How focus groups work–every entrepreneur should understand this critical facet of running a business.
Getting a new product to launch is hard work. Attention needs to be given to every little detail.
Such as design, development, and marketing. As well as understanding how the consumer will respond to your product.
This is where focus groups come in.
Using a focus group gives you insight into how the consumer feels about your product. Thus, ultimately determining how well the public will receive it.
You’ll know if they love how it feels in their hand or if the software is user-friendly and meets their needs, before your big launch.
So, let’s take a look at what a focus group is, why you need to have one, and how to utilize its benefits.
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Here is the content that we will cover in this post. Let’s get started.
- 1. What is a Focus Group?
- 2. Benefits of a Focus Group
- 3. Save time
- 4. Unbiased opinions
- 5. Engaging participants
- 6. Types of Focus Groups
- 7. Email Surveys
- 8. Online polls
- 9. Free trials
- 10. Why Your Startup Needs Focus Groups
- 11. How to Run a Successful Focus Group
- 12. Set goals and establish your purpose
- 13. Define who the participants should be
- 14. Get the logistics down
- 15. Capture the focus group session on video
- 16. Establish the questions that’ll get asked
- 17. Analyze the data
- 18. Final Thoughts
What is a Focus Group?
Focus groups are a small gathering of people who will test your product, whether hardware or software.
You can use a third-party company to host and moderate the session by asking the group questions and getting feedback.
The term “focus groups” was coined by marketing expert Ernest Dichter, where companies can conduct qualitative research.
This they do by having participants share feedback, insight, and opinions about a topic.
The main purpose of a focus group is not to come to an agreement during a discussion.
It is to draw specific information and understand the consumer’s perception of your brand and product.
Today, companies are utilizing the benefits of online focus groups as well. You can reach a larger pool of people, and with anonymity.
Where participants tend to be more honest with their feedback. There are also fewer outside influences in their surroundings that can create biased opinions.
Receiving an unbiased opinion on your product is essential to your success. Remember that 90% of startups fail.
And one of the best ways you can develop a product that will sell is by listening to the consumers first.
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Benefits of a Focus Group
Online focus groups have significant benefits to a startup or company releasing a new product.
You are able to reach hundreds, if not thousands, of people who become aware of your brand, and many will test it and provide feedback.
Some of the benefits include the following.
Individually speaking to people can be a time-intensive process. Industries are changing rapidly and require consumer research just as fast.
Performing multiple focus groups at one time with multiple participants helps to expedite the process.
Especially when hiring a third-party company to host them and utilizing various online tools to do so.
They will have the information readily available to utilize within a few hours or a couple of days, depending on the size of the project.
Conducting focus groups using your own staff as moderators can affect the outcome of the focus group.
Without realizing it, they can direct the participant’s opinions about the product to suit their narrative.
Using people who have had no prior knowledge of the product directing the focus group is a great way to get unbiased opinions and accurate data.
Focus groups allow for total engagement with participants. Questions can go deeper than the average “what do you think about the packaging” or “do you like the color.”
Instead, your questions become more in-depth to determine the reasoning behind their answers.
You begin to unravel their thought process, and questions begin to look like this: “why did you say the blue wasn’t the right color?”
Or, “What color would you prefer, and why would you choose that color instead?”
Or even, “How does the group feel about the color blue, and do you have an alternative preference?”
After performing various focus groups, you may determine that 70% of participants prefer a different color for the product or interface.
Other benefits of focus groups include:
- A clear understanding of whether their needs are met or unmet
- Discover problems with the product or interface that you might not have known existed
- Explore their decision-making process and ways to increase its efficiency
Getting a focus group to test your products before launch is only one of the proven habits of successful entrepreneurs. If you would like more information about what else you can do to ensure success, check out this video. I have put together a few helpful tips you can use.
Types of Focus Groups
There are so many innovative ways to get feedback from potential consumers, and you are not limited to the amount you do.
For example, you can send email surveys regularly combined with polls on your social media accounts.
All are highly efficient and offer insight into the consumer’s thought process.
Email surveys are an efficient way to collect mass quantitative data via email and are much more affordable than face-to-face focus groups.
They are fairly simple to collect through embedding a hyperlink to the survey in the email’s HTML code.
When the participant opens the hyperlink, they get sent to an online survey to fill out and sent back to the issuer.
There are ample ways to do email surveys. Software such as MailChimp, HubSpot, Drip, and ActiveCampaign can assist in email surveys.
Creating polls on social media is a highly effective way to interact and get the opinions of your target audience.
Software such as Poll Maker and Typeform lets you design a poll for your social media platforms with little to no cost.
You can ask specifics such as opinions on the product’s price, the design of the interface, and current marketing strategy.
Online polls will also boost your brand. By adding fun and humorous questions, your poll can easily go viral and attract more customers.
Offering free trials is a great way to get feedback from your target audience.
