Focus Groups

For the bootstrapping small business – how to conduct focus group research on the cheap to justify your marketing strategies!

This isn’t a sit down in your comfy chair and relax kind of article.  It is one that will tempt you to action for the success of your small business bringing to light one way you can effectively gather information about your clients to understand better how to draw in new patrons for your business.  

But first – I have a couple of questions for you and some insights.  And, being that this is a blog – you can answer me and we can dialogue.

How do you know that your marketing is paying off?  Some would say – “We advertise and it seems as though we get busier.” while others say “We tried advertising and nothing happened.”

So, what is one business doing right while the other isn’t?  Stroke of luck, maybe?  Or an innate intuition that landed them a great marketing idea with spot on messaging to their perspective clientele.  Or, was it possibly that successful advertising begins with asking your client demographic “What do you want and does my marketing speak to you?”  

To a certain extent, marketing is a game of chance – you start the engine of one marketing vehicle to see if the drive is smooth and profitable.  And if it is, you stay there and enjoy the ride.  However, if the opposite is true – then you get off of the proverbial road concluding that you wasted time and regretting the attempt at spending money on marketing.  The latter being the unfortunate stagnation or even demise of many small, bootstrapping businesses. 

If you are in business, it makes sense to perform ongoing market efforts and measuring those efforts against the amount of time and money going in and the profit coming out.  Wouldn’t it be great to have marketing efforts that you know have passed the test before you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars putting it out to the masses?

Committing to focus group research requires that you put aside your opinions of your marketing approach as your perception may not fit the need of your customers.  If it does, that is great – but be open to change and understand that the feedback you get may go against the very instincts you have about your business and may challenge you to get outside of yourself and into your client’s heads to come up with creative solutions!

Now for the nitty-gritty of it all – the toolkit for your focus group research!

I think I’ve already won the argument of why it is important to understand your target market.  Now I’ll show you how to conduct focus group research.  This can be done easily for little to no money.

What you need in your Focus Group Toolkit:

  • WHO:  A group of people that properly represent the type of clients you want, or the clients that you have – this is what is called your target market.  It is good to understand your target market from a 1,000 ft. view – age range, education, likes, dislikes, generational views, culture or anything that is consistent within a group of people that you can notably measure.  This group could be as few as 25 or as many as you like.  The wider the notable metrics of your audience, the more people you need.  That is to say – if you have an age range of multiple generations with various buying patterns – you need more people to get a good metric to measure by.
  • WHERE:  You can conduct your focus group research through email a few different ways. Of which are either through an online survey request like or through your customer contact list and tabulate the results yourself when your customers respond.  Lastly, you can go to where your customers are.  If you have a very distinct target market and they gather at a particular place for entertainment, shopping, education or other – then go there and gather opinion.
  • WHAT:  What questions you choose are based upon the information you are trying to gather.  For example – let’s say it is a logo that you are creating for your business and you want to find out what demographics are drawn to which logo and let’s say you have 3 to choose from. 

    You choose the “where” you are going to conduct your research and you tabulate the votes into distinct demographic categories based on the metrics you want to calculate.  You might find that certain age groups or education or generations are drawn to different logos.  Then you base your decision on their input to do further refinements – or maybe you hit the nail on the head and there is a clear direction.  You can do this for products, advertising campaigns or as stated, even a logo design which all have a direct consequence of the brand development of your company.

  • WHEN:  Whenever you find your company trying on a new marketing campaign or marketing vehicle. 


  • WHY:  Well, there is a lot of the “why” already stated – but here are some more reasons. 

    Not only does focus group research give you valuable feedback – it allows another marketing touch to your customers and potential customers exposing a new product, a new service or a new way of doing business. 

    It involves your customers which for some is an important partnership. Doing focus group research allows you to take measure of the attitudes of your customers to make certain that you are on target with their needs.  People have many choices today – make sure you are the right one! 

  • HOW:  How do you know that your marketing is working now that you have passed the test of focus group research?  The answer is to track how your clients come to you by continually asking the question “how did you hear about us?”.  And, make observations about the clients, understanding the demographic that found you.  Then, lastly write it down, reflect upon it and start all over again.  Marketing is not a destination; it is a journey. 


In closing, the feedback and measurement of your marketing efforts will have tremendous impact on your product or service in how you position yourself in the marketplace.  Now, go out there and use the same technique that big companies do and uplift your brand! 

Amanda Predmore serves as the CEO and Creative Director at a Seattle based branding agency Emaugo Creative.  To connect with her via this blog, please comment below or contact her directly through her website at

2 Responses to “Focus Groups”

  1. Kim Calhoun Says:

    Great article! Very insightful! As a small business it is always helpful to understand that my marketing dollars are being spent wisely. Look forward to more articles!

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