I just spent a great weekend in Canberra, Australia’s capital, as a part of the Human Brochure activity — a campaign organized by Visit Canberra to get people discussing and promoting the city on social media. As one of the “VIP activities”, my family went to the Cockington Green Gardens miniature village, which was celebrating its 35th anniversary. The son of the owner (who is heavily involved in the business) was our host – it was a really interesting and educational evening, and we had the opportunity to ask all sorts of questions.

Currently, Cockington Green Gardens has no mobile app, and very little presence in the virtual world. I asked if they had thought about a mobile app (someone else asked about audio tours), but their small budget means that this is not possible at present. The value of such an app was brought home by the huge amount of information that the owner’s son passed on to us — such as the fact that the roof in the image below has 50,000 tiles, all of which were laid by hand at a rate of 500 to 1,000 per day — most of which is beyond the reach of most visitors.

As the tour was in the evening, it was getting dark, so my kids asked for our smartphones in order to use them as torches. But I turned around at one stage to see Ted, my 7-year-old son, looking at the buildings on Google Earth and Google Street View — examining the actual buildings and how they compare to the models. He also found some information on the buildings on Wikipedia. This fascinated me: While I was thinking “Wouldn’t it be great if they had a mobile app that brought the village to life?”, there was my son thinking “mobile-first”. He didn’t need an app — he was using the smartphone to control his own experience. Ted is a mobile native – mobile is his first point of reference!

This is an important lesson. Some of your customers have made the mobile mind shift, and that number is growing every day. You have the chance to control and enrich their experiences by being present on their mobile device. Otherwise, your customers will control their own experience and you will lose your chance to influence them.  With a growing proportion of Australians making the mobile mind shift every day, now is the time to act. A good place to start is content. Nearly every company has content of some kind, and mobile is a great way to share it — and to have your customers create content for you. Product companies could develop (or publish to mobile) videos showing how to construct/use their products. Service companies can publish best practices. Partnering for content might help enrich your mobile app. You can then deliver other mobile moments around your company’s unique content.

We recently published our first document on indexing the mobile mind shift of Australian adults – check it out here.