Winning the Zero Moment of Truth

Cover of Google's Zero Moment of Truth report by Jim Lecinski

Jim Lecinski, managing director of U.S. Sales and Service for Google and all around good guy, has kindly given us permission to distribute his phenomenal report entitled Winning at the Zero Moment of Truth. The 73-page e-book documents the startling changes in consumer buying behavior brought about by the internet and activities/tools such as search/search engines, social channels and networks, user reviews, other consumer generated content and “always on” smart phones.

In reality, the “internet of things” arrived a bit earlier than anticipated. It came in the form of the Internet of US and emerged due to our iPhones, iPads, Androids and other smart, mobile devices, perpetually connected to the internet, broadcasting our likes and dislikes…our sharing, creating, commenting, reviewing and recommending. The hard cold truth for most brands is not that the technology is ahead of their marketing efforts…their customers are ahead of their marketing efforts!

Marketing model for the first moment of truth

Legacy Marketing Model: First Moment of Truth

In order to understand the Zero Moment, you have to understand the First Moment of Truth. This concept was made popular by Procter & Gamble and referred to the first place a brand had to win…when the consumer, stimulated by some kind of marketing communication or advertising like a TV spot, a coupon or a magazine ad stood in front of the product at the retail shelf and weighed the decision to put the brand in their shopping cart. The marketing model was simple: run creative advertising to get the consumer to be aware, to have interest, to go to a retail location and buy your product. A tremendous amount of time, money and effort has gone into perfecting this system.

graphic depiction of the zero moment of truth concept

What’s changed is there is now a huge critical moment between stimulus and shelf in every product or service category. Consumers still watch your TV spots or see you magazine ad. But then they grab their laptop or smart phone and search for reviews to see what others are saying about your product. They go to Twitter or Facebook and ask their friends if anyone has used the product and what they think. They may go to YouTube and look for a vedeo of someone using the product. And, before they’ve even been able to go to the store, they’ve made up their mind.

The Zero Moment of Truth describes the dominant role these connections, community and content are now playing in how we research, learn, search and ultimately find and buy products and services. It’s not just about business-to-consumer brands or considered goods. The behavior is remarkably consistent for business-to-business marketers and it’s just a relevant for makers of $40,000 automobiles as it is for manufacturers of $3.50 bottles of toothpaste.

Jim sites several examples of zeros moments of truth in his report:

  • A busy mom in a minivan is looking up decongestants on her mobile phone as she waits to pick up her son from school.
  • An office manager at her desk, comparing laser printer prices and toner cartridge costs to determine which office supply store has the best price
  • A student in a cafe, scanning user ratings and reviews while looking up a cheap hotel in Barcelona.
  • A winter sports fan in a ski store, pulling out a mobile phone to watch video reviews of the latest snowboards
  • A young woman in a condo, searching the web for juicy details about a guy with whom she’s been set up on a blind date

We’ve been tracking these behavioral changes for a while ourselves. That’s why we started to incorporate digital content and social connectivity components in our promotions, events, experiences, sponsorship activations and shopper programs. The idea is to take what happens in the real world, reaching thousands of people, and amplify it with the conversations, content, connections and community so that the offline activities ripple online to impact and reach millions.

Kim Kadlec, worldwide vice president of Global Marketing at Johnson & Johnson puts it this way in the report:

We’re entering an era of reciprocity. We now have to engage people in a way that’s useful or helpful to their lives. The consumers is looking to satisfy their needs, and we have to be there to help them with that. To put it another say: How can we exchange value instead of just sending a message?

That’s the question every marketer should be exploring and using to examine every piece of traditional advertising and marketing. Is it delivering value? Is it helping to answer the consumers need for information? Is is designed to engage and amplify across our now reality, filled with zero moments of truth? Something to think about.

Incentives Motivate Moms to Refer Brands to Friends

Whether it’s exchanging stories about shopping bargains, offering product reviews or sharing parenting advice, moms love to trade information and engage in online conversations about themselves and their families  But moms say they would be significantly more inclined to refer a brand or product when offered an incentive. Read more

Despite Enormous Popularity, Old Spice Guy Not Helping Sales – Yahoo! TV Blog

Well, this is kind of disappointing. Yahoo! News reports that, in spite of huge popularity, the Old Spice Guy social media talk back campaign is failing to deliver sales results. In fact, sales are down 7%. Yikees!

Of course, I think the jury is still out on this matter. Body wash is still a growing category and this campaign just really took off last week. There’s going to be lag from the time the fervor hits and sales at retail start happening. Body wash isn’t really something you pantry load, after all (unless you’re me and your two teenage sons keep stealing yours).

I think we need to reserve judgment a couple weeks. Then we can see if the social effect started to take effect. The other thing the designers of this campaign could have done to stimulate short term trial, is come up with a mobile app…Old Spice Guy sayings…and delivered a mobile coupon. Or, conducted Old Spice Guy events at retail.

Any thoughts on what else they could have done to insure sales success?

