Does your business have Zero-Moment-Of-Truth BEFORE it can start selling?

Does your business have Zero-Moment-Of-Truth BEFORE it can start selling?

Traditionally, the model for marketing focuses on these 3 stages: Stimulate, Shelf and Experience:

In this traditional marketing model, the first stage is the Stimulus. This is when your potential customer first sees your product (e.g. on a poster, or television commercial). Then, once their interest is stimulated, they proceed to the second stage, the Shelf, at the store and decide whether to buy your product. That’s when they compare between your product and your rival’s. Finally, the last stage, the Experience, is when they decide to buy and own your product.

These three stages were the marketing model for a very long time.

Then the Internet came—it brought one more stage into the process, the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Businesses that were still stuck in tradition missed that stage. Consequently, they lost sales and businesses to rivals who could include ZMOT in their strategy.

Example of traditional marketing

In the 1990s, when I was watching the TV, I heard the beautiful voice of Hayley Westernra in a commercial promoting her latest album. That stirred my curiosity about her as that was the first time I heard of her name. The commercial was the Stimulus that got me acquainted with Hayley Westernra’s work and performance.

So, to satisfy my curiosity, I popped into the nearest CD shop to look for her album. After I got to look at the nice-looking packaging, I bought the CD at the counter. That would be the First Moment of Truth on the Shelf. Once I reached home, I would play the CD and listen to her beautiful music—that was the Second Moment of Truth, the Experience.

Today’s ZMOT

Today, the process is different. Before I would buy Hayley Westernra’s album, I will google her name to find out as much about her as possible. I will look at her official website for starters and listen to some samples of her music. Then I will head to review websites to look at the reviews and endorsements of people who have bought her album. Then I will check out blogs and social media posts that talked about her. Next, I will ask my friends on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok to find out whether any of my friends have already bought her album. This is the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). The process looks like this:

What is ZMOT? A good description goes like this:

ZMOT is that moment when you grab your laptop, mobile phone or some other wired device and start learning about a product or service (or potential boyfriend) you’re thinking about trying or buying. I’m sure you know what I mean — you probably do web searches like this every day.

At the end of the ZMOT stage, I will be ready to buy Hayley Westernra’s album.

How does it apply to your business?

Now that we’ve looked at the traditional model of marketing and the new ZMOT model of marketing, how does it apply to your small business?

As Seth Godin said in a podcast, for the past 50 years, marketing has been advertising. Advertising is where the stimulus lies. At the risk of oversimplifying, we can see that under the traditional model of marketing, marketing is like a magical black box where advertising is the input and sales are the output. If you see marketing from this perspective, then you will concentrate all your effort on tweaking the parameters of this black box to increase its ‘conversion rate’ (see 6 secret tricks to seize the competitive advantage for your e-commerce store) of turning visitors into buyers.

In its essence, when you advertise using Google AdWords, you are applying 21st-century technology to the traditional marketing process.

But no matter how hard you tweak this black box, your conversion rate will always be very minuscule (say 0.5% to 1.5%, according to industry standards) because it is the same for typical online businesses. Hence, you need a massive number of visitors (say from hundreds of thousands to millions per month) to make even a modest profit. As a small business owner, this is an unrealistic expectation, especially if your online presence is relatively new. Hence, it is very easy to give up and be tempted to wind up the online arm of your small business (or let it lie dormant).

There must be a better way. Enter ZMOT…

With the new model of marketing that incorporates ZMOT in the process, you will have to do things differently. Most of the free Internet business resources you see on the Internet talk about measuring and boosting your online business’s ‘conversion rate’. Conversion rate, by its very nature, is all about statistical probability. The problem they are trying to solve is an optimisation problem. For you, if your numbers are small, there is nothing to optimise in the first place. So, a lot of all the free information you see on the Internet will not apply to your small business. So, what should you do?

If you are starting, focus on building up the ZMOT moments for your future potential customers. To do that, you have to be prepared to invest substantial time to build up your authority and brand online before you can expect to enjoy the first fruits of your online sales. When you have accumulated a substantial amount of authority and trust on the Internet, you are just a search away from those who do not know you yet. That will be the ZMOT for them, which will set the stage for the next step of the marketing process.

All these activities will not bring in revenue to your business upfront. But they are vital for the long-term growth of your business. You will know you have reached the holy grail of marketing when you can just tell your prospective customers/clients to “google” your name/brand if they want to find out more (and you can be proud of the search results).

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About the Author
Terence Kam Terence Kam
Terence is the founder of Stratigus. See his profile here.

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