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5 Reasons to Test Concepts Through Surveys Before Running Focus Groups

5 Reasons to Test Concepts Through Surveys Before Running Focus Groups

310x180_focusGroup-or-surveys_v2When your company plans an ad campaign, it can be hard to choose between competing concepts. What should the primary benefit be? Should your approach be direct, or is it OK to have a little fun? And how do you begin to whittle down the five or 10 ideas on your whiteboard for a true A/B test?

To move forward with confidence you’ll want to do some serious research. But does that mean it’s time to start recruiting people to participate in a focus group? Maybe not.

There are pros and cons to both focus groups and surveys. And when it comes time to find out what your target market wants, it’s better to do some homework with a concept test survey before running a full-blown focus group.

First thing’s first: What is a concept test, anyway?

When you test a concept, you’re gathering feedback from prospective customers about an idea, like an advertising concept, new logo, new package design, or general marketing messaging. In this instance, you may have a few different advertising ideas in mind, but you don’t know which will inspire consumers in your target market to purchase your product or service. Concept tests can help you figure out what consumers prefer like A/B testing and when it comes to your big ideas, you’ll find out what they like, what they don’t like, and why.

Here are five reasons why it’s smart to test concepts through a survey before you run a focus group:

1. You need to test a lot of different ideas.

You’re smart and you probably have more ideas than you could ever bring to market. A survey allows you to present a wide range of ideas to your target demographic. (See an example of how SurveyMonkey tests their own online ads!) You can get feedback on each idea and even have survey respondents rank their favorites in order.

2. You get to kick out the bad ideas.

You know that idea your boss wants you to test but you just KNOW it’s a bad one? Let your target market decide what’s awesome and what, well, kinda sucks. You can even test your concepts with the Image Choice Survey Template to pit images against one another and ask follow-up questions about why consumers rated them the way they did. It’s easier to relay the bad news when it comes directly from the customer…because they’re always right!

3. It’s easier to test the good ideas with different audiences.

At this point, you have several innovate ideas on your hands. Good work! You know they resonate with women, 25-34 in the suburbs—but what about men, 35-49, in the city? Test your ideas with different audiences to start to figure out how big this thing could be.

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4. Survey feedback helps you refine the good ideas.

If you test a bunch of concepts through a survey, you can quickly see which ones are rising to the top. Rather than going into a focus group with half-baked ideas, you can take the survey feedback from your customers and noodle on the concepts before it’s show time (aka, the focus group).

5. And you save a lot of money!

Remember all of the bad ideas you kicked out? And the insight that urban dwellers aren’t interested in your ideas but people in the ‘burbs are really keen on them?  Imagine if you had to spend $$$ and several months on focus groups to do the same thing. Yikes.

There could be a lot to lose by jumping into a focus group without identifying potential pitfalls and getting your proverbial ducks in a row. Using surveys to do some of the initial weeding and pruning can really help your concepts blossom. That leaves a lot of extra cash to buy M&Ms to eat behind the one-way mirror once you’re ready to run your focus group.

Want to get a head start on your concept testing survey? SurveyMonkey Audience can help you reach your target market–and get the answers you need about your next big idea.

How do you test your big ideas? Do you run surveys? Focus groups? Tell us how you perform market research in the Comments below! 

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