Beware of the Focus Group of One

I ran into this cartoon on one of my favorite #MRX blogs LoveStats:

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I’ve always found it interesting that some companies would rather spend hours of expensive executive time discussing their thoughts and opinions rather than just taking the time to run a quick and dirty online survey to at least get some data to support their ideas.

Surveys don’t always work

Granted, you can’t count on a survey to tell you whether a market will embrace a new concept or not — in sometimes new-to-the-world ideas are most successful when a persistent entrepreneur trusts his or her gut and just goes with it.

But if you’re trying to make improvements to a product, service or offer – doing a quick survey might just give you enough information to make a better decision.

Tips to creating a short survey

Surveys don’t have to be long and complicated to help you make a good decision.  In fact, you’re never going to have perfect information and just because you can’t get perfect information, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get SOME information.

Create a survey asking your specific question.  Sometimes we get too wrapped up in creating the perfect questions (I know some of you market research pros will get on me for this) .  But when all you want is a quick pulse of what your audience is thinking — why not just ask them?  For example –

  • Should we add another button to this device?
  • How likely are you to pay an additional $5 for feature “X”
  • Are you going to be exhibiting at the annual industry show?
These aren’t perfect questions, but they can certainly go a long way toward helping you get closer to a decision without causing major injuries at your next meeting
If you are playing around with ideas and

Use the Facebook Connect feature to grab more demographic data – When you create your survey , you’ll get the option to allow users to authenticate via Facebook.  The great thing about this feature is that it will give you accurate information about who the respondent is.  Here are the custom variables you’ll get when people use Facebook to connect to your survey:

  • Custom Variable 1: Facebook UID (numeric user id)
  • Custom Variable 2: First / Last Name
  • Custom Variable 3: Language
  • Custom Variable 4: Gender
  • Custom Variable 5: Date Of Birth

As you can see – there really is no excuse for NOT reaching out to collect information from your customers or community that will help you make better more sound business decisions.