Google’s ZMOT Theory and the Future of Marketing

Consumers have changed the way they approach decision-making. As a marketer, have you kept up?  Or are you still using the old mental model? These are just a couple of questions proposed by Google’s new marketing theory known as the “Zero Moment of Truth,” otherwise referred to as  ZMOT.  According to the ZMOT web site, “Whether we’re shopping for corn flakes, concert tickets, or a honeymoon in Paris, the Internet has changed how we decide what to buy.”  Below is a short video overview explaining this concept:

After downloading and reading the free eBook, I’ve determined that the reason why I love ZMOT theory so much is because it provides a framework for everything we as marketers are doing today to keep up with the changing times, and at the same time it underscores the need for approaching marketing issues with a continuously fresh perspective.

Applying ZMOT to the Real World

As a result of discovering this new theory, I’ve been noticing a preponderance of online content lately that parallels nicely with some of the key topics underscored by ZMOT, including today’s post by Brian Solis entitled, “Are you connecting with your new generation of customers … Generation C?”  In this post, Solis articulates the need for connecting with this new generation of customers.  He writes:

The truth is that connected customers or Gen-C is only becoming more pervasive in society and ultimately your economy. Now is the time to recognize how your customer landscape is shifting and to what extent traditional and connected consumers discover and make decisions differently.

Meanwhile, while some agencies are using Google’s ZMOT theory as a basis for developing new business models, other individuals like Scott Brinker are re-envisioning the role of the CMO in such posts as his “Agencies and the marketing technologist revolution.” He writes:

The ZMOT is a flurry of activity. Prospects query search engines, visit your web site, read educational content, follow related accounts on Twitter, visitor competitors’ sites, read reviews, discuss with friends, check online communities, comparison shop, etc. And it’s in this expansive and frenetic zero moment of truth that customers are now frequently won or lost.

This is the root cause of marketing’s disruption … (and) the ZMOT experience now defines brands. What used to be separate — your marketing/advertising, your product/service, your new prospects, your existing customers — is now being mashed together in the ZMOT. Everything intermingles, and from the first touchpoint onward, this whole enchilada is the new customer experience. And its feedback loop, like it or not, defines your brand.

Additionally, bloggers like Daniel Lemin of Convince and Convert are discussing how reviews and social media content affect purchase habits, such as in this post entitled “The Impact of Reviews and Other Social Media Content on Shopper Purchase.” He writes:

Once a consumer makes the first step to pick up and hold a product, they have already filled their mind with the pros and cons, the positive and negative feedback and the all-too-important Jones principle (that is, the Jones have one so I must get one too). Essentially, they are coming to the shopping process armed with tons of information and your role as a marketer is to have made that ZMOT process worthwhile and uncomplicated.

It’s your responsibility as a marketer to make the consumer ZMOT more social and, frankly, more memorable.

Clearly, ZMOT has hit the mainstream discussion and is now well entrenched in many marketers’ minds across the spectrum. The question becomes: “how will you overcome the ZMOT?”

Winning at the Zero Moment of Truth

So what do you do if you find that you’re still exercising an archaic approach to your marketing strategy?  For one, shift your focus over to the customer.  According to this video, here’s how you win the Zero Moment of Truth:

In this video Beth Comstock, the SVP & CMO of GE, makes a wonderful statement that relates back directly to the concept of holistic marketing. She states:

Our job (as marketers), if we’re going to get closer to our customers, is to be there when they’re looking for things about our company. And it’s not all things that GE has to have total control over, in fact, we don’t have total control over it … but do we understand the ecosystem where the customer is looking for information? Do we understand where they’re most likely to go to find things? That’s really important when you’re thinking about customer intimacy, when you’re thinking about that zero moment, which really talks about what’s most critical, and how do you get that in front of your customer?

Now it’s your turn! Have you read the ZMOT eBook? If so, what are your thoughts on it?  As a consumer, how do you research your purchases? As a marketer, how are you working to reach connected customers and parallel your marketing strategies and tactics with this emerging behavior among buyers?


  1. Wonderful post…and thank you for spreading the word on Google’s ZMOT. A big area of my work you’ll see soon is around UMOT, the Ultimate Moment of Truth. It is the experiences people share online that become the next person’s ZMOT.

  2. Moments of Truth (MOT) are part of old theory that has now been well packaged as ZMOT as articulated by Tiffany Brown. Traditionally it has been known to apply more to delivering services than to selling goods. All because, a service unfolds as it being produced and thus comes in contact with the customer at various instances. The following link illustrates the importance of those ZMOTS and where and why those truths become lies.

  3. Very influential information and will be purchasing this ebook to learn more about it.

    Please keep me posted if you have any of these events in New York to learn more..

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