Is the Zero Moment of Truth still relevant since its release in 2011

In most industries, two years isn’t that long a time.  However, and especially in the tech industry, a lot can change in two years.

The Zero Moment of Truth is an idea innovated by Google, about marketing and advertising in the age of the Internet.  The traditional mental model for marketing has, for a long time, been Stimulus, Shelf, Experience.  As the Zero Moment of Truth book states:

Stimulus:  Dad is watching a football game and sees an ad for digital cameras.  He thinks “That looks good.”

Shelf:  He goes to his favourite electronics store, where he sees a terrific stand-up display for that same digital camera.  The packaging is great.  A young sales guy answers all his questions.  He buys the camera.

Experience:  Dad gets home and the camera records beautiful pictures of his kids, just as advertised.  A happy ending.

The idea is that, in the age of the Internet, there is a new moment that fits between stimulus and shelf, and Google has dubbed this ‘The Zero Moment of Truth’.

Ultimately, we’re making decisions much more quickly than we used to with the Internet at our fingertips, and the Zero Moment of Truth is what we all do when we’re considering a product.

Extending on the example above, Dad “grabs his laptop off the coffee table and searches for ‘digital camera reviews.’  He looks at comments from users on CNET and two other sites.  He goes to Twitter and posts:  “Anybody have a great camera for under $100?”  By the time he gets to the store, he’s already made his decision.

First, there’s no denying the importance of the Zero Moment of Truth.  We all Google products before we buy, and Google offers some unsurprising stats in the book:  70% of Americans look at product reviews before making a purchase, 79% of consumers use a smartphone to help with shopping, and 83% of moms undertake online research on products after seeing television commercials.

Google’s book details the most effective ways to relinquish that zero moment of truth.  First of all:  nobody is exempt from needing to utilise this moment of truth. Everybody with an Internet connection is, in real time, being influenced by an average of 10.4 sources of information to make buying decisions.

Ratings and reviews:  Most reviews are good, because most people are more inclined to talk about really good products.  As for bad reviews, they’re not all bad: negative reviews reportedly help in an online shopping environment, because it contributes to a feeling of authenticity.  If your product is awful, then yes:  steer away from ratings and reviews.  If, however, it’s amazing, it’s never too late to jump on this bandwagon.

Word of Mouth is more than words between friends or from a mouth.  Word of mouth is a digitally archived medium nowadays.  You can see what Richard from Wisconsin thinks about this book.  You can see what Klaus from Berlin, Germany, thinks about that new stereo you’ve been thinking about.  This might be frightening but embrace this conversation.

Put yourself in the position of the customer:  I want a [insert your product type here].  I have [insert your price range here] to spend on it.  As the book correctly states:  the consumer is in charge – they’ll Google what they want to Google whenever they want.  Imagine you’re in their position:  Google your brand, look at third party reviews on your product.

What is your product’s ZMOT?  As the book states:  the ZMOT for jet engines is different to the ZMOT for cornflakes.

Have the answers.  When you search for information on a product and find yourself at a dead end it can easily provoke a turnaround:  if people can’t find the information they want they attribute that to your business.

The Zero Moment of Truth booklet ends appropriately:  over the next few days, pay attention to your buying decisions and what informs and influences them.  What choices do you make?  How much research do you conduct before you buy?

Ultimately, the Zero Moment of Truth is more relevant than it used to be.  We’re becoming more and more reliant on technology than we have ever been.  Sure, in little old Godzone we might not be as computer oriented as other places, but we’re no doubt becoming more and more Internet reliant.

The moment of truth here is:  the Zero Moment of Truth is no longer a competitive advantage that businesses can utilise.  It’s a rule;  a necessity.  If you’re not utilising the Zero Moment of Truth, then your competitors most likely have an advantage over you.

Read the full booklet here.

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Is the Zero Moment of Truth still relevant since its release in 2011