Focus Groups in 3 Easy Steps

When reworking your brand, outside input is essential — but you need to know what you’re doing

Back Web Only Apr 27, 2015 By Gordon Fowler

You’ve taken a comprehensive inventory of your brand, you can answer the “Five W’s” and you’re feeling confident. You’ve taken a big first step, but remember it’s just that, the first of many steps to a clearer path for your business’s marketing.

Now, it’s time to gather additional feedback from your clients or consumers. Garnering input from the outside can provide crucial insight and information that will better inform your marketing strategy.

A well-organized focus group provides feedback you can use to create a strategy to move forward, build on what’s working well, remove obstacles and finally articulate a clear and concise elevator pitch for your brand.

STEP 1: Identify and contact participants

You’ll want a variety of people willing to take the time to offer their take on the Five W’s for your brand. This could include members of your team, colleagues in the community, previous and current customers, and friends and family.

STEP 2: Ask questions

You’ll want to enlist an employee or colleague to capture responses so that you can focus on asking the right questions and building upon them as the conversation flows.  And most importantly, don’t forget my go-to for keeping a focus group engaged: Provide sugar stimulation.  

Ask your focus group(s) their perceptions of:

  • Who is our business? 
  • What does your business do? 
  • What was their experience when they connected with your business (both initially and more substantially)?
  • Where they see your business activities. Do they see your product in stores? Do they see you at community events? Have they noticed your advertisements? Where would they like to see you?
  • Why they care about your business? Do you meet a need, give them money, make a difference or provide some one-of-a-kind resource?
  • Anything else they find important or memorable about your business or any suggestions they’d offer for the future.

STEP 3: Analyze the results

Examine how the focus group responded to the questions. You’ll find their feedback will help you to outline your marketing directives. Ask yourself:

  • How close are your Five W answers to the perceptions of your focus group?
  • Does your name resonate with your audiences?
  • Is your logo memorable and on point with your identity?
  • Is your brand telling the story you think it is?
  • Is your brand identity being seen they way you’d like?
  • Are you spending your marketing time and money in effective ways and locations?
  • Are you missing connection opportunities?
  • Do your current activities reach the right people?
  • What are the most powerful and effective takeaways each person gave?

Now that you’ve identified the Five W’s, and set the baseline (how you’re being perceived) with the help of focus group(s), you should now have the basics of your brand. You’re ready to think about how you describe your brand to others. Often called an elevator pitch, this 30-second description should include these elements:

  • Brevity. Use as few words as possible, and make them good.
  • Clarity. Talk like a person. Avoid acronyms and jargon, and assume your audience knows nothing about your or your industry.
  • Solve their need. How do you provide for your audiences’ needs or wants?
  • Demonstrate credibility. Qualifications are more valuable than  buzzwords. Being “certified” is more credible than being a “thought leader.”
  • Honesty. Have someone try out your pitch on you. If you were hearing it as an outsider, would you be clear and moved to action?

A strong elevator pitch is a key element in building the foundation of your brand and critical to developing your brand’s identity. But remember, just like weight-loss, there are no shortcuts for long-term success. If you don’t have the time to lead a focus group and/or summarize its findings, it may be time to bring in a professional.  

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