Market research should become part of the management of an independent school on a yearly basis. You should be looking at demographics, perception and position in the marketplace, program, facilities/location, modes of communication, program effectiveness, impact and outcomes, growing philanthropy and more.
There are all kinds of diagnostic and assessment research schools can harness depending on what your questions may be or the issues you are trying to solve. Some data may come from reaccreditation studies or secondary sources, such as the wealth of information made available by the National Association of Independent Schools. Some primary research you may be able to do yourself. Other research will benefit from outside help in the formulation and execution of studies to the analysis of the results.
Common Classes of Research Questions
- Concept testing—What needs to be done to ensure success of a new venture?
- Benefits analysis—What factors determine choice?
- Decision making: Buyer vs non-buyers—How are decisions to buy/use made?
- Perceptions—How are we perceived?
- Attitudes—What are their opinions?
- Behavior—What does the population do?
- Communications effectiveness—How great is your reach?
- Segmentation targets—How do your target groups differ?
- Satisfaction/performance—How are you doing?
Making research a regular part of your overall marketing strategy will take decisions out of personal opinion and into budgeting mainstream. Your team will gain the respect of board members who expect to be able to govern the school based on solid metrics.