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What is a focus group, and how the heck can you use one to pre-sell your digital product?
On this episode of Rebel Boss Ladies, we have an expert who’s going to answer all of your focus group related questions and more. You all know how much I love the idea of pre-selling your products, so I’m super excited and stoked to share today’s episode with you.
We've never covered anything quite like this before. Today’s topic on focus groups covers a LOT – how do you hold a focus group? What happens after the focus group? How can you use a focus group to get pre-sales? What is market research and why it's so important?
Our expert today is a marketing strategist and she’s going to share with you the answers to all of these questions and more. Michelle Vroom has more than 10 years of experience with nonprofits, agencies and big corporations. Today, she runs her own business helping small business owners market themselves.
Today, Michelle is going to dive deep into the topic of focus groups so that you can learn how you can use those groups to get presale orders flowing in.
Michelle started her business, Vroom Communications, three and a half years ago. She’s a marketing coach who helps female solopreneurs land clients consistently, whether that be through digital products or other higher-end services.
She says, “It's about helping them get the word out about what they're offering so that they can get sales, that they can get clients and they can do it consistently because consistency is key.”
Michelle came from the corporate world, where she always felt trapped working for someone else and their dream. She started to realize that she wanted her own dream, which was growing her own business.
While she was on maternity leave with her youngest child, some different marketing opportunities fell into her lap. Michelle said she “hustled on her maternity leave” which led her to eventually decide to quit her corporate job.
“At that point, it was really a question of like, am I willing to go out and get it? Am I willing to take that leap of faith?… Ultimately, of course, I decided to do that and haven't looked back since.”
You may have heard of the term “focus group” before – it’s essentially when you bring together a group of people to get specific feedback. When you’re selling digital products, you can use a focus group to bring together a representation of your audience to get direct feedback about your product and sales page.
When selecting people for your focus group, you want to make sure you think through who your target audience is. Michelle says it’s important you know your target demographic ahead of time and their pain point. Who is the person that is going to get the most value from your product? Their feedback will give you the most useful results.
During your focus group, you want to learn about what your customer thinks of your product and your sales page. Focus groups are an excellent way to get valuable insight into the questions your audience may have and the best way you can position your product when you’re actually launching it.
Michelle says that sometimes it can be hard to conduct market research about your product because you as the creator are so close to it. This type of research, however, is incredibly important.
Michelle emphasizes, “at the end of the day, would you rather launch something and be hoping and praying that it works and that people buy? Or would you rather launch something that, you know, you've taken the time to run by your audience, that you've taken the time to craft in a way that meets your audience’s needs?”
Michelle says that the best way to find and recruit people to join your focus group is by thinking about who you’re already connected to. She recommends figuring out where you’re already connecting with your audience and then using that platform to find the right target customers for your focus group. It’s much easier to find participants for a focus group and launch a digital product in general if you already have an existing audience that you’ve been cultivating.
Once you identify where your audience is, you can start recruiting them. Michelle recommends a few different strategies to get people interested.
“Now you can recruit them through just a simple post, you could recruit them by reaching out individually to people who you think would be a good fit and who you want to speak to. You could do a mix of both, where you are doing some proactive recruiting and reaching out to people, but then where you're also putting up a post. The point is, is that you need to go where they are. It's not about being in multiple places right now.”
Most importantly, make sure you’re recruiting specifically people that are a good fit. Michelle says, “Ultimately, who is the type of person that's going to buy it and actually call that person out in the post?” Vet them beforehand so you know they’re a good fit for the product, and then you can jump right into the meat of your questions when you start.
How many people should you be recruiting for your focus group?
Michelle says at minimum, you should be looking for five people. You can always try to recruit more if you have the time and energy to invest in conversations with more people. Five should be your bare minimum, and if you can get 10 or 15, that will make your results even better.
Unlike a survey, which is in general vaguer and gives you less context so you need to have a big sample size, you don’t need to have a ton of people participate to get good information with a focus group. But you do want to make sure you get enough responses so you can start seeing trends.
With five people in a really targeted focus group session, you can get good, specific and clear information. So you should start by trying to recruit ten – that way if some cancel last minute, back out or don’t show up, you’ll still get good results.
Michelle says that there are two different ways to hold a focus group. Both have their own pros and cons and help you get different types of information.
The first method is the more traditional style of focus group, where you talk to a small group of people all at once. You can do this over the phone, but Michelle recommends doing it over a video call so you can see your participants as they’re talking and have more natural engagement.
The other option is to speak to each person individually, one-on-one. This method may take a lot more time, but you can have a much more focused or responsive conversation with that person. If any of your participants are a little shy, this could be a great way to get more out of them because they may be more willing to talk openly.
Michelle says, “there's no cookie cutter way to do this. You have to decide what makes the most sense for you.”
The best way to get results from a focus group, according to Michelle, is to have your product and sales page right there in front of your participants. You want to be able to walk them through your sales page in real time and get their feedback as they’re taking it in.
Michelle has specific questions that she likes to ask during her focus groups to make sure she’s getting the answers she needs from her participants. She also recommends stopping at certain points to make sure they’re not getting overwhelmed, and regularly checking in to get feedback.
“I break it down by section. And so at the end of each section, I will say: “give me your feedback on the messaging. Is this speaking to you? If yes, what specifically is speaking to you? If no, what is missing that you need to hear?”
Michelle focuses on the messaging and the visuals in her questions. She always asks her participants whether or not the page is visually appealing, if it flows well, and if the person likes the way she’s presenting the information.
