While in the midst of implementing M2’s strategic plan, Shuki Taylor, the organization’s founder, realized they were working with certain assumptions that they only knew to be true anecdotally. M2 did not have data to support what it believed about its audience and potential audience. There might be unknowns and surprises once they learned more.
With this backdrop, M2 engaged Rosov Consulting to conduct a multi-year evaluation process to guide the organization’s next steps. The first stage of this process focused on market research. Specifically, Rosov Consulting needed to determine how much “appetite” there was for M2’s offerings of professional development for the field. Was the marketplace oversaturated with too many program providers or offerings for professional development for Jewish educators? The findings from the market research would inform M2’s next strategic plan.
Rosov Consulting crafted a series of questions to explore what people look for and want from professional development experiences. The questions first tested people’s appetite for any type of Jewish education PD experience and then delved specifically into those offered by M2.
Rosov Consulting utilized its robust network of Jewish educators and engagers to conduct 25 interviews centered around these questions. Interviewees included people who were prime targets for M2 programs—such as congregational, camp, and day school educators—but had never participated (termed “near misses”), people who were the only ones at their institution who previously engaged in an M2 program (“sole participants”), and others who were less familiar with M2 (“non-inquirers”). Rosov Consulting spoke with these individuals to answer the following questions:
- Why do Jewish professionals pursue professional development (PD) experiences?
- What are the types of PD Jewish professionals are generally seeking, in terms of structure and content?
- How are Jewish professionals perceiving the market of PD offerings in terms of quantity and quality?
- How do Jewish professionals weigh and choose from different PD options?
- What sort of PD is of interest to professionals in sectors typically not reached by M2?
- Why do professionals choose not to enroll in M2?
- Do the colleagues of M2 alumni constitute a viable market for recruitment?
The market research showed that the market of professional development offerings for Jewish educators was not saturated. M2 found this to be “pleasantly surprising.” And for M2 specifically, professionals conveyed a strong appetite for their offerings.
As M2 participated in “meaning making” sessions with Rosov, the data presented was both informative and exciting. M2 gained the confidence that there were more people in the field to engage in their programs—some who knew about M2 and some who did not. Key findings from the research included:
- Jewish professionals are intentional in their pursuit of professional development.
- Most Jewish professionals are hungry for high-quality professional development experiences that speak to their needs, and most do not find the market of professional development experiences to be oversaturated.
- On the whole, most Jewish professionals prefer (1) professional development experiences with colleagues who work in similar settings and (2) cohort-based experiences. However, those who are relatively new to their roles prefer one-off experiences to time-consuming cohort experiences.
- M2’s program offerings are well-aligned with their recruitment of senior professionals who tend to seek professional development opportunities that are focused on leadership, self-reflection, and relational work, as opposed to opportunities that are focused on more rudimentary skill- and knowledge-building.
Rosov Consulting also identified segments in the marketplace, such as Jewish early childhood educators and professionals, that could be targeted in stronger ways. Additionally, the findings had ramifications for M2’s marketing and communications strategy. For example, M2 could utilize alumni to lend credibility to its offerings. M2’s own staff needed to better emphasize the strength of the program’s content and make a compelling case about the value proposition of engaging in an M2 program.