“Oh, what a great idea!” - I told myself.
I was on my way to pick up my son from daycare when an idea for a cool, new illustration product hit me. I was so excited I could barely wait ‘till next day to sit down and start drawing.
A few days later I uploaded this new product to Creative Market.
I was so proud of it.
It had everything. Several file formats for all kind of software so newbies and pros both have a chance to try it. Unique sales copy that stated all the benefits. Pictures showing the product in real-life settings: on mugs, packaging, business cards. Everything was pixel perfect. I scheduled several social promo messages, they were witty and fun, not the yukky car salesman type at all.
And then… nothing happened.
No sales, no likes, not even getting into the Creative Market Handpicked section.
Just the sad sound of crickets.
WHY SOME PRODUCTS DON’T SELL?
I was wondering a lot about this question after the above situation.
Why is that my product wasn’t successful? Was it the style of the illustrations? Was it the sales copy? Or the product name was ineffective and couldn’t make it into the search results?
No. Everything with the product was fine… The only problem is that no one needed the product in the first place. I didn’t even focus on what customers wanted to be honest.
Yep, this took me a while to accept. Just because you love your own idea, it doesn’t mean that it solves the customers’ problems.
The most important lesson I’ve learned: I should never base any of my products on my own selfish interests, design preferences or feelings.
No, a successful product must be based on real life need. It must solve someone else’s problem. It must give someone more ease, more profit, more love, more brand exposure.
HOW TO FIGURE OUT WHAT CUSTOMERS WANT
For this, I had to go back in time to my university years. As industrial design engineer students, we had a design assignment every semester. One of these was to design a toy for kindergarten-age kids.
So how did our team started the project? Did we sit down and started brainstorming about cool toy ideas we would like to try out? Did we share nostalgic memories of toys we loved back in our childhood?
No. We went to visit a kindergarten class to see the kids in action - and endure an hour of G.I.Joe fights and rainbow-unicorn cupcake baking. We talked to their teachers and parents. In other words, we tried to figure out what the real customers were looking for.
We did research the right way: going to the source instead of trusting the accuracy of Wikipedia.
The good news is that with the help of social media, forums and online survey tools like SurveyMonkey, you can reach the source much easier. And no one will ask you to pretend to be a mountain while he’s playing dinosaur invasion on your back (true story… I’m a damn good mountain by the way).
THE 10 BEST WAYS TO RESEARCH & TEST YOUR PRODUCT IDEA ON CREATIVE MARKET
In this post, I’m focusing only on Creative Market:
How to research and validate your product ideas on their platform without ever going to Facebook or any other site.
How to figure out the type of products that Creative Market customers need
Customers are already there on Creative Market. So no need to look for them elsewhere.
#1 - Reach out to customers and ask them
This is incredibly effective. Message customers who already bought from you and ask things like:
What caught your attention when finding my product?
What problems did you want to solve?
Did the product help you? If not, what extra were you missing?
What else are you looking for on Creative Market?
You can go more in-depth with a survey. Make sure to keep it short and effective (up to 10 questions) and reward people who fill it - e.g. with a free sample of your previous product.
#2 - The “Request a Product” Discussion Forum
This forum, as its name refers to, is a place where any Creative Market members can request a product. It worths scrolling through and taking notes on any repeating requests. It’s also a great place to reach out to potential clients who might pay for your services.
#3 - The Top 100 search keywords by month spreadsheet
This super useful document was created by the Creative Market head of Growth and Marketing, Zack Onisko and it’s now continuously updated by Matt Borchert. It contains the 100 most searched keywords on the marketplace for each month. It helps you see the trends, for example when do customers start to search for Christmas related graphics. It also helps you find the best tags for your product.
#4 - Most Popular Products
It worths checking the most popular products on Creative Market home page and also in each subcategory. This way you can see what’s been sold. To get the most popular products, make sure to check “Popular” at the listing filters.
When you open up any of these most popular posts, go to the comments and see whether there are repeating questions related to that product. You might be able to come up with an enhanced or more streamlined version.
#5 - Handpicked Section
The Creative Market home page has a handpicked section. You can also find Handpicked items on subcategory pages by choosing “handpicked” at the listing filters. These are the newly uploaded products that Creative Market staff likes and curates for their customers. Some of them also get into the newsletters they send out weekly.By checking the Handpicked products, you’ll have an idea about what styles and topics Creative Market staff thinks are in trend. To see how to get your product into the handpicked section, follow this guide on the CM blog.
#6 - Creative Market Blog - Trends Section & Inspiration Section
The Trends and Inspiration blog categories are also helpful. You can review what trends and products Creative Market recommends for their readers. They are also likely to handpick products that fit the current design trends.
#7 - Creative Market Newsletter
As hundreds of products got uploaded every week, only the best can get into the Creative Market Newsletter. Check these products and the sellers and analyze if their type of products could work in your own shop.
#8 - Customer Comments
Take time to analyze comments on the products you posted. They can lead to a better product or even new ones. For example, many customers asked us for Canva based social media templates. So when we designed a new set, we knew that this is our customers’ real requirement and we could plan accordingly.
You can also check comments on other products. If a product is really successful, it will most likely have a longer feed of comments. Not to mention that you’ll be able to see if a commenter purchased that product. A little icon indicates that next to their username.
Do you see any patterns in these comments?
#9 - Check your own followers’ activity
This will sound a bit like stalking but it’s very useful. Once someone purchased from you, you can review that customer’s activity.
For this, click on the customer’s username and check the “activity”, “likes” and “collections” segments.
Activity: This segment shows every activity that the customer had on the marketplace.
Likes: This shows which product she liked.
Collections: This shows which products she collected on her wishlist but hasn’t purchased yet.
Once again, are there any patterns? For example: do all your customers saved watercolor illustrations with pinks and purples? Can it be that they are in love with that style and you should address this need?
#10 - Build on your successful previous products
If you’re on Creative Market, chances are you’ve already made a few or a lot of sales (I’m cheering for the latter).
Go to your sales dashboard and check the numbers. Is there a product that does really well compared to the others?
In our Vintage to Vectors store, this product is the Indigo Watercolor Instagram Template Set. It did so well that people started to reach out, asking if we can do custom templates. Many of them also requested if we can apply the same style to other social media profiles.
If you build on a style or product type that worked before, it helps you to create big product suites. These suites enable your customers to find consistent looking, integrating products from one source (= you) instead of spending hours scrolling through search results. So you save them time, energy while also offer a solution to their problems.
NOW TAKE ACTION!
Let’s take action. Do you have a Creative Market shop? Try at least one of the above methods to research and confirm your next product idea.
Do you sell on other platforms? Now is the time to be creative and list all the methods you can reach your potential customers.
Let me know in the comment section what research helped you in the past and what new ways are you going to try.