’t matter so much. They’re also likely to wear the shirts while out and about, which could even earn you some parent referrals.

Ever go on field trips? As an added plus, branded shirts can help you easily identify and monitor children when you’re out and about.

7. Shhh. (Donate to a silent auction.)

Schools host fundraising events throughout the year, and many use silent auctions to raise money.

Ask local schools and their organizations when their next charity auction will be, and donate a month (or longer) of child care as an auction item. This can get your business visibility with local parents, and the prize “winner” may like you enough to continue using you or at the very least, refer you to their friends.

8. Offer referral discounts.

How do you make your clients work for you? By offering them referral discounts!

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most inexpensive ways to spread the word about your business. And, referrals are incredibly powerful. In fact, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know.

Give your happiest child care clients a little incentive to sing your praises with a referral discount or rebate. A percentage off, or even a flat dollar amount credit to their bill will do the trick.

9. Make friends with apartment managers.

Apartment managers usually offer new residents recommendations on local services like restaurants, pet groomers, dry cleaners, and you guessed it…child care services.

Bring over some promotional materials (along with lunch or a special treat), and introduce yourself. It won’t take much effort to ensure your name is at the top of their list for best local child care providers.