The Pros and Cons of Focus Groups

The Role of Market Research

No matter the industry, virtually all companies need ways to measure audience perception of their products or services. Market research helps a business refine products before bringing them to market, improve on already existing products, and optimize its marketing strategy by integrating qualitative data from real audience reactions. One long-standing and popular market research technique is the focus group.

What are marketing focus groups?

A focus group is a tool used to measure the potential impact of a new product and determine how best to present it to the public. It’s usually a small group (about 10 or fewer volunteers, sometimes paid and sometimes not) who gather to discuss a product or idea. Their discussion and responses are collected and analyzed by a market research firm to measure how a larger population is likely to react.

It’s important to note that marketing focus groups are usually just one part of a larger equation. While they can afford invaluable insights about a product from real human beings – rather than faceless data – they may not provide enough information on their own. Below, we’ll break down some of the pros and cons of focus groups and illuminate how businesses can get the most out of them.

Pros of Marketing Focus Groups

Focus groups provide immediate responses in bulk.

Unlike market research techniques that rely on the long-term collection and interpretation of data – such as one-on-one interviews, written surveys, polls, or social media monitoring – marketing focus groups provide lots of direct feedback all at once — no need to spend weeks gathering data or answers, then more time analyzing it. With (granted) enough preparation beforehand, you can end up with a wealth of information about your product in the span of a day.

Face-to-face interactions provide richer insights.

We’ve said many times before that effective marketing is all about communication. It makes sense, then, that some of the best audience insights can be garnered from in-person interaction. While written surveys or social media conversations about your brand can offer plenty of clear audience sentiment, those avenues miss out on the potential of non-verbal cues which can add layers of meaning to a verbal exchange.

Skilled focus group moderators can learn a lot about how participants really feel about a product non-verbally, such as through facial expressions and body language.

Results can be more comprehensible than data.

There’s no doubt that big data has an important place in today’s marketing landscape, and technological advances afford us plenty of tools to analyze that data efficiently. But putting names and faces to audiences helps marketing teams engage with their consumer base on a deeper level, better equipping them to understand consumers’ unique pain points and meet them with good products or services. The qualitative data engendered by focus groups is a great supplement to more impersonal data.

Cons of Marketing Focus Groups

There’s no guarantee of depth or accuracy.

While marketers hope to get honest responses from a random sampling of average users, there’s no guarantee that a focus group will provide such honesty. Moderators and other volunteers can subtly affect participants’ responses; volunteers may feel uncomfortable breaking with the group opinion or “offending” the moderator. What’s more, the sample size may be too small to represent a larger population. As HowStuffWorks acknowledges, Pepsi learned this lesson the hard way when positive focus group responses to their clear Crystal Pepsi failed to predict the sales bomb the product ended up being.

Moderator bias, peer pressure, and small sample sizes can all affect the degree to which your sample size actually reflects the larger population, while responses may not be as honest or in-depth as with one-on-one interviews.

Focus groups can be expensive.

Successful marketing focus groups need highly skilled moderators who know how to pose questions and facilitate discussions in an unbiased way to garner the most productive, useful, and honest responses. This is why most companies and advertising agencies hire a market research firm that specializes in focus groups. It can be costly to hire the firm and finance the production of surveys and product demos, not to mention possibly pay participants for their time.

The Lesson

Focus groups are efficient methods of collecting valuable insights in bulk, all at once, but mileage may vary when it comes to their cost and reliability. As such, marketing focus groups work best when paired with both quantitative and qualitative data from other market research strategies. We explore some examples below.

  • One-on-one interviews – These offer similar qualitative data to that provided in focus groups, with the advantage of being more in-depth because peer pressure is reduced and there’s no need to steer unwieldy discussions.
  • Written surveys – While written market research surveys don’t give researchers access to the non-verbal cues of face-to-face interaction, they can be efficient ways to gather honest responses unfettered by moderator bias.
  • Polling – This is another relatively easy way to leverage technology for market research, though responses may feel less personal.
  • Social media monitoring and listeningThe conversations happening about your brand on social media are priceless sources of data on your audience sentiment. While social media monitoring requires time and resources to gather and effectively analyze all that data, it’s an invaluable market research technique when paired with other qualitative data.

Having trouble putting your finger on the pulse of your audience? The media-obsessed experts at Bloom Ads put results at the forefront of all our campaigns, because we understand that success can’t be achieved without real knowledge. Learn more about all the services we offer today.

How is Media Planning Different from Media Buying?

Media planners and buyers work together like drivers and navigators.

