Effective and efficient marketing and advertising is impossible without having detailed information about your target demographic. There are a number of ways to gain insight about people’s attitudes and preferences: two of the most common approaches are surveys (a quantitative approach) and focus groups (a qualitative approach). Both have advantages and disadvantages.
Surveys come in handy when you have plenty of questions about different topics that can be answered clearly and quickly. A larger group of participants can yield statistics to base decisions on for your company. Surveys do have their restrictions, though. For example, people might not answer precisely, might interpret a question in a different way, and the organizer does not have a chance to follow up immediately.
The last point is particularly the strength of a focus group. Its biggest advantage is the fact that moderators and participants initiate a dialogue that can be maneuvered. This enables organizations to tackle complicated issues in depth and allows participants to react to other people’s responses as well. Newly discovered perspectives can be utilized and scrutinized immediately. A moderator can even spontaneously test potential solutions and receive instant feedback.
Good focus groups are cost-effective and bring about desired results. Though they do require meticulous planning and a precise implementation:
- Develop clear objectives
- Define your target demographic and screening strategy for recruitment
- Develop an overall concept for the questionnaire
- Carefully develop questions that don’t bias participants
- Organize an appropriate venue with a relaxed atmosphere
- Allow open discussions and new perspectives, yet stay in charge
- Be spontaneous and follow up, yet stay focused on the main objectives
- Show the participants you value their honest opinion
- Transcribe the answers and analyze patterns in the responses
- Check whether your main objective was met and implement changes
For more information about how to conduct a successful focus group please visit https://assessment.trinity.duke.edu/documents/How_to_Conduct_a_Focus_Group.pdf or if your organization is considering a focus group, please contact Media Link at 309-786-5142. We also offer focus groups to our clients.