|Using Evidence to Drive Quality and Sales|
While I don't think we need to have an FDA-like standard of efficacy, I believe education companies would benefit by investing in objective, third-party studies that validate your organizations' outcomes and the impact of your solutions. And this doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming.[adopted from Steve Pines March 13th Blog]
You probably have a "gut-feeling" that your product/service is effective and works well. You also have an emotional and financial investment that drives you to market to schools and/or consumers. So why would you not want to truly know that your product/service works; under what conditions it works; and what you could do to improve it?
I’m sure some of you have internally generated and analyzed data that you use this to back up your claims of effectiveness. While this is better than having no evidence at all -- and please know that I am guilty of doing this myself over my many years in the education industry – it’s self-serving, and something our customers probably regard as marketing rhetoric.
Validating your claims of effectiveness through research performed by a trusted third party can and will elevate your offering above the chorus of statements made by your competitors, and should complement your overall sales strategy. And having the courage to commission independent studies will distinguish you from the herd.
You know that buyers at the school and district level are besieged by vendors all day long. Increasingly, procurement decisions, starting with RFPs, require data from vendors. And data when coupled with independent analysis is a sure way to make your proposal pop to the top.
Featured at the recent Education Industry Days Summit, Dr. Steve Ross of the Johns Hopkins Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE) told attendees he’s ready to tailor study designs balancing budget and rigor considerations for EIA members. When conducted by an independent group like the CRRE, simple and low-cost case studies, surveys/interviews, or quantitative control group studies, can produce very useful reports for the company. Dr. Ross said studies of this kind can be produced in short order, especially when researchers have direct access to the cooperative customers of the education company.
Of course, should you have the data and budget for more rigorous evaluation designs, your findings will carry more weight.
Dr. Ross added that when you engage CRRE, the study and its findings belong to your company; unless you choose to do so, the study will not be independently published in an academic journal.
The bottom line for education entrepreneurs is this: the buying strategies of public school administrators have become more sophisticated and competitive, and ever mindful of scarce resources and effectiveness, they are looking at evaluation data more than ever before to support their procurement decisions.
As an education entrepreneur, if you care deeply about your intervention and believe that it makes a difference in student achievement, you should evaluate it using an independent, third-party research organization.
As the Dylan song goes, "the times, they are a-changing..." Help is here and affordable. To contact Dr. Ross, please reach out via email: firstname.lastname@example.org