Does Your Business Need a Small Business Focus Group?

Sharon Boyd has nearly 25 years of experience between both the healthcare and marketing industries. In addition to being an RDH and content writing expert, she also holds a degree in business. Her responsibilities primarily include tackling the communication barriers between small business owners or healthcare providers and their prospective clientele.

Does Your Business Need a Small Business Focus Group?

Focus groups. They’re more than the shut-off rooms you see on commercials where people are taste-testing different flavors of chips. Focus groups are an integral element of discovering your target market, pinpointing the needs of clients, and understanding the thought processes of consumers who utilize your product or service.

As a small business, utilizing focus groups may seem too “involved” of a process to try to do on your own. If that’s the case, you can pull data from previous studies that have been completed to better understand an already identified market. However, it’s not out of the question to hire a consultant to come in and conduct a focus group study on your behalf. You’ll want to work with a 3rd party, so that you’re not placing any type of personal prejudices on the questions you’re asking or feedback you’re getting. A 3rd party will provide unbiased data gathering to read and interpret in a manner that gives you an advantage moving your business forward.

Something to keep in mind when working with a focus group is that it’s ideal to have your group made up of people who do not know one another. Otherwise, underlying relationships and personal experiences could divert the type of feedback and conversations during the group activity/activities. You’ll also want to have a diverse range of clientele represented in the focus group. Hand-selecting specific participants could alter the type of data and feedback that you get. Again, this is where your consultant can provide some guidance on polling and selecting group participants.

One of the best ways to encourage involvement in a focus group is to provide some type of an incentive to your participants. Most people will think “What’s in it for me”, which can in turn impact the number and type of participants in the study.

Ask each participant the same questions, and follow-up on their answers. Make note of consistent themes or thought processes, which can guide your marketing strategy in the future. Sticking to yes and no questions may not provide you with as much valuable information as open-ended ones. Since you’re working with a group, it’s possible to ask the same question to everyone at once, and then just record their feedback or disagreements.

Set a Specific Goal

Be sure to have set objectives prior to initiating the focus group process. What do you want to know? What are people’s opinions on a certain topic? Which service/product do people prefer and why? A focus group is not a broad overview of your business, but rather a way to pinpoint certain growth opportunities. It can be a smart investment — both financially and in time spent — to utilize the knowledge gained from a focus group before taking steps to expand a particular aspect of your business. It’s up to you to determine its true value.

For a small business that truly hopes to grow but isn’t quite sure how, a focus group can be a critical tool in developing your future business plan.