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A while ago, we conducted a focus group of readers from across the country. While we do our annual readership survey, our goal with the focus group was to dive deeper into the thoughts, reader behaviors, and identify what we could include that would be of more value.

I had an idea on what I thought the outcome would be, but was surprised by what I learned. Here are a few suggestions all businesses can use:

  • Invite a diverse group of participants – In our case, we have readers that specialize and do different types of group travel. Be sure to include representatives from each category of your client base. We found that what was important to one person was not as important to others. The determining factor in most of that was based on the type of travel they provided.
  • Extend more invites than you really need – In today’s busy world, people commit to participating, but things come up. Anticipate at least a 50 percent no-show rate.
  • Incentivize attendees – It’s always nice to provide an incentive for participation. While some would do so without an incentive, it’s nice to say thank you to each person for their time, thoughts, and opinions.
  • Plan more than one focus group – It's easy to walk away from a focus group and think you have it all figured out, but we find two to three focus groups really give you a clear picture of what is working and isn’t working.
  • Create a strategy to move forward – If you’re taking the time to ask the detailed questions, then be sure to listen to what your clients are telling you. They are the ones really using your product, so find ways to implement the resounding feedback you are getting.
  • Don’t assume you know what the outcome will be – As I mentioned above, I thought I knew what they would say, but I was surprised to learn several things from our readers. We can’t get this same information from our annual survey. The in-depth look at our product was extremely beneficial.

I always thought that in order to do a focus group, we needed to outsource to an expert. While that is extremely valuable, most of us don’t have huge marketing budgets to warrant this type of expenditure. There’s no reason you can’t just ask your clients in-depth questions directly and informally. You’ll be surprised at their willingness to share. Keep in mind, your clients want both you and them to be successful, so let them help you do just that.

Written by: Kasie Smith, President and Publisher of Groups Today magazine.

 

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