Me or Them?: Audience

audienceI have great ideas. Or so I think I do. I think I know what’s best for a project, and what I think an audience wants, and what I think will work well for them. My job has me in a position where I run programming for a specific audience, crafting and delivering information to help equip them to a make the transition into graduate school.

One thing I’ve learned, and am still learning, is this: I can spend all day coming up with great ideas that I like and that I think will work, but at the end of the day, if it’s not what my audience needs, who cares? When I conduct focus groups I say just that to the students: “It’s useless for me to come up with things. I want to hear from you, to hear what you need and what we can do to fill that need.”

If you start knowing what to look for, you can start seeing the programs and projects that are done for self or done for audience. Usually there’s a misalignment between creator and audience when something is done for self, and usually the clue is in value proposition. If you see a creator trying to force their product on their audience, because the audience is not responding, then there’s a value proposition issue there: The audience is not finding the thing useful to their lives.

I get it – it’s hard to listen to an audience. We have our ideas and want to implement them, and we think we know better than the consumer. We creators often don’t want others to tell us to do something differently, or not do anything at all. Ultimately my goal is to have my students well equipped, knowledgeable, and clear about what’s expected of them, and if that means that I need to shift my thinking, then that’s what needs to be done.

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