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5 Ways to Define Your Audience For Continuing Education Departments

College Marketing

When we first got started in the marketing game, I was stumped by the audience conversation. It seemed so pointless to me, I mean, I felt like I knew our audience, so why did we need to spend time creating a persona of our ideal audience? Also, whenever we had a meeting to create our audience personas, I was unable to come up with a single descriptor, it was very frustrating. In an effort to save you from similar frustration, I would like to offer 5 ways to define your audience. 

1. Draw Your Persona

I know it sounds silly and I am not much of an artist, but drawing your persona is a great way to get this 'character' in your mind. Is your persona male or female? While you might be saying, "Well, that doesn't matter, our programs are great for either gender." While this may be true, when you are creating your marketing strategy, it is absolutely necessary for you to have one persona in mind. Does your persona favor jeans and a 't' 


shirt or business attire? Again, perhaps clothing choices seem unnecessary, but in order for you to have a person in mind, you need to have all of these questions answered. The details are what is important here. Give your persona a name and really start to recognize him/her in other people. If you are able to recognize your persona's attributes in other people, you will truly have a sense of your audience.

2. Family & Work Habits

Now that you have drawn your persona and have a strong sense of who he/she is, it is time for you to create a narrative as well. Try to describe your persona's family life and work habits. Ask yourself questions like what kind of family is my persona part of? Is my persona part of a family that values higher education? Does my persona desire a job that is very structured? Or, is my persona wanting a flexible workplace? You get the idea, you need to know how this person works and what his/her expectations might be regarding family life, workplace, and daily life habits.

3. Your Persona's Goals

This might seem really difficult to ascertain, just remember that this is an internal exercise and it is only to help your marketing department speak to the right audience. Understanding your persona's goals will help you position your programs and courses effectively. Let's say that your persona wants to achieve a higher salary in the manufacturing industry. Perhaps you have a leadership program that has been recognized by area businesses as a nice stepping stone to achieve a management position...If you are speaking to a persona that is in the manufacturing industry already, you might decide to position your marketing language to identify with that industry and discuss how leadership classes will improve his/her chances of moving up in the company.

4. Know the Obstacles

This step is a bit more difficult, but it is important to spend some time thinking about what is holding your persona back from moving forward with his/her education. Consider your persona's economic standing, buying decisions, and family obligations. For example, is your persona likely to be the first one in his/her family to pursue an education beyond high school? Does your persona have a fear surrounding advanced education? What sorts of things might incentivize your persona to pursue a program?

5. Where Does My Persona Hang Out?

Okay, we are on the last step...Let's brainstorm a bit about where your persona might hang out! Try to guess who might influence your persona? Do you think your persona would enjoy any specific podcasts or blogs? Make a list of all of the influencers in your persona's life. What kinds of books does your persona enjoy? What about online reading material?

At this point, you should have quite a bit of information written down regarding your persona's likes, dislikes, habits, and behavior. You should feel comfortable describing your persona and answering questions about whether or not your persona likes this or likes that! Remember that you are actually writing a story when creating a buyer persona. And if you approach this more like a creative writing exercise, I think you will find it much easier to complete. 


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Erudite

Colleen is a writer, teacher, and avid reader. Her love of philosophy transcends every one of her pursuits.

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