Article by Molly Burke, RMS Research Analyst


A community college located in New York recently partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct market research about their image and brand awareness within the community. The client wanted to explore what the community thought about the programs and services they offer, as well as the community’s perception of community colleges in general. This was achieved by collaboratively developing a survey that was administered directly to the community in an online format. The survey was administered via email to the RMS panel in order to reach the intended audience. By utilizing an online methodology, RMS was able to track the data in real time as well as send out targeted reminders.


The main objective of this market research study was to understand the community’s general perception of community colleges as well as the client’s specific programs and services. The client was also interested in learning how to further engage the community they serve and improve their marketing/advertising efforts.

Based on the survey results, the client developed strategies to further engage the community they serve by improving their marketing/advertising efforts and highlighting their strong programs and services across the region.


RMS administered a brief, 10-minute online survey to our panel (called ViewPoint). The survey instrument was developed collaboratively with RMS staff and a designated client project team. It consisted of various questions of different types, including open-ended, single-choice, and multiple-choice questions. The survey was kept brief so as to improve the response rate among the target audience (individuals on the RMS ViewPoint panel residing in the community college’s 5-county service area). The survey gathered information from the community about:

  • Their general perception of community colleges;
  • Their thoughts about the college’s specific programs and services;
  • Their awareness of the college’s specific brand.

After the survey was “closed,” the data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and was then reported to the client in the aggregate, which maintained confidentiality among the sampled community members.


The data analysis revealed that, overall, the community has a positive perception of the college and the programs it has to offer. The community is also well aware of the college when compared to the region’s other colleges and universities. The following are some key findings based on this image awareness study:

  • The community college is the second most well-known college in the region.
  • Nearly 75% of the survey respondents ranked the college as the number one 2-year college in the region.
  • The community used words like “a good start” and “affordable” when describing the benefits of a community college in general.

The data analysis further revealed that the college has a very positive image within the community and throughout the region. Many survey respondents cited that the community college has a diverse student body and provides the community with great workforce-development programs.


Through the data analysis of this community perception and brand awareness survey, RMS provided the client with key insights and actionable steps to be taken to help improve their advertising and marketing efforts, as well as highlight and maintain the strong programs they have in place. The client was provided with a final, detailed report which outlined the analysis of each question and delivered several key recommendations to help them achieve their stated goals. RMS provided these recommendations to encourage the client to take action on items as appropriate and leverage the data from this study to work towards improved brand awareness. Ultimately, this survey provided important information for the client as well as the data for potential future projects to delve deeper into the client’s processes and workflow.

Click here to learn how RMS can help you strengthen your institution by asking those who matter most — prospective students, alumni, donors, faculty, staff & students about your institutions’ image, community perception, brand awareness and more!

Relational RMS Blogs:

Recruiting the Right Participants for Your Focus Groups: Best Practices
How to Design Your Next Feasibility Study
How to Overcome Common Barriers to Employee Satisfaction Surveys

About the Author – Molly Burke

Molly supports the design, administration, and analysis of RMS Research Analytics Division projects works to ensure that all reporting follows RMS guidelines for quality and leverages her industry knowledge to enhance recommendations, particularly for RMS healthcare clients.

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About RMS

Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) is a full-service market research firm in Central New York. Formed in 2002, RMS helps organizations that are looking to know more about their customers and/or potential customers. They conduct surveys, focus groups, mystery shopping, studies and analysis. Each project is customized and gets personal attention by the best in the business. RMS has a reputation for getting results and offers an independent means to conduct telephone, on-line and mail surveying, In-depth interviews, intercept interviews, and participant recruitment as well as focus group hosting through QualiSight, its onsite call center and focus group facility. Taking advantage of the region’s reputation for being a great market study barometer, RMS recruits and moderates for focus groups, community forums and town meetings.