Surveys and focus groups are integral to monitoring your brand and driving your business intelligence data. They also play a role in your internal quality / business management systems for purposes of both vendor / customer monitoring and feedback.
In a digital and marketing utopia, you would know what your customers think and want and would be able to handle those services and products right away; however, this is not the reality both in terms of your mind reading ability or the time it takes to roll out a new product or services. The ability and ease-of-use of online surveys today means that surveys are starting to make their way back into the Market Researchers toolbox. More people are filling them out, and more data can be generated from them.
The overall goal is to get feedback about what you do not know, or what people are saying behind your back. This information will help you to "set the bar" or create a baseline for your brand. This allows you to know where and what you can improve on.
Information gives you the power to de-risk business decisions. This can range from future products or services, marketing budgets, company system changes and continual improvement initiatives. Any knowledge that you gain offers value to your business, even if the direct ROI cannot be justified for years to come.
We like to break focus groups down into two categories: traditional and modern.
Traditional focus groups are exactly what you would expect. Having a facilitator guide discussion in a controlled environment, all to present a report at the end of the meeting on what your target market thinks about your brand, product or service. Modern focus groups take on a little bit of a different form. They revolve around going to your customers in the places that they make decisions regarding your brand and involving them in a not stressed environment. While they are less scientific, they allow for a more open response to your questions and marketing objectives.
In the end it comes down to the type of data and objective you are looking at getting answers too. As well as the industry your business is in.
Some companies conduct focus groups before they develop products or services. They show existing products or services plans to consumers in order to learn what things people like and dislike about them. Then, they use that information to help create their specifications and plans.
Alternatively, companies place finished products or services in front of a focus group to get people's reactions or ability to use the products or services prior to final production and marketed plans. Much like surveys, the goal is to de-risk business decisions before the launch of the product or service in question.
In addition, companies will conduct focus groups to learn what people think of their brand, the logo, the colors, the services... and so on. While running a focus group costs some money during your development phases, the de-risking process can not be overlooked in terms of value. For example, re-branding your business down the line because your the name does not resonate with customers, or because the color of the website is not getting the appropriate response to your products, these types of occurrences cost money, but also waste time. Often, problems identified in a focus group can prevent these costly changes down the line.
The sooner you can learn what your clients and customers wants, the better you will be able to sell to them. Focus groups and surveys can help provide the information that you need and drive your business data.
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