By Home Education Networks Grace Cheung Alex Chyu Márcio Jucá Bartek MaleckiI. AbstractIn today’s online space, there are dozens of websites that offer free, useful, educational content that ismeant to be utilized by teachers and students. What doesn’t exist, however, is a simple-to-navigatedestination that aggregates and organizes all this information together in one website. This is whereLesson Builder 2.0 serves a need for the public. We take what is available and make it easy to operate,
whether you’re using it to teach or using it to learn. Lesson Builder 2.0 is the only place you need toremember.II. Executive SummaryHome Education Networks is proud to introduce Lesson Builder 2.0, an online resource foreducational content. The newest feature incorporated into the second version of Lesson Builder willallow educators to create lesson plans and sell them in our online marketplace. How that works willbe explained in further detail later.The area of the educational market where we see the greatest need for our product is with homeeducators (homeschoolers). Over one million children across the country are homeschooled eachyear; a number that is on a steady rise. This number may be even higher if parents have better toolsand resources to teach with. We provide the opportunity to “Teach. Learn. Your Way.”What we wish to achieve in this market is a 1% share and $1MM in company revenue after the firstyear. To hit this goal, our integrated marketing plan will keep the needs of our target market in mindon every phase of the business planning process.III. Stakeholders AnalysisCompany AnalysisMission StatementTo help parents be the best teachers they can be.Vision StatementTo provide the most comprehensive, flexible and rewarding lesson planning resource on the marketusing the latest internet technology.Description of BrandHome Educational Networks is a small, progressive, technology-driven start-up. Our goal is todevelop a community around our product, and we provide the most comprehensive and easy-to-uselesson builder around. By integrating the Internet and Web 2.0 technology, we put the power to teachback into the hands of parents.PositioningWe chose "quality of resources" and "choice of curriculum" as the two most important attributes ofour product, because we found those to be the two key factors in a couples decision to homeschooltheir child(ren). Public school, on average, is placed lower on both the "quality of resources" scale andthe "choice of curriculum" scale. In public school, students do not have much of a choice in what theylearn. Private schools and charter schools are on the high end of the quality scale, but in theseschools, students still do not have a choice in choosing their curriculum. ReadWriteThink.org,Scholastic, and EducationWorld.com are medium quality lesson planning tools for teachers, notparents. Time4Learning and Homeschool.com are homeschooling resources for parents and students,but these services are not perceived as high quality. Underground homeschoolers, those that do notfollow any set curriculum, fall on the lowest rung of the quality ladder, while falling high on the choicescale. K12.com, Lesson Builder 2.0s closest direct competitor is the highest quality educationalresource on the list, since these courses are created by "course experts and curriculum designers," but
given that much of the material is scanned from textbooks, it falls somewhere in the middle in termsof a flexible curriculum. Finally, while Lesson Builder 2.0 is not the highest quality product on themarket, it is the most flexible, serving these needs of our primary target market, the "educationalhomeschoolers."Company IntegrationSince our company is a start-up, not much needs to be done in terms of integrating companyoperations with the company mission. However, we will also be maintaining a company blog that willprovide lessons and tutorials that help parents refine their teaching skills, publish news related to thehomeschooling community, etc., consistent with our mission to help parents be the best teachers theycan be. Parents will be able to ask questions and communicate with one another by commenting onblog posts.SWOT AnalysisStrengths: • Sense of community Weaknesses: • Comprehensive • New company, unknown brand • Flexible • Unlike other homeschool resources, we • Accessible (free to join) do not provide original content • Financially rewarding (for those that participate)Opportunities: Threats: • Homeschooled students are growing • Perception of homeschoolers as "weird" 15-20% per year (U.S. Census), so and "anti-social" theres a lot of growth within this market • Government is currently trying to • We can also work with the government regulate homeschooling to help set standards for homeschoolingCustomer AnalysisAccording to the 2003 National Household Education Survey, there are about 1.1 millionhomeschooled students in the United States (Isenberg, 387). In "What Have We Learned AboutHomeschooling?" Eric J. Isenberg groups them into four distinct categories:
