This is Planning Month for many businesses that market their products or services. Many use Focus Groups to concept, formulate, or synthesize ideas and insights that are the cornerstone to growing existing business, seeding new initiatives, or entering new markets.
Here are five tips for optimizing the effect of your Focus Groups for 2012 are the following:
1. Hard Cast
Participant Selection is the key success factor. Like ingredients in a cake or the parts of a car that goes in the mix and under the hood, is essential to the palatability and performance. Cast your Groups like actors/actresses on a Television Commercial or like the Jury on a Trial. Be meticulous and be selective.
2. A Guide Not a Book
The Discussion/Interview Guide should be brief. Shorter questions elicit extended responses and deeper insights in the minds of consumers. Listening is better than talking in Focus Groups. The old adage of “we have two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we should talk” never rang so true.
3. The Power of the Response
In conjunction with brief questions, the power of the response is evident. A consumer will be more open and revealing if he/she hears their words instead of the words of the Focus Group Moderator. That said, follow up on the response to a short question with another question that uses the language of the respondent from the original question. This will open the door for insightful ideas that grow businesses.
4. Take Cues from the Stars
Every Focus group will have more than one participant who will be more insightful than the others. That is simply the reality of any Group Discussion. These are the Stars of the Focus Groups. Although one should be careful not to project the thoughts of these Stars on the entire Group, the cues for the direction of the Group can be taken from the Stars and resonated upon the rest of the Group to the benefit of the result. This not only advances the best Ideas but also reinforces the Group Dynamic.
5. People See and Read Differently Today
Recognize this! Understand that when information albeit verbal, visual, or written is presented in their most receptive form, it is better processed and commented upon. This is a visual world. Use diagrams and images wherever possible. Short text is evident and preferred in a Twitter and Facebook World. Shorter passages and thoughts correspond to the multi-tasking environment that we now favor as a Society.
Guest Blogger: Bryan Pazaras, Managing Owner, Ideas and Informed Insights, Inc.
Adjunct Professor Marketing, SUNY Westchester
914.242.0545, [email protected]