I had to chuckle when reading Jeff Brook's Donor Power Blog today where he manages to get another dig in at the use of focus groups (following on from an earlier post on focus groups killing you).
I once managed to convince a client NOT to conduct a focus group. They (errrr... the "powers that be") wanted to show our latest direct mail pack to their donors, to show them the new approach we had adopted (long letter, with specific asks in the letter, more pieces in the pack) versus their traditional approach (short letter, tear off response form, limited personalization etc).
I was adamant they didn't go through with it because I knew what the outcome would be: less money for the cause.
Why? Because donors will always tell you they like the cheap looking pack, short letter, less supporting pieces.
When hands down every time the long letter with lots of elements will raise more money (I've seen as much as three times).
How do I know this? Because we've seen this actually happen! And I didn't want the decision being made based on what donors had told them. Remember, what people tell you and how they behave are two very different things!
So what's the solution? Continue doing what you should be doing which is ongoing testing - that will arm you with the information you need to make informed decisions.
For a lighter take on this, check out this caveman video taking a comedic look at the value (or lack of) of focus groups.