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Getting to know your Target Audience

Written By Pamela Fontenot

Getting to know your Target Audience

The target audience description illustrates the key individuality of the learners for whom you are designing the instruction in any training program. It helps in the selection of objectives, illustrations, terminology, delivery format, and cultural issues.

Listed here are a few sample questions which will help us in getting to know our target audience better:

Sample Questions Sample Answers
Who is the course for? Mostly men? Power linemen – men
How long have they been with the company? 10-25 years, “old” hands
What do they know about the topic? Some already have extensive troubleshooting experience on the topic
Is the training for all power linemen? Only those who need to learn trouble shooting skills.
How will you determine who needs it? Those assigned to the Pierce County Dam project.
How many people? Locations? About 45 in 4 field offices and corporate HQ
Is training compulsory or voluntary? Compulsory – monitored by supervisors
Are there travel, time, budget constraints? Some union contract restrictions – combined total of 12 working + training hours per day
What pre-requisites do they need? Journeyman lineman ticket, pole-top rescue
In what settings will they use this training? On a pole or in a bucket around energized lines
Any critical topics to include? Safety around power lines

Thus while developing any learning solutions, getting the audience profile like age, gender, particularly culture and so on helps in creating impactful solutions. This applies to the creation of eLearning solutions as well.

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  • Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

    In the article, “Getting to Know Your Target Audience”, the author directs the reader to better target the online audience by asking important questions. These questions are designed to break down a heterogeneous group of all online learners into smaller, more homogeneous groups of specific audience members. This is a common strategy in marketing called Segmentation. In Segmentation, there are four specific ways to group people. Demographics, Geographics, Psychographics and Product Related Factors.

    In an online learning program, it is important to use the basic marketing principle of segmentation because it will better segregate people into the groups that will perform better and be more successful. It also helps the administration of instruction become more meaningful. For example, Fontenot, author of the article, uses the question of prerequisites as a segmentation question. This is a very important question in online learning. This is especially important when the curriculum is set up to be delivered on a rolling basis. By allowing students to enter into a program at any random place, the student may not have the appropriate prerequisite for the course. In an Accounting II course, it should be mandated that a student have basic math, Excel and Accounting I in order to be enrolled. This is not always the case. If a student is not equipped with the basic knowledge, it would be difficult to jump into a higher level course.

    However, there are limitations to the segmentation process in online learning. The audience can become so small that it would not be cost effective to run each target market in separate sections or courses. It could also create such a homogeneous group that Group Think could occur. It also eliminates diversity and positive dissent. If a team is so similar that it shares all opinions, it may not prove to be a learning experience and more of a reinforcing experience. Opinion may overshadow factual learning.

    In conclusion, It is important to target the markets in specific ways. But it is also important to create some diversity in order to maintain a rich learning environment.

  • Michael J. Spangle

    One of the advantages that an in-house training organization can have over an outside firm is the opportunity for “face time” with the potential audience. this is especially true if the Instructor is assigned to a specific discipline or group of related disciplines (such as Electrical and Instrumentation). This face time, as well as involvment in the CRC (Curriculum Review Commitee) gives the Instructor the chance to obtain the answers to these questions first-hand.

    Kat Kadian-Baumeyer, with regard to the issue of prerequisite learning, if the Job and Task Analyses have been done with all due diligence, then the trainee will have a structured learning plan in which the sequence of the courses will be determined. This will block the trainee from even being able to access courses for which they are not qualified.

    I like the idea of a diverse learning group. It makes things more interesting for the Instructor.