How well do you know your market, demographic or audience? It’s all the same after all, simply a question of semantics. Who is buying or benefiting in some way from what you are selling? When I first began presenting workshops to groups, it was with a 90-minute program in an Adult Education/Community setting. The cost was low, but most important was to gain experience and refine the offering for future groups elsewhere. Feedback was excellent and the courses filled, some even with a waiting list. Almost every participant wanted more sessions and strongly suggested that I create a 2-part program. When I pitched it to the director, she was hesitant and expressed some doubts based on her experience with adults but ultimately agreed to try it. Much to my surprise, not only did registration dip dramatically, but those people who did sign-up were not as enthusiastic or participatory as my “One-and-Done” groups had been. I was disappointed and tried to get more feedback. Was it me? The quality of the offering? Cost? Or was it just the profile of the adult-ed student which is unique? While there was no definitive answer, I know that I did not do enough research to understand the history of multi-part workshops or the commitment of the adult learner in a casual setting. Expectations for learning a foreign language or a musical instrument are quite different than for personal development, goal setting and the accompanying homework. I had been flattered by the positive feedback and went full ahead without understanding that getting bodies in the seats requires more than setting the date and creating the content.
A recent newsletter I received underscores the same experience according to Amy Swift Crosby, founder of SMARTY. She understands her audience. When people called for a presentation on “How to Build Your Back Room” which is about accounting, staffing, etc. she knew that it was not sexy enough to get customers out of the house to attend a program like this. However, a webinar was the perfect idea and enrollment exceeded her goal.
She continues at length to describe the local joint/diner that has a great greasy spoon following and is now offering gluten free muffins. If the thinking behind this is that it will draw in a whole other group of customers, it’s probably off target. It’s more likely that those diners are also looking at a different overall dining experience, replete with high concept coffee, cultivated sea salt and more.
So, as entrepreneurs we may have many, many exciting new ideas and vetting them isn’t always the most fun part of the process. Imagining yourself in the customer’s place and thinking like the client is the shift that needs to happen before you place an order for 1000 x or sign a 5-year lease on that very cool storefront.