6 Ways to Learn from Your Customers

By Carolyn Edlund

How much do you know about what your customers want? Here’s how to find out, directly from them.


Artist credit: Anthony Ferguson


I get all my best ideas from my customers – Harvey Mackay

One of the most exciting things artists and craftspeople have going for them these days is the immediate connection they can make with the end consumers of their work. No longer are creators shielded from the marketplace by gallerists, representatives, retailers and others – unless they choose to be.  This directness is, of course, a result of the internet explosion. It removes the degree of separation between creatives and their collectors.

This puts you on the front lines. What an opportunity!

Your customers and admirers hear directly from you. You deliberately craft your message to communicate your personality, your brand, your inspiration and your collection. And  you can get immediate feedback from them. This is a useful tool for gauging your effectiveness and possible directions to enhance sales and solidify your market niche.

As a former sales rep selling to the art and gift market, I lived life on the front lines. I called on store owners and buyers who gave me immediate responses to what they wanted and what they liked. And very importantly, they told me what they did not like or want. They knew their customers, and they knew your competitors. I was able to pass vital information on to manufacturers (read: you) to assist in honing the product line for maximum appeal and sales.

Are you listening to your customers? If your goal is to grow your business, you need to be keenly aware of what your customers think of their purchase, and what they may be looking for from you in the future.

Here’s a checklist of ways to get that feedback:

  1. Send a monthly or bi-monthly email newsletter to your all-important email list, including links to your website, and ask for input.
  2. Have a contact form on your website inviting comments from visitors.
  3. Make follow up phone calls to clients who commission or purchase your work.
  4. When shipping, include with your invoice or packing slip a letter thanking them for their purchase, and asking for feedback – invite them to visit your website with comments. Making an offer of a discount on a future purchase can encourage feedback (and drive more traffic to your site).
  5. Have an active Facebook page where customers can make comments and suggestions. Actively solicit these.
  6. Be open to listening. Not all comments will be useful, but you can get some great ideas this way, not to mention custom orders and commissions.

What have you learned from your customers? Was it what you expected?


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  1. Carolyn Edlund –

    Thank you for this and all the practical artist tips that you share so generously.

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