Market Research Strategies to Grow Your K-12 Private School

Market Research Strategies to Grow Your K-12 Private School

November 22, 2023
(Reading time: 4 - 8 minutes)

As a private school administrator, you know first-hand the challenges of staying competitive in today's dynamic education landscape. To attract new students and families, it's essential to have your finger on the pulse of market trends, parent concerns, and student needs. This allows you to shape your school's offerings, messaging, and experiences to stay relevant.

Conducting ongoing market research is one of the most powerful ways to inform your marketing strategy. By surveying your community, analyzing the competition, and tracking larger trends, you gain priceless insights into your positioning and opportunities for growth.

With the right market insights, you'll be equipped to tell a compelling story and provide the education that today's families demand. Therefore, in this post, you'll discover tips for gathering feedback from key stakeholders, evaluating competing schools, and identifying gaps in your marketing approach.

Uncover Stakeholder Priorities With Surveys 

As you start to conduct market research, our first step is to connect directly with our key stakeholders - the students, parents, and community members you serve. Their insights are invaluable. By conducting surveys, interviews, or focus groups, you can gain a crucial understanding of our stakeholders' needs, values, concerns, and desired areas for improvement. Their perspectives should inform every aspect of our marketing strategy.

Here are some great questions you can ask in surveys and interviews to get the intel you need from students, parents, and community members:

For Students:

  1. How would you describe your learning style? Can you provide an example of a learning experience that catered well to this style?
  2. What teaching methods have you found to be the most effective for your learning? Why do you think these methods worked well for you?
  3. Do you feel that you have been provided with sufficient resources and support to succeed in your coursework? If not, what do you think was missing?
  4. Can you tell us about a teacher who made a significant impact on your learning? What did you like best about their teaching style?
  5. Which extracurricular activities have you found most beneficial or enjoyable? How do these activities complement your academic learning?
  6. In what ways do you think our curriculum could be improved to better suit your needs and interests?
  7. Can you share an instance where you faced difficulties in your learning? How did you manage to overcome these challenges?
  8. If you had the power to change one thing about your learning environment, what would it be and why?
  9. What types of assignments and projects do you find most engaging and why?
  10. How do you prefer to receive feedback on your work? How does this help your learning process?
  11. How well do you think our curriculum prepares you for the next grade level or for post-secondary education?
  12. Is there anything else about your learning experience that you would like us to know?

For Parents:

  1. How would you describe your child's learning style? Can you give an example?
  2. What teaching methods have been most effective for your child? Why do you think they work well?
  3. Do you feel your child is provided with enough resources and support to succeed in their schoolwork?
  4. Can you tell me about a teacher who has made a significant impact on your child's learning? What makes their teaching style effective?
  5. Which extracurricular activities does your child find most beneficial or enjoyable? How do these activities enhance their academic learning?
  6. In what ways do you think the curriculum could be improved to better suit your child's needs and interests?
  7. Can you share an instance where your child faced difficulty in learning? How did they overcome it, and what support did they receive?
  8. If you could change one thing about your child's learning environment, what would it be and why?
  9. What types of assignments and projects does your child find most engaging, and why?
  10. How do you prefer to receive feedback on your child's progress? How does this help you support their learning at home?
  11. How well do you think the current curriculum prepares your child for the next grade level or for post-secondary education?
  12. Is there anything else about your child's learning experience that you would like us to know?

For Community Members:

  1. What motivated you to choose this school for your child/children?
  2. How satisfied are you with the academic curriculum offered at the school?
  3. What extracurricular activities or programs would you like to see offered at the school?
  4. How would you rate the school's facilities (e.g., classrooms, playground, sports equipment, etc.)?
  5. How well does the school communicate with parents and guardians?
  6. What is your opinion on the quality of the teaching faculty?
  7. How does this school compare with other schools you considered for your child/children?
  8. What improvements would you suggest for the school's curriculum or teaching methods?
  9. How well do you think the school prepares students for college and career readiness?
  10. Can you share your thoughts on the school's approach to discipline and character development?
  11. What do you value most about the school community?
  12. Are there any specific needs or concerns of your child that you feel are not being addressed adequately by the school?
  13. How would you rate the diversity and inclusivity of the school environment?
  14. Would you recommend this school to others? Why or why not?
  15. Is there anything else you would like us to know about your experience with the school?

Pinpoint Gaps in Your Offerings by Analyzing Competitors

When you analyze your competitors, it gives you an essential edge. Start by researching other private schools in your area and examine their marketing, communications, unique selling points, and reviews. Carefully studying other schools' offerings and tactics will reveal where you can differentiate yourselves and apply proven marketing strategies that work in your space. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Who are the other private schools in your area?
  • How do their tuition rates compare to ours?
  • What programs do they offer that we don't?
  • How do they market themselves (e.g., social media, events, partnerships)?
  • What is their school culture or philosophy?
  • How visible are they in local media or community events?
  • How do they communicate with parents and students?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses, according to parent and student reviews?
  • What aspects of their school or marketing strategy seem to work well?
  • What can we learn from their tactics and apply them to our strategy?
  • Are there any online schooling options that may appeal to your target audience?
  • Don't forget about public schools, charter schools, and homeschooling as potential competitors.
  • How does their pricing compare to yours?
  • Do they offer scholarships or flexible payment plans?

Research National Trends and Local Market Conditions

Start by looking at the big picture - major shifts happening across education nationwide. 

Local Market Conditions

  • Look at demographic information, economic conditions, and changes in community needs.
  • Helpful local sources include government websites, census data, and news.

National Education Trends

You may also want to consider attending educational conferences (listed below) and participating in communities to stay updated.

2024 K-12 conferences

(Source: K-12 Dive)

Identify Gaps, Opportunities, and Threats

Once we've gathered all our research, we can put the pieces together to spotlight the most relevant gaps, opportunities, and threats specific to your school. This will shape a smart marketing plan. Doing so lets you prioritize your objectives and allocate your resources accordingly. Here are some examples of insights that may arise from conducting market research:

  • Parents value small class sizes and personalized attention
  • The school's website needs to be more user-friendly and mobile-responsive
  • There is an opportunity to expand the school's arts program to attract more creative students
  • A nearby school is offering a similar program at a lower cost, posing a potential threat to enrollment

By jumping on these insights early, you can craft a marketing plan that leverages your unique strengths, aligns with your goals, and truly connects with the families you want to reach.

Conclusion

Effective market research combines stakeholder insights, data analysis, and in-depth local and national knowledge. Schools should continuously research to stay ahead of trends and audience needs. Schools can ensure their marketing plans are impactful by regularly examining the market and integrating findings into strategies. Market research is vital for schools looking to stay competitive, meet student needs, and attract new students over time.

Follow the steps outlined in this post to begin conducting strategic market research for your school. You can boost enrollment, engagement, and long-term success with the right insights.

Gain the invaluable data you need to tell your school's unique story, showcase your value, and deliver the education experience families seek today.

Don't go it alone - leverage my expertise to help analyze your research findings and develop a high-impact marketing strategy. I offer a free consultation to assess your current approach. Let's connect to explore how targeted research can take your school's strategy to the next level!

Chad Treadway

Written by:  |  November 22, 2023

Chad is a Partner and our Chief Smarketing Officer. He will help you survey your small business needs, educating you on your options before suggesting any solution. Chad is passionate about rural marketing in the United States and North Carolina. He also has several certifications through HubSpot to better assist you with your internet and inbound marketing.

See Chad Treadway's' bio: cubecreative.design/about/chad-treadway