Think about the last time you shopped for a car, a vacuum, or a hotel room. The internet has changed how we decide what to buy. As consumers today, we are educated, technologically advanced, and have a crazy amount of resources and tools at our finger tips to help us formulate opinions about the many services and products surrounding us. Gone are the days when a beautiful brochure, a powerful sales presentation and a strong salesperson could sway our opinions about the value of a product or service. Long before they have an opportunity to meet us, we have already researched, judged, and probably selected the vendor we want to work with.
So why such a big change? In order to understand how consumer behavior has evolved over the last decade, we must first get our heads around the “zero moment of truth” concept. Zero moment of truth or ZMOT is a term Google coined. ZMOT is a critical new marketing moment. It describes a revolution in the way consumers search for information online and make decisions about brands before they buy. Zero moment of truth means brand awareness and purchase intent now happens earlier and with more external input than ever before.
How do we effectively market to a ZMOT customer? Smart brands today understand their role is to be an educator. Social media (from blog posts, email promos and interacting with social communities) allows us to participate in a dialogue about our brand without pushing a “sales-y” message. It’s about being present in a conversation when the customer wants to have it, not when we want to. Done right, social marketing gives us the platform to project a strong brand persona and maintain a conversation about the value we bring. We want to participate with our customers while they are forming an opinion of us.
Forrester reports that 70-90% of consumers engage with 11.4 pieces of content before ever making a purchase. In the span of a single month, Google answers over 100 Billion searches. Pinterest, a social media community is becoming the visual search engine of choice. How will your agency be the agency of choice and solve the content needs of clients if you’re not present when and where they need you most?
It’s now more important than ever to get serious about marketing our businesses. Marketing in a digital age means engaging our customers not by only telling them about our companies, but rather talking about “our” business and the world “our” business fits into. And our sales and marketing efforts must be aligned too. If both strategies are working together you will attract an audience, authentically connect with them, and eventually convert them to customers.
Karen D'Silva is one of today's most influential creatives in the commercial photography community. She founded Karen DSilva Creative Services, a trend, marketing and research company designed to help photographers understand the marketplace, find where their images fit, and profile and market to clients who share the same photographic vision. She is also currently a Creative Consultant at Agency Access.
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