• Educational homeschoolers (48% of the market): Those that homeschool because they are unhappy with the school environment or academic instruction. Educational homeschoolers will be our primary target market for this particular campaign. • Religious homeschoolers (30% of the market): Those that want to incorporate religious/ moral instruction into childrens education. • Mental health/behavioral problems or other special needs (14%): Those that homeschool due to mental health or behavior problems, like autism. • Other (9%): Those that homeschool for any other reason not already listed.Demographic InformationOf the 1.1 million homeschooled students in the U.S., most tend to be non-Hispanic White, live inhouseholds headed by a married couple, with one parent not working (i.e. stay at home mom). Thesefamilies tend to be moderately to very well educated and reside within the middle to high end of theincome scale. It is important to note that 60% of these families have one stay at home parent - whichappears to be the most important factor in determining whether or not to homeschool a child. Mostfamilies that homeschool live in suburban and rural areas of the West and East coasts.(Bauman, Kurt J., 2001)Market ValueAssuming that each student is worth about $200/year to our company, then the total market valueequals $220 million.Qualitative InformationParents of educational homeschoolers want a better academic experience for their children thanwhats available to them in their current market (Green, 278). Since many of these family live in ruralareas, they dont have access to a high quality education available near large metropolitan cities.These families also want to actively participate in educating their children and stay involved in theirchildrens growth (Green, 278). In "Why Do Parents Homeschool? A Systematic Examination ofParental Involvement," Green and Hoover-Dempsey concluded that these parents "believe that theyare personally responsible for their childs education and they are capable of educating their childrenwell in ways consistent with their priorities." (278).According to Homeschool.com, common problems that parents run into when homeschooling theirchildren include: organization (difficult to stay organized), planning (planning lessons can takeanywhere from 3-10 hours a week), choosing the right curriculum, and adapting to their childrenslearning style. We built Lesson Builder 2.0 to be a solution to these problems.Competitor Analysis
Our closest direct competitor is an online learning program called k12.com. This company developstheir own curriculum and distributes the materials via the Internet. Courses are "developed bycurriculum experts and course designers individualized for each student." Their mission? "To developeach childs potential with engaging, individualized learning." Their curriculum is available throughfull-time public and private school programs, and it is also available worldwide via their online privateschool. K12.com is perceived to be top notch curriculum geared towards academic excellence.K12.coms current marketing program includes online marketing, affiliate marketing, and salesrepresentatives. While they offer a comprehensive, high-quality curriculum, their courses are amongthe most expensive of online learning programs. This program is not accessible to most people. Ourgoal for Lesson Builder 2.0 is to increase accessibility of high quality learning materials to everybodyand to build a community for people that use our product.Pricing for K12.com curriculum:
Other Competition Other Direct Competitors Indirect CompetitorsHomeschool.com Public SchoolsTime 4 Learning Private SchoolsReadWriteThink.org Charter SchoolsScholastic Online SchoolsEducationWorld.com No SchoolOther online homeschool courses Work (16 and over)Community & Climate AnalysisCurrently there is a misconception that homeschooled children are "weird" and "anti-social." Wehope to change this perception by providing a forum for discussion and collaboration with our LessonBuilder community, education seminars, company blog, forums, and so on. Potential collaboratorsare discussed below in the distribution channels section.One obstacle our company is facing right now is that the government, especially in California (wherethere is a large homeschool population), is attempting to regulate homeschooling (see discussion atHome Schooling Movement on PBS.org). To work around this, our company will work withgovernment officials to create a set of standards for home-based educators and eventually create anofficial homeschool association (with a governing board run by former and current home-basededucators). Short term goals will be to include highly experienced and credentialed educators on ourstaff to evaluate the quality of content on Lesson Builder 2.0.We d0 offer seminars, tutorials on our blog, and many other resources to help parents improve theirteaching abilities. Therefore, should parents eventually need to pass exams or earn credentials inorder to homeschool their children, we are confident that our users will be well equipped to handlethat challenge.III. Marketing MixProduct
Lesson Builder 2.0 is an online program that allows parents to build lesson plans, quicker and easierthan with the tools available on the market today. The website allows users to create lesson plans,with the option of sharing the lesson plans. A calendar tool is embedded within the program to helpparents organize their lesson plans. On the Lesson Builder 2.0 marketplace, parents will be able toshare their lesson plans, make money from selling their lesson plans, rate other lessons that theyvebought, and share their experiences with other parents.
