Tuesday 19 November 2013

Zero Moment Of Truth - Part1

The ZMOT is not such a complex thing to be honest. 
In fact it could be incredibly easy to understand, especially if you already know a lot about how the internet works, coupled with some reasonable knowledge about the business process of marketing (which usually involves advertising, publicity and sales distribution). You need a combination of these two, if you want to really enjoy this article. 

So consider the zero moment of truth as that point in a customer's journey where she/he bounces back and forth looking for answers about a product or service she/he may be interested in. She/He uses Search, Reviews, Ratings, Specifications Data, and even user comments as a guide to come to her decision. So clearly, you can see why you need to play a part in at least adding something to the conversation that leads to this decision.


There already existed a tested and trusted marketing model that was conceptualized by Procter & Gamble and has to a very high degree, revealed the strategic points in a customer's journey where it is best to try to capture his attention.

STIMULUS – When the customer sees an advert of any product or service that may interest him (let's say a pair shoes) and does get interested; or he saw the ad and suddenly remembers that he had already planned to buy a pair of shoes at some point.

SHELF First Moment Of Truth – The customer has finally taken the decision to go to the store to get those shoes. There are some customers who go out with a plan not to return home without a pair of new shoes, no matter what. There are also some customers who never really have an idea of what they really want to get, so they rely on cues from shop attendants or other shoppers. Traditional marketers realize that the packaging and labeling of the product can go a long way in winning the First moment of truth. They also know that by having their shoes advertised boldly all over the shoe section of the store,or maybe even having sales agents in the larger stores, could help to nudge undecided customers.

EXPERIENCE – The Second Moment Of Truth – this comes after the customer has purchased his shoes and has started wearing them. Chances are that the customer will report his experience with the shoes (and possibly with the store where he bought them from) to the next person. 

This is why good marketing actually begins at the point where you ensure the quality of the design of your product. It is important for your marketing that customers don’t go about saying bad things about your product or about your store. 
Or rather, if you’re just the dealer and not the manufacturer of the shoes, then hopefully your sales-reps and floorwalkers are respectful and patient with customers. 
Because that is the experience they take away from your business. 

But most customers would definitely say something, whether it is good or bad. Whether it is about the shoes or about your store. 

The idea at the Experience Stage (Second Moment Of Truth) is to get them to say more of the good stuff. Especially about your store, if you’re the store owner.

Zero Moment Of Truth 
To be honest, going by today’s turbo-charged rate of information & technological advancement, we could almost say that ZMOT (since 2011) is already an old marketing concept. I have already given an intro on it for an African audience in one of my previous articles about ZMOT in Africa. But a good way to summarize it here would be to just say that ZMOT is that virtual valley of decision that your customers go to after getting inspired by an advert that catches their attention, and before going to a shop to spend their hard earned money on the product that is promoted by that advert. 

So despite the way I listed these terms to make the introduction, ZMOT actually slots in between Stimulus and Shelf. So now, I'll try to explain how it works...


A ZMOT Ready Marketer first of all has to be a Digital Marketer. He then has to be the kind of DM who has his eye on almost every area of digital marketing, as well has having a decent understanding of typical offline advertising as well. But in addition to those, he has to be aware of the importance of the ZMOT, know how to identify the ZMOT moments in his industry, and he must be able to respond swiftly to take advantage of them.  

By now, the reason should be quite simple, if not then allow me to illustrate with this example:

Imagine you’re on an island where 10,000 people plan to buy shoes within the next month. Now imagine if there were 10 shoe retailers on that island. Then assume that all these shoe retailers have basically the same quality of shoes and they all sold at the same exact price.

Now, all things being equal, and if they all did some local advertising in the same magazines and on the same tv stations on the island; then there actually isn't much reason to doubt that their total units sold could be almost identical as well. 

Maybe some would sell 1100 shoes that month, and others who were unlucky might do 900. Just humour me for now....

Enter digital marketing.
Imagine if 2 of those retailers decided to step up to owning websites; and they took on some online advertising campaigns (especially Enhanced Campaigns from Google). Imagine they did some pretty effective SEO, and some social media marketing. 

The dynamics would have changed because you would now have some shoe retailers encroaching on customers of retailers that are geographically far away from their territory. 
They have the shoes on display on the website so the customer from 20 miles away can gaze at the shoes from different angles and in different colors. 

