Several CEOs and CMOs have asked me how they can participate in the research I’m doing for their companies, and I always invite them to take a seat at the table. I’ve had several CEOs of smaller companies participate. At larger companies, it’s usually EVPs and CMOs who join us.  Some are eager to sit the whole time, others like to come in for the second half or last 15 minutes, and others attend with the intention of joining the group at some point but never do. Many that are new to focus groups tend to be more comfortable in the back even though they want to participate.

A focus group offers insight that could change how you do business. I’ve talked about how powerful it is to bring different viewpoints to the focus group table, and how important it is to know the ground-rules of having a seat at the table. Based on what’s worked and the reasons CEOs and CMOs give who won’t come from the dark backroom to the light of the table, here’s how to prepare yourself – whether you’re taking a seat at the focus group table or joining your customer for any kind of up close and personal research.

How to Attend  

CEOs are accustomed to being in control, but that isn’t why you’re here. Instead, this is your chance to learn. Focus group participants can and want to help you, but they aren’t present for a sales pitch.

Dress Well – An excuse I hear often from clients about why they don’t want to sit in on the focus group is that they aren’t dressed appropriately. Regardless of your level, you should always be dressed for the public. You never know who you’ll meet, or when you’ll want to step out from behind the mirror.

Introduce Yourself – State your full name, title, role, and responsibility within your company, and your respondents will be impressed that you showed up. They’ll appreciate that you are present to hear their opinions, showing that you care what they think.

Internalize the Connection – Being present with customers is a fun experience, but what they want from you is your respect and commitment to deliver products and services that improve their lives. They expect that the information given at the focus group will be put to good use.

Give Memorable Swag Bag Samples – Giving your own products, preferably new ones, are always a great way to introduce your products to an early and vocal audience. Not only did they get to meet the CEO, but the brag value of walking away with products that haven’t been released are irresistible to share with their networks, paving the way for a more anticipated introduction of your new line.

Acknowledge and Thank Each Participant Individually – Always offer a thank you for their time, and what they shared. Walk around the table and shake everyone’s hand, and play back or build on a helpful comment that each person made. People light up when they know they’re heard and appreciated.

Connecting up close and personal with your customers and shoppers is impactful when clients take a seat at the table. With such an important opportunity to gain insight and build relationships, why wouldn’t you be present?

Ready to attend? Get in touch!