When you think of market research, this can often drum up concerns of an expensive external cost which can be off-putting as marketing budgets become tighter than ever. However, it’s important when planning for the year ahead that you have some valuable insight into how your customers feel about the service and products which you provide. There are several ways that you can undertake market research throughout the year that costs nothing but a little bit of your time. Here’s a few ideas.
1. If you don’t have the budget for a full market research survey, why not ask five key questions using a Google Form or other free survey software via your website? This will allow visitors to the website to share their views at any point during the year. As you approach the end of the year, it’s a good time to pull off all the responses you have received so far and analyse as a batch to see if there are any trends.
2. You could also create a short survey, using one of the free tools, to send a quick questionnaire to headteachers to find out how they have found your service during 2019. They will regularly hear pupil feedback so this may flag up issues you aren’t already aware of. Keep it to less than 10 questions to increase the chances of it being completed as school staff are extremely busy at this time of year.
3. Every half term make time in your diary for one of your team to talk to the pupils at lunchtime. Sit with them whilst they are in a relaxed environment and find out their views on the meals you serve. You could ask them about their favourite and least favourite dishes at school and home, what they like to eat when dining out with family as well as what they love about the service and any improvements they would like to see. Children are very honest when it comes to feedback and will appreciate you seeking their views.
4. Monitor your social media insights. Make sure you have accurate tracking of your social media comments so at this time of year you can look at the full picture from 2019. Don’t just assume all comments are happening on your page as they may well be happening in local parent groups on Facebook or shared without you being tagged on Twitter. You can use free tools such as TweetDeck for setting up streams of tweets with set keywords.
5. Discuss with your headteacher whether you can run focus groups with your school council. These tend to include pupils from across all year groups and they discuss school issues with their peers on a regular basis. Ask whether you could attend one of their meetings. These are an ideal group for running tasting sessions with too.
6. Parents are often the decision makers when it comes to the final choice about school meals. Remember they are in the playground every day so why not speak to your school about whether you can chat to parents informally. If you want to run something more formal, then how about having a stall at a school event or offering to do the catering at a festive performance.
We hope the plans for your 2020 marketing strategy are going well. Let us know if we can help you with any elements of your planned activity or if there are any particular topics, you’d like us to explore as we plan future articles. You can contact us via [email protected]