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Designing and Implementing an Effective Tobacco Counter-Marketing Campaign

The Moderator’s Role

The moderator or interviewer doesn’t need to be an expert on your topic, but he or she should be briefed well enough to ask appropriate questions and must have experience in facilitating group discussions. Rehearse with the moderator any topics or concerns you want emphasized or discussed in depth. The moderator’s guide is just that, a guide. Experienced moderators flow with the conversation, ask questions

that are not leading or closed ended, and sequence to the next topic when appropriate or deviate from it

to avoid awkward transitions or unnecessary banter between topics.

A good moderator has the following characteristics:

  • The moderator understands what information you’re seeking, how you need to use it, and how to probe and guide the discussion to get the information. He or she makes sure all agreed-on topics are covered sufficiently.

  • The moderator builds rapport and trust, and probes without reacting to or influencing participants’ opinions. He or she emphasizes to participants that there are no right or wrong answers.

  • The moderator understands the process of eliciting comments, keeps the discussion on track, and finds other ways to approach a topic if necessary.

  • He or she leads the discussion and isn’t led by the group.

Use local advertising agencies, the American Marketing Association’s GreenBook:Worldwide Directory of Focus Group Companies and Services (2003), or the Qualitative Research Consultants Association to find a good moderator. If your organization plans to conduct focus groups regularly by using your internal staff, consider hiring a skilled, experienced moderator to train your staff to moderate focus groups.

Near the end of a focus group, the moderator may give participants an activity or simply check with the observers to find out if they have additional questions. Notes can be dis- creetly given to the moderator throughout the session if the observers want other questions asked or changes made.

One advantage of the focus group/interview method is that the moderator’s guide and any materials presented can be revised between sessions.

Step 7: Analyze and use results.

In many analyses of focus groups or interviews, the goal is to look for general trends and agree- ment on issues while noting differing opinions. In some instances, the goal is to capture a

range of opinions. Keep an eye out for individ- ual comments that raise interesting ideas or important concerns, such as lack of cultural sensitivity or difficulty in comprehension.

Reviewing transcripts is the easiest and most thorough way to analyze the sessions,

Chapter 3: Gaining and Using Target Audience Insights


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