What is Your Brand’s Zero Moment of Truth?

Everyone acknowledges that marketing has changed since the advent of social media, and I ran across a free eBook from Google this week that really hammered the message home.  The eBook is called “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth” by Jim Lecinski, Google’s Managing Director of US Sales & Service and Chief ZMOT Evangelist, and was originally discussed in a Google blog post in March 2010.

Essentially, the Zero Moment of Truth (also known as ZMOT)  is an update on the First Moment of Truth (FMOT) coined by Proctor & Gamble in 1995 to define the first interaction between a consumer and a product on a store’s shelf.  At the time, P&G considered this the most important marketing opportunities for a brand.

With the rise of social media, the FMOT is still important but most interactions take place before a consumer ever sees a product on a shelf.  Consumers are now using the Internet to search for products, review product websites, compare products and prices, read reviews and comments, see what their friends recommend, check out technical specs…and the list goes on.

ZMOT Graphic from Google's eBook

The key for all brands and companies is that “the conversation is already going on” whether you as a company are participating or not.  Companies cannot really start or stop it, but can choose to engage or not to engage.  As an example of the growth of ZMOT phenomena from the book noted that 37% of shoppers surveyed in 2011 found online social sources to be an influential driver when making decisions compared to 19% in 2010.   ZMOT is not limited to consumer or retail goods, but applies in B2B situations as well.

The top online social sources include:

  • Getting an online referral from a friend
  • Becoming a friend or follower of a brand
  • Reading blogs where the product was discussed
  • Seeing the brand mentioned on social networking sites
Personally, I am a big user of Yelp when I am in a new neighborhood or city and looking for a restaurant.  I definitely pay attention to the ratings and reviews – and reinforced this practice on a recent trip to Boston and Maine this year when we found two hidden off-the-beaten-path ‘gems’.
The book is well-organized and includes these chapters:
  1. Changing the Rulebook
  2. The New Mental Model
  3. ZMOT All Around Us
  4. Ratings and Reviews: Word of MOT
  5. Equal Thought, Not Afterthought
  6. How to Win at ZMOT
  7. MOT’s Next
This is the author’s final advice:
All you need to do now is get your business into the conversation. Take risks. Say yes. Ask your team the question “Are you ready to win at the Zero Moment of Truth?”

You can download the ZMOT eBook from the Zero Moment of Truth website you can view the PDF below.  You can also get the book on Kindle, Nook, iBook and at the Google eBookstore.


From the CMO Council – The 2011 State of Marketing

The CMO Council just came out with their annual survey of the State of Marketing – the 2011 survey is available from this link.  The report is jointly sponsored by Deloitte  Consulting and OpenText, and the 28-page Executive Summary is free to download (the entire reports costs $199).   Christine Cutten and Jennifer MacMillan, from Deloitte Consulting, provide their own 2011 commentary at the end of the Executive Summary too.

Here are a few highlights.

Lots of Room for Improvement in Online Marketing

Only 5% of the CMOs surveyed thought they were doing an excellent job with online marketing while more than 25% were not doing a good job or struggling to quantify the value of their online marketing budgets.

From the CMO Council Report - Marketers Rate Their Capabilities

Becoming More Accountable

The marketers in the survey are moving away from “random acts of marketing” to a more focused view on operational and performance accountability.

From the CMO Council Report - 2011 Top Areas of Transformation

The Final Word

The report overview wraps up by discussing the need for expanded expectations around business analytics, database management, digital marketing and strategic marketing.

Though survey results clearly demonstrate that at this point, professionaldevelopment revolves around customer knowledge and intimacy, many CMOs are looking to get smarter about some of the emerging technologies and tools dominating headlines, such as social media and mobile. With so manyresponsibilities and expectations falling under the umbrella of marketingleadership, the most successful CMOs may perhaps be the executives with the biggest breadth of expertise, as they will be best equipped to manage the full spectrum marketing challenges.


You can also view the report via the embedded SlideShare PDF that I found courtesy of Fred Zimni:

Adding a Profile on About.me

Do you want an easy way to create an overview page about you, including links to where people can contact you?  If so, you should check out the new service About.me.  About.me lets you create a one-page overview of yourself including links to your website and the leading social media websites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.  About.me helps consolidate all of your web activity in one place using one URL.

Why do I like About.me?

