In this week’s Catholic School Matters podcast (#77), Mayhill Strategies CEO Jennifer Robbins describes the marketing research process which the NCEA embarked upon last year.  Later this month, these insights will be revealed to superintendents at the Catholic Leadership Summit (CLS) in Tempe.  The superintendents will be challenged to create a new vision for Catholic schools when combining these insights with Pope Francis’s Joy of the Gospel.

As Robbins points out, firms (or political candidates) conduct market research in order to understand what their customers want.  As I point out (repeatedly, in my opinion) there are businesses who are arrogant enough to ignore their customers.  Apple, for example, is known to put out newer, flashier products with the (usually true) assumption that their customers will upgrade.  Many of our Catholic schools believe they know what their customers want and despite evidence to the contrary (i.e. enrollment) will continue the same messages.

What do people think about Catholic schools?  What do our parents want?  How well do you think you know the answers to these questions?

This marketing research push marks a willingness to confront the brutal facts and realities of our Catholic schools.  The challenge has been issued to Catholic schools to understand their customers, for schools to understand their situations, etc.  Like Pope Francis who wants leaders “smelling like the sheep,” this marketing research should put us out into the margins.