Tag Archives: tips

Focus Groups for your Business Idea

27 Jul

What are focus groups?

A Focus Group is a market research tool which involves a group of people, usually between 6 and 12, who have been selected to participate in a pre-planned group discussion, and/or Q&A session, to gauge opinion on a product or service. Using a focus group to research your products or service before you start your business, can help you to identify ways to sell or advertise to your target group. It’s also a valuable tool when introducing a new product or service, or to find out how your product or service is being perceived.

 
What are the benefits of organising a Focus Group?

Focus groups can help you to gather a broader range of information than surveys because they allow people to voice their opinions in their own words and add meaning to their answers. They can also generate ideas for improving or adapting your product/service which you may not have considered.

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How do I set up a focus group?

1. Decide on what type of people you want in your group: age, income, gender, employment?

2. Advertise your focus group in a way that’s going to attract the people you want. You could use Facebook, for example, go to community centres or mother and child groups, have a stall in a market and invite people who come to look at your product, put up a poster or invite people you know personally.

3. Arrange a venue for your focus group. It should be somewhere easily accessible, private and quiet enough to talk.

4. Ensure the meeting space is well prepared beforehand i.e. layout, equipment, parking spaces etc.

5. Prepare an introduction which explains the purpose of thee focus group and how it will work

What questions do I ask the group?

goodWork out what information you need. Create a set of questions which will give you this information. Ensure that these are easy to understand and will give you the answers you need. Get someone who does not know what you are doing to look at your introduction and questions to see if you get the right sort of answers.
For example:

  •  Would you use this product?
  • Would you buy this product for yourself?
  • Would you buy this product as a gift?
  • How much would you pay for this product?
  • Would you pay x amount for this product?
  • How would you improve this product?
  • What is your opinion on the packaging of this product?
  • Does the packaging make you want to buy the product?
  • What do you think of the colours used in the packaging?
  • Where would you go to buy this product?
  • Do you have any other ideas about this product?

Online Focus Groups

Running an online focus group eliminates the need for travel, refreshments, and finding a venue. Other advantages could include people feeling more able to speak out as they are anonymous to the rest of the group and can sit in the comfort of their own home.

Disadvantages include not being able to see the body language of the participants, which provides another method of seeing how a product is received.

TIPS

  • Don’t make it last too long – participants could lose focus or get bored

  • If possible, arrange refreshments

  • Don’t make the group too big – you don’t want anyone to feel left out, or unable to voice their opinions

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Video Interviewing – a first hand experience

21 Aug

Technology has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years and we are constantly surrounded by new gadgets – it’s hard to keep up! In this futuristic environment companies are also looking for new tech-aided ways of conducting their recruitment process. I’ve had first-hand experience of this digital trend.

Hearing that you’ve been selected for next stage of recruitment is always great news but hearing the words ‘video interview’ after this can throw you back. I will admit I was slightly concerned; it wasn’t something I’d had to do before. I’d used skype though and surely it would be the same right? Well actually, no.

I’m sure every company that uses this type of interview has an individual format, but with my experience there was never actually any interaction with another human. In fact I was sent a link to the interview itself and asked to complete it within 3 days. On the day I received the email it was the afternoon and I was busy with other tasks and in my pyjamas so I decided to make use of the generous time allowance. However on the second day I received a phone call to say it had to be completed within the next hour in order to be considered for the next step – no pressure!

Due to the lack of notice I had very little preparation which didn’t help my already uneasy nerves. The format was fairly straight forward: A video of a question, followed by an allocated time to answer, with 30 seconds preparation time beforehand. You were also allowed to take a practice question where you could play your answer back or retry it; this luxury was not permitted when it came to the real interview questions.

Answering the questions in video format made the whole thing slightly awkward. My mum was in the other room as I didn’t awkwardhave time to find somewhere go, which wasn’t the best scenario. The embarrassment of her overhearing me talk to my computer made my voice quieter than usual and caused some distraction when answering questions. Fortunately I managed to keep going and complete the interview. I felt like I was taken off guard by some questions but having the 30 second preparation time meant I could calm myself down and process what I was going to say. I did at one point get distracted by my mum walking into the room which I’m sure did not look good at all – overall it was not my strongest interview.

