On occasion, we do some traditional market research projects. I’ve been managing the focus group projects at PortMA for more than a year now, and I’ve learned some helpful tips along the way about focus group recruiting that can serve as best practices for readers in research, marketing, or event marketing.
This can be one of the most anxiety-inducing phases of a qualitative research project. The time allocated to recruiting is usually minimal. You have to recruit a certain number of consumers that fit the research criteria, along with getting a good demographic mix. If you’re not paying attention, come focus group time, you could end up with a group of people who no interest in and nothing to say about the research topic. That’s a big problem.
Use a Recruiter
I’ve found that it is effective to to work with a recruiting profession well in advance of the recruiting effort to find individuals who meet the research criteria. Ask them to provide an estimate of the number of individuals in their panel who fit the research criteria (e.g., mothers who shop at Whole Foods). Send them a draft of your screening survey, even before the client approves it, so they can build a list of leads. Any head start your recruiting partner can get should pay dividends in high-quality candidates.
Sometimes there isn’t enough in the budget to outsource recruiting. Nonetheless, I highly recommend it if at all possible, because they are experts in their field – you and I are not. (I used to cold call potential recruits at night from either a purchased or client-provided list. It was agonizing.
Get the Demographics Right
Recruit an even representation of participants in each focus group. If the research criteria calls for eight Ford drivers and eight Chevy drivers to be recruited between two groups, try your best to have an even split in each group. If you don’t split them up, the group that’s heavy on Ford drivers will be able to tell you plenty of information about Ford, but Chevy insight will be lacking. The feedback will be skewed in each group. It’s important that each individual group has a relatively even mix of participants who fit all of the research criteria, otherwise, you risk collecting biased information.
Event Marketing Application
How do these best practices apply to event marketing? Surveys conducted at an event give you an opportunity to reach a broad spectrum of consumers. However, if field staff focuses solely on one group, say men 18-24 – or Ford drivers – and the event has a mix of men and women of all ages in attendance, most of whom drive Chevys, you won’t know if the event experience impacted anyone other than 18 to 24 year old men (or Ford drivers). The bottom line is that you’ve got the get the mix right, whether it is for a focus group or during an event marketing activation.