Unique Selling PropositionThe unique selling proposition of the Lesson Builder 2.0 tool is that users can share their lessons onthe marketplace and make 50% back on every sale. This is the key feature of our service that willencourage more people to participate and create high quality lessons. The lesson develop will make50% of the sale, regardless of the price the lesson was sold. For example, if a developer created/sold 4high quality lesson plans at $20/lesson, and sells 20 each in a month (80 plans total), he will make$800 that month. This can be a viable source of supplemental income for teachers and othereducators that are under-employed.Key Features of Lesson Builder 2.0 •Free to use for registered users •User-friendly interface with drag and drop functionality •Calendar embedded with planning tool •Instant alerts and updates •Provides curriculum templates and suggestions (allows for easier planning or for lengthy lessons). These suggestions are based on a special algorithm that factors in search history, previous lessons, students learning preferences, etc. Returns suggestions for most relevant course materials. • Assessment tools that help parents assess their childrens learning • Lesson Builder 2.0 marketplace allows users to share and sell their lesson plans. Users make 50% on each sale.Key Benefits • Better organization • Easier lesson planning • Saves parents time
• Allows parents to adapt learning materials to each childs learning style • Allows parents to choose the curriculum based on what they feel is best for their child • Extremely flexible • Gives parents total control • Building lessons can be financially rewardingPriceThe website is free to use for registered users. The user can access and use all the tools for lessonbuilding completely free of charge. Users will need to pay for lessons should they choose to purchasethem on the marketplace.Pay-per-lesson Pricing ModelUsers can put their lessons up for sale or purchase lessons in the Lesson Builder 2.0 market place.The prices for lessons depends on the content and length of lesson. Users can set their own prices, butwe will also have a pricing suggestion tool (again, based on a secret algorithm) to help users price theirlessons. We expect that lessons will average around $20/quarter. To compare, our top directcompetitor k12.coms courses start at $22/course per month. 50% of each sale goes back to the lessondeveloper and 50% goes to Home Educational Networks.Revenue ObjectiveOur revenue objective is roughly $1.1 million, to be reached by the end of the first year. This objectiveis based on the assumption that we reach our goal of 1% market share.Calculation • 1% of 1.1 million students = 11,000 students x $200 (average value of each student, per year) • Total Revenue = $2,200,000 • Home Educational Networks share is 50%, so our revenue objective = $1,100,000PlaceHome Educational Networks is located in Los Angeles, California. The service can be found online atLessonBuilder.com. Users can access all content online on our website.In order to increase awareness of our service, we will be forming partnerships with book publishers,educational organizations, other homeschooling resources, and so on. In return for promoting ourwebsite, we will integrate content and resources from those organizations into our website, expandingaccess to those materials to more people.Sample of organizations we will form partnerships with (furthering our mission of providing the mostchoice in developing a curriculum):
PromotionContent & MessagingAlthough the homeschooling movement began largely with the help of religious Protestants whichbelieved that "local schools teach a curriculum objectionable to their fundamental religion" (Isenberg,2007), the majority of modern homeschooling is performed by self-motivated parents with the beliefthat they can offer a better education at home. As public opinion turns in favor of homeschooling (with 41% reporting that homeschooling is a viablechoice for educating children; Rose & Gallup, 2001) it is important that we build on the momentumand recognize that people are receptive and excited about the to the idea of adopting homeschoolingwith the imagery and content used in our promotional campaign.Our promotional products reflect this new-found optimism by adopting a positive and inspiringmessage that is also reflected in the imagery with clean lines and bright, bleached colors. Our researchshows that homeschooling is motivated not by the distrust or disappointment in local schools, or evendisagreement with parts of the curriculum. Rather, todays home based educators "believe that theyare personally responsible for their childs education and they are capable of educating their childrenwell in ways consistent with their priorities" (Green and Hoover-Dempsey K., 2007).It is no surprise that the parents that are most successful with this positive, optimistic approach are,on average, more affluent, and our messaging will appeal to this demographic by presenting imageryconsistent with middle-class American values. We will address their motivation for a self-actualized,ideal learning environment by promoting the idea that with LessonBuilder, they are able to make thecomplex job of homeschooling a reality without the obstacles that stood in the their way before
