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My Pet Shrimp Named Google

14 Feb

My focus group attendees are like shy freshmen on the first day of high school.  They walk into our focus group room, immediately shuffle to the last row of seats, and avoid all eye contact.

Which is why I treat them like high schoolers.  At the start of every focus group, we all sit in a circle and introduce ourselves to the rest of the group just like on the first day of class.

But I add a little twist.

1)     As attendees enter the room, I hand them an index card and ask them to write an interesting fact about themselves on it—without including their name.

2)     Right before we start, I collect the cards and put them in a hat.

3)     When we start, I pull the cards out of the hat and read them one at a time.  After I read a fun fact, the group has to try to guess who that fact belongs to.

4)     When the owner of the fact is exposed, he has to explain the fact and what he’s looking to get out of the focus group.

The best fact I’ve heard to date: I have a pet shrimp name Google.


Part of running great focus groups is priming attendees to comfortably share their feedback.  If attendees show up but don’t talk openly and honestly, your session is a waste.  The fun fact game immediately loosens up a crowd, endearing the attendees not only to each other, but to you as well.

If an attendee can tell you about his pet shrimp, or his Chilean spear fishing championship, or how he lost his big toe, he’s ready to give you feedback on your product.

Spend a little time running the fun facts game at the beginning of your sessions.  You’ll get better feedback during the rest of the session, and attendees will always remember the fun game they played in your focus group.


Meet In The Lobby At 7:15

2 Feb

The lobby of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego is 150 yards long.  Asking someone you’ve never met to meet you in the Hyatt lobby when it’s buzzing with people is like playing Where’s Waldo without knowing what Waldo looks like.

hyatt lobby

I asked ten strangers to meet me in the lobby of the hotel at 7:15 before a group dinner.  At 7:35, after scrawling “group dinner” on a dopey paper sign and weaving my way through the lobby, I left with six of the guests in tow.  The other four are probably still in the lobby, asking themselves what kind of jackass would give them these instructions.

When you host an event, be specific as possible in your communication with your guests.  Hosting a group diner?  Tell the group to meet you in front of the concierge desk to the left of the front doors at 7:15.  Not just “in the lobby.”  Running a focus group?  Don’t tell attendees that the session will be held in the Del Mar room.   Make sure they know the session is in the South Tower of the hotel, on the 3rd floor, in the Del Mar Room.

We put too much work into our events to have them fail because we give incomplete instructions.  The more specific you are, the higher likelihood that attendees will show up and that your event will run smoothly.

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