To market, to market : like a roadmap : why schools benefit from market research
If a school has a marketing strategy, or 'markets' itself, then it has probably invested significant time, if not money, in the associated activities. But if the school has not used some kind of market research to find out what parents want, or think they want, from the school, then the marketing efforts could well be missing the target. All schools have access to some kind of research data, which they can put to use in the development of a relevant and targeted marketing plan that will have the best chance of delivering results. The fatal flaw in many research programs, though, is that they are implemented without a clear-eyed view of what they are supposed to find out - and what will be done with the findings. Before any research, the school needs clear answers to some key questions: What do we want to know? Why do we want to know it? What will we do with the findings, however they turn out? Who needs to respond in order for any results to be meaningful? How do we do it? The key methods used are paper surveys, online surveys and focus groups. Market research tells the school what parents and potential parents want; what they look for; how they talk about it and how they need to hear what the school offers, when they need to hear it and from whom. Sometimes the most important thing when a school conducts surveys or focus groups asking for everyone to get involved is that it clearly sends a message: we are in this together, we want to hear from all parents and students and we care about what everyone has to offer. That alone can have a significant impact on boosting positive perceptions about a school and may be the most effective form of marketing or PR any school can undertake. [Author abstract, ed]
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