Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) recently teamed up with ABC Creative Group in Syracuse and the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) to conduct market research to assist both groups with better volunteer recruiting for the organization.  Focus groups were customized to address the following objectives for ABC Creative and FASNY: (1) analyze current perceptions of volunteering for local fire departments; (2) understand barriers that exist, which prevent the community from volunteering at fire departments (particularly women); (3) determine motivating factors that would encourage the community to volunteer; and (4) discover the best promotional venues to publicize and grow the number of volunteers at local fire departments.

The focus groups in Upstate, NY, conducted at the RMS QualiSight focus group facility played a key role in developing a recruitment campaign for ABC Creative.  This new campaign aims to recruit an additional 15,000 volunteer firefighters in the next four years and has been highly touted and highly publicized across New York State.  This new campaign includes commercials to run on television, online and in movie theaters; radio spots; a website (; digital and outdoor ads; and a presence in social media like Facebook and Twitter.  In fact, the story was recently published in a New York Times article, which references ABC Creative Group and the focus groups conducted at Research & Marketing Strategies.  Read the full article from The New York Times by clicking here.

Focus Groups Upstate NY

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Receiving the Safer grant was “a turning point,” Mr. D’Alessandro says, “and we are using all that money for recruitment and retention activities statewide.” The “Is there a fire in you?” theme was tested with two focus groups composed of 18- to 35-year-olds, he adds: one of people who have been volunteer firefighters for under three years and one of people who have some volunteering in their backgrounds but no connection to volunteer fire departments.

“We validated a lot of things we believe we knew,” Mr. D’Alessandro says, among them that “people say, ‘I don’t have the time,’ ‘I don’t have the training’ and ‘It’s not me; I’m not the guy running to the problem.’”

So “part of the campaign is broadening the understanding of what it takes” to be a volunteer firefighter, he adds. “There’s a saying, ‘There’s a job for everyone.’ ”

Congratulations to ABC Creative on getting off to a successful start with its recruitment campaign!

This is another example of how focus groups are a beneficial way to test advertising and marketing messaging before launch, as is proven through this case study.  By using focus groups ahead of time to understand an audiences’ motivators and barriers they encounter to using a product or service (or in this case volunteering), you can truly understand what messages need to be used in your marketing to overcome those road blocks.  If you know how your customers or potential customers think, you can better align your marketing strategies and put together strategies that provide your business with the best possible ROI on your efforts.  Who knows?  Your business’s hard work might pay off with a mention in The New York Times as well!

Focus Groups Upstate NY

An ad from new campaign recruiting volunteer firefighters in New York State.

If you are interested in discussing how focus groups can better optimize your advertising and marketing, give us a call.  Our Business Development Director is Sandy Baker and she can be reached at or by calling 315-635-9802.