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Zero Moment of Truth

Do Your Micro Businesses Know About The Zero Moment of Truth?

Guest post by Joanne Steele

ZMOT logoHave you ever heard of ZMOT (The Zero Moment of Truth)? If you’re like most microenterprise development people, probably not, even if your fairly tech savvy. It’s another Google brainchild, and for microenterprises, the message is more than interesting it’s a gamechanger.

Let me back up and give you a brief history of ZMOT – it’s important to know where this idea came from.

Procter and Gamble – you know, the soap company – used the phrase, “first moment of truth,” to denote that moment when you are standing in front of the shelf deciding which product to put in your shopping cart.

Last year the Google Team identified a new moment of truth they call ZMOT, the Zero Moment of Truth. The research they reference shows that the internet and mobile technology has added this new moment of truth.

ZMOT is the research phase that happens before anyone even gets to the shopping phase or “first moment of truth!”  

Why ZMOT is something micro businesses and the organizations that serve them should pay attention to.

“So what!” you may say. “Most of the micro businesses we serve have some kind of website, and we’ve held a few workshops teaching how to use Facebook. We’re small and so are our businesses! What could all this possible have to do with us??”

My answer is, absolutely everything.

In my research I came across a post on Tiny but Mighty by Russ Hennessey called Worth Your Time: The Google Zero Moment Of Truth Report.

In the post Hennessey tells the story about how he chose a business to help him deal with a downed tree that fell across his driveway, taking out his power.

Read the story and cringe! The nice guy in the shirt with the company logo who came to his door offering to fix the problem lost out because he LOST the Zero Moment of Truth.

That small business owner may have used a microloan to have that logo designed and those company shirts purchased! He thought he was doing the right thing, and now he needs help getting up to speed about ZMOT.

Back to Russ Hennessey and his downed  tree… Hennessey went online to research (ZMOT) and couldn’t find any mention of this guy who came to the door in his company shirt, so he chose another company with more social and online authority!

What all the research behind ZMOT shows us is that marketing and customer relations have dramatically and completely changed.

How do the micro businesses you serve fare at ZMOT?

Their business success depends more than ever on what their customers are saying about them, and less and less on what they are saying about themselves.

Because of review sites and social media, your micro businesses’ customers have a huge audience for their opinions, and all the slick advertising your client’s are paying for can be flushed away by a silly viral comment.

All those nice posts on your clients’ Facebook pages don’t hold a candle to a single nasty review that goes unanswered, on a popular review site.

What do potential customers find when they google your clients’ businesses, or their industry in their town or region?

ZMOT is an encouragement for you to take action. Realizing that the old fashioned “sales funnel” we marketers used to talk about has been replaced by a decision map that looks more like an airline flight map, those micro business owners must work hard to show up where their customers are looking, online.

To help small businesses, Google has created a significant number of ZMOT videos and presentations, and recently came out with the ZMOT Handbook, Ways to Win Shoppers at the Zero Moment of Truth. It’s all available in the Zero Moment of Truth toolbox.

4 Ways you can help your micro business owners respond to ZMOT

  1. Teach them to be where their customer is searching online with plenty of good free content and information – it’s called content marketing and it’s vital for ZMOT.
  2. Be sure your micro business clients understand about monitoring and managing their reputation online. Every review site has an opportunity for them to “claim” their listing and respond to reviews.
  3. Urge your clients to turn on and encourage comments on their blogs and social media sites. Being interactive and responsive is more important than having a fancy overpriced website.
  4. Talk to the businesses you serve about getting into the conversation online.  Reassure them that this doesn’t mean they have to be on Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter and Linkedin and Google+. It means that they have to be where their customer is. If they don’t know where that is, remind them that unlike big business, they talk to their customers regularly. They can ask.

ZMOT is only a big deal for micro businesses who choose to ignore it.  If they’re like the micro business owner in Ray Hennessey’s story, they’re going to learn the hard way that physical presence no longer counts as ZMOT.

They’ll learn the hard way that their online presence in all its forms matters just as much or in some cases more than their physical location.

Those who embrace ZMOT will see the benefits, with more loyal involved customers and more profits.

Joanne Steele is a rural and small business marketing expert specializing in internet marketing and rural tourism.  Joanne is addressing the issues of ZMOT for micro-businesses with a new video training membership website, Take Control Of Your Internet Marketing, that helps small business owners learn how to capture the opportunities of ZMOT in simple, doable and affordable steps. Check out her Partnership Program with microenterprise associations. She blogs weekly on rural development and rural tourism issues at her blog,