6 steps to executing a successful Focus Group

During my final year at university, I conducted my first focus group. What seemed like a daunting task, was a success due to adequate preparation. Today, I would like to share some best practices on how to effectively execute your first focus group.

Focus groups are a form of qualitative research that basically explores different subjects, perceptions, opinions, beliefs, attitudes, etc. through a guided conversation in an interactive group setting. The following highlights six steps on how to effectively execute a focus group:

1. Organize,and plan. Don’t do things at the last minute.

2. Recruit and screen the right people, with the right characteristics, and the right knowledge. Ensure that you contact your participants to ensure that the time and place for the focus group is confirmed.

3. Know your subject but be neutral and unbiased in your conversation. Don’t assume you understand what someone means; if it’s unclear at all, ask for clarification. EVERY STATEMENT IS IMPORTANT!

4. Encourage participation by all the attendees, don’t let one person dominate the conversation or someone sit in the background without a comment. Some people are more comfortable in settings like this than others; don’t let that one person run over everyone else in the conversation.

5. Keep things moving. Focus groups encourage a natural flow of topics; don’t move through the focus group topics abruptly, too slowly or quickly.

6. Check all equipment prior! Ensure that your recording devise is functional. It is impossible to write all the comments from the session verbatim without a recorder.

Contributor: Abi-Gaye White,

Legal and Corporate Communications Manager, Balcostics Ltd. 

Market research for small businesses: Tips [Video]

This short video presents four quick tips on using market research in your small business. The following were highlighted:

  1. Researching your competitors
  2. Looking outside your industry for inspiration and new innovations
  3. Researching what big companies are doing
  4. Identifying new trends and business opportunities using social media & other media research

Business insights & decision making: Research Tips

There are several ways businesses benefit from talking with customers & potential customers, among them are the following:

  1. Getting a better understanding of market opportunities – what would these customers want from you?
  2. What do they think you can improve on?
  3. What are their pricing tolerance?
  4. What feature needs do these customers want?

business decisionsMost start-ups are focused on finding ways to gain new customers and testing different pricing, advertising and business model concepts. Thus talking to a representative sample of their target market (potential clients) can go a far way in their decision making process – deciding where best to allocate limited resources.

There several ways to find data and insights around key business questions, in order to gain the information required to push forward with growth and business development efforts.

Three Simple steps:

  1. Talk to customers & potential customers
  2. Determine the key business questions where feedback from a large audience would help you make better decisions
  3. Using a survey or even several recurring surveys to monitor trends that can help identify answers quickly

Yes you can conduct your own survey! Research Tips

Conducting your own survey is always possible once you have the time and patience to cover the best practices. It’s fairly easy and yes you can do it!

potential customers

Prior to starting a survey, one should…

  • Define a clear purpose for the survey
  • Create research objectives/research questions you intend to answer
  • Decide on a methodology to collect the data required

Some popular ways of administering a survey:

  1. online websites
  2. emails
  3. face to face
  4. mail post
  5. telephone

In general, the method used to administer a survey questionnaire is dependent on….

  • The budget – estimated costs of completing the project
  • The target population – population size will influence the sample selection
  • The sample size – administering approaches vary base on the sample size
  • The timeline – how quickly the data is required does affect the method selected

Once you have completed administering and collecting your data, remember to contact balcostics if you require assistance with the analysis and presentation of your findings.

At Balcostics our mission is to empower leaders with the required data and information to make better decisions. Learn more about our full list of research outsourcing services for individuals and companies: Click here

Use Research Questions to focus: Research Tips

A research question is a clear, focused, concise and arguable question around which you center your research project. You should ask a question about an issue that you are genuinely curious about. For example, What impact (if any) will a $100 increase have on customers willingness to purchase my product?

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Good Research Questions bring focus
Research questions help decision makers focus their inquiry by providing a clear framework within which the research project will be executed. The specificity of a well-developed research question will go a far way in clarifying the scope of the research project to all stakeholders.

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Open or Closed? Research Tip of the day

Balcostics Research Tip of the day: What is the difference between an Open-ended Question and a Closed ended Question?

An Open-ended question is where respondents are free to choose how to answer the question, i.e., they don’t select “yes” or “no” or provide a numeric rating, etc. While a Closed-ended format limits respondents with a list of answer choices from which they must choose an answer.

Best way to differentiate:

You can think of close-ended questions as multiple choice questions on a school exam and open-ended questions as short responses and essay questions on an exam.

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