Back in the day (and not to long ago, either) we were taught that the sales process (or purchase process, depending on which side of the transaction you were on) went through a process shaped like a funnel. It was more or less a linear process. It may not have actually been so, but it was a nice model and likely fit many transaction processes.
Now, with the internet and all of the information resources it makes available to consumers, the sales process is no longer linear at all. Often, by the time a customer walks into a store, he has researched features, brands, prices, warranties, and any other information available and knows exactly what he wants. If research wasn’t done ahead of time, it can be done in the store with a smart device. The world, literally, is in each customer’s hand.
This is where the idea of the “Zero Moment of Truth” (ZMOT) comes in. It’s no longer easy to predict where or when a customer will make her purchase decision. It could be any where at any time. The information which goes into her decision process can come to here from traditional advertisements to banner ads, reviews, videos from other customers on YouTube. Many times another customer’s “Second Moment of Truth” (experience with a product or service) can very well become another person’s ZMOT. If you can find a way to get the right information to a person at the critical time, you can win at ZMOT.
Here are some quotes from the work which got me thinking:
Kim Kadlec, Worldwide Vice President, Global Marketing Group, Johnson & Johnson describes the change in mental models this way: “We’re entering an era of reciprocity. We now have to engage people in a way that’s useful or helpful to their lives. The consumer is looking to satisfy their needs, and we have to be there to help them with that. To put it another way: How can we exchange value instead of just sending a message?
Companies who are winning in this area are already on their way to becoming information resources. Rather like Santa Claus in “Miracle on 34th Street,” they are becoming helpful to their customers, sometimes even at the expense of their immediate bottom line. They are looking to invest in the long-term success of their customers. Last year I wrote about Gun Dog Supply and how they turned themselves into an information resource for those interested training hunting dogs. By doing this, they made themselves an invaluable resource which helped their sales in a huge way.
How can you help your company do this?
Let me make another point about ratings and reviews online: They’re a tremendous resource for customers, but they’re also a tremendous resource for businesses.
“A focus group is artificial. People are paid to be there. They know that there are agency people behind the glass watching them … . The only thing that’s pure and authentic in terms of what’s actually happening in the marketplace is how people talk to each other.”
Think about this: You have a great opportunity to learn what you’re doing well and where you need to improve. This is a tremendous asset to the business person who realizes it’s there and takes advantage of the knowledge available to make positive changes to their product or service.
Beth Comstock, the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of General Electric … says:
“Maybe if you make locomotives, or the software that automates production lines, you think: Why should I have videos or web content out there, who’s going to use that?
But one day at our marketing council we did YouTube searches for just those kinds of things. And you know what? Up came hundreds of videos, including videos from our competitors on things like intelligent thinking for product line automation. It was a great eye-opener.”
This really can apply to any product or service. People want to know what’s out there, what’s available and what might best solve their problems. If you can build out content (and not just videos) you can really hit a home run when it comes to attracting good attention. National Instruments has an excellent community full of content on how to use their products. I’m willing to bet all that great content gives them a big advantage over their competitors.
If I’m having this conversation privately with a CMO, this is the first question I ask: “Who’s in charge of ZMOT for you?”
Because if it’s nobody’s job, it’s not going to get done. If I ask you, “Who runs your TV department” or “Who’s in charge of your in-store marketing for FMOT?” or “Who makes sure your green beans reach the shelf on time?”, you’ll give me one person’s name. You should also be able to give me one person’s name for ZMOT.
And that’s because of no one owns it, it won’t get taken care of. I wrote about this regarding web marketing in a guest post on the PubCon Speakers blog. If you’re going to take ZMOT (or anything else) seriously, someone has to own it.
If you’re a marketer, I hope you’re encouraging your customers to make videos about your product that others can find at that Zero Moment of Truth. Never forget that your customers are ahead of you, and that’re ready to contribute right back to ZMOT in real time.
I sometimes get into conversations about creating content. Here’s an idea: if you can’t make enough content, crowdsource it. If people are delighted with your product or service, they’ll likely be happy to share that knowledge with their friends. Sometimes all they need is a little encouragement.
Check out Winning The Zero Moment of Truth by Jim Lecinski. The Kindle version is free. It’s a quick read filled with great information including quite a bit from Google’s research. It only took me a little over an hour to read it and watch the videos; very well worth the time.
You can also get more information by visiting the web site: www.zeromomentoftruth.com