Asian beauty in MRT carriages
Everyone knows how much the Internet has grown. A colleague recently shared with me that when he started his Internet firm in 1991 there were 1 million people in the world with an Internet connection. Today, that number is 4 billion!

The implications of this explosion are enormous. One lesson we’ve learned is to view product or service introductions as learning moments and tests, rather than hardened product lines. The primary benefit of doing so is tests often reveal how a market works and communicates within its trusted channels. By trying out new ideas and gaining quick feedback you can learn what the market really thinks and determine what you should make more permanent within your organization.

Much of the time our assumptions of what a market will value are not correct. This is often difficult to deal with by a leader who is not trained in the art of listening! What makes sense though is to find the “keys” that will unlock your organization’s true strengths and listening helps you find them.

There are many lessons we’ve learned during the past decade, here are three.

Lesson #1: The desire to share is extremely strong. Moments such as a concert, speaking event, product introduction, a walk in the park, enjoying a great meal in a city, are being shot, clicked, and shared at an unprecedented scale. People are passionate about their experiences and want to share them on their social networks. Knowing this and what is of interest to them allows you to tap into new ways to communicate with your customers.

Lesson #2: The desire to search is weak. When you look at what is being posted and what is being looked at, a startling fact emerges. People, even fans, are not that interested in finding other people’s photos and videos! This is true even if they are interested in the particular genre of movie, particular event, or an event they attended. This makes it far more difficult to gain their attention simply by posting your events and issues. What’s required is a more refined understanding of what is at their ‘core interest’ or ‘micro-interest’ and finding new ways to communicate those values to them. It often means changing content to suit their needs versus showing off your products and services.

Lesson #3: Beautiful photographs are not very effective. What used to be untouchable thinking, showing beautiful photographs with the product in action, is not very compelling to customers anymore. Relevance has replaced beauty. In fact, a low quality photo of something of particular interest to a customer will garner far more attention and stickiness than a wonderful full color shot of something with less relevance to the customer.

We’ve also found we shouldn’t assume anything. We’ve learned over time that it’s much more difficult to post something of interest on a fan forum because they are so intensely reviewed that it can take weeks for approval. By then the moment has often passed and it would be better to not post anything. What we’ve found is not intuitive! We’ve discovered this lesson and others by understanding there’s something about being in the moment that no amount of pre-planning can bring.