If you’ve not read Google’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), I highly recommend it.

It neatly summarises a growing argument: the way that consumers buy has changed forever.

Moments of truth

Up until now, leading brands have been the ones who consistently win at two ‘moments of truth’ for their consumers:

  • The first moment is the consumer experience when they’re about to buy something (e.g. standing in front of a freezer cabinet looking at the peas)
  • The second moment is what happens when they use it for the first time (the peas are on the fork, so to speak).

Google argue that the ability to create and share your own content about brands has given birth to a new moment, the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Consumers can now discover a great deal about you before making a purchase; without going anywhere near your marketing or sales. Their research found that people now look at over 10 different sources of online information before making a purchase. 

What does this mean? It means that as marketers we need to understand how to win at ZMOT.

A new way of buying

Stop for a moment, and think about the last time you bought something new. Does this sound familiar?

  • Step 1: what do I want to buy today? Ah, plane tickets to Spain!
  • Step 2: Make mental list of who I know that sells tickets
  • Step 3: Do some initial research to create a shortlist of providers with the best combination of price and flight times
  • Step 4: Pause… how to choose between them?
  • Step 5: Open a new browser window and type “BA flight review” and repeat for other options.
  • Step 6: Skim the scores, start reading what people say about their personal experiences and make your decision taking all this on board.

Thanks to free wifi this can happen anywhere. In the aisle of a store choosing a new radio, in the shop price checking or on the bus searching for ideas for tonight’s dinner.

Jim Lecinski, Google:

Why would people make decisions based on the opinions of strangers? They don’t. They make decisions based on the opinions of people like themselves. Which is who they find at ZMOT.

So how do you win at the Zero Moment of Truth?

You can do what Google suggest and use tools to see what people are searching for. This is a good start but only goes so far. You need to understand exactly what people find when they look for you and develop your strategy accordingly.

Start with getting a good idea of what they see:

  • Collect social data that talks about you and your category (from review sites, blogs, tweets – wherever).
  • Review the hard data: see how you score, who’s talking about you and where.
  • Properly analyse the comments, blogs, tweets etc., this is where hearts and minds are won. It’s here that people share compelling personal experiences about brands. Social Media Research techniques can help you manage this as it lets you create real insights from thousands of natural online discussions.
  • Repeat on a regular basis to observe how your market is changing.

When you can see what they see, you can then:

  • Design a content strategy that speaks directly to consumer interests.
  • Use the insights to make better products or improve your service.
  • Engage active or insightful consumers.
  • Understand about what’s going on in the market.

In short, you can start actively competing at ZMOT instead of letting it happen without you.