Maria Baugh is the co-owner of Butter Lane Cupcakes. Butter Lane is featured in Google’s Zero Moment of Truth video as a small business whose corporate culture has successfully instituted several Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) marketing practices. If you’ve not seen the video please take a moment and hit play below.
Maria was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about how every small businesses could use ZMOT tactics to gain a competitive advantage. Below is the dialogue between us. If you would like to speak with Maria and the good folks at Butter Lane, you can find them on Twitter @butterlane
Marc- ZMOT is not just about having a website. It’s much more encompassing than that. It includes aligning content with customer behavior so that when prospects are connected online with a mobile or desktop device, your company shows up when they search for products online, read reviews, price compare, ask friends, talk on social networks etc. Can you tell me which of ZMOT tactics you find ‘works’ best for you?
Maria – I think the concept of ZMOT perfectly illustrates the reality of consumer behavior today. It’s important for Butter Lane that the information we put out there about ourselves is accurate and consistent. But we also know in this community-driven world where everyone now has the ability to talk to everyone else on so many different platforms, there are conversations going on all the time about Butter Lane that we have nothing to do with.
We can’t control what others say about us nor would we want to because I believe it’s more important to be truthful and real as a brand. No one wants to be perceived as controlling or disingenuous. But what we can do is know what’s being said about us so we can engage when it’s appropriate or take action to improve when necessary.
Marc – ZMOT requires a people resource. The ZMOT specialist needs to spend time finding your ZMOTs, creating content around them, engaging in community etc. How demanding is that on your ZMOT person or persons? Is it a collaborative effort?
Maria – Between myself and our community manager we spend a lot of time engaging with our community. Depending on the size of the business it’s easily a full-time job (for a small business) and obviously a bigger job for larger companies.
Marc – This is a short one. How do you know it works?
Maria – What we know is that people are doing this regardless of whether we choose to participate. They’re Googling Butter Lane, reading customer reviews online, they’re on our Facebook page and following us on Twitter, they’re watching Butter Lane videos on YouTube, they’re doing research before they choose to engage with our brand, i.e. buy our cupcakes or take our classes!
Often they’re making their decision about what to buy on their laptop in the comfort of their living room or walking down the street on their phone. It’s in our best interest to be there with them during that “moment”. Or at least be very familiar with what that moment looks like and feels like to a potential customer.
Q. If a small business were to start implementing a ZMOT strategy tomorrow, what is the single best piece of advice you could offer them?
Maria – Try to hire a community manager, at least part time, and don’t let a day go by without communicating with your customers. Regularly check what’s being said about your business online because it can help you in many ways — it can be a point of engagement with a customer, it can help you monitor your customer service, it’s a great source of market research, etc.
I think sometimes businesses are so worried that people are going to say bad things about them and that they can’t control it. For businesses that place so much importance on controlling brand identity and brand perception it can be difficult to let go and let the consumer drive. But the consumer is already driving! They are so powerful and have such reach. Consumer reviews are highly trusted and valued by other consumers.
There are things you communicate about your brand to consumers and things consumers communicate about your brand to each other — you control what you communicate, but you can participate (when appropriate) and/or learn from what consumers say to each other only if you know what they’re saying.
Many thanks to Maria for her thoughtful responses. If you enjoyed this article, please share it clicking on one of the Tweet, Share, Like or +1 buttons at the top.
Do you have any advice? Would your business consider hiring a community manager? Are you including your customers in your corporate branding process?
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