• Understanding what your current constituents think of your institution and how satisfied they are with your offerings.

  • Knowing the current demographic and psychographic profiles of your target audience, and projected changes and trends. For day schools and community colleges, this research will be centered on their local geography, while boarding schools and colleges and universities have the more complex challenge - and opportunity - of matching their strategic goals with national and international data.

  • Learning the perception of external audiences fitting your target profiles of your brand and what you offer.

  • Learning the perception of your various internal community members of your brand and what you offer. Reconciling any gaps in these perceptions is a significant undertaking.

  • Discovering why accepted students do not enroll with you and why families that choose to leave your independent  school made that decision.

Wide-Ranging Requirements

 

While these research needs have some factors in common, such as understanding your goals and defining

your target audience, they vary widely in strategy, complexity, and technical requirements. Parent satisfaction

surveys can be quick and basic in style and execution; you can gain full understanding with a tool such as

Survey Monkey for little to no money. Learning why an accepted student has chosen to go elsewhere is

usually best handled by phone by an objective third party or the appropriate admissions person, but if you

choose to use other marketing channels instead due to resource or costs constraints, there are many

low-cost research methods available.

Projects to assess market trends, psycho-demographics, or attitudes are fundamentally different.

Predictive modeling or forecasting the macro changes in your markets, especially global, require data

analytics expertise and software investment. Image audits are not as technically complex, but still require

a much greater sophistication in techniques and data correlation than basic research.on awareness or satisfaction.

Your Research Needs

Do you have a strong grasp on how your current constituents feel about your school or university? Do you have a sense for the demographics and psychographics of your target market and how they may evolve in the future? Do you know how your prospects perceive you, and how well that matches up with your self-regard, mission, and goals? If the answer to any of these and several related research questions is no, you may not be well-prepared for the momentous changes coming to private education. Below are some ace research options to consider, bearing in mind a crucial research axiom: don't undertake a research project if you are not prepared to act on the findings.

  • For more complex projects such as image audits, branding insights, predictive modeling, or demographic/psychographic studies. EdChanges can heartily recommend three education research leaders: Connor Associates, Kalix Marketing, and Edwards and Co. - check them out.

  • For basic programs such as parent satisfaction, alumni polling, feedback on your marketing programs, or generating new ideas from your community, EdChanges can help. William Bullard has designed and managed many quantitative surveys, focus groups, and "customer council" programs, including a recent survey of consultants for a New England boarding school.

 

Market Research

Market research is one of the most critical functions in private education. Research techniques rely on both qualitative and quantitative methods, including focus groups; personal and phone interviews; direct mail; web; mobile and email surveys; computer modeling; and demographic forecasting. Your findings from research conducted directly with your current and prospective constituents, as well as studies of trends, can provide insights that dramatically affect your marketing and branding strategies.  Some of the key applications for schools, colleges, and universities are:

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