  1. Simple yet comprehensive — About.me is very easy to use and it is simple to add links to your key social media properties and websites.  It is also possible to use your creative talents to develop very visual pages.  Check out the About.me home page for examples of “Who’s Using It”.  Oh, and it’s free to use About.me.
  2. Customized URLs — you can maximize your visibility by creating a customized username which becomes part of your About.me URL.  For example, I chose tomhumbarger as my user name so my About.me URL becomes http://about.me/tomhumbarger.  And you can use the Promote page to submit your custom URL to the Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines or publicize it on Facebook or Twitter.
  3. Analytics — About.me comes with a powerful dashboard that shows how many people have viewed, clicked or linked to your profile.  In addition, the Klout influence service is integrated on the More Data tab
There is also a short 1 minute overview video on the About.me website that explains how and why to use the service:

About.me is currently running a promotion on their site and through BzzAgent where you get free business cards from Moo.com for trying About.me. To see what About.me looks like, check out my About.me page and an example of my Dashboard below:

About.me Dashboard for Tom Humbarger

Using Your Own Customer Interactions To Improve Your Marketing

I had a conversation this week that reminded me of an article I wrote in 2002 when I was doing some consulting work for Island Data (now Overtone.com which was recently acquired by KANA).  Fortunately, the article lives on in the Greater China CRM website (GCCRM.com) including a picture of a ‘youthful’ me.

It is interesting to read this article almost 9 years after I wrote it as so much has changed and is now taken for granted.  Even more interesting is that the 4 recommendations I make at the end of the article are still applicable today – except that it is much easier in 2011 to listen to customers using any of the now-common social media channels.

  1. Analyze the content and intent of Web-based customer interaction information from email, chat and the Web in near real-time
  2. Identify and categorize opportunities by segment (new sales, cross sales and up-sales, and retention or attrition risks)
  3. Take action immediately by pushing the leads and information to the appropriate group, channel, database or other software for execution
  4. Review and measure the results of the actions taken and learn from the experience

In 2002, interacting with your customers consisted of email, chat and maybe some web channel discussions on forums or comments.  And it was not easy to discern the tone or tenor of those conversations without a great deal of manual effort or through a tool like what Island Data was then selling to automatically scan and categorize customer interactions.


Here is the complete text of my 2002 article:

Using Your Own Customer Interactions To Improve Your Marketing

There is so much going on in the CRM world these days that it is easy for some of the simpler ideas for improving your bottom line to go untouched. Worries about profitability and growth, integrating multiple solutions and customer views, analyzing and segmenting customer data, acquiring and retaining customers, reducing costs and meeting customer satisfaction goals all set in an environment of downsized corporate budgets could make executives overlook the obvious.

Communications Are Probably Ending Up In A Black Hole Or Dead End

If you are like most companies, you are wasting your best source for identifying new leads, cross-sales, up-sales and customer attrition risks. And it’s your own information that has been freely-offered by your customers and prospects.

What I mean by wasting is that your customers and prospects are trying to communicate with you – and their communications are probably ending up in a black hole or dead end. A majority of your customer and prospect contacts originate in the Service Channel via email, the Web, or customer forums and chat rooms. For many companies, the Service Channel is only seen as a cost or operational center and is often viewed in less than positive terms. Like oil and water, Service Operations generally do not mix with the Sales and Marketing sides of the business.

A Simple Categorization Of The Evolutionary Continuum 

Heads in the Sand – These companies have not made customer service a priority and do not offer multiple access methods for customer inquiries, such as email or self-service from their Web sites. If they do answer email, they do so sporadically and in an untimely process. Most companies have moved beyond this stage.

Cost Growers – These companies have started to realize that service interactions are a critical ingredient for customer satisfaction or that they have to offer multiple means for customer contact to match the competition. Many have addressed the issue by hiring more people to answer customer inquiries in their contact centers. Unfortunately, these companies do not have their eye on the bottom line and their profitability suffers as costs spiral out of control.

Cost Avoiders – These companies “get religion” on operational cost control – and usually, the zeal for eliminating or avoiding costs comes at the expense of customer satisfaction. More often than not, the goals of cost reduction are only on paper and the planned reductions of staff and increased productivity never materialize.

Enhancers – These companies really get it, and unfortunately, many companies will never make it to this stage. The Service organizations in these companies are cooperating with the Marketing and Sales organizations to present a unified front. They answer routine emails and questions automatically and efficiently, they escalate service issues promptly, they capitalize on sales and attrition opportunities in near real-time and they use the intimate knowledge of their customer interactions to improve their products and services.

The “Enhancers” listen to what their customers and prospects are telling them. In this final evolutionary state, customer satisfaction will improve substantially and profitability will dramatically increase.

6% Of Their Daily Email Volumes Relate To New Sales Opportunities

Preliminary statistics from one company who conducted tests in this area have identified that 6% of their daily email volumes relate to new sales opportunities. And by rapidly pushing the opportunities to an outbound call center staff (in ?almost? real-time), they have were able to positively contact 25% of the prospects and converted 60% of the contacts into closed sales. This conversion rate is more than 10 times the typical response rate of 2 to 4% they had achieved using more traditional sources for prospects.

