Little Hands

Belmont, CA
Round
Spring-Summer 2019
Project Location
Belmont, CA
Project Type
Fast track
Project Focus
Market Analysis,
Marketing & Communications
Organization Type
Children, Youth & Families,
Education

Organization

Founded in 1975, Little Hands (LH) is a parent cooperative (co-op) preschool serving children from 6 months through 3 years of age. Teaching is through play and exploration (often getting messy) with a recognition that each child learns in his/her own way and at his/her own pace. LH’s “secret sauce” is its commitment to educating parents with their children; a parent must attend classes with his/her child. Through observation, teacher-led group discussion, and classroom activities and supervision, parents explore child development and gain confidence in their parenting role. As a co-op, parents are also required to contribute time to running the school. LH currently serves 120 families.

Situation

Historically, preschools started at age 3. In the last few years many preschools added a 2-year old program and advised parents that they could only get admittance into a 3’s class if they did the 2’s class first. Since LH previously stopped at 2 years, there was competitive pressure as well as families’ desire to stay at LH for the 3’s; in 2017 LH added its own 3-year old program. For similar reasons LH will launch a 4-year old program in 2020.

Little Hands has developed a brand that is very well known and highly regarded by the community as a leading program for 2-years and under, one often used as a benchmark for others. Enrollment has been oversubscribed for its “core” classes from word of mouth and referrals. The new 3’s class, however, has been undersubscribed, probably due to lack of awareness, putting financial pressure on the school. Awareness of 4’s class will be critical to ensure its full enrollment and avoid the “ramp up” years. How should LH position its core strength and expand its brand to a “new market” where families look to preschool to provide “kindergarten readiness”?

Project Objectives

LH seeks an ACT team to develop a marketing plan to build enrollment with a clear and unique brand value proposition that incorporates its expanded offerings. Deliverables will include a recommended communications plan with target audiences, messaging and communication channels.

Key Recommendations

Little Hands should:

  • invest in getting higher online “search” term results,
  • revamp its website to have clear separation of content and website flows for prospective vs. enrolled families given divergent needs,
  • create a sustained campaign to motivate satisfied families to write and positive ratings on social media,
  • revisit its definition of “co-op” and associated parental responsibilities and buyouts,
  • and address the many actionable suggestions from recent parent surveys.

Key Conclusions

The original ACT project objective, new messaging, is premature because Little Hands has: 

  • immediate opportunities to improve its internal operations and satisfaction of current customers based on many actionable parental suggestions,
  • opportunity to develop campaign to motivate happy parents, especially multi-generational families, to advocate for LH, via word of mouth, offer credits for successful referrals and positive online reviews,
  • and has to make quick fixes to website while looking to redesign site with more precise targeted audiences and relevant messages

Final Report Outline

  • Original ACT Project Objectives
  • Marketing Funnel & Key Questions
  • Key Findings
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Conclusions and Recommendations
  • Documents Available Online