Focus groups are efficient, cheap, and awesome ways to gain customer insights into your upcoming projects and campaigns. All you have to do is bring together a group of potential customers (preferably from different backgrounds in order to widen your range of perspectives) for two to three hours and brainstorm about the project. Though it sounds tedious, you’ll realize that with the following guidelines, hosting a focus group event is actually a cakewalk.
Jot them down
Hosting the event is secondary; the primary task is to figure out why you need a focus group event at all. You need to write down the goals your event is supposed to meet. Do you want to develop marketing strategies to sell your product? Or are you interested in marketing your product in a specific group? Do you wish to improvise on your existing service? All these questions have to be answered prior to the formation of the group, and these will act as a roadmap for the event.
Focus on The Target
Define a target audience by considering all possible factors that’ll help you draw the right boundaries. Age, gender, social status, job profiles, family status, education, hobbies – all sorts of factors are important. You can have either of the two approaches: define a specific group (for example, students in the age group 16-20 interested in becoming lawyers) or start with a broader group and then classify further as you get better insights. Once you’re clear about the “Who”, it’ll be easier to tackle the “Where”.
Now, Tackle the “Where” and “When”
You don’t need someplace fancy to host a focus group meeting, but you need to consider many factors before deciding a venue. Make sure it’s well-connected to public transport lines, and if people are going to drive to the place, have an unpaid parking service available for them.
Also, be considerate and smart when you’re deciding the timings and date. Choose timings that’ll be comfortable for your attendees, and make sure the day you choose isn’t an important occasion or a holiday.
Let’s Get to the “How”
How are you going to recruit attendees? First and foremost, stay confined to a maximum of 15 participants, because any more than that will lead to not everyone being able to give their inputs properly. Ensuring 15 participants will get you covered for the 15% who are less likely to show up. Also, if you want people to turn up, give them a reason to. Offer them vouchers or reservations at popular restaurants, and give them enough refreshments. Most importantly, mention these in your adverts so that they don’t have double thoughts even if they’re interested. You can use flyers, posters, banners, emails, social media, personal phone calls and a lot other creative techniques to reach out to your targeted attendees and spread the word, loud and clear.
Ask the Right Questions
That’s exactly what you ought to do if you want to get the right answers. Remember, the aim of the focus group is to get valuable inputs from your potential customers, and that can’t be achieved by Boolean answers. Frame questions that demand descriptive answers. Instead of asking them whether they use makeup, ask them why or why don’t they use makeup. Also, each question should be directed at only one thing. Avoid asking clubbed questions like – “How much does the fragrance of a cosmetic and the packaging drive you to buy it?” because it involves their outlook on the fragrance and the packaging, so those are two things and hence, two questions. Try to frame as many questions as the number of participants so that everyone gets a chance to answer.
Appoint a Moderator
Every group discussion is supposed to have a moderator to facilitate the decisions, and an assistant moderator to operate the video camera and take notes. The moderator starts the discussion by giving everyone their nametags and specifying the goals and how the information will be used. Next, set some ground rules about how one can give his/her inputs and then break the ice by asking a casual question to get everyone talking. Also, make sure you’re summarizing and explaining long and complicated comments so that every person understands where the discussion is heading. At the end of it, thank everyone who participated and hand out the vouchers or mementos.
Summarize and Analyze
Note down the answers recorded on the video, cut down the unnecessary information and only extract the essentials. Prepare a spreadsheet where you can enter the answer to every question for easy analysis. It is preferable to organize answers into categories to identify which category has the maximum number of responses and hence, what should be your prime focus during marketing. Lastly, draft a report outlining the major findings and conclusions, and the strategies that can be formulated based on these.
Sometimes, having only one focus group meeting won’t be very useful, and you may have to host more of them to get the required number of responses and perspectives. Once the answers you get start repeating themselves, you’ll know you’ve reached the end point.