I delivered research results to a dozen education professionals recently who wanted to develop a stronger alignment between how they communicate value and what the community they serve finds valuable. It was an amazing process, from which a great set of actionable data was gleaned. Many assumptions were validated, new direction was discovered, and some theories were proven wrong. Everyone left with insight and a clear sense of shared direction and mission.
The process consisted of two essential phases.
1. Demographic profile of respondents
First, we needed to develop a basic understanding of who were the research targets and what they thought of private schools versus public schools. There are a lot of reasons to do a demographic review of your data.
For our purposes, we focused on whether or not the profile of those with whom we spoke was reflective of the parents associated with the school. Our data source was largely comprised of high-income locals, evenly split between men and women, most of whom had BA or higher education and roughly 1.3 kids in the home at an average age of 10.1 years. And as it turns out, this was a solid foundation for obtaining accurate, objective results.
2. Evaluation of current school compared to private school
Second, we needed to understand what they thought about paying for private education.
Were they satisfied with the education their kids were receiving currently? If not, why?
And, because most of these folks currently had their children in public school, would they pay more (or be willing to pay private tuition in the first place), if a private school could solve their issues?
With this established, we explored what they expected in a private school in general. Then we asked them to rate the the particular school were working for against the standards they had just determined. The research was able to identify clear competitive advantages and to develop content and positions that inform future marketing editorial schedules.
Key research findings. What did we learn?
- Parents don’t really care about the logistics of getting their children to school. It was an area of dissatisfaction, but not something they’d pay more for, if changing schools could eliminate it as an issue.
- They care primarily about an education with a hard edge. Challenging curriculum and a well-rounded education (along with safety) carried the show.
- The well-rounded positioning was about study skills and life skills in general – Something the school was in a great position to deliver.