None the less I did get invited to the next stage of the application which was slightly shocking after my awkward performance. Even So with this here are my top tips on how to deal with a video interview:

  • Be prepared. Being prepared is really important for any kind of interview. Prior to the interview you should spend some time researching the company, what they do and their customer base. You should also think about what they might ask you and think of examples you could use in your answers.
  • Appearance still matters. If I was going to a face to face interview I would make sure that I had showered and was appropriately dressed with an ironed shirt and subtle make-up. Well that shouldn’t change for a video interview. You’re still giving a first impression and it’s important to look presentable and hireable! It will also increase your confidence if you know you’re looking your best – good all round.
  • Give yourself time and space. If you receive an invitation for a video interview you will usually be told a figure of how long it typically takes. Make sure you allocate more than enough time to complete the interview without having to rush through questions or stress about being late for something else. As I discovered it’s also best to be as separate from anyone else as possible and if you can be in a remote room alone then that’s best. If you are unable to do this make sure there is no or minimum background noise so you can concentrate and be heard.
  • Watch your position and background. You’ll be given an outline in which to position yourself so ensure you’re actually in this and can be seen. It’s best if you can find a simple background without any distractions and certainly don’t have anything personal floating around behind you! When you’re speaking try and look at the camera as if you’re speaking to a person, I avoided looking at myself by using their hiding the image of myself in the corner which worked well.
  • Don’t leave it to the last minute. I was promoted by the employer to hurry up and get it done, but the quicker you can submit it the keener you’ll look so my advice would be to get it completed as soon as you can.
  • Be yourself. Just because you’re talking to a robot doesn’t mean you have to become one. Show a bit of your personality just as you would in an interview and be friendly and concise with your answers.

If you are about to complete a video interview for the first time then good luck! Hopefully following these guidelines will help you out and you won’t end up looking like a bit of a fool like me. Take your time and relax!

If you want help with interviews or getting into work in general then please contact Opportunity Plus on 0800 043 2440 or email us on info@opsw.co.uk.

Top Ten Tips for Working From Home

6 Jan

Working from home is a dream shared by many – the thought of that extra time in bed, no road rage, no waiting for the bus – it’s easy to see why! With the growth of the Internet it is becoming easier to work from home at least some of the time. But it’s not always everything it’s cracked up to be – whilst you might at first love the idea of extra time with your family, it can be hard to concentrate and achieve what you need to with children around. Here are our Top Ten Tips for making working from home work for you.

1 – Create a workspace for yourself. It doesn’t have to be an office, it might just be your kitchen table. Get everything you need ready and remove anything that’s not work related. If you’ve got family members at home, make sure they know that this is your work area and they shouldn’t disturb you there.

2 – Get dressed as if you were going to the office. Working in your pyjamas might sound like a dream come true, but it can be hard to get into the right mindset when you’re not dressed the part.

3 – Set aside proper time for work – don’t just squeeze in what you can when your baby is taking a nap – set yourself proper hours and stick to them. Make sure your family know your hours too and don’t disturb you when you are in work mode.

4 – Wash up before you start. Whether you’re working from your kitchen table or an office two floors away, when you’re struggling with your work, housework can suddenly look like a very attractive prospect!

5 – Take a lunch break. Set a proper time for your lunch break and use the time to relax and switch off from work. Try to get out for a walk if you can.

6 – See people! Working from home can get lonely so arrange to meet a friend for a coffee, go for a networking meeting, or go and meet a client as often as you can.

7 – Choose your hours to suit you and your customers. If you know you work best in the morning, get up early, work, and then enjoy your free time in the early evening. If you struggle to get up, start later and enjoy that lie in! But remember that you need to make sure that your hours fit with your customers’ needs.

8 – Be organised. Keep a To Do list and take great pleasure in crossing things off it when they’re done!

