Marchand–Focus In, Listen Up!
1) New Technology
During a focus group, if the head of print production for a major entertainment company (an organization with an annual print budget in the tens of millions) were to make the case for bringing e-mail to the desk of every printing company employee with customer contact, would your CEO be more likely to authorize this essential tool for job communications? No? Well, then how about if the same guy said that as of Jan. 1, his company would no longer work with printers that would not work with his staff via e-mail?
2) New Services
If your company adds database and mailing capabilities, will it be perceived by customers as a credible supplier for direct mail services? A Pennsylvania printer used focus groups to discover if it could overcome customer resistance by buying a mail house rather than developing its own capability in this area.
In two focus groups, a California-based printing company learned that its customers were concerned about late invoices and collection efforts often made a few days after customers receive the invoices. Their corporate and agency customers both wanted earlier invoices—the one to get expenditures into fiscal periods during which they were incurred, the other to be able to bill their clients sooner.
A focus group conducted for a bindery revealed that its move to a plant just a few miles away concerned its customers. The solution: marketing that defined the distance in miles and time, and emphasized the increased production and the efficiencies the new plant will bring, including faster turnarounds, reduced spoilage and better shipping.
5) New Markets
An equipment manufacturer selling digital presses conducted focus groups attended by printers to learn about obstacles to adoption.
A well-edited videotape of a focus group provides reps, CSRs and estimators an opportunity to hear customers describe their concerns.