In conjunction with our free Webinar “Assessing Your Market for Education Products,” we released the Market Insight Matrix, a tool for managing a rigorous but still practical market assessment process to identify learning products that will address market needs.
One of the asking activities you can use to assess your market is the tried-and-true focus group.
But are you getting the most out of your focus groups? We have five tips to help make sure you do.
- Make sure the sample is representative.
To find the right participants for a focus group, you have to know want to know and who you need to know it from. For example, using conference attendees for your focus group may be convenient, but chances are pretty good that your conference attendees constitute a skewed audience—unless you’re an outlier, most of your members probably don’t attend your conference.
- Invest in a skilled facilitator.
It’s worth having (a) an outsider, to encourage full honesty among participants and to remove bias on the facilitator’s part, and (b) someone who really knows how to steer the discussion to lead toward your objectives.
- Pay attention to the influencers.
You might hear folks argue that influencers dominate the conversation—but that happens out in the market as well. You want to observe and learn from this dynamic at play in your focus groups.
- Be open to chasing rabbits.
This ties back to the second tip. A skilled facilitator won’t rigidly adhere to a stock set of questions—focus groups aren’t quantitative research anyway. If the conversation goes in a useful, but unanticipated direction, go with it.
- Focus on generating, rather than proving, theories.
Analyze the results of focus groups to generate theories about your market that can then be tested. You shouldn’t be looking for hard answers from the focus group session; you should be looking for theories to test out in the market.
The Tip of the Iceberg, or Just a Square in the Matrix
Focus groups are complex beasts, and these tips are just a gloss on the full process. But the tips are a good reminder of how to focus your use focus groups to get the most out of them.
And, of course, focus groups are just one example of one kind of activity you should be engaging in to best know what education products will do well in your market.
I recommend the Market Insight Matrix as a tool for organizing your efforts and ensuring you aren’t making your decisions about which education products to build based on information that’s too limited.
P.S. Our next free Webinar is focused on the allusive art of pricing. You can see our upcoming Webinars and find registration links at www.tagoras.com/webinars.