3 Tips for Creating Efficacy Research That Influences District Leaders

By December 1, 2023June 6th, 2024No Comments
photo of middle-grade classroom from the back, looking at the teacher as though seated in the room.

District and building-level leaders will tell you that proof of efficacy heavily influences their purchasing decisions. In some cases, this evidence is a prerequisite for them to even consider your product or service. For example, K-12 school districts using funding under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are obligated to provide evidence of effectiveness for any purchase they make with those federal funds. 

And the demand to “show your math” has only increased as the end of ESSER funding looms. Education leaders are feeling increased pressure to prove that their spending is having a positive impact on student learning. Edtech and other education products that don’t make the grade will inevitably be cut from the budget. When tax dollars are at stake, these leaders—and therefore education companies like yours—need efficacy research to prove their worth.

Nevertheless, efficacy research is too often underutilized by education marketing and sales teams. A good study requires effort, but the time and cost it takes to gather and showcase your product’s efficacy generally pays off. The education companies that best leverage research gain a competitive advantage. 

But not all efficacy research is created equal—nor does all research carry equal weight with education leaders. Be sure that your efficacy research checks the buyer’s boxes.

Here are three tips for powerfully demonstrating efficacy in your product or service

1. Conduct research that is highly specific to the schools or districts you want to reach

Education leaders are moved by evidence of their peers experiencing success in schools and districts that resemble their own. This can include geography, size, and socioeconomic factors — among other comparable attributes. So ensure your sample group matches your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) schools or districts. If your research features midsize suburban school districts, it likely won’t compel a purchaser in a huge district like Houston ISD—and vice versa. 

For many education companies, California is a key state in their growth strategy. If that’s the case for you, consider rolling out efficacy research based on a few of your best Unified School District customers. The clearer your ICP, the easier it will be for education product, sales, and marketing leaders to devise research projects that gain the most traction. 

And if you haven’t already, look at your target district’s strategic plan. When you know what goals the district is trying to achieve, such as higher student engagement, you can select related data that showcases better outcomes in that area of focus. Bonus points if the data comes from a customer whose profile matches that of your buyer. 

2. Know the time and place for Ph.D-speak 

Ideal efficacy research is rigorous — and scientific. At the same time, your buyer’s eyes can easily glaze over when highly detailed, scientific efficacy research crosses their desk or screen.

The way around this potential obstacle is to break up your efficacy study into concise, visually appealing, and digestible content. If your lead is curious to learn more, they’re always welcome to deep dive into the details of the efficacy study. The key is to attract and hold their attention in the first place. 

3. Remember that your study needs to resonate with other stakeholders, too

As mentioned, keeping your ICP top of mind is critical for designing efficacy research that actually influences buyers. Also remember that your results need to motivate education leaders’ constituents. Be sure your study highlights tangible results that will resonate with stakeholders, such as parents and teachers.

One way to ensure your study has an impact on these stakeholders is to imagine how your school or district administrators might use the data to defend the purchase of your product or service during the public comment section of a school board meeting. You can highlight these data points and tailor the language for that specific audience.

Get the most out of your efficacy study with an expert education marketing and PR team

We often see sales and marketing siloed from the research functions of a company. Yet, efficacy research is critical for sales and marketing efforts. Knowing your ICP can help you tailor your research efforts and prioritize your findings. But it can also help you understand how your education company can stand out to buyers.

Learn how CB&A, a FINN Partners Company, can help you get the most out of your efficacy research. Reach out to us.