When I read comments like that it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. I get excited because I know I’m working in the right industry space at the right time. I know the “changing lives of our end users” Kim mentions above means that users are now highly connected and mobile. And I know this connectivity and mobility drives exponential word of mouth. And that’s what is shaking the global marketing community to its core.
Jim Lecinski of Google has been kind enough to provide the world with this fantastically succinct and easy-to-read paper “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth”.
Here, I’ll attempt to briefly outline the chapter points Lecinski makes through his research. The paper explains exactly how and why the old marketing model must be revamped to make room for advances in communication, and the weight word of mouth now has on all brands.
1. ZMOT Defined
A new checkpoint in consumer purchasing has emerged. Consumers are now involved in reconnaissance. Learning about and researching a product before making a purchase.
ZMOT is the moment where a prospective customer jumps online, searches for relevant information/reviews/discounts and discussions around your product to ensure they’re making the right decision. ZMOT is so much entrenched in consumer behavior it is now a part of core training in Google Sales in the USA.
2. The New Mental Model
This has been the classic marketing model for decades. The stimulus being the advertisement or impetus sparking interest. The First Moment of Truth (FMOT) being that moment at the shelf – specifically choosing a brand’s product. And the Second Moment of Truth (SMOT) – finally using and enjoying that product to ensure a second purchase. The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT – pronounced zed-mot) now fits neatly between the Stimulus and the First Moment of Truth.
This ZMOT – a new moment of reconnaissance, has become embedded in consumer purchasing decisions. 84% of shoppers said that ZMOT shaped their decision. That’s 84% of people listening to others online about what they’re saying about your product. People are checking before they buy. What are people saying about your product online? Because consumers are standing at the shelf, ready to buy, searching online on with the phone they keep in their pockets. For this reason, developing brand advocacy online is paramount.
And ZMOT influence is only growing. An average shopper in 2010 used 5.3 sources of information to make a decision. In 2011, this number has nearly doubled to 10.4. This means it’s tough to grab consumer attention, it’s easy for your message to get lost, but most importantly, it’s imperative to be involved.
Brand advocacy is essential in cutting through. Lecenski asks “How can we exchange value instead of just sending a message?” This is where interaction comes in. Find those who are already advocates, or those who are likely to become so. Provide samples, an experience, relevant information and BUILD an intimate relationship. And hopefully the Ultimate Moment of Truth occurs – when your customer buys your product again.
3. ZMOT All Around Us
It’s happening online, in real time. Consumers are looking for information, reviews of experiences, offers/discounts/coupons. Lecinski points out that this can be scary for brands.
Thanks to ZMOT, they know exactly what products are out there and they know exactly which one they want… and which colour they want it in. So how can brands ensure influence? Develop a strong Word of Mouth proposition. And ensure there are advocates exposed to your message so they can promote it further.
4. ratings and reviews: word of MOT
This is the real core chapter of the ZMOT ideal. Lecinski dives into the explosion of reviews and connectivity and technology. But after all of this detail, the ZMOT ideal all comes down to the oldest of human traits and behaviours- word of mouth. Spreading information. The only thing that’s changed is the means by which it’s spread. Email, IM, Social networks, posting videos, YouTube, Review sites, online communities, blogs. Word of mouth used to be shared one-to-one. It is now shared one-to-millions.
Interestingly enough, these ‘one’s are not just anyone and everyone. Lecinski points out that the 80/20 rule is in play here. 80% of reviews are written by only the top 20% of most valuable customers. This makes it easier for brands to find those reviewers/bloggers/influencers, and ensue they’ve got all the information they need to write the right reviews for other’s ZMOT
5. equal thought not afterthought
Lecinski points out that ZMOT is not just a factor that should be thrown in as the last rung of the marketing ladder. It’s just as important as the stimulus or the other MOTs, and it’s here to stay. As long as social networks, blogs and YouTube are around, it’s going to be very easy for consumers to find information and reviews on your products.
Product size and cost aren’t discerning factors either. Reviews are easy to write either way, and everyday products comprise an enormous portion of reviews online. Last year, there were over 3,000 comments written on the 3M Scotch Tape site about their product! Consumers are interested in the everyday products they’re bringing into their lives, no matter what the weight.
In reality, if you’re not visible online when people are doing their homework, then they’ll find someone who is. As a result, “Word of Mouth online has got to become part of the central nervous system of every company”
With the market being so highly fragmented, strategies need to take into account the development of a strong relationship with customers, and in particular, with those who will shout the loudest: advocates. Word of Mouth has been amplified and the “pace of change” Kim Kadlec mentions in the opening quote of this post, refers directly to its catalyst: the internet. The online space needs to be analysed and it’s community nurtured to ensure a positive outcome for brands and their strategies.
You can view the full report here
 Google/Shopper Sciences, Zero Moment of Truth Macro Study, U.S., April 2011