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How to define your learner persona and why that matters

Few things are more annoying than being targeted for a product or service that is either redundant or of no use to you. Each morning at 9:04 A.M., immediately after dropping my kids off at daycare, I get a call from my friend Spam Risk. That’s literally what my screen says. I answered a couple of times, and it was always about my extended car warranty. The thing is, I don’t personally own a car, and our family vehicle is insured someplace else. Of course, I explained that repeatedly, but apparently, there's no getting off that list.

While the marketing techniques won’t be this aggressive for sure, they'll be a lot more successful if you know your learners very well.

How to define your learner persona

Your learner persona should be very clear before you start creating your course. The validation process for your idea that I’ve previously talked about has some good ideas about figuring our who your target audience is, where to reach them and how to approach them.
In defining a learner persona, you should find answers to the following questions:

  • What is the median age of your audience?
  • What are the industries they are most likely to be working in?
  • What's their education level?
  • How much do they know about your topic already?
  • What problem does your course solve?

Read more: The entrepreneur’s guide to buyer personas for online courses [Part 1]

Then, you should also focus on who shouldn’t be in your online class. This is almost as important as determining the learner persona. If you advertise and sell to the wrong people, you will end up with dissatisfied learners and bad reviews. Neither bodes well for your business.

That’s why you should specify if there are prerequisites for enrolling in your course or, on the contrary, it addresses total beginners.

It’s also good to make a note of any equipment, apps, or software that will be necessary. Do not fall into the trap of describing your material as “for everyone who wants to learn…” Inclusion is great, but if people pay for something, they expect it to be tailored to their needs. Be honest and let people decide whether the course is for them or not.

Why defining your learner persona matters

Your course objectives should be perfectly aligned with what your learner persona wants to achieve. It will be a lot easier to sell courses if they're made to accommodate a specific learner type than if you try to adapt existing material to a group of people.

One of the most common pieces of advice given to first-time fiction writers is to finish their books and then just promote them until they find the right audience. That’s sound counsel because most of them are artists, not business people.

While your e-learning material may also be a labor of love, you are also an entrepreneur who needs to sell and generate leads. With that in mind, listen to what the audience wants and create objectives that deliver precisely that.

Your marketing strategy itself needs to be centered around the learner persona. Everything from the landing page to the emails and the promotions you offer should be congruent with the audience's preferences.

Being flexible and adapting to market demands does not mean you lose your originality or creativity. Yes, most of the time, you will be doing more or less the same thing as the competition, but you need to look familiar when you are trying to be believable (especially online). It’s all right to stand out, but that will be more about quality than presentation.

Read more: How to research your competition as a knowledge entrepreneur

Being original in advertising is a chance big companies with enormous budgets can afford to take. And even in those cases, a failed campaign can do serious damage to brand reputation. As an entrepreneur, you need to make sure that your personal brand and communication channels work best for the learner persona you have in mind.

Closing thoughts

One of the most frequent attributes attached to e-learning is tailored to the learner’s needs. If you are to be successful in selling your course, you need to achieve this: define your learner persona and then build a course and a marketing strategy that fits like a custom-made glove.

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