How well do you really know your customers? How well do you really know what they want, and do you really know how you can provide the best possible service to them? If these questions have you scratching your head, then you should consider conducting a focus group to get the answers. Focus groups are a great way to get feedback and to go beyond the numbers. They can help you understand who is buying your product or service, what drew these customers to you over your competitors, and why they will or will not return for more.
What is a Focus Group?
Focus groups are a tool used in market research to gain a better understanding of who your audience is and why they may or may not come to you for your product or service. Typically done in groups of 8-12, these groups are moderated discussions that can focus on a current product or service, a proposed new product or service, or marketing strategies like social media campaigns or advertisements. Focus groups yield quick results, unlike other marketing analysis strategies, and are often an interactive and enjoyable way to get to know your audience.
When To Use a Focus Group
Focus groups are helpful in many stages of business growth. Try utilizing a focus group when you:
- Have just released or are planning to release a new email campaign
- Want to assess the cost compared to the perceived usefulness or desirability of your product or service
- Would like to know more about your competitors
- Are unveiling a new product or service
- Need to re-evaluate your product or service to make it more successful.
How To Run a Successful Focus Group
Running a focus group requires more than simply gathering up a few friendly customers. Here are three of the most important things you should consider when organizing a focus group. You can also hire an independent professional or firm to manage this for you.
- Recruit diverse participants. To ensure an accurate representation of your population, it’s important to make sure that you seek diverse participants. They can be chosen through random selection, such as a blind draw from a pool of email applicants. Or, you can focus on a specific selection by surveying your participants prior to enrollment in the group.
- Compensate appropriately. This doesn’t mean bribing your participants! That would cloud the data… and is ethically a no-go. Your participants’ time is valuable, and you should compensate them for their time, especially if you expect them to complete a follow-up focus group. Depending on the duration of the group, this can be as simple as providing lunch, or offering $10-20 universal gift cards. Don’t give out gift cards for services related to your business, as this can create a biased response from participants.
- Stick to a script. Avoid sitting through irrelevant feedback – be clear about what information you’re looking for. One way to do this is by using a script to support you through the introduction and questions. If you are conducting multiple focus groups, having a script will also help you collect more accurate data, because you will be sure that you’re asking the same questions each time.
Focus groups are an easy, straightforward, and unique approach to gathering data about marketing, products and services, and virtually any other topic you’d like to receive feedback on. Respecting your community enough to seek their feedback is a great way to make your customers feel valued and appreciated, while also supporting the success of your business.