Focus Groups Are Fun!

We ran a small focus group last night to gather information from some friends about the pains they experience in collecting and managing money for the various sports organizations they support.

A little wine (OK, maybe a little more than a little), some good food, some great conversation with some wonderful friends who seem genuinely interested in our solution and in helping us make it great added up to a stellar evening for me.

Many thanks to Alice B, Susan H and Tami T for their generous donation of time and wisdom. We are also very lucky in having Michael S’s support which provided us access to the great meeting room at the Callisto complex on Cordova.

I had quite a few key take-aways from the event and given the copious notes that Natalie took I’m sure she has quite a few more. They are (in no particular order):

  • Registration is a big deal and a major pain point for lots of organizations but separating payments from registration still has value in many situations
  • A widget to collect the extended or sport specific demographic information would be a great addition to our toolkit i.e. to supplement what we get from Facebook
  • Facebook support is attractive to younger customers but will scare away the 40+ demographic. This can be somewhat mitigated with good education on our web site and in our materials
  • Delivering our service as a plug-in to existing team web sites is very attractive to some customers
  • Custom web sites will decline in importance as new social networking tools like Ning and CollectiveX continue to improve and make it easier to create rich web sites loaded with features for low cost
  • Tami is already using Facebook Pages to run her charitable events and essentially proved the model for us i.e. that it is easy to set up a FB Page and that people wll use it
  • The ability to earn credit card loyalty program points has very high value for some customers
  • The cost of the transaction must be kept very low or members will try to bypass the system by sticking to cheques and cash
  • Distributing tax receipts in Canada for donations or payments(!) to youth sports organizations is crucial for success – we need to determine the US corollary to this
  • If there is a way to get a tax receipt for the entire amount of the transaction including our commission, the resistance to paying the extra fee will reduce significantly
  • Volunteers are spending massive amounts of time managing fee collection and tracking (20+ hours per week for Alice in the “heavy season”) – we need to find a way for the organization to see the cost of this – our fees look a LOT less onerous when put into this context
  • Many groups are heading towards creating formal fundraising obligations as part of their operating fees – members can reduce their obligation through fundraising activities – which creates an accounting nightmare for the volunteer managers – a problem we might be able to help solve
  • The political costs of setting up central registration for players at the provincial or national level are huge and a barrier to our major competitors (like Active.com) – our bottom-up approach to managing the chaos has lots of value
  • Our proposed feature of using “pledges” i.e. delayed credit card charges will be very attractive for managing jersey deposits and other potential future obligations

These are just the ones jumping out at me with only a little thought. I’ll try to capture and share more of them as they come to mind.

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