V258: Small Biz Betties – Your Ready-Made Focus Group

Hi All!  It’s been awhile since I’ve done any Small Biz Betties posts, but I’m back, and ready to share more business tips and tricks with you.  Today I want to talk a little about one way to test your market.

The first thing that comes to mind when one hears “test the market,” might be FOCUS GROUPS.  It’s the traditional thing to do, but can be daunting because, well…where do you find a focus group? How do you put a focus group together? Who should be in it? Are there enough of the “right” people in it to really learn anything?

Never fear! Your perfect and vast focus group is already available online, through your blog and facebook page.  Whether you have ten followers or ten thousand, those lovely people are ready and willing to help you decide what to sell, how to sell it, etc.

“We came for the free pizza….”

All you need to do is ask a question.

You can do this any number of ways – just ask right there on your page’s facebook status, or use a polling service like Polldaddy.com (and be sure to ask your followers to participate in the poll).  Those who answer your question are already your target demographic and market, because they care enough to chime in about what you’re offering.

Why is asking questions/polling important?

It’s a great way to get a handle on what has a potential of working for your business.  As the creator of your product, it is easy to fall madly in love with it, but despite its awesomeness, it may not be what the market needs or wants.

A good measure is to put up a nice picture of your product (prototype, sample, finished piece), and see how your audience responds to it.  If you have lots of “likes,” and comments, then it is doing well – it’s moving people enough for them to bother typing in a comment.  If there isn’t much activity in the “likes” and comment department, it means people aren’t all that interested in it (sad, but true.)

Women voters in 1917

Often times, when you ask for people’s feedback, you will indeed get it.  It can hard to take a public critique on your labor of love, but watch for comments that are made over and over again, and then if it is possible, make that change.  It doesn’t pay to ignore or fight against commentary made by a group of people.

I know this can be tough, because behind-the-scenes, you know that some things cannot be changed, even if you wanted them to be: example, I wish like crazy I could get any of my shoe manufacturers to make wide-width sizes, because it’s a comment I receive often from many ladies, but it is one of those things I have no control over, so I’m stuck having to disappoint.  On the other hand, comments about the shape of the vamp on our Regency shoes I *can* do something about, and incorporate into a new and better version.

“Do these come in wide widths?”

So don’t be afraid to ask questions, poll your readers and followers, and incorporate good solid feedback into making your product super awesome, and something people want to purchase from you.  Here are some helpful links to get you started:

  • Remember to set up your blog and facebook page first – more about this here
  • I like PollDaddy.com for setting up free polls and surveys.  Free accounts have some limitations.
  • I believe Blogger also has a poll function for the sidebar widgets on your Blogger blog.

If you have questions you’d like answered, or are a small business owner and would like to guest post for SBB, drop me a line – [email protected] .


  • Maggie

    September 14, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    FB is tough because generally at best only 20% of your followers will see a given post. So it's not a great way to disseminate info. And I've found that sometimes it's not that people aren't interested, it's just that they literally didn't see your post…

    • Lauren R

      September 14, 2012 at 11:32 PM

      Yeah, Facebook's "pay for fans you already have to see your post" thing really gummed up the works, BUT I can say that when I have tried the "promote" function a couple times before, the post reached far more than just who followed my page – instead of 4000 people seeing it, 16,000 people saw it! Depending on where you are in the development of your product, the $5 might be worth it, but if not, using your blog is always free 🙂


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