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By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.
This article originally appeared in Folio magazine

The basic guidelines for a successful focus group are the same,
whether you do it yourself or hire an outside moderator.

A focus group is a qualitative research technique for gathering information. It can provide you with answers to how, what and why questions -- for example, "What types of new topics would our readers like to see in our magazine?" "Why do our readers subscribe?" "What is the best way for us to position our magazine to potential new subscribers?" Why did some readers decide not to renew?"

Typically a trained moderator presents a series of prepared, open-ended questions on a specific topic to a group of seven to 10 carefully selected individuals who are capable of providing the highest quality discussion about the topic being researched. But do you have to use a professional moderator? Can you run a focus group yourself? Maybe. Here are some issues to consider.

Do it right:

Whether you conduct the groups yourself or with the help of an outside moderator, the focus groups most be properly conceived and conducted if they are to yield useful information. Here are some important guidelines:

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