Before consumers make a purchase, they usually do at least some research. This varies significantly between products and services. The more important the purchase, or the higher its “decision value,” the more time and effort consumers will put into researching it.
Below are some examples of purchases with varying decision values (though the decision value can also partly be a function of the buyer).
Low decision-value purchases:
Moderate decision-value purchases:
High decision-value purchases:
Keep in mind, the differences in decision values among products and services depends on more than cost. In fact, it’s most directly related to how important something is—or how much value it has—to a consumer.
Decision value also includes how something will affect one emotionally and in other ways (now and in the future). And, it includes the opportunity cost of a purchase: e.g., if I send my child to an expensive overnight camp, private school may not be affordable.
Most importantly, the higher decision value a purchase has, the more time and effort a consumer is likely to put into researching it.
When buying a pack of gum, the importance of making the right decision is minimal. Most people won’t give it a second thought.
On the other hand, for decisions that seriously involve a child’s welfare, like where to go to school, making the right decision is paramount. Thus, many parents will invest plenty of time, sometimes months, researching this decision.
You may be using a strategy suitable for marketing a low-involvement product (which includes most products) instead of a high-involvement one.
For someone to seriously consider a private school, it’s not nearly enough for them to have heard of you. Given how valuable an investment private school is, mere awareness is just a small part of the decision process.
What’s far more important is a parent’s perception of what your school is like and whether it’s a good fit for their child. And, this involves extensive research.
Second, a parent’s decision to choose a school will involve multiple touchpoints of information and influence. They’ll want to understand your school from multiple perspectives. These may include your school website, and objective sources like third-party platforms or even friends and family.
Why is this multi-leveled, thorough approach to school research so important?
In short, it will give parents a rich understanding of your school identity, culture, and brand. It will also enable them to see how your school fits into the private school landscape.
The moral: You should invest far more of your marketing dollars helping parents learn about your school rather than just becoming aware of it. You’ll need to find ways to help them research your school so they have the multi-layered perspective from which to make a highly informed decision.