The ubiquity of consumer technology has radically changed how brands engage consumers. Traditionally, marketing has been about long-range canvassing of content and messaging. Campaigns used “above the line” (ATL) and “below the line” (BTL) tactics to encourage consumers to visit the store so they could experience the first moment of truth – the epiphany that happens when consumers experience the product for the first time. But in this new era, that first moment no longer brings that spark of realization; it’s now all about the zero moment of truth (ZMOT).
As a concept coined by Google almost five years ago, the ZMOT is every chief marketing officer’s new challenge. Imagine booking a hotel for your next vacation, for example. You visit TripAdvisor to generate a shortlist of hotels and start looking at reviews. The first hotel has rave reviews from two Facebook friends. From that instance, you reach an epiphany; you book your reservation immediately. The marketing dollars spent by the other hotels on your shortlist don’t even get the chance to engage you.
For businesses, the beauty of ZMOT is that it’s cheaper and faster to engage consumers while staying ahead of the competition.
Why the zero moment of truth is the new competitive mandate
Without question, digital technology has made it far easier for consumers to switch brands. Accenture’s annual Global Consumer Pulse Research revealed that digital disruption is steadily eroding consumer loyalty – creating a switching economy that is estimated to be a staggering US$6.2 trillion in value. Ignoring the potential of this economy is like walking by a new consumer market that is equal to China, India, and Brazil combined!
As brands increasingly realize the importance of rising to the zero moment challenge, here are a few recommendations that can help them get underway.
1. Build a single view of the consumer
Tackle the ZMOT by establishing a single view of the consumer across channels, points of sale, and social media. Without the ability to uniquely identify the consumer, companies will always default to one size fits all models. And unfortunately, this means losing consumer context in an increasingly contextual digital world.
2. Keep pace with the always-on consumer
Dramatically transform your marketing operations model from ATL-led approaches and dependence on agency support to a near real-time engagement process that enables precise understanding of the consumer. Keep your ear to the ground and participate in conversations about your brand that are taking place in the social media space.
3. Speak the language of your consumer
Break away from individual brand campaigns to create a compelling story that captures the overall consumer experience. Often, companies waste resources in re-acquiring existing consumers for new brand extensions through a complex campaign structure. Since every dollar counts, rationalize standalone campaigns to act on a more fluid, storytelling strategy.
4. Ensure the first and second moments live up to your promises
Remember that the zero moment counts, but so do the first and second experiences. After all one person’s experience in using the product or service becomes the next person’s ZMOT. Make sure every consumer is a good reference for your brand!
You can no longer win by confining social media to marketing. In a Live Business, Social Gets Its MBA.