Economy + Technology = ‘XTreme Shoppers’

Another interesting research report in today’s MediaPost from Gfk Research showing that over a third of consumers can now be classified as XTreme Shoppers…characterized by the amount of time they devote to finding the best deals on everything.

Their behaviors are similar to other shoppers in that they:

  • Rely on internet research, especially on mobile devices
  • Use multiple retail channels
  • Check product reviews

Where they differ is that they do so much more of this than other shoppers.They use many more touch points and more resources. They visit more web sites and participate in more online communities. And, income level or age doesn’t seem to matter.

The study reports that these new shoppers have created a different culture of consumerism through their comparison shopping and demands for the best price on everything. They also are redefining what value means and are highly motivated by company assurances of ongoing product support.

Part of this new, aggressive consumerism is being fueled by the economy but technology is also key. The study identified more than 30 shopper-initiated touch point categories across major venues such as online, in-store, word-of-mouth, mobile, direct mail and TV.

These findings are right in line with the McKinsey Consumer Path to Purchase study we’ve posted about in the past. There no longer is a purchase funnel. It’s a purchase maze and the consumer looks, not to traditional advertising to help form their consideration set and make buying decisions. They rely primarily on a host of consumer-generated information and reviews to help them decide what and where to buy.

Our job as marketers continues to get harder. Fragmenting media. Exponentially increasing touch points. Consumers opting out of traditional advertising and PR communications and communicating directly with one another about what to buy. More creative advertising won’t solve these issues. Bigger media buys won’t help either. The only way forward is to listen to what the consumer is saying and meet them on their terms. Time to invest in building relationships. Time to start creating better consumer experiences.

Agencies, Do Your Clients Need You?

We’re seeing a lot of chatter lately about the relevancy of the 20th Century agency business model and the demise of the client-agency symbiotic relationship. This post from a London-based BBH Labs raises some provocative questions and proposed some intriguing alternatives to the future relationship between the two entities.

Digital technology, social networks and tools have fully empowered consumer to being content creators, critics, participants in the marketing enterprise. The behaviors technology and tools are enabling, along with the companion erosion of the MASS in mass media they cause, does call into question the whole value proposition of having an agency or 50 agencies (such as some clients have) handle work that the client should be doing.

It’s clear there’s much duplication of costs between firms handling different silos of a clients business….account people, creatives, overhead, profit….each firm has to have these to deliver client work and stay in business and yet, multiply these costs 10, 20, 50 times over and a huge portion of the client’s marketing budget is paying for outside staff and expertise that many are saying should now be residing inside the client’s organization.

Another post I ran across last week was even more dismal in it’s prediction of the agency’s future, as evident from the title: “RIP: 20th Century Agencies”. According to Forrester Research, the firm that provides ongoing tracking of 300,000 global consumer’s online behavior and participation with their Social Technographic Profiling tool, we’ve now entered an era of Adaptive Marketing. In this ear, marketers take advantage of media addressability and more effective data-driven decision making. Larry Flanagan, CMO for MasterCard put it this way: “We are moving form decades of push stategy to a more holistic 360 consumer strategy”.

Or, Trevor Edwards, head of global marketing at Nike said: “We’re not in the business of keeping media companies (or agencies) alive. We’re in the business of creating consumer connections”. And Nike has done this, building the largest community of runners in the world with Nike+…a product, a service, a community. Now, Nike doesn’t need to conduct focus groups with consumers or rely on the newest creative idea from it’s agency to breakthough to runners. It has over a million runners who use this connection, giving them unprecedented data on actual, instead of self-reported, consumer behavior. It can eavesdrop into conversations their hundreds of thousands of community members are having on a real time basis. And, it’s changed every aspect of their marketing…research and development, promotions, CRM, advocacy, customer service…you name it. As brands become media producers and publishers, creating their own content, connections and communities, the power of traditional mass media and the agencies that craft the mass marketing interruptions (ad units, PR, etc.) brands relied on so much in the past has to fade.

Agencies are struggling to adapt to this new age for many reasons, according to the post. Among the biggest challenges agencies face:

  • They are focused on campaigns rather than experiences
  • They’re good at talking but not at listening
  • Agencies create media-centric ideas
  • They treat customers as an audience instead of participants
  • They are mostly “unbundled” offering services in disparate skill sets
  • They have trouble mastering many new specialties at once
  • Agencies have moved down the value chain. Purchasing in now involved in agency selection and compensation and there’s little difference between agencies.
  • Marketers don’t trust traditional agencies with digital and interactive agencies struggle for a seat at the strategic table.

So, what’s an agency to do to survive in this Brave New World? The path forward is simple but it’s not easy.

  • Agencies must focus on developing big ideas that work across multiple communication channels and consumer touch points and they need to adopt a more iterative process for creating ideas.
  • Agencies need to understand experiences that foster interactions drive marketing success from here on out. Media has now fragmented into distinct categories of paid, earned and owned and there has been a dramatic shift from viewing media as the foundation of campaigns to being a catalyst of experiences.
  • Agencies need to become more intelligent and adaptive…relying more on analytics to drive customer insights and developing a business and staffing model that gives clients access to the the talent that can do this and help solve their business and marketing challenges.

