We didn’t have a guest with us for Ask a Marketing Expert so we could focus on questions. Mostly, we talked about marketing metrics and focus groups, based on questioning. If you’re not familiar with Ask a Marketing Expert, it happens every Friday on the Facebook page for MKTMAVEN (update: this event no longer occurs with regularity). Ask a Marketing Expert allows anyone to ask their marketing question and get answers from MKTMaven or from one of our visiting marketing experts. Here’s what was discussed.
Eric Davis, how did your focus groups go today? Any great insights (you don’t have to share the client). I’ve done a lot of focus groups myself and find they can be very valuable or a waste of time depending on the mood of the group.
Hi there! I can share the client in this case. I am doing some pro bono work for the Reston Chamber of Commerce to define the value of membership.
It is interesting with regard to chamber dynamics because they have such a diverse set of members. From Northrop Grumman and Microsoft to a real estate agent and home decorator. Understanding why they are there and wrapping it up in one message is unique.
I am mainly doing this to keep my mind going at a higher level, but hearing decisions based on assumptions is what spawned. This initiative.
As far as findings… Wow! We. Have discovered new events that would help retain and draw new members, how to streamline and improve the path for new members, what to talk about (elevator pitches) to potential members, how various member benefits are perceived, how the chamber is perceived with respect to other chambers and many more!
This is the third of four groups I am doing. These are more accurately roundtables or informal focus groups. Meeting with the board, lapsed members, and those that visited and never joined, members (over 6 months active) and new members (less than 6 months active.
Marketing That Works I’ve done a lot of focus group work over the years and I’ve found it a valuable tool for uncovering attitudes that impact your business. Almost everyone experiences that moment of discovery because we always think our customers are like us — they do the things we do, they think the things we think. It’s surprising then, when you hear statements coming out of consumers’ mouths that are different than your own. I once did a focus group for a regional brewer. As part of the focus group, we tasted some of their beers. The client almost went through the one-way glass to attack participants who didn’t like their signature beer, rather than hearing how they could improve the beer.
My suggestion is to segregate focus group participants whenever possible — in your case board members from lapsed members. A focus group is such a social experience that mixing groups can divert conversations in particular ways that fail to uncover everyone’s attitude, especially if one group feels inferior to the others. That way you get the richest and most unadulterated opinions.
My second suggestion is to keep the conversation moving from very broad topics, such as what are some problems you face in running your business, then delve into more specific information. This keeps you from making assumptions about what the problem is. Once you’ve made assumptions, your questions and the discussion tend to focus on this. When you’ve got the wrong assumptions or your assumption is only a relatively minor factor influencing decisions, you’ve missed an opportunity to learn more. Your questions should look like a funnel going from general to specific.
Finally, as I’m sure you’re aware, the moderator has a difficult job. They need to keep the conversation going without interjecting their own opinions or assumptions or rewarding those who say the right things. The moderator also needs to make sure everyone’s voice is heard, which is hard when you have some big boys like Grumman mixed in with a decorator.
Good luck with the next set of focus groups.
Metrics for assessing marketing success.
Cherie Tripp Lejeune, after attending yet another Tech Cocktail for first phase young entrepreneurs, I always find their metrics of interest. Crowdsourcing has taken over all these “products”, which becomes the foundation for ad space values and ultimately, business value. So what is fair game to represent in their business plans: “product” metrics (website, fan pages, Twitter, etc.) OR can one also include target audience metrics–consumer habits, other related fan pages, etc?
Marketing That Works I was intrigued by some of the products displayed at Tech Cocktail. And you’re right. Their business models seemed to be heavily weighted toward building a site that draws people and the advertisers will follow. For now, I think this is a viable strategy, but I think its life span is severely limited. Products will increasingly be competing for the same demographic, splintering the market to the point where advertisers will no longer find the sites valuable.
The likely outcome of this increased competition will be that only a few of these startups will survive. Survivors will likely be those firms who are best at providing a real service to a particular demographic. For instance, the guys providing info regarding universities have a hard act to follow. The SAT folks and other big players already provide much of this information and, while they don’t give you a probability of being accepted, they do provide the metrics used by schools to send out acceptance letters. This same information is the input for this startup. Plus, SAT is a recognized brand name and you’re already forced to be there to register for the test. So, what value do they bring to some audience? If that value is not sufficient, they’ll ultimately lose in this competition.
Cherie Tripp Lejeune Sorry, I had to step out this afternoon. Your comments ring true especially the splintering and ad play minimized. I think many of these startups hope to make some quick cash if they get enough traffic for a while and then jump, but larger expectations, I don’t see it either. Have to think about the many digital services that will still be in demand for more than 2 years out.
Marketing That Works Yeah, I’m not sure these folks really have an idea with legs. There are too many people out there who can do exactly what they’re doing. You need some sustainable competitive advantage to rise above the competition.
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