Two of the most important cogs in the grand engine of media advertising are media buyers and media planners. Without them, the creative elements of media strategy would be left without a connection to an actual platform, wallowing in the darkness of obscurity, away from the warm glow of the attention of potential leads.

Although they often get lumped together, media planning vs. media buying is actually a keenly fought battle, with both sides claiming to be of greater importance. In fact, it’s probably better to describe their relationship as symbiotic rather than adversarial, since both perform at their best levels when working in tandem.

So, what is the media planning vs. media buying debate really all about? Let’s look at the main differences.

Media Planning vs. Media Buying

One way to think of the two roles is like a driver and co-driver setting out on a long-distance road trip.

The co-driver, i.e. the media planner, decides on the best route to take, considering the car’s capabilities, previous journeys that have been taken and what they’d like to do along the way.

The driver, or media buyer, on the other hand, has the focus of getting them to all the key waypoints with maximum fuel efficiency and within the set timeline, making adjustments on the road to make sure they stay on track.

What is Media Planning?

Media planners are the ones who figure out what media will be the most effective platform for a new campaign. They conduct research, figure out the best way to achieve what the client wants, outline the campaign goals and objectives, and set how the budget should be spread across the various platforms chosen.

The Roles of the Media Planner

Conducting Internal Market Research: This helps them to uncover exactly what the client’s brand identity is, what their market proposition and unique selling points are, and what the particular customer persona is.

Conducting External Market Research: This is to assess the lay of the land in the client’s particular field. Media planners explore how the brand is currently advertising, what their competitors are like and what they’re doing, what motivates and attracts their target audience, and which media channels are the most effective in reaching them.

Setting Campaign Goals and Objectives: The meeting of minds between what the client wants to achieve and what the media planners believe they can and should achieve is probably the most important interface in a campaign.

Trust and confidence are crucial for any long-term relationship, which is why integrated agencies like Bloom Ads are able to give clients the clearest picture of how they are making every dollar work for them. Media planners can set goals that they know they are going to be able to reach, as long as they work side-by-side with media buyers.

What is Media Buying?

Once media buyers receive the media strategy from the planners, their goal is to make sure the campaign features on the most appropriate media channels and with the greatest cost-effectiveness.

This is a considerably specialized role, as good media buying requires an intimate understanding of the marketplace and the nurturing of relationships with media vendors over years. It’s not something that can just be picked up a couple of times a year. For this reason, it is most often performed by a specialist media buying agency, although buyers and planners can be integrated under one roof.

The Roles of the Media Buyer

Creating and Leveraging Contacts: In most industries, it can be more about who you know than what you know, and that maxim certainly applies in media buying. One of the reasons why media buyers are able to create such great ROIs for clients is because they know the right people in the right places.

Knowing Where the Space Is and How to Get It: As much as knowing the right people matters, a media buyer also needs to have an impressive understanding of exactly which media channels appeal to which cohorts of society. The ultimate goal is to find the perfect space to get the best return for the client, then negotiate like their life depends on it to get even more.

Tweaking and Perfecting Campaigns in Motion: Once the strategy leaves the planner’s hands, it becomes the media buyer’s baby. It is up to them to optimize the channels being used to ensure the campaign’s effectiveness throughout its lifecycle. During this period, the media buyer will have to be flexible, gathering and interpreting data about the campaign’s performance. Certain tools, such as real-time bidding for ad space and programmatic advertising, allow buyers to make instantaneous shifts in direction to keep the project aligned and on the right course.

While for some, media planning vs. media buying might be an actual dispute, with one side trying to outdo the other, in our experience, they work best when both are in harmony. That’s why we have always believed, and proved through our results, that an integrated approach to creating, planning and disseminating your message always delivers the best ROI for advertising spend. Talk to us and find out for yourself.

The Advantages of Media Planning & Buying with Bloom Ads

 

The first place consumers go when they want to learn more about a business, product, or service is the internet. Not only do they want to check out reviews, but they want to make sure that the company in question is trustworthy and maintains an active online presence. Currently, those implications are complex and far-reaching.

Some might be looking at a business’s website or blog. Others might be looking at their presence on social media sites. Still, others might want to see what kinds of reviews a business has. They might have faith in a company if they show up on the first page of Google. They might be looking for deals, sales, and specials they can find online.

There are many factors consumers look for when choosing the brands and companies they want to work with or purchase from, and we haven’t even touched on paid digital marketing and the many advantages of media planning.

The Advantages of Working with a Media Planning Agency

The scope of digital marketing is vast and ever-changing. No matter the size of your company, it can be hard for business owners and marketers to find the time to handle digital marketing on their own, let alone doing so without wasting money. That’s why it’s so beneficial to work with a media buying agency.

