Guest Post by Sean Mannion, Keane Consultants
Many midsized businesses correctly worry that mistakes in new product introduction or revisions can be very risky. Customer dissatisfaction often results in shifting market share.
The price of being wrong is very high.
When faced with the challenges inherent in customer perceptions of new product introductions or revisions, companies, especially mid-sized companies, have few good choices:
Make a well-informed guess about product features and launch; use online surveys and their inherent weaknesses; or use expensive, costly, and time consuming focus groups.
We’ve developed a new way to effectively gather information that is accurate, inexpensive, and dynamic to the day to day shifts in your business. We would be glad to demonstrate in a no-obligation conversation and assessment how this may work for you.
Aside from being expensive, traditional focus groups reflect a reaction to a snapshot in time, and only get responses relevant to that snapshot. The participant interaction has to be well managed to avoid a domineering personality and group makeup is limited to a geography and/or a collection of people willing to devote time to the process.
Real time moderator skills are essential as the group only persists for a couple of hours and nuanced followup is often not possible.
This “single-shot” qualitative approach can provide impact, but is limited in that insights that were relevant at a time can quickly become obsolete, follow up is not possible, and participant segmentation is not easy.
At Keane Consultants, we turn the traditional model on its head. Through dynamic, virtual online focus groups we give businesses the ability to rapidly test and reiterate concepts.
Groups are built on specific participant criteria.
Members dialog over a period of weeks on specifically assigned topics and interact with each other in a thoughtful, persistent way.
As results come in, a moderator can ask for direct feedback on the concept and re-test based on what the group produces. This constantly iterative process employs the type of analytical strategies that have only previously been available in quantitative research settings. The new qualitative model marries the voice of the customer with sophisticated analytics, while following the constantly changing state of a company over time.
Here’s an example:
One of our clients sells to elementary schools. We gathered a group of teachers in our best performing, previously identified segment (based on our customer analytics algorithms), and asked them to commit to a month-long engagement in an online focus group.
In the first week we gave the teachers a survey and discovered that the product we are selling needs more teacher instruction on how to use. That week, the company created an infographic that helped explain each of the steps and what was required of the teacher. In week two we showed them that infographic and asked them to comment on its individual aspects. By week three we we had a refined, teacher approved infographic that we immediately implemented as part of the product.
Under traditional circumstances, the company would have only realized the initial insight that it needed more instruction. At a fraction of the cost, we were able to take that insight and produce multiple iterations of its solution while, at the same time, asking our group a series of other questions about its preferences.
The New Qualitative Model
Recruit - It is imperative that a company uses a segmentation model to guide its recruiting processes. The most relevant segmentation method will vary, but it is absolutely crucial to the recruiting process in order to marry the results of the conversations to the eventual implementation of the concepts. We build these segments from both specific customer behavior and market data.
Beyond careful selection and random sampling, the number of participants must be significant. For the average group, twenty is a solid number. A good moderator will encourage participation over the duration of at least a few weeks. By offering compensation - usually no more than $50 depending on the product and title of participant - group members will remain engaged.
Iterative Questioning and Discussion - The content of each activity is obviously exclusive to each company, but a consistent engagement over several weeks testing multiple iterations of a concept is universal. The varying methods of discovery at this phase include, but are not limited to, surveys, content discussion, and product and messaging ranking.
After each wave of activities the company can internalize the information, make adjustments accordingly, and test the new ideas in the marketplace.
Quantified Reporting - While immediate insights are digestible at a granular level, week to week, activity to activity, the overall pattern of responses at the conclusion of a group’s engagement tells a story that can transform the overall marketing trajectory of a company.
Depending on the format of the group, it is easy to track each of the participant’s responses and tag them with the according segment and category of response. Some examples response categories could be “emotional,” “functional,” or “aesthetic.” Paired with participant segment labels, the aggregation of these descriptive tags tell a story that goes beyond an informative response to specific material. It gives companies insight on the behavior patterns of specific segments. It’s possible that young men in large cities with median income respond in a drastically different way to the overall stream of questioning than elderly women in the country. The ability to pinpoint what these differences are, and act on them not only on specific projects, but throughout company-wide targeting strategies can be transformative.
By implementing this model at Keane Consultants, we have seen the type of transformation that is possible. It can at first seem astounding what this level of engagement and reporting can do for an organization, but the logic of it quickly becomes obvious.
Contact us for a free assessment at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (414) 737-3644. To hear what our clients have said, check out keaneconsultants.com.