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Contact At Once!

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Applying Google’s ZMOT To Your Dealership At Every Moment of Truth

As many observant dealerships know by now, there has been a lot of industry buzz about ZMOT. ZMOT, or the Zero Moment of Truth had its genesis at Proctor and Gamble, and has gained additional momentum thanks to Google and industry visionaries like Brian Pasch.

Before ZMOT
If you’re not really sure what the buzz is all about, let’s head back to Proctor and Gamble. Proctor and Gamble is a corporation with many consumer brands, chiefly cleaning supplies and grooming products. For many years, they centered their marketing strategies around the notions of a “Stimulus” and a “First Moment of Truth” (FMOT). In layman’s terms, the Stimulus could be an advertisement, and the First Moment of Truth would be when the stimulated consumer was in a store and could touch and feel the product, read the label and otherwise make a relatively informed choice as to buy or not buy the product.

Presuming the product was purchased, there was a Second Moment of Truth (SMOT) – that would be when the consumer used the product. If the product didn’t live up the perceived promises of the Stimulus and the FMOT, then there would be a disconnect - the chances of a second purchase would be slim to none.

The Introduction of ZMOT
In the pre-Internet days, that would be the long and short of it, but the Internet has changed everything, especially with the advent of social media. Historically, if someone was dissatisfied with a product, they might tell a few friends and family and the negative impact would be relatively slim. But in our connected world with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and the like, the opportunity for a consumer to give voice to their reactions to a product are many. People are sharing everything online – from viral videos of kittens to product and service reviews.

On the flipside, people are taking advantage of these non-marketing messages to help them decide what products to try and where to go to purchase them. Proctor and Gamble realized that they can no longer control the dialog as they had in the past. The old model – Stimulus to FMOT to SMOT – was not in keeping with the new reality. There was a new step – after the Stimulus, but before heading to the store or to an online merchant, people were going online to find out what other consumers had to say about their experiences with the product or service. They called this new step ZMOT – or the Zero Moment of Truth.

Still, that does seem like a straight line from Stimulus to SMOT, with just one more step in between. Arguably, that might be the case with a relatively low-priced item like a bar of soap. But, what about our industry? Is the path really that short and sweet when someone is looking to buy something far more expensive like that new car or truck? The answer is, likely not so much.

ZMOT and the Auto Industry
If buying a bar of soap can be viewed like a straight shot down the expressway, the car buying process is like navigating a winding road while scaling a mountain. There are many twists and turns, and there is the potential for an accident – something that could scuttle and wreck the deal. What kinds of issues? “Can I qualify for financing? What’s my trade-in worth? Does it come with leather seats?” Each one of those twists and turns can and do happen.

So, while the ZMOT concept is a more realistic view than what was out there previously, it still isn’t spot-on in the automotive space. This is why we’ve developed our new way of thinking about ZMOT that we feel is far more applicable to the car dealers. Ours actually follows those twists and turns, and in fact allows dealerships to be available at EVERY Moment of Truth – Yep, EMOT.

Being Present at Every Moment of Truth (EMOT)
Auto dealer chat from Contact At Once! allows dealers to be present and available to consumers as they go online and do the research as they investigate their buying options. You can be there as they look at your dealership’s site, of course, but you can also be there as they check out the major listing sites – Cars.com, Autotrader.com, CarsDirect.com, EveryCarListed.com and CarSoup.com. You can be there when they check out what people are saying about you on Facebook.

You can be there when they look at listings on Craigslist. You can even be there when they are looking at the Sunday newspapers ads thanks to a new technology being rolled out in the next few months called Mobile Text Connect, which allows the consumer to scan a QR Code with their phone and start a chat conversation. That’s the power of truly being present at Every Moment of Truth. You’re given the opportunity to help guide the consumer down that twisting path and into the new car they desire.

Digital Dealer 12
I invite you to learn more about this powerful concept as I present, ‘Connecting with Customers at Every Moment of Truth’ on April 4th at 10AM at the 12th Digital Dealer Conference in Orlando, Florida. If you’re not able to make it out to Orlando, you can also watch my full length, 35-minute video presentation at www.vimeo.com/autodealerchat/emot.

- Ed Parkinson

Ed Parkinson is the VP of Sales Automotive for Contact At Once! Ed has been working with auto dealers for 28 years and has championed many new services to his customers including: Leasing, Balloon Financing, Call Tracking and Monitoring and Lost Opportunity Management. Ed began selling and coaching auto dealers on strategies for connecting with online shoppers in Q4 of 2006 and joined the company as VP of Sales in April of 2007. He holds a BBA in Marketing and Management from Temple University.

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