9 – Set yourself targets and reward yourself when you meet them. It might just be treating yourself to a biscuit once you’ve sent that tricky email, or it could be buying that jumper you’ve had your eye on for ages after you’ve made a big sale.

10 – Make the most of working from home! Remind yourself why it appealed to you in the first place and make sure you are still getting that benefit. So if you wanted more time with your family, make sure you are spending that time with your family and not just working longer hours. If you wanted lie ins, don’t start work before ten unless you have to. If you wanted to save on travel costs then make sure you’re not spending the same money driving around visiting customers all the time.

If you’d like some support creating your own flexible business opportunity that allows you to work from home, call us on 0800 043 2440.

Still struggling to make working from home work for you?  Find out if there is a Work Hub nearby.  Work Hubs offer desk and private office space on a regular or ad-hoc basis and often have great rates.  Being in a buzzing work environment can help give you the motivation and focus you need to achieve what you want to.  Visit www.workhubs.com for more information.

Five Top Tips for Writing a Press Release

7 Oct

Media coverage is a great way of raising the profile of your business. As well as being cheaper than paid advertising, consumers trust editorial content a lot more1. But writing a press release that results in those all important column inches can sometimes seem like a dark art.

It helps to start off with a clear idea of what you want to say and who your target audience is. What would you like them to do as a result of reading about your business? This is called a call to action and is a great starting point when writing your press release and deciding what information to include. It also focuses the mind when deciding on your target publications. Don’t forget, today’s media landscape is hugely varied and your news may be more relevant to trade press than local or national publications. You may also consider outlets such as radio stations ,TV channels or online newswires. Decide what you want to gain as a result of any media coverage with measurable objectives. For example, you might want to generate 30 enquiries about a new product.

Press releases follow a set format. At the top, you need to write: ‘Press Release’. Include your company name, the date and a headline. Then write the story, when it is finished, let the journalist know by writing ‘Ends’. Don’t forget to add your contact details, in case the journalist wants to get in touch for more detail. You can provide further background information underneath in a section called ‘Notes to editors’. This might include general information about your organisation and its services.

Here are five tips to help you ensure your press release results in media coverage:

  1. Make sure the most important information is in the first sentence. Your first paragraph should answer the questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? A good rule of thumb is to imagine you are telling your mum or your best friend the latest news. Ask yourself if your text would excite them? If it doesn’t, reword it until it works. Your subsequent paragraphs should answer the question How?
  2. Keep it simple and brief. Try and keep your press release to one side of A4. Keep sentences short and lively and avoid using any jargon. If you need to use acronyms, always spell them out in the first instance. Journalists don’t have time to wade through several paragraphs to get to the key points, so make sure the most important information is the first thing they see.
  3. Your press release needs to be timely. News is all about what is happening now, so send the release in good time for the publication to print the story while it is still relevant. It can be helpful to ring your target publications and ask when their copy deadline is. And while you’re on the phone, check that you will be sending the release to the right person. For information that may not be time sensitive, incorporate a ‘news hook’, for example you could tie it in with an awareness week or another story that is current.
  4. Include a quote from a key person to add some human interest, depth and gravitas. You can use the quote to explain in further detail why your news is so important and how it is relevant to your audience.
  5. Include an image to add colour to your story. Many media outlets no longer have in-house photographers, but they still need to include pictures in their publications. Ensure the image is high quality and invest in a professional photographer if you can afford it. Not only does including an image mean that you get extra space on the page, but it can sometimes be the deciding factor on whether your story gets published at all. Above all, pictures add life to your story and they draw the audience’s eye.

After your story has appeared, make the most of the exposure. Add cuttings to your website and include links in your social networks and newsletters. If it’s a particularly positive piece endorsing a product or service you offer, add quotes to your testimonials pages.

About the Author:

Joanna Bowery is a former journalist and is the founder and director of Cosmic-Frog, which provides organisations with accessible marketing and communications services.

www.cosmic-frog.com

joanna@cosmic-frog.com

1 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report says 58% of consumers trust editorial content such as newspaper articles, while 46% trust ads in newspapers