Internet technology allowed for global sharing of ideas and resources. Our tag-lines will inspire thecustomer to believe in their own ability to provide a superior education, and that our product willmake it feasible: "You can do it, we make it easy!"Because our target audience is primarily female, we will use female models and imagery thats familiarand comfortable to middle-aged females. The messaging will embody a nurturing, child-focusedmentality, but also list the benefits that all mothers will appreciate: saving time and saving money orearning extra income by sharing lessons with other. Although our initial integrated campaign focuseson homeschooling, many of these same principles can be used to pursue future markets, althoughemphasis may be taken off the childs welfare and focused more on the opportunity to raise money(something that teachers from all areas can get behind).Here is a sample ad designed for print in homeschooling publications, but which could be repeated invarying media touch-points with minor editing:
MediaBeing an online business, our website is our primary destination, and all of our marketingcommunications will lead our customers to LessonBuilder.com.The sites imagery and messaging will have a professional and academic feel similar to majoruniversity sites, with clean lines and an intuitive interface (see http://www.stanford.com/ where we
hope many of the beneficiaries of our product will attend). By identifying with higher education, weare putting ourselves in the same category as other organizations which make quality instruction theirtop priority. However, there is room for a hint of hip and creative appeal, which will integrate the artsand crafts nature of some stay at home moms and make the site more fun (see http://www.k12.com).Lesson Builders promotional strategy will be directed primarily at print advertising, direct mail, andbanner ads, in an effort to establish our brand with experienced homeschool teachers.Our print campaign will adapt a long-tail strategy, placing emphasis on periodicals focused onhomeschooling exclusively in order to attract an audience that will be best suited for creating qualitylessons during the launch period. This will also help stretch our budget, as even the most popularhomeschooling magazines offer relatively low ad rates.We will target the following publications, both religious and secular in order to encourage lessoncreation with large appeal which emphasize the flexible nature of the software: The oldest, most respected, andHome Education Magazine most informative $68 to $1275 per monthly issue homeschooling magazine. non-religious magazine that reflects the diversity of the homeschooling community. Its readers and writers areSecular Homeschooling Full Page, 1x=$210, quarterly committed to the idea that religious belief is a personal matter rather than a prerequisite of homeschooling. 200 pages per issue and a quarterly circulationThe Old Schoolhouse Magazine of 30,000 we’re one of the Full Page, 1x=$2,300, monthly largest Christian homeschool magazines on the marketOnline Advertising will focus on established blogs, forums, and message boards focused oncollaboration: Rotating Main Pages largest online homeschoolinghomeschoolblogger.com Top and Bottom, 468 x 60 resource, 1M monthly visitors $1,800 homeschooling e-newsletter, Top Banner Ad 468 x 60, $1000,The Homeschool Minute recipients an average of 46,000 weekly homeschooling e-newsletter, Side Button, 140x140, $150,Teachers Toolbox 20,000 average recipients monthly message board, "the #1 Side Button, 120x90, $200,homeschool.com homeschooling community weeklyRounding out our online promotions is an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy that includeslink building with popular homeschooling sites (in order to boost our organic listing in search engineresults) and, continuing the log-tail approach, Google paid listings for less competitive and lower-priced keywords such as "homeschool plan" and "homeschool software."
Additional promotional strategies include direct mail sent to lists in our target locations, which willinclude invitations to the Educators 2.0 Conference. This gathering will be sponsored entirely byLesson Builder, and will take place in areas with a high number of homeschools. Homeschoolingparents will be invited to attend free classes designed to introduce our software and encourage earlyadoption and accelerated database development.A micro-site at EducatorsConference.com will be the destination for direct-mail and onlineadvertising focused at experienced homeschoolers, and eventually, professional teachers such ascollege professors. The micro-site format will help gauge our success in the developmental periodbecause only our target audience will have a direct link. We will use Google Analytics software toanalyze the efficacy of the campaign and also to track traffic to LessonBuilder.com, which will alsopromote the free resources offered at the conferences.TimingWe will increase marketing expenditures leading up to Fall season (back to school). Promotions willbegin in early Summer 2011, starting with the Educators 2.0 Conferences in order to populate thelesson database before additional promotions kick in and encourage more typical users fromreviewing our software capabilities.Following the initial growth period, we will expand our promotional strategy to include allexperienced teachers to join our lesson building force. This will include public and private K-12teachers, college professors and teacher assistants, and any other experienced professionals seekingadditional