Why should you host a focus group?

How Better Feedback Can Help you Refocus

Focus groups are one of those things that you know about in passing, but may not give much thought to in your marketing. Truth be told, though, a focus group can save you a wealth of frustration – and even embarrassment – in the marketplace.

Let’s suppose that you’re looking to introduce a new product line or service offering. There’s a lot that goes into this, of course – cost analyses, market research, branding, packaging and presentation. Your organization is looking to build on past successes and grow revenues or offer more differentiating services, so the drive to get the legwork done fast and start selling can be a big motivator.

However, patience is a virtue, as they say, and taking time to critically evaluate and critique during the development phase can prevent you from becoming the next creator of this poorly planned pool float.

What Exactly Should a Focus Group Look Like?

Before we get too far along, it helps to first establish how to go about determining how to select a focus group. Ultimately, that starts in the planning phase for your new offering.

Whenever you begin creating a new product or outlining a new service, one of the first considerations has to be toward the audience. Who is going to buy this? Some items are niche, and will target a very small demographic. Others will offer a far broader appeal and be enticing to a large and more diverse pool of buyers.

This, in turn, offers you a start point for your focus group. Your sample group should be people you want to buy your new offering, of course, as you want to make sure your product or service resonates with the target audience. However, you also want to include some opposing views in your selection.

As The Balance notes, the goal of a focus group should not be to get a room of yay-sayers to praise your upcoming offering. Instead, it should offer insight and feedback, giving you an idea of what works and what needs refinement so that by the time you’re ready to go to market, your product or service has the best chance of being a success.

Crowd-Sourced Criticism

The best thing that can come from your focus group is a pile of criticism. Yes, you’re inviting a group of strangers to tear down your product – and that’s a good thing.

Focus group feedback can help you better understand your market and better tailor not only your offerings, but your overall marketing strategy and approach. The end goal of any product, service or marketing campaign is the same – sales – and getting as much input as possible from those who would buy your items can help ensure profitability.

The Houston Chronicle outlines four main things that your company can gain from a focus group:

Targeting Data

One of the first benefits is the ability to gather a wealth of data from focus group members. This can include demographics (which members said they were most likely to buy, correlated by age, gender or other factors), competitive analysis (any related products or services members compared your offering to), and even keywords or phrases (how group members described your product). This can then be used to drive your marketing – what groups are you trying to reach, what products are you up against, and how should you target digital and traditional marketing campaigns to increase visibility and awareness.

General Opinions

Next up is the opinions, which we touched on a bit already. Opinions can make or break your success, and if the audience doesn’t believe in your product or service, dislikes the quality – or even the name – or has other concerns, they are things you can take back and refine. This is also why having a diverse pool of people – both from your target demographic and from outside – can be highly valued during a focus group. It’s much easier to take these criticisms and critiques back to improve your offering in development than it is try to scramble to save or salvage a failed launch.

Engagement and Interaction

Going almost hand in hand with opinions is the overall group dynamic. This is not always easy to achieve – some groups won’t mesh well – but an amicable and open discussion among members of the focus group can expand the discussion beyond just what you may have expected. One member’s input may be countered by another or lead into possible refinements or improvements that could help your company make your offering even better and truly the best value and option when compared to competitors.

Area Insights

Finally, a focus group can also provide valuable input from people in your target area. Especially valuable for businesses that will be offering a service locally or regionally or a product that will be only distributed in the area, this local feedback can help identify factors that will make what you bring to market more appealing. This information may also help drive your marketing by helping you see inside the mind of prospective customers and identifying messaging that is more relatable and appealing to them.

Do Your Homework

Ahead of a focus group, you want to make sure that you’ve done your homework and are prepared to get the most out of the session. Your focus group serves almost like a soft launch, and though it may be only a fraction of your potential audience that attends, you still should bring your A game.

  • Prepared Questions: You should plan a list of open-ended questions for the focus group that can elicit feedback on specific concerns you have, while still allowing for answers you may not expect.
  • Polished Pitch: You should also be prepared to bring your best marketing pitch. You’re not ready to sell yet, but you want to try and sell the focus group on your product so that you can see what lands and what misses the mark.
  • Bring Supplies: Make sure that you bring plenty of supplies for your panel, including pens, paper, supporting documentation or descriptions and anything else your group members might need. You may also want to provide refreshments if you expect it to be a longer session.
  • Set Up Equipment: You’ll also want to record the session so that you can review it later and take notes on anything you may have missed or to get input from other members of your marketing team or company stakeholders. Get to your venue early to set up any audio or video recordings in advance.

Let’s Focus Together

At Space Between, we offer everything you’ll need for a successful focus group. Our creative ideation workspace offers ample room to host your input sessions, and even run multiple groups at once so that you can get plenty of feedback. We also offer plenty of technology to make setting up presentations or recording equipment a breeze, and can even assist with our team of facilitators who are available to help run groups or just provide organizational support.

Find out more about hosting your next focus group at Space Between by calling us at 716-433-7688 or reserve Space online now.