Audience Analysis for Workshop Performance Enhancement: Gathering Data Points

My work with a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit association for performance enhancement to their workshop program has settled into place and is running smoothly on their end.  They are handing out workshop surveys and have 90% of their attendees completing the survey.  I have begun gathering national statistics for comparison and the results are very interesting.

I found the information I wanted for comparison in the United States Census Bureau’s archives from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration.  They conduct a Survey of Business Owners (SBO) every 5 years, with the last two surveys taking place in 2012 and 2007.  The SBO pays very close attention to minorities (women, ethnicities, veteran status, and disability status) in their reports, but the surveys cover a great deal of other information which is less glamorous to the media.  I downloaded several spreadsheets covering statistics on age, gender, and education level for my first comparison.  The association has a bad reputation for being an organization of “old, white men” which has not been my experience and I wanted to first see if their field was primarily older, white men which would create the bias.  The results of the SBO showed that this, in fact, the case.

SBO 2007-1012

While minority groups have increased their rankings as small business owners between 2007 and 2012, the majority of small business owners are male (54%) compared to female (35%), with the missing percentage falling into joint ownership businesses.  The majority of small business owners are also between 45 and 65 years of age and Caucasian, meaning “old, white men” is correct for their industry.

Education level was something I am very interested in as well from personal experiences with small business owners and their relative success levels.  In 2012, the median shows that small business owners have a college degree.  The majority of small business owners have a bachelor’s degree (29%) followed closely by those who have a master’s degree (23%).

Knowing that the target audience for this association was now more educated, older, and male, I have started making comparisons to the workshop surveys being distributed to workshop attendees.  The participants of this survey are mostly already interacting with the association, so the results tell me who is already in their net as opposed to who they should be targeting.

The comparison has proven interesting so far.  The education level has been all across the board when viewed as a whole, but when examined by individual workshop, the workshop for starting a new business has mostly high school graduates with no higher education completed.  The workshop for business financials and funding contains mostly students with a master’s degree.  The workshops for marketing and websites appear to be following the national average at a lower level.  There are more high school graduates followed by those with a master’s degree, then those with a bachelor’s degree.  The final results for the marketing and website workshops may fit the national trend more closely after more surveys have been collected.

I have also started collected survey results from small business owners not currently aware of the association.  Gathering this data has proven more difficult than previously anticipated.  My advanced marketing experience has allowed me to effectively drive people to the survey based on the SBO statistics (educated, older men with a proven interest in small business administration), but the drop-out rate for survey completion is very high.  I have restructured the survey without modifying any questions to see if the presentation of the questions has been the issue.  I will not know for a few more days if this will prove effective or not.

At this time, no changes have been requested or negotiated with the association.  I am concerned there will not be as much feedback from people not currently aware of the existence of the association, but a specific number of participants was not specified.  I have uncovered better ways to ensure participation while maintaining advanced targeting, but the cost would be significant – around $12 per survey completed with a minimum order of 50.  I may shorten the survey to only the items requiring further examination in an attempt to negotiate a lower cost.  First, I will be attempting to increase motivation to complete the survey through other avenues.  The survey for people not aware of the existence of the association is taking place virtually, which Block suggests may be a hurdle in and of itself (2011).  I may need to find a better way to bring the survey to the public, although getting permission from networking groups and chambers of commerce may prove difficult.

Date Task Hours
2/24/2016 client phone call 0.25
2/24/2016 client phone call 0.25
2/25/2016 contract writing 3.5
2/25/2016 answering email 0.25
3/2/2016 request logins, research national stats 1.75
3/3/2016 draft online survey 1
3/6/2016 finalize online survey for new prospects 2.5
3/11/2016 examine online survey, add ads 0.5
3/14/2016 examine online survey and reorder q’s 0.75
3/15/2016 distribute survey to non-SCORE contacts 0.75
3/16/2016 discuss surveys with client 0.25
3/16/2016 analyze workshop survey data 2

0 thoughts on “Audience Analysis for Workshop Performance Enhancement: Gathering Data Points

  1. lande039


    Congratulations on the progress you have made, and on the 90% completion rate for the surveys–that is really impressive!

    Can you clarify for me, please–you stated: “The participants of this survey are mostly already interacting with the association, so the results tell me who is already in their net as opposed to who they should be targeting.” Does this mean that they are not actually recruiting new individuals for their workshops? You also mentioned in the sentence prior that the target audience is more educated, older, and male–so are they actively trying to market and reach more members similar to those already interacting with them? Are they against having females participating in these workshops? Then they are truly living up to their reputation, I think, and I find it disappointing. Performance enhancement should be open for anyone interested, regardless of their gender. Still, I know that there are still many organizations still stuck in stereotypes for male and female individuals–just wishing that it could change at a higher rate in this century.

    Thanks for sharing the stats–that helps flesh out what you are writing about.

    See you this week in class! God Bless, ‘Nette

    1. lclif005 Post author

      Sorry for the confusion. Please allow me to clarify – I’m asking the same questions of different groups for a little bit of comparison. Your first question is about the survey going to workshop attendees who are the people that already know of the association and may or may not be the correct target audience for the association (i.e. there is usually only 1 or 2 men in the room at each workshop). Which does mean, as you said, they are not actually recruiting new people for their workshops. When asked “How many of you are already working with us?” 90%+ of the room raises their hand. Most attendees right now are coming because someone from the association told them to. That’s the problem I am looking to solve.
      As for the female learners, the association welcomes them, but having a room of all female learners to an association of all ‘old, white men’ was the red flag to me. If their target audience is actually men, as the national statistics showed, but they are only reaching women, it made me wonder if all of the other attributes of the learners aligned with the target. If their learners were all older and educated, I would give them a high-five for including women, but what I am finding is that the learners attending the workshops are lacking any of the other target attributes. Basically, studies show I should walk into a room of older, white men with higher degrees and instead I walk into a room of younger women with a high school diploma I know something is seriously wrong with who they are currently reaching.
      Please let me know if you still have questions!

      1. 'Nette Andes

        No, I have it now ;)—please put this down to lack of sleep trying to get caught up! Still, while I know that the women aren’t their target audience, broadening the scope would help widen their reach–but as that isn’t what they want…How do you plan to change the workshops specifically to provide incentive and motivation to their target audience instead? And, are they going to let you? And–I did read your blogs, but the answer didn’t stick in my memory–sorry! Thanks! ‘Nette

  2. Avanelle

    Hi Lacey this is a very interesting read. And you seem to have put quite a lot of effort since the last blog. It’s great that you look at what the national stats say as what “should be” versus what you are actually seeing within your organization. Sometimes we could be so removed with what is happening out in the world that whatever change we are trying to effect has little relevance on the national or even global scale. One thing though. As it relates to the sample population for the survey at the national level and at the organization in which you work, are there other similarities that can be drawn between the two? Is it plausible to expect that there should be old, white men doing the training at the organization or are there other environmental factors at play which may the reason behind only women are going to these workshops. It’s be interesting what you find out from your research.

    1. lclif005 Post author

      If were only a difference between male/female, I wouldn’t worry about the results I’m seeing, but what I’m starting to suspect (completely unproven at this point) is that the association is not marketing to the right people and the female learners are more motivated to learn as the minority of the statistics. Even a lot of the men who are showing up are not white, but I did not ask ethnicity on the surveys so I only have observational data on that. Minorities in the industry might ‘want it more’ as an underdog and therefore seek out the training. But again, this is just a thought at this stage.

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