Opening the BMA Unleash conference on Thursday, Jim Lecinski, Managing Director at Google, addressed the work Google is doing on the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) which was covered here last summer based on a Kansas City Business Marketing Association luncheon talk. Lecinski positioned ZMOT as a new marketing thought model, introducing an equally, if not more important, moment of truth which happens between an initial stimulus (an ad, billboard, article, WOM, etc. – all still important as initial stimuli) and the first interaction a potential consumer actually has with a brand. The zero moment of truth is marked by online activity through search and reaching out to social networks to address the types of questions first-time buyers have (Will it work? What else do I need to know? Is this the best choice for me?).
Lecinski provided background information to support the zero moment of truth phenomenon in B2B settings, pointing toward 1x to 3x increases in search activity in prime B2B categories while budgets and spending were flat or being reduced dramatically. More uncertainty and fewer financial resources all support the need to eliminate risk in buying decisions, spurring the move to gather more and more reliably-perceived information.
Acknowledging that ZMOT is a new concept and still evolving, Lecinski offered these 7 keys to taking better advantage of the ZMOT for a brand:
ZMOT #1 – Put someone in charge of the zero moment of truth.
Identify an individual who gets the concept and is close to the customer (maybe someone in customer service already) and have them take on responsibility for how your brand is planning for and capitalizing on ZMOT.
ZMOT #2 – Find zero moments in your category.
It’s possible to use the Google autofill function to put in your brand or category and see what the suggested autofills are. These start to help you understand how people are searching for your brand or category. Important tip – make sure you’re logged off of Google before you do this so your own history isn’t skewing the results.
ZMOT #3 – Answer the questions people are asking.
After understanding where and how people are searching about you and your category in the ZMOT, make sure you’re showing up on these searches and providing the answers that people are looking for during the ZMOT. The Google keyword tool will help you understand the volume of the searches that appear. Google has made changes in it search algorithm to rank reviews (especially from within your social network) high along with adding the +1 function to indicate valuable information.
ZMOT #4 – Optimize your ZMOT.
It’s important to know where the ZMOT is taking place. Lecinski stated that less than 25% of B2B websites are optimized for mobile devices, yet even for B2B buyers, mobile may very well be where the search is taking place.
ZMOT #5 – Be Fast.
Potential buyers will react to wildcard stimuli (i.e., a mention on a TV show or an online article) which can trigger the ZMOT search. Even though a brand can’t often plan for these stimuli, you have to be ready when it happens to make sure people get the answers. Additionally, Lecinski advised calls to action in offline communications to point potential buyers to where they can find the types of answers they’re looking for in the ZMOT online.
ZMOT #6 – Don’t forget video.
There are lots of people talking about the increasing importance of video in buying decisions. With relatively greater ease than in the past, a brand can deliver answers to a whole variety of questions via YouTube and video placed on its own website. Encourage and incent real-life testimonials and case studies to add to the video mix as well.
ZMOT #7 – Jump In.
ZMOT is a new concept and there aren’t best practices yet. The right strategies are being defined and understood on a daily basis, so it’s critical to get started and learn your way into what practices work.
Get the Zero Moment of Truth eBook
For more information, sign up to download the Google ebook published on June 20, 2011 with greater detail on its ZMOT work.
Mike Brown is an award-winning innovator in strategy, communications, and experience marketing. He authors the BrainzoomingTM blog, and serves as the company’s chief Catalyst. He wrote the ebook “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” and is a frequent keynote presenter.