FOCUS GROUPS LET YOUR CUSTOMERS TALK
Conducting your marketing research [Wikipedia] incorrectly can cost you millions of dollars. Honest, I’ve seen it happen.
A lot of folks take the attitude, “It’s not rocket science”. And it’s not. But if you do it wrong, you can draw the wrong conclusions and destroy your business. So please do it right.
I thought I’d begin our weekly posts on marketing research with some of the research tools that have been developed over the years, starting with focus groups.
There are two categories of research, direct (do it yourself) and indirect (find someone else’s data). If you are going to do your own research, there are two general approaches, quantitative (statistically valid surveys, for example) and qualitative, such as executive interviews or focus groups.
We’ve written a number of articles for your use in this site, with one article on focus groups.
QUALITATIVE RESEARCH INSIGHTS
You can use focus groups in many ways:
- As a single-session stand-alone research tool
- In a sequence, modifying your questions from one group to the next
- To understand issues before creating questionnaires for statistically valid surveys
- For clarification of issues by selected respondents to completed surveys
RELEASE STRESS TO TURN YOUR CUSTOMERS WITH NIGHTMARE EXPERIENCES INTO YOUR STRONGEST ADVOCATES
Utility customers will bring up events that may have occurred 5 to 15 years previously. But they never found anyone from the company who would listen. They usually don’t expect resolution (fixing the problem) or recovery (making up for the problem). They just want a sympathetic ear. And your moderator is representing the company.
By listening carefully, the moderator can turn these long-term angry customers into advocates for the client in a matter of minutes during the meeting. These individuals then often provide the most insightful information, perhaps because they have thought a lot about the company and its products or services.
IS THE CLIENT ANONYMOUS?
This takes us to an interesting issue. Many companies insist on remaining anonymous throughout the entire research process – some because they don’t want to taint the objectivity of responses, the rest I don’t know why.
After a number of decades in the field, I have strong opinions on this. I prefer transparency.
We normally get the best results by explaining to the participants that the client has to be anonymous so that they give us unbiased answers, but that before the session is over, they will know who the client is. Then we design the focus group to collect needed objective ratings and other information before releasing the client’s identity.
Want further insights on how to design your groups? Read the article on focus groups.
David VanAmburg’s involvement with marketing research began in 1968 when he was hired as a a research analyst with technology leader, Lord Corporation. Since 1977, he has provided over 2,000 research studies for clients in 165 industries, designed the first national hunger study for America’s Second Harvest, and taught MBA courses in the subject. He loves designing research studies and analyzing results. “Getting the data back is like Christmas. You can learn so much”
CONTACT US to help make your research the key to your company’s future.
VanAmburg Group, Inc.
Brilliant Marketing Solutions
Erie, PA, 16509