The majority of farms in Tasmania are run as farm family enterprises. These enterprises are diverse and no two are alike. Therefore it is important to recognise that encouraging participation in learning activities requires a focus on partners and the family unit. Your event will be better attended if you:
Frame your activity to attract a diverse range of participants
Communicate effectively with all members of the family enterprise
Undertake some research to better understand the needs, expectations and priorities of your client base
Attracting a Diverse Range of Participants
Many people are attracted to a field day/forum/workshop when they can see that the learning will help them to look at a problem differently - how they see and understand their problems and future opportunities is at the forefront of people's minds.
Here are some tips on how can you make sure your activity attracts a diverse range of participants:
- Provide financial support for child care at any sanctioned activity.
- Emphasise the importance of all farming members to participate - especially young men and women.
- Hold meetings at convenient times and locations that are family friendly (for example, consider school bus times etc).
- Many people derive what they learn from any course/field day differently, so one of the things to consider is how you can bring groups of people together and ascertain what their needs are.
- Build sessions around these needs.
Communicating to Attract People to Your Event
One size does not fit all in attracting people to your event, so considering perceived barriers prior to any event can improve participation.
Word of mouth is very powerful to get participation, so building relationships with a varied range of people, family members, young and old, men and women, can help build participation.
You can consider ideas such as:
- Provide links on your website that provide opportunities to give feedback, a neutral box when comments come to you and remain confidential that may assist in frank feedback.
- Provide links on your website that identify development opportunities from a community perspective. It is important to build the sharing of your industry as this is how people network and build their own ideas.
- Identify links between work that needs to be done and how this connects with industry goals. This can be a strong motivator.
- Actively promote opportunities and regularly use different media/methods to reach different clients. Ensure that the visual images in communications reflect diversity in gender, age and ethnicity.
Other considerations are:
- Ensure both men and women are addressed in direct mail.
- Make a personal phone call to follow up on invitation.
- Take into account the views of both men and women.
- Seek out networks beyond those readily recognised.
- Specifically encouraging women, as well as men, to apply and/or attend advertised events, processes or vacancies.
- Ensure posters, cover designs and illustrations present women and men as equal and active partners in their industry enterprise.
- The types of messages that need to be communicated will vary according to the aims of your strategy.
- The way we communicate, especially the language we use, needs to be appropriate to our target groups. Using gender-neutral, or appropriate terms in communicating with specific clients will help the communication process by making people feel they are valued, recognised and included. Language and pictures contribute to our perceptions about the rural sector and to our ideas about the roles men and women play within it. Women need to be depicted as active participants in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.
Researching Client Needs
How do you take into account the differing needs, expectations and priorities of your client group and how do you involve a diverse range of people?
Business and industry groups as well as public sector agencies are using market research more to develop client profiles. Market research helps us to understand client needs better and to develop policies, programs and services to meet their needs.
The way that information is routinely collected makes it difficult at times to break data down by age, gender, ethnicity, region or skills. We need to collect more information about our people, their skills and work to improve our understanding of their needs.
Take time to plan your research so that the findings reveal the characteristics of your client base, which will help to develop better programs and policies.