Focus groups have long been a staple of corporate culture, and for good reason. What better way to find out what your customers – and your prospects – really think about your product? Focus groups provide a great opportunity for both sides to share thoughts and ideas that can promote positive change. Therefore, it’s no wonder that in 2017, more than $2.2 billion was spent worldwide on conducting focus groups.
So how do you go about putting together a successful and productive focus group? According to ID Plans CRO Seth Garber, the most important thing is that once you start doing focus groups, you must continue to do them regularly to ensure you involve as many partners as possible. By bringing more people to the table, you’ll be able to draw on varied experiences to get a full picture of where you want to go as an organization. That’s a win-win for sure!
In this week’s Conversations from the Corner Office, Garber walks us through seven steps for creating a focus group that’s meaningful for everyone involved.
Step one: Think about the purpose of the focus group and the key items you want to discuss. While it’s tempting to want to cast a wide net and gather as much feedback as you can, it’s important to have a clear, concise vision for the discussion so it stays on track. After all, it’s called a focus group for a reason. Be sure to stay mindful of what you’re there to talk about. You can always host another one later to tackle other issues.
Step two: Ensure you’re engaging the right people for the topic. Many times, companies will reach out to all their customers to join a focus group, and that won’t necessarily get you the answers you’re looking for. Take the time to thoughtfully assemble your “guest list” to make sure everyone in attendance has a stake in the conversation and can provide valuable feedback.
Step three: Communicate really well. Send out an agenda ahead of time with clearly outlined goals and discussion points. This will help attendees start organizing their thoughts so they show up prepared to share. Ideally, it will also get them excited to be part of a select group of thought leaders.
Step four: Identify the takeaways for both your company and your customers. What do you want the end result to be? How do you want them to feel when they leave?
Step five: Brush up on your moderation skills. Nothing is more frustrating than a meeting that goes off the rails and loses focus. Remember that agenda you sent out? Be sure to stick with it closely – not just in terms of the discussion topics but also in regard to allotted time. If you say you’re going to finish at 4 p.m., do it. This shows you respect your attendees and their busy schedules.
Step six: Evaluate evaluate evaluate. Once the focus group ends, have a realistic discussion with people from your team about how it went. Did you achieve the goals and takeaways identified before the group was held? Did you stick to your schedule? Were your attendees engaged and enthusiastic? Was there anything you’d do differently? Take notes and be sure to identify areas where you can improve.
Step seven: Follow up. Send out copies of any materials you shared along with a meeting summary. Did you promise to share any additional information with your attendees? Be sure to get it to them ASAP. Then, continue to engage with your focus group regularly through emails or chat groups and keep them posted on progress as it relates to the topics you discussed. Also, a handwritten note thanking them for their participation can go a long way.
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