Focus Groups: Part 3.3 – Preparing to Recruit Participants

7 mins read

This article is part 3.3 of 6 in our series on focus groups and is the 3rd step in preparing for recruiting participants which explains recruiting tips and methods.

When companies want more information about their products, services, branding, or business, there are many ways they can conduct market research. Some may send out surveys with questionnaires, others may conduct interviews. One of the best ways to get descriptive and detailed information from numerous people is by running a focus group. These are small groups of a chosen target audience that have agreed to participate in a discussion run by a facilitator or moderator who asks predetermined questions. Focus groups provide valuable market research in the form of qualitative data, which is descriptive data about qualities and characteristics rather than quantities or numbers. You may now be wondering, what does the process involve for recruiting participants? Let’s take a look at 3 simple steps to prepare for recruiting participants in a focus group.

Check out the previous parts in this series for information on what a focus group is and the value they offer, as well as how to prepare for the focus group prior to starting the recruitment process!

Step 3.3 – Recruiting Methods

Now for the fun part – choosing the different methods to use for recruiting your participants from the target audience! The target audience are people with the specific characteristics you are looking for to participate in the discussion. Choosing the target audience was Step 1.2 of Part 1 in this series on focus groups. There are many different ways you can go about recruiting, including in-person and online. A great question to consider is: “Where do the target participants spend their time?”

Once you have decided the method to use, Part 4 of this series will explain how to approach and screen the participants, including examples of scripts that can be used when approaching them. Here are the different tips we have on methods to find people that are the right fit:

Tips for Finding and Recruiting Participants

1. Reach out to Existing Customers – This can be a great way to find people that are willing to participate in a focus group, as you may already know a bit about them and that information can let you know if they are part of the target audience without the screening questions in the next step. This would be considered one of the most cost-effective solutions, as most companies have a current client list as well as leads. These participants would already have interest in the company’s products or services and could provide greater insight due to interest and experience. Some companies have even started to create research panels of current and prospective clients who agree to provide ongoing feedback. This method could include phone calls or e-mails.

2. Advertise on Social Media – This recruiting method can gain a high amount of traffic; however, it must fit the target audience you are searching for. For example, the age ranges you are likely to find with an Instagram advertisement will be different than on Facebook. Using social media platforms where you can join specific groups that have people looking to participate in market research is a great place to start!

3. On Location – This has proven time and time again to be one of the most successful options to find participants for a focus group. This method works for a couple different reasons. You are able to choose locations where the target audience is likely to spend time, and you are able to physically see and hear the people you are recruiting, which helps to get a general feel for them and observe their response to your questions. These locations could include where people go for recreation or regular errands such as a shopping mall or grocery store. The recruiter generally approaches the possible participants as they are passing through a gate, turnstile, or hallway, giving them the opportunity to ask the screening questions and invite the participant. Remember to think about where the target audience would be most likely to spend their time.

4. No Family or Friends – It is not recommended to recruit family or friends when searching for the right people to attend a focus group. While this can be an easy way to find people, as they are already in your social network, it is less likely that they will provide sincere feedback as they may want to please.

5. Offer Incentives – This is a great tip that will help in recruiting people to sign up for a focus group, and actually show up for it as well! Many people (especially us Canadians) are people-pleasers or “too nice;” they may agree to join the focus group because they are being asked, however not have any intention of showing up for the discussion. Offering an incentive is a great way to entice people, while also showing that you appreciate their participation and feedback. An incentive can be as simple as a $10 gift card, offering cash, or could include a draw for a prize.

Focused Preparation for a Focused Group

The recruiting tips above will help in having focused preparation to recruit a focused group of participants! Having a sign-up form (Part 3.1), printed invitations (Part 3.2), and choosing the method to recruit the participants will help in being ready for the next step of preparing and running focus groups.

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