As a program partner of JCC Association, the Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy, offers a proven learn-to-swim program that provides a way for JCCs to connect with families with younger children, connecting many of them to the JCC along the way. But don’t take our word for it—the JCCs of Greater Boston have had growing success with a program that reaches this desirable demographic.
Director, Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy JCC of Greater Boston
The most valuable demographic group for many JCCs is families with young children. With summer camps, early learning centers, early parenting programs and youth programming at the core of our business, attracting and retaining young families is paramount. But in a marketplace with increasing competition at every corner, JCCs have to work hard to find new families to become members and program participants.
In 2013, the JCCs of Greater Boston partnered with the Los Angeles-based Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy (LKSA) to provide swim lessons and water safety training to children as young as three months old. We were the fifth JCC in the country to offer the program. Because LKSA engages families with very young children (yes, three-month-olds can learn to float!), the program was viewed as an ideal feeder for membership, preschool and other JCC offerings.
With an aggressive launch campaign that included a direct mail piece to prospects and extensive communication with the JCC’s members and early learning center families, the program generated 376 swim evaluations in the first week. Within six months, more than 500 kids were enrolled in swim lessons.
Now in our third year, the LKSA program consistently has between 350-400 participants. Cross-marketing with other JCC programs is one of the keys to our success. Swim lessons are integrated into our onsite Early Learning Center’s curriculum. During the summer, swim lessons are included in the daily schedules of children attending our onsite camps. We also participate in JCC camp fairs that are held in the building a few times a year, set up periodic lobby displays when parents are dropping kids off at our Early Learning Center, and attend early parenting classes to let parents know about the program.
Although LKSA is marketed extensively to members and externally via parenting websites and in publications such as Boston Parents Paper, the free publicity that the program generated led to many new registrations. The program’s focus on safety and teaching such young kids resulted in numerous stories on TV and in local papers. In-person appearances by Lenny himself – a four-time Olympic gold medalist from the 2000 and 2004 Games – certainly helped promote the program, as well.
Deciding to launch the program certainly had its risks. The JCC had offered a successful Red Cross swim lesson program for many years. Moving away from this program was a gamble. There was also a significant investment in equipment, training, staffing, supplies and marketing that had to be made.
The subsequent growth of the program was also something that had to be carefully addressed. Not only is there an ongoing commitment to staff resources from an instructor and program administration standpoint, there is also a strain on pool space. To make room for the program, we had to reduce lap swimming time and offer fewer lap lanes at peak lesson times.
However, 60 percent of the families that enroll in lessons are not JCC members. The program presents a tremendous opportunity to introduce all that the JCC has to offer to these families with young children just starting their journey. Of the 354 current families participating in our LKSA lessons, 22 percent participate in one of the JCC’s summer camps, 16 percent are members of our outdoor pool, and 12 percent are enrolled in one of the JCC’s preschools. We know that the LKSA swim program is opening the door to additional participation in other JCC programs.
The LKSA program is now offered at 15 JCCs across the country. We are thrilled to be able to offer this valuable swim program to our members and to the community and feel that despite a few risks and inconveniences, the rewards have been far greater than imagined—introducing a whole new demographic to our JCC through an exciting program they’ve come to love.
The Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy (LKSA), used by more than a dozen JCCs, offers access to families with young children and provides an entree to the JCC for them. In turn, the JCC has many natural groups already involved in camp and early childhood programs that respond to the LKSA communications.
We caught up with Ashley Bundis (AB), marketing services and program director at the Aaron Family JCC in Dallas, Texas, and Amanda Cahan (AC), a program marketing manager at JCC Chicago, for some tips on marketing the program.
AB: It’s about repetition. We make sure we’re in specific publications aimed at these families. We also love when we have a really big membership offer, then we get an opportunity to really push LKSA.
AC: We spent a lot of time at walks and events in Chicago. You get a lot of one-to-one exposure that way. Targeted Facebook posts encourage people to visit the Lenny K staff during these events.
AB: We have a constant preschool shout out that goes out every week from the school director, with an LKSA picture or button in it. The image is always front and center on our website. It’s part of our preschool program, they get that at three-years and up.
AC: Each camp newsletter comes from the director. We write copy for them to include in their weekly emails so that parents see it’s from someone they already know and it’s with other information. It’s not spam or an ad that way, and it has an organic feel. By introducing them at camp, we can stress it’s a program they can get throughout the year. We also opened our pool on Saturday mornings in one location and we talk about the program there.
AB: It’s really a cohesive process, a group effort. We have constant communications with the head of aquatics, who does a blog, one for LKSA and a swim blog for camp. We use consistent branding to our campers, so parents see what the program is about each week.
AC: We also do a lot of Facebook posts and ask our teachers if they hear great stories to share them with us. So if a kid has just mastered the back float that day, we have those adorable photos.