To date, very few companies have made it to the ?Enhancer? stage for three major reasons. First, very few companies have realized that there is so much potential in their own service information due to organizational blinders and structural impediments. Second, it is difficult to analyze the intent or content of customer service interactions in real-time, and very few vendors offer robust solutions with this natural language capability. Finally, most companies are ignoring the obvious possibilities of their own service data because many think they need to invest in an expensive, sophisticated and time-consuming solution.

The Keys To Turning Customer Interactions Into Better Marketing

  1. Analyze the content and intent of Web-based customer interaction information from email, chat and the Web in near real-time
  2. Identify and categorize opportunities by segment (new sales, cross sales and up-sales, and retention or attrition risks)
  3. Take action immediately by pushing the leads and information to the appropriate group, channel, database or other software for execution
  4. Review and measure the results of the actions taken and learn from the experience

Capabilities and demand for these types of solutions will explode in the near term – make sure that your company is not left behind in this area. Start by asking some of these leading questions to gain a deeper understanding of the gaps in your organization:

  1. How do we currently obtain prospect information? What is the typical response rate from those sources? What do those sources cost?
  2. How do we or can we identify sales opportunities in real-time? How do we find cross-sell and up-sell leads in our existing customer base?
  3. Do the Marketing and Service organizations in our company talk to each other? Does our Service organization give cross-sell leads to Marketing?
  4. How do we identify customer retention risks? How do we address the potential risks? How quickly do we respond?
  5. How do we measure or improve the sales closure rates or effectiveness of your campaigns?

Using Slideshare to Promote Your Business

Another great and easy way for small-to-medium businesses to leverage the social media channel is set up a company account on Slideshare.

Slideshare claims to be the largest community for sharing presentations and other documents with over 23 million visitors  who view more than 60 million pages per month.  It’s free to use and it is a great place to store company presentations, whitepapers and other marketing collateral.  Presentations and documents can either be totally open to the public or you can set the privacy to only you or to people with whom you share the secret URL .  Slideshare is a great way to promote and broaden your company’s exposure with a fairly low level of involvement on your part.

I also find many great presentations and documents on Slideshare, so it is worth your time to explore some of the great content.  You can easily embed a presentation in a blog or share it on other social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Delicious.  Slideshare  has many other features like events, slidecasts, groups, a community and widgets that are worth checking out too.

After completing your profile page, uploading content to Slideshare is very easy.  Simply click on the Upload button, locate the file or files you want to upload from your computer, then add a title, description and tags.  Within a couple of minutes, your files will be ready to be viewed on the Slideshare site.  It is really important to include a complete description and as many relevant tags for each file as this will make it easier for others to find it and to get picked up by search engines.

Some quick tips for using Slideshare for your business include:

  1. Create an account with your company name in it
  2. Make your profile as complete as possible and include a logo, picture, address and URL
  3. Upload great content and make sure that the title, description and tags are complete
  4. Tell people your content is on Slideshare by sharing with prospects, customers and others,  and by sharing on other social media sites

As you can see from the example company profile below, you can include a fairly detailed profile including address, phone number and website.  All presentations or documents that you upload are also displayed on your “My Slidespace” page along with the number of times each document has been viewed.

Slideshare Company Profile

Example Company Profile from One of My Clients on Slideshare

For businesses that want to use Slideshare as a lead generation channel, there are now two options called Adshare and LeadShare that were launched in October.  I have not had an occasion to try either service, but I did explore the website to see how they work.

AdShare is a way to get targeted visitors to view your content.  When you sign up you get to pick which documents you want to share and the type of content or category that you want to sponsor.  You only pay when someone clicks on one of your documents.  The current rate is $.25 if you don’t select a geography and $.35 per click if you select a geography.  AdShare works a bit like Google Adwords but your message can be longer than 50 words and documents on Slideshare are viewed as ‘content’ and not ‘advertising’.

LeadShare allows you to leverage your content by capturing the viewer’s contact information.   Pricing starts at $1 for a call to action and moves to $3 per lead if you want to capture contact information.  As you add additional information you want to capture, the price per lead increases.  For example, it costs an extra $2 to get a phone number and $2 per qualifying question.

I am sure I will experiment with one or both services before the end of the year.  For more on these services, I have embedded Slideshare’s presentation that explains the programs.

While there are other file sharing solutions on the market today including Scribd, DocStoc and Yudo, I think that Slideshare is the current gold standard and definitely worth using to promote your business.


November 21 Update

I wrote a follow-on blog post about using Slideshare to promote your “best of” blog posts. This is another business use for Slideshare.

Tag You’re It – Using Microsoft Tag

Have you seen any of these colorful ‘tags’ on product packaging or marketing literature recently?