Media buying agencies are doing this type of work day in and day out. Not only do we know and understand the current best practices of running digital marketing campaigns, but we know when and how to pivot as the industry evolves. It’s the job of a media buying agency to stay on top of new trends, platforms, and strategies to offer the best return on investment to our clients.

From gaining access to competitive research to saving on resources, here are just a few of advantages of media planning agencies.

Market and Competitive Research

One of the core advantages of media planning with professionals is the fact that many media buying agencies have access to proprietary marketing research and competitive research tools that can provide valuable data about a multitude of industries, products, and services. This research can inform strategies, budgets, and bidding before a campaign even launches, ensuring your business and its campaigns are one step ahead of the competition.

Strategy & Media Planning

Today’s consumer is sophisticated, empowered, and active across a multitude of digital platforms. One advantage of media planning with an agency like Bloom Ads is that we prioritize the platforms that are most likely to convert first while leaving some budget behind that’s intended to drive brand awareness and engagement with individuals who are early in the buyer’s journey and still need some nurturing and encouragement.

We have the experience and know-how required to understand which platforms and the overall mix of platforms and budget to use to reach your business goals. These strategies are the business advantages of media planning with an agency that will give you the best bang for your buck.

Changing Trends

Marketing trends change all the time, and unless you have the time and resources to stay on top of these trends, campaigns will suffer and spending inefficiencies will arise. You probably remember the issues that Facebook had with their data early in 2018. Because users lost faith in Facebook’s data privacy and protection, Facebook decided to remove certain types of targeting from their ad platform.

Save Resources

Budget and people are both resources that your business needs. Another one of the advantages of media planning agencies is that they can save your business on both. Companies that forgo building their own in-house media buying team save significantly on their marketing investment. Agencies have multiple experts on staff to assist in different areas of marketing, and by hiring an agency, you aren’t paying multiple salaries, medical benefits, and extraneous benefits like 401Ks.

Bloom Ads is a full-service media buying agency that will help you effectively reach your business goals. Reach out to us anytime using our online contact form or call 818-703-0218 to speak with a digital marketing expert directly.  We can answer all your questions about the advantages of media planning and buying with Bloom Ads.

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The Importance of Media Planning for Your Business

Media planning entails sourcing and selecting the optimal media platforms for your marketing campaigns, and at the end of the day the importance of media planning comes down to determining the best combination of media to reach a marketing campaign’s objectives.

Creating an effective marketing strategy is a crucial and necessary part of marketing. Nevertheless, the importance of media planning often gets lost because business owners and marketers don’t have the time, tools, or experience required to do it on their own. For example, do you know which marketing platforms to prioritize first? Do you know which have the best ROI? How about what media mix is needed to supply the ideal number of consumer touch points to drive leads and sales? Each marketing platform has its strengths and place in a media plan, dependent on your budget and business goals.

Although the fundamentals of marketing change very little over time, strategic media planning is not entirely as cut and dry as it was in the age of traditional marketing. Today, marketing is all about data and the ability to find statistically significant information within piles and piles of statistics. There is so much more possible than simply applying demographics and having a limited range of media placements on TV, radio, and in print.

The digital landscape is vast and complex, and the importance of media planning and buying has never been more obvious.

Start with Questions

When putting together any marketing plan, it is most important to start with questions, including: 

  • What is the goal of the campaign: sales, leads, in-store visits?
  • What will the measure of success be?
  • What is a typical sale or lead worth?
  • Are there individuals that you aren’t reaching, but would like to?
  • What is a reasonable budget to spend?

All of these questions, among others, should be answered as soon as possible.

Without having a firm grasp of your goals and objectives from the start, it will be hard to measure success later. And without case studies and proof of success, being able to show stakeholders and executives the importance of media planning will become more and more difficult as time goes on.  

Know Your Market and Define Your Audience

The second step after defining goals and ironing out how you will measure them is research. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you know about the geographic area you want to target?
  • Do people need to drive to your store?
  • How far is too far to drive?
  • What are the commonalities of your current customers?
  • What are their ages?
  • What interests do they share?
  • Are these interests common in your market?
  • Can you create an audience profile that will have enough people in it to support your advertising spend?
  • Are there too many people?
  • Should you refine your audience to be more manageable?

By working with a media buying agency like Bloom Ads, you’ll have access to a group of experienced professionals who not only understand the importance of media planning but have access to the research tools and data necessary to properly define your target audience.

