I like sounding boards. While I’m certainly capable of making a decision or running with what is most likely the coolest idea ever, I often bounce my thoughts or related questions off of other people first … family, friends, or the unassuming lady next to me at Banana Republic. Why? Because I recognize the value their input brings and that it could very well change my course of action for the better.
So, when we were recently tasked with developing an out-of-the-box concept for a client – the success of which hinged on appealing to new and expectant moms – I was ready to put my instincts to use by way of some good ol’ soft sounding research. Our team did traditional research, in terms of stats and competitive/complementing approaches. However, we knew we’d get just as much, if not more info, by going to the source.
Soft sounding research and focus groups can be thought of interchangeably – but, there is a difference. Focus groups, in the true sense, are most often associated with getting feedback on an already existing concept or product to tweak it.
Soft sounding research can be a less-formal initial step to get feedback that may impact your direction. It is consistently a good system of checks and balances. If you can afford to dedicate at least another day or two to your timeline, it is something we would recommend.
Things to consider
- Up-front engagement of your target audience allows you to gets out of the gate running and closer to hitting your mark … saving time and preventing adjustments on the back end.
- Like focus groups, you can take a one-on-one or group approach. One-on-one, in this case, may give you more candid feedback and a deeper pool of things to consider.
- Make sure the number of people you talk with is large enough to garner an accurate representation. Ten or more is a good number, depending on the size and scope of your project.
- When you put in the extra effort to understand your target audience is wanting, it shows because (presumably) you’ve woven that through the entire process to yield the best possible result.
- If you have a clear direction that you want to go in, soft sounding research may not be the right approach based on your knowledge of what has or has not worked in the past.