In September 2021, TBG deployed a survey to higher education instructors, targeting a range of institution profiles (both two and four-year, public and private) and a broad range of disciplines. Our goal was to learn more about what types of market development activities most resonate with instructors, and why. We also wanted to better understand the impact of these types of activities on actual adoption decisions.
While we learned all of this, we also learned about what doesn’t work. We asked instructors about their negative experiences and perceptions around participating in marketing development activities—and they didn’t hold back! Without further ado:
The Top Three Instructor Pain Points in Market Development:
- Pain Point #1: My Feedback Isn’t Acknowledged
When asked what has been frustrating or off-putting about past review experiences, many instructors expressed frustration that their feedback goes “into a void,” and they never know if it was valuable to the publisher or author. One instructor said, “We never hear back from the authors about what they thought about our suggestions or reviews. Sometimes it would be nice to know what they thought or if they actually implemented any other suggestions.” Another simply said, “There is no feedback to my feedback.”
- Pain Point #2: Unclear Expectations/Communication
Instructors also grow frustrated when communication from the publisher is lacking. These lapses can occur at various points, from the initial invitation to the instructions for accessing or completing the activity to when (and how) honoraria will be issued.
- Pain Point #3: Time
Instructors who participate in market development activities are also frustrated by issues around time. Sometimes they feel that the time expectation for a given activity is unreasonable, or has been underestimated. They also find that the expectations for turn-around times for various activities are too short. The competing demands on instructor time in the middle of a busy semester can often mean that they’re not able to provide comprehensive feedback on a tight deadline.
TBG is in the business of turning data into actionable insights. So then, what do we—as market researchers in education and learning—do with the feedback shared by these instructors? We use it to inform and evolve our best practices!
As a trusted extension of your team, we at TBG pride ourselves on treating your customers as our own. That means that we strive to provide a seamless, enjoyable beginning-to-end experience for the instructors we interact with on your behalf. This is a core tenet of our business—and it just so happens that a satisfied, non-frustrated individual is much more likely to take the time to provide good feedback.
TBG’s Best Practices for a Positive Participant Experience:
- Follow-up With Participants
When TBG builds a partnership proposal for a given activity for a client, we recommend individualized participant follow-up in the scope of work. Sometimes this comes in the form of a thank-you from the program manager or an author. We also provide individualized participant summaries for sales representatives so they can have a thoughtful, intelligent follow-up conversation to thank the participant for their feedback. Further, we build in “unpaid touches” at key points in the market development process—opportunities to touch base with someone who participated in a market development activity, thank them for their valuable past contributions, and update them on the development of the product. In our view, these modes of follow-up are crucial touch points with prospective sales targets. Thoughtful follow-up and authentic expressions of communication build goodwill—and goodwill can lead to new business.
- Test and Track Everything
As market research and development specialists in the education and learning space, we’ve seen a thing or two. Through building and executing hundreds of market development activities, we have established best practices that guide how we approach each step of the process, from testing (and retesting!) every stage of an activity prior to deployment; sending invitations; tracking and monitoring responses as they come in; and communicating with your team to ensure timely issuing of participant payments. All of this is done to ensure a smooth, pleasant customer experience.
- Clear Communication and Realistic Expectations
Through testing activities as described above, TBG helps our clients clearly communicate reasonable and accurate time expectations for a given activity. Doing so from the outset allows participants—to the best of their ability—commit to providing feedback in a timely manner. In turn, this allows TBG to move to analyze the data and deliver the insights you need to move your business forward. A caveat: it’s true that “realistic” and “reasonable” are somewhat subjective terms. It is also true that these perceptions are often tied to the honorarium offered for a given activity. This is why TBG has surveyed instructors to gather data on what is “fair” compensation for various categories of market development activities. This data-informed understanding allows us to—you’ve guessed it—advise our clients.
Interested in learning more about TBG’s approach to alleviating instructor pain points? Schedule a brief 10-minute introductory call.