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Using Focus Groups to Acquire Marketing Research (a cost effective research technique)

Using Focus Groups to Acquire Marketing Research
(a cost-effective research technique)

Many small businesses don’t take advantage of using marketing research techniques to determine the needs and wants of their target market. Before starting a promotional campaign it is wise to get feedback from customers. The focus group is the first step in gathering qualitative data for your research.

Basics of Conducting Focus Groups
Focus groups are a powerful means to evaluate services or test new ideas. Focus groups are interviews, led by a moderator with 6-10 people at the same time in the same group. One can get a great deal of information during a focus group session.

Preparing for the Session
1. Identify the major objective of the meeting. 
2. Carefully develop five to six questions.  
3. Plan your session.
  4. Call potential members to invite them to the meeting. Send them a follow-up invitation.  5. About three days before the session, call each member to remind them to attend.

Developing Questions
1. Develop five to six open-ended questions – Session should last one to 1.5 hours — at this time, one can ask at most five or six questions. 
 2. Always first ask yourself what problem or need will be addressed by the information gathered during the session, e.g., examine if a new service or idea will work, further understand how a program is failing, etc. 
 3. Focus groups are basically multiple interviews. Therefore, many of the same guidelines for conducting focus groups are similar to conducting interviews.

Planning the Session
1. Scheduling – Plan meetings to be one to 1.5 hours long. Over lunch seems to be a very good time for others to find time to attend.  
2. Setting and Refreshments – Hold sessions in a conference room. Configure chairs so that all members can see each other. Provide name tags for members, as well. Provide refreshments, especially box lunches if the session is held over lunch.  
3. Ground Rules – All members must participate as much as possible. Implement the following three ground rules: a) keep focused, b) maintain momentum and c) get closure on questions.
  4. Agenda – Consider the following agenda: welcome, review of agenda, review of goal of the meeting, review of ground rules, introductions, questions, and answers, wrap up.
  5. Membership – Focus groups are usually conducted with 6-10 members who have some similar nature, e.g., similar age group, status in a program, etc. Select members who are likely to be participative and reflective. Attempt to select members who don’t know each other.
  6. Plan to record the session with either an audio or audio-video recorder. Involve a co-facilitator who is there to take notes.

Facilitating the Session
1. The major goal of facilitation is collecting useful information to meet the goal of the meeting. 
1. Introduce yourself and the co-facilitator, if used. 2. Explain the means to record the session.
  3.  Carry out the agenda.   4. Carefully word each question.  5. Allow each panel member to carefully record their answers. Facilitate discussion around the answers to each question.  
6. After each question is answered, carefully reflect a summary of what you heard.   7. Ensure even participation. Consider using a round- table approach, including going in one direction around the table, giving each person a minute to answer the question.   8. Closing the session – Thank members for coming, and adjourn the meeting.

Immediately After Session
1. Verify if the recorder worked throughout the session.  
2. Review your written notes clarify any notes that don’t make sense, and ensure pages are numbered.     
3. Write down any observations made during the session. For example, where did the session occur and when, what was the nature of participation in the group? Were there any surprises during the session?

Moderating focus groups YouTube link: https://youtu.be/xjHZsEcSqwo

Comments (1)

  • Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot
    about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog.

    An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.