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January 4, 2010

Top Ten Posts of 2009

Reflecting on the top posts of the year is a way for us to observe exactly what makes our readers tick. We've compiled the top ten posts of the year (by pageviews) and listed them below.

The topics cover a broad scope of marketing, design, the web, and creativity -- all of which you can expect us to continue writing about in 2010. Enjoy:
  1. 5 Simple Ways to Get Better at Creative Tasks Faster
  2. Why Traffic Signs Don't Work (And What You Should Learn From It)
  3. Everyday Life: An Interview with Helge Tenno
  4. There's a Difference Between Hiring People and Recruiting Talent
  5. 5 Factors That Determine How Quickly a New Idea Spreads
  6. Everyone's a Publisher, What's a Brand to Do?
  7. The Internet Hasn't Killed Middlemen (And It Never Will)
  8. The Best User Experiences Are Invisible
  9. The Real Reason Good Companies Have Bad Websites
  10. Online, Actions Still Speak Louder Than Words
December 31, 2009

Five Reasons Why Focus Groups Fail

"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."

- Henry Ford

Focus groups are frequently used to predict consumer reactions to things like movies, tv shows, and new products, but focus groups have a track record full of failures. So why do we keep using them?

According to Daniel Gross, focus groups have become ingrained into our approval process more for the sake of decision makers than for the sake of consumers. Focus groups have fixed costs, are timely, and most often used to affirm preconceived notions: "See, they agree!"

What focus groups don't do is accurately predict how consumers will react. According to Gerald Zaltman, author of How Customers Think, 80% of new products fail within the first six months, many of which go through focus groups.

So, why do focus groups fail? Focus groups fail because:

  1. People can't predict what they want and don't understand their own motives for making decisions.
  2. Consumers have other motivations for answering and participating in the group than contributing to the end product.
  3. Focus groups address symptomatic, surface level issues rather than the root problem.
  4. The social dynamics of a focus group have an effect on people's answers. Whether it's because they desire to maintain their image, give the appropriate answer, or just fit in, people often lie when they are put in situations with strangers and asked questions.
  5. Focus groups assume consumer input is valid, regardless of the individual's relevant knowledge or experience.
December 23, 2009

Social Media Killed Our Email List

Social Media Killed My Email

This year we got tired of keeping an e-mail list we didn't use, so for the holidays we finally decided to kill it...literally. Take a smack at him if you dare: /assets/nw-blog-email-dead_zmmr8YW.jpg