Tip: knowing your audience better

In a recent webinar I was touching on the value of tapping into the audience’s own motivations to have your best shot at getting them to respond to an invitation, and Roger H. asked a good next-level question:

“What do you find most beneficial, formal surveys or Q&As with the future audience?”

Fair question, Roger, but I’m not sure I’d call one better or best, I’d call them different.

Formal surveys are good for a few things.  One, it’s easier to quantify data, cross-tabulate one response set against another for deeper insight, etc.  For instance, you might ask yourself “of those respondents who expressed X on question 3, how did they answer question 6?”  As with anything, formal surveys come with some tradeoffs.  They might take longer to develop.  You will likely only have a fraction of those invited respond, meaning you’ll need to be inviting enough to generate a sample size that’s statistically relevant.  And you’ll have to balance between length (“I’d love to have answers to ALL these questions”) and what you’re going to need to do to get responses (would YOU want to fill out a survey that would take you 30 minutes?).

That said, there’s one other key challenge:  being able to ‘read between the lines’ and respond on the fly.

That’s where a few conversations with your future audience can be gold.  Someone might tell you something over the phone that they’d not put in a survey.  Or you might be able to infer meaning from their tone of voice.  In addition to being able to ‘read between the lines,’ your dialogue very often will lead you to learn things you didn’t even think to ask in a more formal survey.  Often this leads to you asking additional questions to explore something else.

Conversations are also good when you want to explore something less tangible.  For instance, imagine that you know that your product/service has a positive impact on clients’ process but you know clients often have different policies and procedures and processes.  Creating a formal survey that roots out the insight that you can use is difficult at best.  The tradeoff with conversations, however, is that they take time, let alone if you want to have a number of them.

Without knowing more specifically what Roger does and how he does it, I’d probably suggest a combination of tactics.  Some initial conversations would likely deliver insights that would help create a more effective formal survey, but I wouldn’t stop there.  In-event polls or end-of-event surveys are awesome tools for dialing in the relevance of your content, too.  Consider asking a question or two that would specifically assist you with dialing in your invitation messaging to those things that your audience is most likely to take action on.

Remember that what you think is important is (mostly) irrelevant.  Your audience will take action when they perceive your webinar is relevant to them.

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