Have you ever considered running a focus group to find out where you can improve your marketing efforts? If not, it might be time to give this idea some serious thought. Focus groups are exceptionally helpful for businesses to conduct market research in a more personal setting than simply reviewing statistics and data.
What exactly is a focus group?
A focus group is a structured gathering of potential buyers who come together to have a facilitated discussion led by a moderator. All group participants have an opportunity to share their thoughts, ideas, and criticisms about a particular topic. For example, if your company makes mouthwash, you might run a focus group asking people to share their experiences with various mouthwash products on the market.
In addition to providing general feedback about products, a focus group can help with your marketing strategies. For instance, you might run participants through an email marketing campaign from start to finish. This is a great way to get feedback about how your emails are influencing people — or not — and identify any potential issues with delivery or formatting.
It’s smart to capture your events on video.
You can only take so many notes when participating in a live focus group. Unfortunately, the more you concentrate on your notes, the less attention you have for the group. This can easily cause you to miss important points. Set yourself up so that you are able to focus 100% on the participants and what they are saying.
The ideal solution is to video record your focus groups using professional software and high-quality audio/visual equipment. All authorized personnel will be able to review the group sessions, at any time, to analyze the feedback in-depth. A process such as this will help you pinpoint areas where your marketing can improve. Don’t rely on your memory. Notes will be helpful, but insufficient.
In-person meetings are often better than surveys.
You may have paid a survey company to ask people walking through the mall to take a quick paid survey about your product or services. The average pay for quick surveys is usually between $1 and $20. The appropriate rate depends on the product and the time required to complete the survey.
Focus groups also pay people for their feedback, but they pay better and are often listed as money-making opportunities on websites such as Craigslist. It’s hard to snag people for a focus group when they’re trying to shop. Focus groups need to be planned in advance. Willing participants need to set aside time dedicated to the endeavor.
For example, a focus group might run for four weeks and require participants to show up two times per week. The pay could be anywhere from $100 to $1,000, depending on how important the research is to the company.
One of the biggest benefits of running a focus group over mall surveys is being able to target a specific niche or demographic. Since the event must be planned in advance, your marketing team has an opportunity to screen applicants ahead of time to see if they qualify.
Focus groups increase the accuracy of feedback.
When you rely on written surveys for customer feedback, you almost never get enough information. A simple, quick survey — even with a blank spot for additional notes — won’t provide enough information to take your marketing strategy to the next level.
A focus group is like a highly structured interactive survey where you can lead a discussion and ask specific questions. You can also leave the floor open for people to share freely. Participants will need to feel free to share their thoughts openly with the entire group. Extensive and detailed feedback comes your way when you’ve set the stage properly. You’ll hear things that will never show up in a written survey.
For example, someone taking a survey might not share their thoughts beyond answering the questions. You might get some feedback from unhappy customers, but it won’t be specific enough for you to make changes. However, once someone starts sharing openly in a focus group, they’re more likely to continue sharing their deeper thoughts. With any luck, this will include specific concerns and complaints. That’s exactly the kind of actionable feedback you need.
Still on the fence?
Should you run a focus group for your business? The short answer is maybe. Generally speaking, a focus group has the potential to benefit every business. However, it takes planning, staff time, and money to organize an effective event.
A focus group is perfect if you need to test marketing materials, dive deeply into certain issues, or collect more information than you can get from a survey. Don’t use a focus group to make major marketing decisions. You also don’t want to use a focus group to collect generalized or statistical data. If you do choose to run a focus group, plan your discussions while leaving room for the unexpected. Carefully select participants to increase your chances of getting the actionable feedback your business needs.