Top 6 FAQ's about Psychographic Data


You have been trying and trying to crack the code on your messaging strategy. WHO am I talking to, and WHAT do they care about?

And then the AH-HA moment comes. Your eyes light up. Psychographic data is a key missing piece. But you aren’t even sure where to begin, nevermind how to use it.

Over the last several years, we have become expert in how to use psychographic data to create messaging strategies that are geographically organized so that your school can talk to the right people in the right places. If you’d like to discuss this in more detail, I’d be happy to get on a call to address your questions.

So, here are the top six FAQ’s about psychographic data to help you see why it’s important and how to use it.

1. What exactly IS psychographic data and why should I care about it?

Psychographic data refers to the “why behind the buy”. Demographics describe WHO the buyer is - their income, age, and so on. Psychographics fills in that outline to help us understand their motivations, opinions, lifestyles and values. This is largely done through analyzing buying habits. If you only pay attention to demographics, you are only understanding one dimension of the buyer. Psychographics informs messaging and outreach strategy in a much more nuanced way.

2. How are these companies getting the information about us?

Basically, every time we do something financial, our data is being bought and sold. This is legal, though it’s a little uncomfortable! This is why, for example, when you buy something at Banana Republic, you receive mail from Ann Taylor, or when you purchase a home, you start receiving lots of mail regarding home insurance.

3. How can the information be used?

There are so many ways! Once you understand what your buyer cares about, you can massage your messaging so that it will appeal to the people you want to attract. This is extremely detail oriented, creative work, allowing you to speak to your audiences in the ways that are going to work for them. This might look like direct mail, digital advertising, event planning, topics highlighted on a blog, and so on.

You can try to find more people like the ones you already have, or you can look for people who the school is not currently attracting.

4. What if competitors do it too?

When you only look at the areas around you, and you haven’t studied your current families, it is possible that your messaging could end up sounding a lot like your competitors since they are looking at the same information that you are. However, when you learn what segments your current families fall into, and you look for more of them (or less of them), you will naturally create specific messaging since other schools will have either also done that work and seen different results since they are a different school, or they won’t have done this work and their messaging will be more vague.

5. What kind of results have you seen by using this data?

There seems to be a borderline obsession with getting more families at the top of the funnel - and I get it. You want to fill your school, or you want to  be more selective. However, I would argue that you don’t really need anyone at all at the top of the funnel, you need the RIGHT people. 

We’ve seen schools achieve a 46% increase in applications, 4% increase in enrollment, 100% yield, a 50% decrease in pay-per-click costs on facebook… these are results born of targeting the market where the school has opportunity, and then talking to their potential audience in ways that are appealing to them.

6. Can I do this work myself?

You can do a LOT yourself. The major players in this space have free resources where you can put in your zip code and learn about the segments that are present. Then you take that information and create messaging strategies around the people present. This is doable if have the right people, time, and mental energy to it yourself - it requires interpreting buying habits into values, and then determining how to best talk to those folks.

Another piece that is hard to do alone is understanding who your current families are, and determining if you have captured market share. These are paid services and, frankly, these companies are set up to help the Targets and the Walmarts of the world, not our relatively-small-beans schools. Is it doable on your own? Yes. But expert help is advisable unless you have a large team with people who can devote time and headspace to the analysis.

Regardless of how deep a dive you do, we highly recommend exploring psychographic data as a tool to help you identify key audience motivations and values.