What You Really Should Know About Market Research for Your Creative Business

September 3, 2018

A few months ago, we were walking down the streets of Florence eating our second gelato of the day (don’t judge) and I was telling Michael about the book I had read. It was about the artists that were instrumental in the Renaissance in Florence.

And I was relating it to business because

1. I’m just a nerd like that.

2. It’s really not that far off because these men were always having to think strategy to outmaneuver each other.

So here’s what I told Michael.

There were these two hotshot artists in Florence: Brunelleschi and Ghiberti. Brunelleschi was this kinda crazy, grumpy, old genius and Ghiberti was this new kid on the block who was charming and more sociable.

So in Florence, these rich merchants were always having contests for architecture and artwork in the city and artists would come from all over and demonstrate their ideas.

In one contest, these two hot shots were competing to be able to create bronze doors for the baptistery next to Florence’s cathedral.

Since Brunelleschi was pretty paranoid and a bit of a grump and a little crazy but also a genius, he always wanted to hide his ideas from everyone so that they wouldn’t steal them. On the other hand, Ghiberti had his workshop near the street. He would literally invite the exact people who would be deciding the winner into his studio and ask them what they thought. If they had an idea to change it, he would melt the whole model down (the models were made from wax) and recreate it from scratch without another word.

Guess who won the contest? It was a close call. But at the end of the day, Brunelleschi’s didn’t feel like the kind of complete scene the way this new Renaissance world was liking to see their art. Ghiberti’s had that beautiful perspective Picasso was bored by centuries later but that was just starting to be in fashion in the late 14th century and he won.

I just want to emphasize that: the guy who asked the people who mattered most (aka the people who would be voting) won!

So I know you’ve probably heard that you need to do market research when you create. But I also know how dang easy it is to think you already know. That you don’t need to ask. When you start thinking of this, remember our friend, Brunelleschi. Goodness, remember me! I came up with several products I knew would be winners and no one bought a single one of them because I never asked people what they wanted (face palm!). I just assumed I knew.

I remember when I finally started figuring out what people wanted from me. It was awesome. I started making sales every week. Several every week, actually (which was HUGE for me). And I know it’s not because there’s anything particularly special about me at all. I didn’t change who I was to sell products. I just figured out what they wanted. So how about you? Do you know what people want? What they ACTUALLY want? Please, save yourself from my biggest regret! My biggest regret is that I didn’t ask the people what they wanted from the very beginning. I was too scared. I thought I knew. I thought I could just hide away, make it, and everyone would be blown away. That’s just not the way product creation works. And I was too scared to do anything different. So it took about a year before I had something people wanted…because I finally asked.

So, get out there and start talking! I promise you won’t regret it.

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