Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Identifying your target audience

The training process within an organization begins with determining the purpose of training (which we covered in an earlier post). Just as important is determining the target audience. To maximize the results of the training program, it is essential to identify the target audience and tailor the training delivery accordingly. When it comes to the target audience there are three key aspects that need to be considered namely: the type or classification of the target audience, the expertise level of the audience and lastly the complexity of the subject matter that the target audience needs to be trained on.

First, let us consider the type or classification of the audience. For example, employees, customers and partners could be a possible classification of the target audience. Employees and partners might need different kinds of training even if the subject matter was the same. Similarly, the training material developed for partners may not be suitable for customers.  
There could even be sub-groupings within the same audience. For example, different types of employees like instructors, trainers, sales professionals and consultants might require different types of training.  All this has to be maintained and regulated on a single platform for cost effectiveness and ease of use. For such an organizational requirement, a single platform with restricted access to courses based on the target audience can work wonders.

Next, let us consider the implications of the expertise level of the target audience. End users or recipients of the training may be beginners, novices or experts in terms of technological expertise. This could be a deciding factor because more advanced forms of training with a high level of user interaction can be provided to the more advanced users while the beginners may require a more instructor oriented training method so as to guide them through each process. For example the tech savvy users will be comfortable with any or a combination of different training methods like virtual classes, self paced courses, online quizzes, traditional instructor-led training (ILT) courses etc and maximize the scope of training. The novices on the other hand might be more comfortable if they have an instructor to guide them through the learning process.

Lastly, let us consider the implications of the complexity of the subject matter. If the subject matter is simple and easy to understand a single self-paced course or video would be sufficient. But if the subject matter is highly complex, it might require a combination of different types of course content like videos, self-paced courses, ILTs etc to effectively complete the training process. Sometimes hands-on lab might be absolutely essential and the bulk of the training might require the assistance of an instructor etc. In such cases, an ILT might be a must.

Understanding each of these components is essential while identifying the target audience. This will in turn help in maximizing the output and the training can be delivered more efficiently to suit the requirements of its recipients.