The consumer can register to use your product for 3 days to 2 weeks, whichever you prefer. And answer a questionnaire regarding their experience.
Consumers love free things, and giving a free trial in exchange for feedback will spread awareness of your brand.
Consumers are more likely to pay the price at the end of the trial.
There are three major benefits to offering free trials:
- It gives the consumer first-hand experience with your software
- Providing free trials is a simple strategy, and it’s easy to set up
- It is easier to capture leads and secure users
Why Your Startup Needs Focus Groups
If you are still in the market research phase or have a prototype you want to test, focus groups will give you a deeper understanding of your target market and how well the general public will receive it.
It is a common mistake for startups to justify their ideas through focus groups instead of hearing what the participants are actually saying about their product.
Instead of focusing on the product’s amazing features, discuss what the participants are looking for in similar products.
First, the information you want to gather is what they are willing to pay, their needs, and purchasing processes.
Then you will move on to what they think about your product and how it meets their needs.
Performing various focus studies before and after the prototype will provide accurate feedback, and you can adjust your product accordingly.
Remember to provide a space for participants to be open and honest about their opinions.
Then, when you have received detailed feedback, you will know you set the stage for them to share freely.
Here are some reasons how focus groups can help your startup:
- Test your ideas early: Get feedback on your ideas before spending tons of money developing one idea. If you already have a prototype, you will know which adjustments to make before taking it to market.
- Allocating resources in the right place: Now that you know your product’s strengths and weaknesses, you can put money in the right places and make accurate adjustments. It will also prevent you from pivoting away from what the consumers want.
- Improve consumer user experience: The data you gather from focus groups will include the consumer’s user experience. If they find the product confusing or you need to boost its appeal, you can streamline processes in a way that improves their experience.
Testing your products on focus groups shows investors that you’re dedicated to the success of the venture. It shows that you’re doing whatever it takes to ensure the product’s marketability. You can add information about your efforts in the pitch deck you present at fundraising efforts.
Keep in mind that in fundraising, storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
How to Run a Successful Focus Group
Running a successful focus group is an excellent way to fine-tune your product.
Set goals and establish your purpose
When setting up a focus group, you will need to establish goals and takeaways that you want to get from this process. These can include:
- Do you need to increase engagement on social media?
- Are you looking to get the audience to subscribe to a service?
- What is the current market for your product, and what does the competition look like?
- What special features should you have to make it competitive?
- Where will your product be purchased, and what do the participants think about the purchasing processes?
- What are the best types of advertisements for your product?
- What colors, graphics, or images will encourage people to buy or reject your product?
Define who the participants should be
Now that you know the purpose of having a focus group, you need to determine who should get interviewed.
You will start with your target audience or ideal consumer profile. These include demographics, their needs, location, and interests.
If your product is in the early stages after launching, then the ideal participants are the consumers using your product.
They know the product and will provide deeper insights.
Get the logistics down
The logistics of the event are just as important as the participants. Determine the following:
- Location: What platform do you plan to use to host the focus group? Which method is the most efficient, and how will you attract consumers to your polls and surveys? Where can you gather emails for email surveys?
- Time: How long will the surveys or polls take? Also, you will want to consider the participant’s time. If the focus group takes more than an hour, plan to take a short break.
- Pre-focus group tasks: Save yourself time and hassle by having participants fill out their forms online. If you are testing software, let the participants use the software or platform beforehand with enough time to give proper feedback.
Capture the focus group session on video
During live events, one can only take so many notes. If you are too concerned about writing down the participant’s thoughts, you end up spending less time focused on them.
By recording the focus group session, you can review the responses in depth with your team and make the necessary marketing improvements.
Don’t rely on your notes or memory alone.
Establish the questions that’ll get asked
There should be, on average, 8-12 questions for questionnaires, listing the most important questions first.
The questions need to fulfill the goals you established in the beginning:
- Don’t use too many questions that require yes or no answers
- Avoid using jargon
- Questions should help the participants start a conversation
- Questions need to be positive
Analyze the data
Start by sorting the data. If you used multiple online methods to gather the data, sort them according to each method.
Then, begin to sort the questions and comments into categories. That way, you can focus on one topic at a time.
How can you improve your design and efficiency of the software? Does the audience agree with your marketing and pricing strategies?
How can you improve the product using the results of your focus group? Make summaries of the data and note the similarities between each focus group.
If there are notes that stand out and are significant, then add them to a report. If you are still creating a business plan, this data can be used in it too.
Hosting multiple focus groups is a great way to test your ideas and prototype if one is available.
It will clearly indicate whether your product meets customer needs and how well they will respond when it goes to market.
Choose your method, and don’t feel limited in how many you use. If you want to expand your social media presence, use polls and free trials to increase engagement with your audience.
Consider hiring professional moderators who will oversee the focus groups.
They will provide unbiased opinions making the data more accurate. And give you organized data for you and your team to analyze.
They also help to find participants according to your preferences and demographics while objectively discussing the product.
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