My vCard in Microsoft Tag

Microsoft introduced these new tags at the CES 2009 in January and I just ‘discovered’ them last week.   Microsoft Tag is based on a new technology called High Capacity Color Barcodes (HCCBs), which was invented in-house by Microsoft Research and it uses triangle shapes and colors to store data.  This technology is an update to the QR Code 2-D bar codes created by a Japanese company in 1994 where they are the most popular type of 2-D code.

According to the FAQs on the Microsoft Tag (beta) site, Microsoft Tag:

…connects real life with the digital world. Microsoft Tags are small, colorful codes that can be printed, stuck, or displayed just about anywhere. When you snap a Tag with the camera on your internet-enabled phone, additional information or experiences are automatically opened on your phone. There is no fumbling with URLs or texting short codes. Microsoft Tags can make product packages, posters, print-based ads, magazine articles, exhibit signage, billboards, storefronts, business card, or just about anything else, interactive.

The idea is to close the gap between the physical and digital world by making it easier for end users to easily get more information about products and services.

Microsoft Tag Reader is available on most mobile platforms including Windows Mobile, J2ME, iPhone, Blackberry, and Symbian S60 phones (your phone will need a camera and internet connection).  I used the iPhone application and it works as advertised – just launch the application and point the phone camera at the tag.   To get the free reader application, point your phone’s browser to http://gettag.mobi and you can get the iPhone application from the Apple Store.

For now, Microsoft is allowing users to make their own tags by going to http://www.microsoft.com/tag/ and creating an account which is super-easy if you already have a Microsoft Live account.   You can create  tags that include URLs, free text, vCard or even dial a phone number.  There is also a reporting service tied to the tags you create where you can view the number of clicks by day.  After you create the tag, you can render the tag in several different formats so you can copy it to product packaging, post on a website or document.  The interface to create the tags could be more user-friendly and it should also let me create JPG files for my tags instead of just pdf, wmf or xps.


Options for Rendering Microsoft Tags

For me, I will definitely add the tags to my next set of business cards.  Companies should also start experimenting with adding the tags to their packaging and product literature.  Obviously, it will take some time for user adoption since end-users need to take the step to install the reader program and companies won’t take a big leap unil more end-users have the Reader application.  Within the next 12 to 18 months, I expect this tagging technology to take off in a big way.

Compelling Reasons Why Your Brand Needs a Managed Community

Powered - The Leader in Social Marketing

Powered - The Leader in Social Marketing

I recently received the 2008 Social Marketing ROI Report and Benchmarking Guide from Powered – an Austin-based company that creates social marketing programs that helps companies create communities around their brand and “insert the brand into the social fabric of the internet”.

Not only did the companies in the Powered survey report an average of $60 in returns for every dollar spent, but they also reported strong correlations in purchase intent, brand affinity and brand loyalty as follows:

  • Purchase Intent: Two-thirds of the respondents stated they were more likely to purchase to sponsoring brands products and/or services as a direct result of the learning experience offered in the community
  • Brand Affinity: Two-thirds of respondents indicated an improved brand perception of the sponsoring brand
  • Brand Loyalty: 63% of respondents stated that they had a more positive opinion of the sponsoring brand

The survey included results from over 112,000 people – or about 11% of the total 1 million people represented in the population of the 22 communities surveyed.  Social marketing programs achieved nearly 5x the ROI of direct marketing programs and 30x the ROI of traditional media advertising programs.

From Powered Social Marketing ROI Report

From Powered Social Marketing ROI Report

The whitepaper goes on to suggest that Powered’s results are “virtually always above the industry norms” and advises marketers to study their target customers “to learn what kinds of social marketing and web experiences they would likely value the most, and to test those experiences”.  In any case, these figures are quite compelling and point out that a managed community can drive drastic changes in brand performance.

In the implications and concluding thoughts, I found this excerpt to be particularly telling:

Social marketing as a relatively new non-traditional form of persuasive marketing communications is widely misunderstood. Most advertising and marketing executives assume that the term relates mainly to content generated by consumers. Beyond social marketing, marketers ought to carefully investigate and test every practical means of befriending consumers by new and established forms of marketing communications which do not involve straight advertising. This includes True Sponsorship in all its forms i.e. entertainment programs as well as educational ones, in all media; cause marketing; service advertising (e.g. helping the consumer to know which products to buy and how to use them); sponsored games; sponsored processes supporting consumer generated media; and new forms which no one has thought of yet.

So why doesn’t your company and brand have a managed community?

You can download the report for free from the Powered website after filling out a registration form.  All serious social marketers can learn from this outstanding report.  You can also check out the slides from the webinar (“This ROI is Too Good to be True”) they held to release the report at this link.