Editor’s Note: Today’s Post comes courtesy of Daniel Newman, the President of Broadsuite, a company dedicated to helping companies be found, seen and heard online by tying together paid, owner and earned media to drive. Newman is the author of 2 Amazon Best Selling Books, "The New Rules of Customer Engagement," and "The Millennial CEO". A regular contributor to Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post, an Adjunct Professor and advisor to some of the world's largest brands.
When Google came out with their Zero Moment of Truth reports, there was a lot of highly compelling data points that made CEOs, CMOs and sales heads have to stop and reconsider almost everything they are doing; at least as it pertains to marketing.
For those less familiar with the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), it can best be defined as “the invisible moment by which a consumer makes a decision about a brand.” It can occur on their mobile device, while chatting on a social network or when they search for information and the results that ensue.
Some of the highlight reel data points of the ZMOT study were:
• 84% of buyers engage in Zero Moment Activities (Online Information/Education)
• 10.4 Pieces of Information in the Buyer’s Journey Prior to Purchase
The ZMOT isn’t a new discussion point. In fact it has been written about thousands of times with as many different perspectives, but for businesses that are slow to adopt or that still think digital and social are fads, the takeaways are becoming more and more important.
Content Is The New Sales Call
When Forrester Forrester Study that showed on average customers are 70%+ through the sales cycle prior to engaging a vendor, they were basically announcing a shift of massive proportion that affects nearly every company. The more complex your product and service the more this number should resonate because what this study was saying is that people want to do their own research.
No longer are we in the days of consumers (B2B or B2C) picking up the phone or calling in their trusted advisor to gain more insights or information on what we are looking for. We have taken that role on ourselves and that is why we seek to do everything from diagnose our physical ailments to procuring major business software packages without so much as a single meeting with a vendor.
While a blanket statement that every business must replace their sales efforts with content would be a reach, if not just an irresponsible statement, what the facts are saying are truths that most businesses cannot afford to ignore; imploring business leaders to ask themselves this question.
If not from us, then where are our customers getting their information?
For companies that are not creating low touch, easily accessible content in the form of blogs, articles, white papers, infographics, videos and more – how are they providing the 1:1 marketing experience that entices, educates and engages customers to move along the buyer’s journey with their brand?
Chances are the prospective buyers are garnering their insights somewhere, and many times those resources become the new trusted advisor, the sales person of the past and the influencer of the future. This in turn means companies that are waiting for the phone to ring or even those with a proactive sales force may be missing out on a significant opportunity by ignoring the invisible (to them) portion of the buying process.
Data That Cannot Be Ignored
The paramount shift from 1:1 marketing that took place between a sales rep and a buyer has gone by the wayside. Even brands that still see this as a viable channel must realize that clients are more informed than ever and it is the boundless volume of content that is creating information parity that at the very least realigns the sales professionals role from informer and educator to creator and innovator.
If nothing else, brands must recognize that by the moment the prospect has landed at your door, the process has long been underway. The companies that “get it” will recognize and prescribe content as a means to be more involved and engaged in creating those moments, those zero moments of truth and those that don’t “get it” will be left on the outside looking in with little more than hope to guide them to their next cycle of growth.