Map Your Consumer Journey

There’s typically a specific path a customer takes before converting to a sale or a lead and knowing this path (or customer journey) is crucial because you want to be able to speak appropriately to users at every stage and offer valuable information which will lead them promptly to the next step. Most of this time, the path is represented as a funnel. The people who have just found out about your or your products or services represent a more significantly sized number of people at the top of the funnel. As people progress, they drop off and move on. This is inevitable for any number of reasons.

The thing to note is that as people become more informed about your company and the audience gets smaller, the people that remain are more and more likely to become customers or new leads.

Prioritize High Intent Users First

If you desire to have the most significant return on investment, you’ll want to go after that smaller, more qualified audience first. It makes sense that if they convert at a higher rate, you should be talking to them first. However, since they are often a much smaller audience, you’ll always need to be reaching out to new potentials and creating a buzz around your brand.

The Right Media Mix

The importance of media planning lies in making sure that you devote budget to the high intenders, but also lay the foundation at every step of a user’s journey to guarantee that you don’t miss opportunities. We recommend starting at the bottom of the consumer funnel and working backward with your marketing budget, trying your best to fill in as many steps as possible.

ROI is at the forefront of every ad campaign we run at Bloom Ads. We recognize the importance of media planning and work to create the best possible marketing strategy for your brand. Learn more about our media planning services on our website or call 818-703-0218 to speak with one of our professionals today.

What are The Objectives of Media Planning?

Media planning is an essential part of any marketing strategy.  As a business owner, not only should you be thinking about your day-to-day plan, but you should also be thinking about your overarching goals for 2019 and into the future.

So, how do you focus on both long-term and short-term goals?  Media planning!

What is Media Planning?

So what exactly is media planning? The objective of media planning is to identify the ideal combination of media outlets for marketing a product, service, or brand. It involves market research, identifying target audiences, analyzing their propensity to engage with your business, planning your marketing execution, and working with specific marketing budgets.

Successful media plans require strategic balance. Today’s customers interact with dozens of mediums on a daily basis. Your business goal should be to meet them at as many of these points as possible. A lot of these touch points will be online, but others will be offline, like television, radio, or print. Media planning uses data, research, and previous experience to deduce the optimal mix of all these platforms.

What Do Media Planners Do?

Media planners will first speak with your business leaders to understand your key objectives and goals. One of the first objectives of media planning is to ask probing questions about your business, what you offer, who your current customers are, and what your customer’s motivations seem to be.

Once this initial fact-finding discovery conversation is complete, a media planner will conduct external research. Our media planners will gather and analyze insights about your marketing region, research current industry trends, analyze what your competition is doing, identify the ideal target audiences, and strive to understand where those audiences are most active.

This manner of analysis is where marketing meets intuition and experience. This stage is where our experienced media planners delve into the nuances of their research and audience behaviors. These behaviors include where they go for information, what other products and interests they share, and why they interact with specific media channels.

TV, Radio & Print vs. Online Channels

After identifying the target audience and their habits, the next objective of media planning is to determine the best media outlets on which to place your advertisements. Our media planners decide how much of the marketing mix should be on traditional media like television, radio, or print. They also figure out how much budget allocation goes to online channels like paid search, social media ads, display, and video campaigns, or even email marketing.

Consumers experience and engage with content in a multitude of ways, both traditional and digital. Our job is to find the ideal media mix for your target audience across all media channels. Once channel selections are final, one of the final objectives of media planning is to reach out to traditional media outlets with RFPs. They also give digital media buyers the plan for the digital platforms, this way the media buyers can set up the online campaigns through all the digital channels.

Budgeting Properly is Key

In pretty much all marketing scenarios, the discussion about marketing budget decisions should happen at the start. It’s a business imperative that you not only determine how to advertise your brand’s message but that you allocate funds so that you will have ample return on your investment. Proper budget projections should prepare media planners to understand precisely how to spend your budget effectively. Spreading budget should encompass reaching your most likely customers first, while still balancing engagement and branding.

Media planning is an integral part of any business strategy, but it can also be time-consuming for business owners.  Fortunately, we know all the objectives of media planning and are here to help. Our full-service advertising agency offers media plan services that help generate ROI.  Our media planning experts will help you craft a successful campaign that drives consumer traffic and improves your overall brand presence.  

Learn more about the media planning services that we offer, or you can call 818-703-0218 to speak with a media planning specialist directly.

Bloom Ads Global Media Group | 818.703.0218 | info@bloomads.com
20720 Ventura Blvd. Suite 140 Woodland Hills, CA 91364