What can Winning the Zero Moment of Truth teach us about consumer buying habits and effective 21st century marketing? As it turns out, a lot!
The Internet has revolutionized marketing, a fact of which most of us are aware — in theory, at least. But understanding the precise mechanisms by which this transformation has occurred is more complex. Luckily for today’s marketers, these crucial details are addressed in an insightful e-book, written in 2011 by Google’s then-Managing Director of U.S. Sales & Service, Jim Lecinski, and still just as relevant in 2014. Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, available as a free e-book, lays out the principles that govern modern marketing and modern consumer habits and explains the ways the two converge in a largely interactive and buyer-controlled online shopping environment. The ZMOT e-book explains how businesses can harness the power of ZMOT for marketing success.
Zero Moment of Truth: What Is It?
Exactly what is a Zero Moment of Truth (aka, ZMOT)? To understand the concept, we need to understand the First Moment of Truth (FMOT). In marketing parlance, the First Moment of Truth (a phrase coined and popularized by Proctor & Gamble) occurs at “the critical decision moment at the shelf” — the moment when the consumer decides which brand to purchase. The Zero Moment of Truth, then, occurs prior to that point.
As the book explains, “ZMOT is that moment when you grab your laptop, mobile phone or some other wired device and start learning about a product or service … (that) you’re thinking about trying or buying.” It’s that period of research that occurs before you reach the moment of making an actual purchase decision.
From the business’s perspective, Zero Moment of Truth can prove critical to whether or not a brand is even in the running when the First Moment of Truth arrives.
Winning the Zero Moment of Truth might be considered a mini manual for modern marketing. The e-book’s Foreword, says “This book will help anyone interested in those new moments before people buy, those Zero Moments of Truth where first impressions happen and the path to purchase often begins.”
How Can Marketers Harness ZMOT?
In one marketer’s view, the key challenge to marketers today is figuring out how to create value rather than simply pumping out a marketing message, how to engage people in a way that’s useful or helpful to their lives. This means addressing their needs, concerns, and interests, via multiple channels (social media, articles, blog posts, e-books and other materials) by providing content — and conversation — that adds value. Whereas brands previously had to consistently win two moments of truth — the First (at the shelf) and the Second (at home) — today’s companies must consistently win all three to be successful, with the critical Zero Moment of Truth laying the groundwork for success in the other two. This sort of pre-purchase engagement will help companies develop an intimate relationship with consumers that can eventually lead to the ultimate moment of truth: the moment when the customer buys their product again and decides to recommend it to others.
In today’s marketplace, the way you handle ZMOT will largely determine your sales success. So, put some time, energy, effort, and research into figuring out the best ways to engage your market so as to instill a desire in your prospects to reciprocate by purchasing your product and recommending it — and your company/brand — to their family, friends and colleagues. A few highlights from the book on how to do this:
- Research your own products online and read the reviews. Like what you see? If not, you have some work to do. First, make sure your product is high-quality. Then, answer the three questions consumers will ask about it: Will your product save them money? Will it save them time? Will it improve their lives?
- Find out what people want to know, and publish written or videotaped content about it online. Respond to trends and news quickly. Be the go-to authority.
- Be available at the Zero Moment of Truth. When a consumer is researching a purchase, you’ll benefit if your product is visible online and your marketing messages target the right consumers.
- Engage consumers on social networks and respond to blog comments and other forms of communication. This demonstrates that you value them.
- Provide exceptional customer service and support. Resolve issues when they arise. This is your best protection against negative reviews, derogatory comments and disparaging word-of-mouth messages.
- Remember how critical mobile is to your ZMOT marketing efforts, and make sure you address this segment in your planning, marketing and technology.
- Don’t implement ZMOT as an afterthought. It needs to be an integral part of your primary marketing plan. Otherwise, you may lose out to the companies who give it the focus it deserves.
Today’s marketing happens in real time, so marketers need to be ready to jump right in. The modern product “shelf” is also often a virtual one (speeding the buying cycle even further), yet ZMOT still applies. For practical help in applying ZMOT, check out Google’s follow-up ZMOT e-book: ZMOT Handbook: Ways to Win Shoppers at the Zero Moment of Truth. The marketer who masters the Zero Moment of Truth will be virtually unstoppable in 2014 and beyond. Will that marketer be you? Will you Control it All?
By Jeanne Dininni