income. In order to keep our marketing strategy integrated and easily accessible, we willexclude these groups from our initial, developmental phase. This will also help build our brand aroundour primary clientele, homeschoolers, but we are open to our resource being used by everyone fromtraditional students seeking additional help, to out-of-school adults brushing up on subjects thatspark their interests.LocationAccording to the U.S. Census Bureau, " Home schoolers are more likely to be located geographically inplaces that have been destinations for internal migration" (Bauman K., 2001). Because our homestate, California, with its steady influx and exodus of residents, fits this description, we will stay localin order to maximize our existing resources.Our only other consideration is State legislation that regulates homeschooling in most of the country.The following graphic shows the current landscape of homeschooling laws:
States shown in white have no homeschooling laws that force parents to make any contact. Yellow andorange states have more strict regulations, and red states require that homeschooling parents reportachievement test scores and in some cases a professional evaluation is required.Luckily, although there is an ongoing movement to restrict homeschooling in California, our homestate is still open-minded enough not to restrict our ability to grow our software here.ObjectivesAlthough Lesson Builder utilizes new technology, in the pioneering stage, the objective of thepromotion would be to increase awareness and knowledge of the brand. This will be measured bysurvey using verticalresponse.com, sent to Conference participants and early adopters. We will alsolook at increases in click-through rates from our online promotions where the same ads have beenplaced for longer periods.Because sales are needed to meet the expectations of our investors, we will be asking our clients andpotential clients to check our software, visit the website, and participate in the conferences. We willmeasure any changes in behavior by monitoring the traffic to our site that is not consistent withchanges in the promotional scheme or content.Although we have no plans to create artificial buzz through tactics such as viral YouTube video for fearof backlash from conservative and religious groups, we will monitor organically generated buzz usingGoogle Buzz. Any negative press or public sentiment will be countered using in-house PR strategiessuch as Linked-In group news and Business Week.IntegrationIn order to keep our marketing communication consistent, we will stress that our mission is reflectedin every media touch-point.
Promotions directed at homeschooling will be integrated between all print, web, and mail campaignswith strict standards for consistent logo, tag-line, and image treatment. The same messaging willappear between any ask and destination, in order not to confuse our client and put up any hurdlesbetween them and our product.Our company has an integrated marketing approach that understands the needs of the homeschoolingparent and focuses on addressing those needs in every phase of our planning. While incorporatingteachers into our marketplace is a special feature of our product, providing the best educationalresources for our parent teachers is always our primary goal.IV. BudgetThe attached chart shows the projected earnings and expenditures for 2011 and 2012 following thefirst year and half after the launch of Lesson Builder 2.0. Two assumptions were made: 1) Each newuser would sign on for just one course initially, to test our service out, and 2) Each quarter we wouldretain 80% of users from the previous quarter to start a full curriculum.We will break even in September of 2012, coinciding with the start of academic year #2.Earnings: Every lesson purchased earns us $10 in our unique marketplace revenue-sharing model. Afull curriculum of five courses earns us $50.Total Promotional Expenditures for 2011Print3 Months in Summer:3x Home Education Magazine (@ 1275)1x Secular Homeschooling (@ 210)3x The Old Schoolhouse Magazine (@ 2300)OnlineE-newsletters:6 Months May-Oct6x Teachers Toolbox (@ 150)6x The Homeschool Minute (@ 1000)Display ads:6,000 impressions in 6 months6x homeschoolblogger.com (@ 1800)Paid Search: Start at $250 a month, increase incrementally in 2012Educators 2.0Direct Mail: Purchase two lists, one for teachers and one for homeschool parents to send outinvitations for our two conferences.Conferences: One national informational conference for teachers, multiple regional conferences forhomeschooling parentsTotal: $300,000Earnings Sept. 2012: $956,000Expenses Sept. 2012: $880,800
V. Reference Notes and BibliographyMichael K. Barbour and Thomas C Reeves (2009) The reality of virtual schools: A review of theliterature. Computers & Education, 52, 402-416Bauman, Kurt J. (2001) Homeschooling in the United States: Trends and Characteristics (URL:http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0053/twps0053.html)Christa L. Green and Kathleen V. Hoover-Dempsey (2007) Why Do Parents Homeschool? ASystematic Examination of Parental Involvement. Education and Urban Society 2007, 39:2, 264-285Isenberg, Eric J. (2007) What Have We Learned About Homeschooling?, Peabody Journal ofEducation, 82: 2, 387-409Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. Home Schooling Movement. January, 2007. (URL:http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week1020/cover.html)