Don’t Be a Focus Group of One

One valuable method of research is a focus group. While the purposes, processes and information collected varies per project, very generally, a focus group follows along these lines: A small group of specially-chosen people (perhaps 10) is assembled in a conference room to answer questions and have discussion about a company or organization and its products or services (existing or potential). Topics may include how they feel about the brand or a product, what may make them purchase, what they like or don’t like, etc. A professional facilitator leads the group discussion and keeps everyone on track, while carefully worded, non-leading questions are posed. The 60- or 90-minute session should lead to a bounty of information that can be used to help formulate, guide and steer marketing strategy and operations moving forward.  Depending on the scope of the company or its operations, several focus groups may be performed, possibly in multiple markets and on an ongoing basis to track consumer changes.

In years of meeting with clients, every now and then, we encounter someone who could be characterized as a focus group of one. Here’s how it goes down: We have a potential marketing initiative to consider, say, radio advertising. A particular radio station reaches the ideal demographic, has rates that fall within the budget, etc. In short, radio advertising may be a very good part of an overall strategy. The client says, “But I don’t listen to radio. Why would I want to advertise there? Let’s not do that.” There’s a disconnect, not understanding that you may not “be” everywhere your customers are. Similarly, you may not read the local business publications, but your customers may. Sure, it’s fair and important to have a discussion about any particular marketing initiative to rule it in or out as one to implement.

What to do? Simple. Trust the guidance provided by your marketing and public relations professionals. They’ll help you cut through the clutter of what’s relevant and what will move the dial on growing your business. What not to do? Shut down an idea just because it wouldn’t work on you.

Always remember diversification. Your marketing mix should contain multiple initiatives working together to produce results, as measured by increased brand awareness and business activity, ultimately leading to increased value of the business and increased profits. Radio, or any other single initiative, is worthy of consideration beyond the focus group of one.