Digital marketing has ushered in the “Zero Moment of Truth” (ZMOT). This is clearly delineated and documented by Google in a number of videos, presentations, and well researched documents. Google’s information on ZMOT, as you will discover, is a treasure chest filled with market research that will forever transform (hopefully) how your brand will market itself in the future.
On September 21 of 2005, The Wall Street Journal published a front-page story that changed the face of marketing. That story was about the critical importance of the seven seconds after a shopper first encounters a store shelf full of cereal, potato chips, or anything else.
Remember the old phrase, “Look for it in your grocer’s freezer case”? That is the moment we’re referring to — when you’re standing there, looking at all that ice cream and deciding which pint to purchase. Procter & Gamble called that moment the First Moment of Truth, or FMOT. This moment was so important to P&G that they created a position titled Director of FMOT, and tapped Dina Howell to fill the job.
And The Wall Street Journal found it so influential that they put it on their front page. The same year, in his foreword to Kevin Roberts’ remarkable book Lovemarks, Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley stated, “The best brands consistently win two moments of truth.”
The first moment occurs at the store shelf, when a customer decides to choose one brand or another. The second occurs at home, when the customer uses the brand — and is delighted, or is not. Mr. Lafley was right then and he’s right now. Those first and second moments of truth are just as crucial today.
The ZMOT in Digital Marketing
As it happens, there’s also a classic mental model for marketing. For decades we’ve practiced our craft by focusing on three critical moments:
- Stimulus (i.e. advertising, marketing, etc.)
Stimulus. Dad is watching a football game and sees an ad for digital cameras. He thinks, “That looks like something I may want to buy.” Shelf. He goes to his favorite electronics store, where he witnesses an impressive display for that same digital camera. The packaging is attractive. A young sales rep answers all his questions. He then buys the camera. Experience. Dad gets home and the camera records beautiful pictures of his kids, just as advertised. A happy ending. Those three steps have been the mental model of marketing for a very long time.
The buying decision journey has changed. ZMOT is a vital new addition to the classic three-step process of stimulus, shelf, experience. It’s place in the middle of the Stimulus and Shelf positions.
• What was once a message is now a conversation. Shoppers today find and share their own information about products, in their own way, on their own time.
• Word of mouth is stronger than ever. For the first time in human history, word of mouth is a digitally archived medium.
• No MOT is too small. If consumers will do research online for houses and health care, they’ll also do it for Band-Aids and ballpoint pens.
• The MOTs are meeting. Our mobile devices are MOT machines. As mobile usage grows, the zero, first and second moments of truth are converging.
The UMOT & Digital Marketing
From what I can gather, I am the first to coin the phrase, “The Ultimate Moment of Truth” (UMOT). I define UMOT as the brand’s awareness and planning stage. In other words, have they understood, embraced, and strategically planned on how to leverage the ZMOT?
For the brand that does not, they will surely lose market share and customers.
Creating important content for the ZMOT is no longer optional for the brand that desires to grow and remain competitive. Brands will need to understand what types of content that they need to create and distribute to win that crucial ZMOT. Prior to their content creation for the ZMOT, they must have their “A-ha moment” at the the UMOT.
Digital Marketing & the UMOT Steps
To succeed today in digital marketing, a brand must move through these UMOT steps:
- Have awareness and appreciation that the world of branding and marketing has forever changed
- Embrace this change from the CEO on down, all now committed to a new era of branding and marketing.
- Brief the team on the new direction and why. Deploy training for the team members so that they can competently deploy.
- Study the market place, competition, and most importantly, their audience.
- Create the ZMOT strategy and plan.
- Create the ZMOT content. These would be videos, consumer reviews, case studies, etc.
- Deploy, review, repeat, and perfect.
To win in today’s marketplace, brands need to understand all these MOTs and how to engage their audience; individuals who have become more sophisticated in how they choose and share brands.