I spent a couple of hours this week as part of a focus group for Portland adult alternative radio station KINK.FM. There were about 18 of us, and I found it to be a very interesting experience. Having worked in radio for more than 25 years (I left the industry in 2002), it was interesting to experience being on the ‘other side’ for once.
I’ve seen focus groups, read about them, helped form them…but never been on the other side of the coin.
We were asked a lot of questions about our favorite stations, fave music, likes and dislikes about the station. All the stuff you might expect. For 90 minutes the facilitator guided us through a number of topics, while KINK’s Program Director scribbled notes quietly.
To the radio station, each of us represented thousands of their listeners or potential listeners, so they listened closely to what we had to say.
Do you do any market research in your industry? If you’re a professional speaker, do you take time to find out what your audience wants? Do you ask them what they DON’T like? Do you ask them what’s missing?
KINK.FM did all that and more. They fed us and gave us free CD’s and bumper stickers, too!
Now…here’s your task: can you use a tradeshow as a focus group of sorts? If so, how?
Would you have a short questionnaire that you can use to engage booth visitors? Can you set up a short demo of a new product and get their reaction? Can you show them mockups of a half-dozen proposed ads that your ad agency has conjured up? Should you bother to waste their time with annoying questions like ‘what do you think of this…?’?
Of course you can. You’re paying good money for your booth space. You have an audience of people that are interested in your industry – and probably your products – or they wouldn’t have paid to attend the show.
So take advantage of the situation. Set up your own series of mini focus groups during the show, and mine them for useful information.