Articles

Ten Right Questions for planning new continuing education programs

Thu, May 24,2012 @ 10:39 AM
by Suzanne Kart |

lifelong learningThere are ten “right” questions to ask your participants before
developing a successful new program. Getting answers to these questions can dramatically increase the success rate of your new programs.


Without knowing much about what your audience wants, your
chances for success with your hunch, your thoughts, and with trial
and error are very low. But after you ask your audience LERN’s

Ten Right Questions, your chances of success go up significantly.

Here are the ten right questions to ask:

1. Is this the right audience?
You ask this question indirectly of your participants, not in a
survey questionnaire. You find out the total universe for the audience.
You find out whether you can get or create a mailing list of
this audience. You find out if they are already served in the same
way by another program.

This is the most important question. Because if you are trying
to reach an audience that is not right for your program, there is
nothing you can do to make it the right audience. The right topic,
format, time, day and so on all cannot change things if you do not
have the right audience. So make sure this is a good audience for
your program.

2. Is this the right subject area?
You can survey your participants directly about what subject
areas they are most interested in.

Subject area interest is going to change over time for the same
audience. It is certainly going to vary when you try to serve a
different audience or market segment. So knowing what subject
area your audience is most interested in is very important.

3. Is this the right topic?
This is not the same as the right subject. Within any given
subject area, there are many topics. Just because a person is interested
in “management” or “environment” does not mean that any
topic in a subject area will meet the audience’s needs. So after you
survey for subject, survey for topic.

4. Is this the right title?
Again, this is not the same as the right topic. Any topic can be
offered using a variety of different program titles. Some titles will
be a smash hit; some titles will be a flop. Survey your participants
for the right title for your new program.

5. Is this the right format?
There is no longer one format that is appropriate for all your
various market segments or audiences. And the same audience may
want a different format for a particular subject.
Look at all the available formats, then look at all the available
terms for formats.

6. Is this the right place?
Once again, variety and choice are the keys to success with
programming, so do not take the location for granted. Maybe a new
site would make a critical difference for the audience.

7. Is this the right time?
Every audience has different time constraints. For some audiences,
the time of day is important. For others the day of the week
is important. For others, the week of the month. And for others the
month of the year. So confirm that the time you have chosen is one
that is optimal for your audience.

8. Is this the right instructor?
For some programs, the type of instructor may make a difference
in your attendance figures. Look at various options for your
instructor/s or program leader/s. You can have an expert, an outside
expert, a peer, and so on.

9. Is this the right price?
This you can best discover only indirectly or by conducting a
price test with your audience. Asking your audience their best
price is unlikely to be helpful. Few people will tell you a program
is too inexpensive.

10. Is this the right promotion?
This can best be discovered indirectly. You can ask a focus
group to give you feedback on two different kinds of promotional
packages. For example, you can ask them which brochure is more
attractive to them. You can also look at other types of promotions
to the audience you are trying to reach. And, depending on the
dollar value of the new program, you can also do a promotional
test and see which of two packages pulls better for you.

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