Even if you come up with the most brilliant business, product, or creative idea, you’ll be limited by how well you can connect it with the people who get value out of it.
You don’t just magically find these connections (and ideas!). You discover it through spending time with people and listening to what they’re saying.
If you’re a recording artist, you spend time not only listening to new music, but also checking out or performing at the clubs where people are visiting. You do meet and greets with your fans. You talk to other artists, perhaps ones at different stages of their career.
If you’re a writer, you’re checking out what people are discussing, what news events are relevant, and what has caught the media’s attention.
If you want to make good work, you can’t afford to outsource all of this firsthand research.
Even if you work at a company that hires these research companies—and there are good ones!—you’ll end up bungling the decision making process. Sure, you may be able to recite the insights, but you won’t choose the projects that resonate. Your team’s unconscious minds and emotional understanding isn’t there. You haven’t invested the time.
You won’t be able to compete with people who soak up these insights and are understanding the perpetually changing contexts.
Spend time with the people you want to serve. If you don’t know any, make new friends. If you don’t know where these people get together, ask around and do some reading and research. It’ll save you a ton of time and energy in the long run.