Just as in any other industry, those tasked with marketing to educational institutions invariably benefit from strategic, properly directed research. The same sorts of tools that regularly prove their value in other fields can generally be applied as well in the education market, although the ways in which they are deployed will typically be informed by the unique characteristics of the clients there. In general, though, school market research can be just as valuable as in other fields and industries.
In most cases, a specific research plan will proceed from the development of a basic marketing strategy. That strategy will need to be developed in light of the basic nature of the clients to be marketed to, as in other marketing fields, with particular attention paid to the special restrictions and requirements that are characteristic of school districts and individual schools.
With these foundations laid, marketers can then begin to think about particular research initiatives. Those responsible for k-12 school marketing of a product aimed at easing the workday lives of district-level administrators, for example, might start looking for lists of representative workers that can later be used to build up data sources. Useful resources for this kind of work can include anything from trade publications and professional group membership rosters to inquiries with school-district human resources departments or advertisements.
With a field of prospective candidates to hand, marketers can then start to gather the necessary information. For a company whose product is still under active development, this might mean convening a focus group that can address some of the questions that remain up in the air. Going back and forth with representative users in this way can help to ground topics discussion of which might otherwise be overly abstract, and sessions of this sort can be repeatedly convoked as needed.
With a product that is already suitable for bringing to market, research will tend to focus more on finding the best ways to position and highlight it before buyers. Focus groups can once again be useful tools, but it is often data gathering at larger scales that makes the most difference here. Marketers will often, at this stage, make use of online surveys and phone interviews, sacrificing intimacy and real-time feedback for more in the way of informational volume.