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The Zero Moment of Truth – The Secret of Consumer Buying Habits

Zero Moment of Truth Process

Consumer buying habits continue to change and, over the past few years, have done so quite dramatically.

We used to think about that new pair of shoes, a toaster or new TV, and plan to go shopping at the weekend where we’d drag ourselves (and others) around countless shops and/or shopping centres, perusing what’s on offer. Sometimes we’d even see the perfect item early-on yet continue to wander up and down the street in the hope something better is lurking somewhere else – only to return five hours later to make the purchase at the original shop!

Of course, this still happens, but you only have to look at the relative disaster of 2015’s Black Friday, where high street shops piled products high and opened all night but were bereft of shoppers as they stayed at home in their millions and bought online instead. If ever there was a lesson in the importance of understanding changing buyer habits, that was it!

For most of us shopping is a very different experience now. We tend often to realise we need something, imagine we have it, search for it, compare it and buy it – all online on our mobile, tablet or PC, and the point at which you accept you want something and take immediate action to buy – THAT’s the Zero Moment of Truth; …the precise moment when we have a need, intent or question we want answered online, and take action to do something about it.

In the case of making the decision to buy something, that’s the first moment of truth – completing the action towards satisfaction. The second moment of truth is ownership:

In 2011 Google began research into this phenomenon and their research continues today because our habits are evolving all the time. Through our 100 billion+ searches every month Google has seen how we’ve changed the way we search and what we do after the search. Mobile devices have had an enormous impact on this evolution as we no longer have what Google calls ‘a single discreet moment’ – “when I open my laptop and search”. Instead, we may use a desktop PC at work, a mobile phone on the way home and a laptop or tablet on the sofa – all as part of the same journey to search, research and buy a single product.

As a business owner you could be forgiven for thinking that simply having a website is therefore enough because, if your potential customers have changed the way they buy, and you have a website, they’ll find you. Job done.

If only it were that easy.

Whilst the [first] Zero Moment of Truth is the point at which we decide we have the need, and really want that ‘thing’, it appears that’s the result of what we’ve done previously; namely research, discovery, learning, gaining confidence etc., in the product and/or company from whom we intend to buy.

Google’s research suggests that a buyer needs around 7 hours of interaction across 11 touch points in 4 locations BEFORE making the purchase. Just think about that for a moment. Can you provide that volume of content for your [potential] customers? Do you have enough collateral to keep their interest up to the point they make a decision to buy?

This may sound like the result of just more pointless research but, if you accept that a) what Google says generally goes, as they do happen hold more information about everything (and probably everyone) than any organisation in the known universe and, b) that when you consider TV & radio ads, billboard posters, shop signs, pop-up ads, email marketing, direct marketing, magazine ads, conversations with your friends/colleagues/peers, time spent on your mobile at home or at work, and so on, the figures may well be true and you’re probably doing it yourself right now anyway for something you want to buy.

What it actually means is that people are unlikely to buy a product or service the very first time they come across it as they will want more information and need to be more convinced in order to help them make the decision.

So, back to you as a business owner…. can you provide your potential customers with 7 hours of interaction across 11 touch points in 4 locations for your products or service?

This could be:

  • 7 hours: for example; videos (demos, interviews, testimonials), articles (white papers, editorial, testimonials), blog posts, audio (sound bites, interviews, podcasts).
  • 11 touch-points: for example; business cards, website, sales/product brochures, email marketing, vehicle signwriting, shop signage, networking, talks/workshops, advertising, articles and so on.
  • 4 locations: for example; website, social media, networking, shop.

Many a restaurant has failed because the owner believed “if I build it they will come“. To start with, they do. Then they stop. Sometimes they stop because they forget about the restaurant and there’s nothing out there to remind them it exists. If the restaurant owner had just thought to collect the contact details of all the new customers and then sent them regular updates on new dishes, special offers, their loyalty card scheme, events etc, those people would be likely to go back, and with friends.

Even the likes of Amazon understands the 7-11-4 rule (or probably their own version of it) which is why they work so hard to ensure the Amazon brand remains front and centre of your thought process for the next time you want to buy… well, pretty much anything.

Consider this; the rise in online shopping will only increase and probably at an exponential rate. If what leads up to the Zero Moment of Truth results in someone buying from you, instead of your competitor, AT the Zero Moment of Truth (i.e. the point at which they buy) then it’s time to start thinking about 7-11-4 and how it impacts your business.

There are many ways you can apply the 7-11-4 rule to your business, but first, you have to buy into the concept and then get to work on creating content. And if you’re not sure how to do that, you may find this helpful: Creating Engaging Content

With more than 30 years experience in business and marketing, Clive is the visionary behind The Marketing Alliance, launched in 2018. Clive leads a curated tribe of accomplished marketing and business support professionals who consistently delight clients through their creativity, innovation, strategy and an unwavering commitment to excellence.
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