Preparation is key. Michelle says that you should make sure to take notes ahead of time about when you’re going to be stopping, and what specific questions you have about different sections. There are a lot of different questions you can ask, including the ones above, but a few of Michelle’s favorites are:
Michelle emphasizes that you definitely shouldn’t be afraid to ask people specifically about pricing. You especially shouldn’t be apologetic about the price, and you should never try to sway people’s answers one way or another or say something that will skew your results.
She’s had focus groups tell her that her price is too low, which is a great problem to have. But she’s also had focus groups tell her that her product is priced really high. If that happens to you, think about your price point. You either need to adjust the price, or you may need to go back and look at the messaging around your product. Perhaps your product is worth the price, but people don’t see that value in that sales page.
Another important thing to keep in mind is staying away from leading questions. Instead of asking “does the message make you feel happy or sad?” Ask your audience, “does the message resonate with you?” Try as much as possible to not ask questions that are going to lead the person down the path you want, because then your data will be biased.
Finally, it’s always important to get to the point and ask straight up why or why or not your participant would buy the product. Don’t let them give you a yes or no answer, and even if you think this will be an uncomfortable conversation to have, because it’s an important question to ask. This will help you get to the root and heart of your customer’s view of what you’re trying to sell.
If any of these questions feel uncomfortable to you, that’s because sometimes they are. But remember you’re holding your focus group to learn really important info about your product. You’d rather know this now, before you’ve launched your product, rather than later.
“Would you rather know ahead of time about any potential issues that might cause people not to buy? Or would you rather put the time and the effort and money that it takes to launch this thing only to realize like there's something missing that I could have put in there that would have driven sales?”
Michelle emphasizes that you should have the right mindset and perspective as the leader going into focus groups to make sure you’re getting the most out of your group.
This means you should go into your focus group owning your value as an expert. You’re the leader, and you have to be ready to direct the conversation in the way that you want it to go. Remeber, you’re the one guiding the conversation.
“If you're doing a focus group and not necessarily one-on-one conversations, there may be times where you have someone who's maybe kind of running the conversation and you need to take back control and get what you need out of it.”
You also should know going in beforehand where the gaps are in your own knowledge. If you have questions about how your product is positioned, or about the perception of your sales page, make sure you ask those to the group.
“There are probably certain questions that you have in your mind… Know what those are ahead of time. Be really clear. Like, where am I maybe not feeling as confident about this launch, or about this product and how I created it, or how I'd create the sales page. That should be where you drive the conversation in a focus group.”
One of the most important things you can do with your focus group is set the tone right from the beginning. You want to make your expectations very clear, and assure your audience that you’re looking for their honest responses. Remember, even if you’re feeling a bit awkward, honesty will get you the best launch. Answers that are biased or skewed may make you feel better, but they won’t help you sell your product.
The main purpose of having a focus group is for you to get responses and feedback about your digital product in preparation for a launch. An added bonus that can come from it (remember, this is not the primary goal!) is you can also pre-sell your product, often with a lot of success.
You want to offer some kind of reward to your focus group participants that you decide ahead of time to thank them for participating. Usually a focus group is about 45 minutes to an hour long, so you want to give them some good compensation for their time.
This should not have anything to do with your digital product. Michelle says that since these people are giving you their time, you should also be giving them something in return for free, regardless of whether or not they buy your product. In the past, she’s offered free strategy sessions with her, gift cards, and more.
“This doesn't have to be anything that you overthink. But you should always go in knowing and telling people ‘in exchange, you're going to get this.’”
Michelle does say, however, that you can use this as an opportunity to offer your product to people who you know are struggling with the problem that your product solves.
She says that the way to do this often depends on your price point. If you have a lower-priced product, you may want to consider giving a special bonus along with your product based on what they’ve shared in the focus group. If you have a higher-priced product, you could offer a special focus group discount.
Michelle also says that it’s often better to use the time that you have with your focus group to fully get value and feedback about your product, and then make your offer afterwards. She says, “I've seen people do focus groups where like the first half they're getting the feedback within the second half is just them talking about the product and that can actually turn some people off.”
What she does during the focus group is she teases the fact that there will be something special for her audience coming afterwards. Then at the end of the focus group she lets them know that she’ll be sending them a follow-up email with their reward, thanking them for their time and sharing some special info with them.
“In the follow-up email, that's when I will let them know, to thank you for your time I'm giving you X, Y and Z. And then I also want to give you an opportunity to purchase this product, to take advantage of this amazing opportunity because you did the focus group. I'm offering you a special price of X, Y and Z.”
If an email isn’t your style, you can also reach out personally to thank them, or send a more personalized message. Either way, this should come after the focus group time and not during it.
This can work well – Michelle’s had anywhere from a 20% to 50% conversion rate pre-selling her product through a focus group. That’s much higher than the industry standard, and she says she also gets a lot of additional value out of it through their recommendations.
Finally, you’re also building relationships with your customers and establishing lifetime value. Michelle says, “if you're selling multiple products or you have other ways of people working with you, after they purchase the digital product, the lifetime value of a customer or client is pretty high. So you want to think about, of course, like in this launch, what it means, but what it can also mean if that person has a great experience with your product.”
//LINKS IN THE SHOW//
Take a look at Michelle’s Website, Vroom Communications – https://www.vroomcommunications.com/
Check out Michelle’s Facebook group, Market Like a Boss – https://www.facebook.com/groups/marketlikeabossgroup/