These smart retailers could also offer free delivery to further convince the customer to shop with them instead of the retailer close by. 
At this stage it may not matter even if the near-by retailer has the same shoes the customer has seen on the web. What matters is the information, and the knowledge of where & how to get it. 

So thanks to their digital marketing campaigns, the 2 retailers with e-commerce websites could very well draw as many as 2800 and 2400 customers respectively, while the remaining 8 retailers may have to struggle with an average of 600 sales each for that month. Or it could even be worse for those remaining 8 guys.
It all depends on if one, or both of the ecommerce-smart retailers are willing to go the extra ZMOT mile. 

So let us just assume that one of them did. 
So this retailer has the normal brick & mortar store (i.e. a store that is physically on the ground – not one that operates solely online). He also has the e-commerce website where customers can order shoes and have them delivered to their homes. 

Then if he decides to upgrade to invading the zero moment of truth, he could take a size-able chunk out of the share of the other website retailer’s 2800, and even further flatten the margins of those retailers who are doing 600 sales per month.



By being at the ZMOT, our retailer can know when consumers are looking for shoes, when they are making inquiries about them online. He can learn about consumers, their behaviors and preferences before the other retailer who also sells online, and way ahead of the others. He knows how to fish out ready customers as well as future customers. This is the wisdom of the marketers who take the ZMOT seriously.

Research shows that in 2011, 84% of a sample 5000 people in America did research on a product after seeing an advert, and before deciding on buying it. There is also more recent data to show that this trend is increasing. Now I can easily guess what just popped into your minds. 
You are going to say that that is America! 
This is Africa! 

Yes, I know. 
And yet my point here is that just because we are not a continent that is particularly keen on gathering statistical data and analyzing such data, it doesn’t mean that we do not have the same sociological tendencies of shoppers everywhere. Afterall, we are all human.
For example, if you doubt that Africans are being affected equally (if not at a quicker rate) by the New Digital Age, why not visit Christian Amanpour’s Page on Facebook, or checkout ESPN FC? 

I am willing to bet that by just doing a quick scan, you are going to find as many African names (mostly Nigerian) in the comments as any other continent of the world. 

Africans are as driven to search out their interests and engage share their thoughts with others, just as Europeans and Americans are. And I dare say, Nigerians more so than anyone else.

Hence, there’s no wisdom in betting against the continued exponential growth of internet connectivity & activity in Africa and indeed the rest of the world.

The fact is that all human beings are social animals. We all have a desire to connect with others. And most of us find connection with like-minds from foreign lands particularly more fascinating. 

In fact, with all of the poverty that we face in this continent of ours, the obvious lack of many alternatives (such as large theme parks, space museums, video game arcade centers, ice skating rinks, and a truly infinite number of satellite/cable tv channels) no doubt leads many Africans to find more time and desire to connect online.

Google’s Jim Lecinski, says, “ZMOT turns small wins into huge ones — and potentially big wins into letdowns — millions of times a day, around the clock.” The idea being conveyed here is that your well executed tactic could lead you to huge gains from doing just a little thing better than your rivals. While they, with all of their big spending and expensive tv and magazine adverts, may fail to register their presence at ZMOT and as such suffer huge losses.

Please try to remember that ZMOT is the name for the virtual meeting ground where you will find your target consumer, not rigidly the name of your tactic itself. 

Anyway, I particularly like the way Dina Howell, the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi X, presents her argument on the ZMOT ( she was formerly in Procter & Gamble – at the time they came up with the First Moment Of Truth marketing model in 2005). Now she says, 
“Shoppers today want to explore and think about how products can improve their lives. They do reconnaissance to gain the insights they need, and they’re driven to bond with others and enrich relationships as they learn.”
The bottom line is that today’s marketers need to realize that shoppers’ decisions are no longer predominantly taken at Stimulus stage and Shelf (First Moment Of Truth - or FMOT) Stage. There is now clearly a 3rd pre-purchase battle ground. And from the simple bar chart above, you can tell that this battle ground      is getting more and more crowded.

The question is, 
If you were the Director of ZMOT for the marketing division of a company like say Samsung in South Africa, Kenya Airways or maybe GTBank in Nigeria, what are the things that you would do, and what is the mindset you would employ in order to garner potential customers from this abundance of ZMOT-congregating web surfers?

Please feel free to leave a comment, ask a question, like and do share. :-)