Date of Award



© 2018 Tim Spurrier

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Michelle Collay

Second Advisor

Brianna Parsons

Third Advisor

Margaret Friedman


This qualitative study examined Hawaii independent schools’ administrator’s perceptions of the effectiveness of marketing, intended message, and the media used to communicate to increase brand awareness and enrollment. Economic and competitive pressures have created the necessity for independent schools to employ marketing plans and strategies to distinguish the schools from their competitors and influence enrollment management. Hawaii independent schools are dominated by the reputation of four large schools in the Honolulu area, which has produced pressure on smaller schools to create a niche in the market. This study produced data from parents of enrolling students concerning the school’s attributes and marketing tools that effectively influenced their decision to enroll their child. The motivation behind this study was to produce research to assist school leaders as they face the challenges to remain viable while enrollment trends are not encouraging.

Incorporating Fishbein's Multi-Attribute Theory to guide the framework for the research allowed for questions to be designed to determine school administrators’ and parents’ perceptions about the message the school creates by determining desirable attributes. In addition to determining the attributes that frame a school’s brand, this study examined the marketing methods that were employed to create the consumer action of enrollment. Through surveys distributed to Hawaii independent schools inquiring to administrators about their perception of marketing and one-to-one interviews with eleven small school administrators and parents, the study produced data that can be useful when creating a strategy. The significant finding from this study was that school leaders and parents both responded that Relationship Marketing produced a stronger awareness of a school's attributes and had a positive influence on enrollment. The relationship with a school was produced by positive and purposeful word of mouth, open houses, events, personal tours, and social media. While enrollment causation is difficult to attribute to one factor, there is substantial evidence that there is an association between incorporating a relationship marketing strategy and enrollment. The data in this study supported the perception by administrators that a robust marketing strategy could provide schools with tools to contend in a competitive market.


Ed.D. Dissertation