The big question that remains is: Can clients also make the adaptations they need to make? For all the talk about integration and holistic effort, the fact remains, clients still fund marketing activities based on legacy allocations of dollars in various “buckets” or slices of the marketing pie as well as managing this with internal staff in very defined silos…above-the-line, CRM, digital, media buying, promotions, etc. It’s difficult to near impossible for an agency to provide an integrated idea to a client that isn’t integrated.

In fact, we don’t think the issue is integration per se, we think the real issue is orchestration. Some clients interpret integration in a very wooden, literal sense. To them, integration means: same thing everywhere. To us, this makes about as much sense as going to see a symphony concert where the conductor forces every musician to play every note in the same key at the same time. Where’s the artistry or beauty in that? Boring! And frankly, a lot of integrated marketing is executed in the same boring manner….same thing, everywhere. No wonder the campaigns don’t deliver the results.

Rather, we propose that the real secret to success in the new realities is orchestration…where there are levels of interest and discovery the consumer uncovers at different touch points along their path to purchase. Yes, it all looks like it’s coming from the same company and yes, the message is consistent. In this sense it’s fully integrated. But the idea is orchestrated to reveal itself in delightful ways in social media, on mobile, in live experiences and at retail in ways that are unique, relevant and compelling for each channel or environment.

To pull this off, continuing with our orchestration analogy, it requires a beautiful piece of music (the strategic idea), skilled musicians (the client and agency stakeholders) and instruments (the tools and technologies) and a masterful conductor…but who is this? It’s that last individual that is the big question mark. Are there people on the client side of the equation that can masterfully conduct?

Local Search, Social Networking and Mobile Gaming Coming of Age on Mobile Devices

Compete just released it’s Smartphone Intelligence survey (redundancy there) and there’s some interesting insight into consumer behavior trends mobile is enabling. Think Local Search, Social Connectivity and Gaming.


According to the survey, 1 in 3 smartphone owners has called or stopped in a local business after finding it using a local search app. In just first quarter, over a third of Android and iPhone owners discovered at least two new businesses that they were not previously aware of thanks to using these local search apps.


Thirty-three percent of smartphone Twitter users post tweets primarily via their smartphones. Of those accessing Facebook via their smartphones, they’re reading news feeds, posting status updates, replying to messages and posting photos.


iPhone owners download and play games more than any other handset owner. ..37% play games of some kind at least daily.


Anyone with physical locations would be wise to find ways to make their presence known to smartphone users. If you’re really smart, you might want to think about a way to combine local search, social and gaming all in one…like a Foursquare or Gowalla.

via Compete blog.

9 Killer Tips for Location-Based Marketing

There’s an old saying in real estate that’s about to become a new saying in marketing…location, location, location. We are watching the concepts of shopping, gaming/promotional offers and location mash together on mobile devices into a wonderful new way to motivate purchase behavior. The only question that remains is will marketers seize the opportunity, viewing themselves as owning this channel and developing engaging content or will they lease space on the channel and shove coupons at us on our smart phones?

9 Killer Tips for Location-Based Marketing.

Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy With My Blog and Building My Brand

Excellent article from the NYT on rise of the personal brand and the power of mommy…or grandma.

I was having a conversation the other night with a friend in marketing and shared this analogy for how the world has changed:

In the olden days when we all lived in villages, grandma would go to the local bakery and if the baker’s cookies were stale, she’d demand another one. If the baker refused, grandma would tell everyone in the village how much the baker’s cookies sucked. And that would be the end of the baker’s business.

With the rise of the mass triplets…mass production, mass media and mass retailing…grandma lost her power. The baker could overwhelm grandma’s complaints with his mass distribution, a massive customer base and of course, massive advertising. Not any more.

We’ve really returned to the days of the village, only now it’s a global village. Grandma now has her own mass media and if your cookies are stale, she’ll let everyone know how much you suck. Grandma’s post about how bad your cookies are is one blog post or video song parody on YouTube away from being viewed by millions and millions of people, who will then share it on their Facebook pages and their blogs, who will Twitter about it and pretty soon, you’ll be out of business if you make bad products or have bad service.  I think this is a good thing. No more using the power of mass to fool the sheeple.

Politicians are just now starting to wake up to this reality. Brands need to wake up to it as well…whether they’re product and service companies, media channels or retailers. Grandma is in change now and you don’t want to tick her off.

via the

Cisco Sees Mobile Data Doubling Annually – Digits – WSJ

In case there’s any doubt about the growth of the mobile internet, according to Cisco, within five years 400 million consumers will access the internet ONLY through a mobile connection. This is a huge change…not only in the way the world accesses the internet but everything else…how we share, our social interactions and yes, our shopping and buying habits.

Marketers had better start now preparing for the mobile future. It promises many opportunities for those proactive enough to seize upon them now but much peril for those who ignore the obvious.

Digits – WSJ.