Here's a little story: John (27) has always wanted to learn the guitar but he cannot ﬁnd time to attend regular classes. So he decides to get started with the help of a good method book. When browsing through the pile of titles at his local retailer, he ﬁnds it difﬁcult to choose because all the books look the same for his inexperienced eyes: the covers are similar, all promising to get him playing in literally no time, and the prices are similar, too.
For inexperienced eyes all method books look the same. That makes it easy to stand out.
Then suddenly there is a book that claims to give feedback to the self-learner throughout the whole course. John is intrigued enough to continue reading from the back cover and tries to match the idea of an automated feedback to his previous knowledge. Well, he’s been using iPhone's virtual assistant and has tried to learn Spanish with Duolingo. So the fact that a device is capable of listening and interacting does not surprise him. It is the feature that many modern products have. He decides to give it a try.
The capability to interact is the feature that many modern products have. Interactivity leaves a data trace that can work wonders with businesses.
At home he logs in to the publisher’s website to unleash the interactive feature of his new book. Reading music is hard at the beginning but with the help of audio examples he pretty soon discovers that he can actually play the ﬁrst exercise. He presses ‘Record’ and lets the computer listen. The feedback indicates that he indeed had found most of the correct notes on his instrument but the timing is still sloppy. After a few repetitions the program ﬁnally says that he is ready to move on. “It feels like a game!” John thinks to himself as he proceeds.
It feels like a game! Careful use of gamification raises the motivation to learn.
The next day at the coffee corner he cannot hold back and shares his positive emotions to his mates: “...and you know, when I had passed the very ﬁrst exercise, they sent me a welcome e-mail with some relevant information about practicing.” After two months, John has completed all the exercises. On his way he got some more e-mails that directed him to read relevant blog posts and he had joined the conversation at the publisher’s website. Two of his colleagues had started the same course and they were competing against each other. They had posted their progress on Facebook and their friends had commented on the subject several times.
People want to share their success. Nothing can beat the marketing power of a friend's referral.
After ﬁnishing the last exercise, John gets an e-mail, written by the author of the book. The author expresses his gratitude that John had chosen his method and congratulates him for his outstanding accomplishment. He asks John to rate the book on the publisher’s website and possibly to write a few words about what he liked or did not like. He also points out that John’s skills are still very fresh and if John would stop now then all his hard work would be in vain. Instead, he lists three good books written by his colleagues that John could beneﬁt from at the given moment. As John has got a discount code from the publisher on the occasion of completing the beginners’ method, he does not think long before ordering one of the books directly from the website. After all, whom would he trust more than those people who made him play and seem to help him in every way?
The story is not a fiction. It has happened thousands of times to a small publisher.
In 2007 Kristo Käo published his book “Guitar School - the Key to the Practical Guitar Playing” that was bundled with personal feedback - anyone who bought it could upload recordings to a professional teacher. People liked the idea and the company went on to publish more books and online courses, all with feedback. The tiny local market put a ceiling on the growth. The need to export was obvious, but the model needed automation to be able to scale. Much of the marketing process was already automated but how to automate the core service - professional feedback? Attempts to solve that problem eventually ended up with starting a new business that created the MatchMySound algorithm. Today MMS works with all musical instruments and all types of music and can be used on any website.