In a program targeting new hunters or anglers motivated by food, or any other specific target audience, the first “evaluation” task is to determine if you have the “right” audience in your program.
The best means to ensure that you have the “right” audience is to incorporate a screening process into registration. Simple questions regarding participants' past hunting, fishing and outdoor experience and motivations will help you find your ideal target audience. This information will also help you customize your program's content to this particular audience.
Filling your program slots with “first-come-first-served responders,” regardless of whether or not they meet your ideal audience, may be OK in the short-term but you miss later applicants who might have benefited more from the program and might not satisfy the needs of early applicants that aren't quite suited for the program.
Be sure to keep the list of people who register for programs but are not ideal participants. This information has several uses:
- Applicants for other programs - A person with too much hunting, fishing, or cooking experience for program A might be the ideal participant for program B, and if you've saved their contact information and their screening answers, you can match them with future programs and easily ask them if they would like to participate.
- Ideas for new programs - The individuals you screen out of programs may also uncover needs for new additional programs. If you screen out 15 people from an introductory deer hunting class because they want to hunt geese, then you have uncovered the need for an introductory waterfowl hunting program. And once you have the new program developed, you can contact those 15 people first and ask if they would like to participate.
- Feedback on your marketing efforts - If you recruit a much larger number of participants than you can handle and they don't all match up well with the program you are promoting, your marketing and communications strategies are not quite precise enough. If you recruit too many applicants and they fit the bill perfectly, you have either promoted too aggressively or underestimated the size of the market for that program. If you don't get enough registrations or very few of your applicants match up with the program, you are not promoting to the right people or there just isn't much interest in the program as you have presented it.
Once you have identified your participants and filled your class, a more in-depth survey may be used to determine their baseline skills and knowledge. Establishing this baseline will be extremely important when the time comes to measure your program's impact.
For more general information on topics covered in this section see:
For information specifically on marketing your program:
- Finding people interested/motivated by local/sustainable food
- Recommended messages
- Marketing strategies