On March 4, 2017

Improve Your Marketing Messages with Focus Group Insights

Blog post co-authored with our marketing communications partner, Standing Partnership  

Are you struggling to figure out what your audiences think? Use focus groups to learn how your stakeholders talk about what you offer (or could offer) in relevant and compelling terms that will help you achieve both your communication objectives and business objectives.

“A focus group is a carefully planned series of discussions designed to obtain perceptions on a defined area of interest in a permissive, nonthreatening environment.” (Definition from Focus Groups A Practical Guide for Applied Research, Krueger and Casey, 2015, SAGE Publications, Inc.)

Here are some of the basics to keep in mind when conducting a focus group:

  • Focus groups allow participants (typically 8-12 total) to easily interact with each other in a personal way to help flesh out an idea.
  • It’s not only what words people use, but also body language and how enthusiastically they convey and defend their ideas to others that’s important.
  • Focus groups are not about averages or bell curves. An idea expressed by a respondent in one group can spark a robust discussion that leads to insights—beyond what you typically get from an online survey.
  • A focus group is about listening to stakeholders. The focus group moderator or facilitator listens respectfully to what participants say and encourages them to share ideas and perceptions.
  • Facilitators also ask participants to explain why they have the views they do. Their answers suggest how your messages or marketing strategy might veer off track in terms of relevance, believability and comprehension. Their answers suggest ways to course correct.

A few examples of surprising insights gained from focus groups:

  • Dorms and social life can be as important as courses offered in students’ college selection
  • Moms are unfamiliar with the term “GMO” but interested in the basics of modern farming
  • The goal of successful entrepreneurship can drive interest in earning an MBA more than climbing the corporate ladder
  • Hourly employees who work in the field or in phone centers are as interested as salaried employees in their employer’s business strategy and financial results
  • By Sandy Dye  0 Comments   


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