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Should You Run a Focus Group for Your Small Business?

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Multiple people in an office to participate in a focus group

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

You’ve heard about them and maybe even know someone whose participated in one, but what exactly is a focus group? Is it something your business should do?

At its most basic level, a focus group is a diverse group of people gathered to participate in a guided discussion about a product before it’s launched, or to provide feedback on a political campaign or TV series.

The focus group organizers study the participant’s reaction for research and use those reactions to determine the value and effectiveness of whatever it is they’re testing. The more diverse this group, the better. Everybody thinks differently, has different social-economic backgrounds.

Be sure you have a representative of every type of person in your targeted demographic for better results. It’s a great way to tailor your products and services to your target audience’s needs and desires.

So, should you run a focus group? Yes…if you want to know what your target audience thinks about your business and your product/service, you should run a focus group.

In this article, we’ll look at 4 examples of times a focus group could be beneficial.

Run a focus group to get impressions/feedback on a product/service or Ad/Commercial

If you’re looking to launch a new product or service, run a focus group with people in your target audience. Gauge their initial reaction and then have them interact with your product/service. You’ll get honest (sometimes brazen) feedback you can use to make improvements before the launch. 

This can be done in person or virtually through online survey platforms such as InboxDollars, Swagbucks and more. These sites pay participants for giving honest feedback on a variety of items. You can even have participants watch a commercial and rate then review, allowing you to adjust the content as needed.

Run a focus group to test marketing material

Whether you’re branding your business for the first time or re-branding, you want to make sure your marketing materials appeal to your target audience. Test everything from your color selections to the quality of your photos, the font, the info-graphics, and your web layout.

You want to engage initial reactions and listen closely to their feedback. If there’s consistency in responses to your marketing material, don’t ignore it!

The great thing about focus groups is that the participants have nothing to gain or lose from being insincere or dishonest (since they’re rewarded for their time regardless of their answers), so you’ll know their responses are genuine.

Run a focus group to test a TV ad

Another popular thing to test with focus groups are advertisements. Blind spots in your own marketing become painfully (and sometimes hilariously) obvious once it’s put before a group of strangers. You’ll also be able to clearly note involuntary expressions throughout that the participants themselves may be unaware of. These are great indicators of the impact of your commercial or ad. After the commercial, open it up to an open or a guided Q&A.

Have fun with this and be thankful for the feedback, not matter how harsh. Better to get roasted in a private setting before the Ad goes live than to face the harsh critique of the world.

Run a focus group to improve employee engagement

In an employee focus group, employees take part in a guided discussion on a particular topic. Focus groups are often used as a tool to improve employee engagement but can also be used to uncover areas of improvement. Additionally, running a focus group to improve employee engagement can help uncover trends, strengths, and weaknesses in your organization.

Many organizations use focus groups to leverage employee survey results. In this case, the moderator helps the group examine and discuss survey trends and findings. They probe the group on critical issues and encourage employees to develop solutions.

That’s all!

Focus groups the perfect way to get in depth views from a relatively small number of people, who may have a shared interest or background. They are particularly good for exploring questions in more depth, and people’s ideas can build on and challenge one another’s.

You might use a focus group to discuss some findings that you already have or to explore ideas. It’s up to you! The format also provides an opportunity to ask why people have come to a particular view and generally probe answers.

The above examples don’t fully illustrate all the ways focus groups are useful, but they are among the most common and effective. So, before you launch that new…whatever, see what your target audience thinks about it so you can go forward with confidence.

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