Monday, November 14, 2011

N-of-8® resource: “The Mirrored Window,” by Judith Langer

I’ve been facilitating a lot of N-of-8® groups latterly, as well as updating the use of this valuable insight tool.  

This has led me back to review some good resources, including “The Mirrored Window,” by Judith Langer.   

Langer draws insights from her experience and expertise to clearly explain the role of focus groups in the overall marketing process. It is a comprehensive how-to guide wherein Langer shares case studies filled with tips and tricks on effective moderation of focus groups.

In this book, Judith Langer explains why focus groups are an important method for learning about your customers and how to effectively conduct focus groups. If you’re involved with focus groups in any way, look no further for expert advice. Whether you are using focus groups for the first time or looking for ways to make your focus groups more productive, “The Mirrored Window” offers practical advice from an expert moderator.
Qualitative research, Langer explains, is more than just words. It is about listening to the non-verbal cues such as body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions to put context to the words. To illicit the best responses, creating an environment of comfort starts from the first interaction with the respondents during recruitment. The room should be tailored to suit the tone of discussion, so in some cases a living room style is appropriate whereas in some cases a conference room style is more suitable.
The moderator’s discussion guide is a critical tool for focus groups. Guides should be written as a conversational flowchart and not as a script. The moderator should be allowed to decide when to probe based on the dynamic of the respondents and flow of discussion. An experienced moderator is also prepared to handle rogue focus groups, when discussions go out of control. Langer suggests ways to deal with such situations in a professional manner to bring the group together again and refocus on the topic of discussion. 
In the book, Langer shares actual phrases and signals you can use to keep a focus group on track; how to get the focus group talking, how to ask focus group questions without biasing responses, how to control group dynamics, when to probe and when to use a firm hand.  In a full chapter dedicated to writing useful reports on focus group research, she shares sound advice about how to present qualitative analyses and strategic implications. 

Overall, the book is a great how-to guide for anyone planning qualitative research using focus groups. Langer shares a broad range of tips and tricks from her own experiences and includes a couple case studies as well. “The Mirrored Window” is a good read for anyone aspiring to be a moderator or learning to engage in market research.

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