When no one wants your product

…you don’t wave bigger, yell louder, or go cheaper. When no one wants your product, you go back to the drawing board.

The Sony Walkman was an amazing product.

Introduced in 1980, this device changed the way people listened to music. It made the cassette tape industry. The Walkman remained the go-to, portable music listening device for nearly twenty years — until the CD came along. (The iPod certainly didn’t help Sony sales either.) Sony retired the cassette-based Walkman in 2010. A great product. A great run. A valient (and well executed) ending.

However, Sony has reintroduced a new line of digital Walkman products with a sticker price of $700.

Who were the people crying out for a new Walkman? My guess: only people with stock in Sony. (And a few hipsters.)

Sony is like a traditional publisher. They stay inside the box. They don’t like shaking things up. Their only gauge is the stock ticker. Their board of directors overpowers market research and trends. They’re afraid to try something new, of being ahead of the curve, of being first.

Why?

Because there is money on the line.

Money should never be more important than what your customers, or prospective customers, are asking for. It shouldn’t dictate what you ship, what you say, or where you go next. Customers are how you make your money, so they should make those choices (or at least help make them).

And today it’s easier than ever to let them do that. Services likeSurveyMonkey and Google Forms let you find out what customers are thinking. Building an email list allows you inside a person’s inbox — a direct line to your customer’s thoughts. Don Draper could only dream of this.

Find out what your customers, or prospects, or even friends want and then build it. They’ll go crazy for whatever “it” is.

Or, you could keep yelling.