Reaction to Stimulus
Have you ever been boiling water in a pot on the stove and didn’t realize that the handle of the pot was hot? It happens to me all the time. In fact, I just did it last night cooking turkey soup with the leftovers from christmas. The hot handle stimulates pain receptors in my hand and shoots messages through my nerves to my brain which then passes messages back down my nerves to tell my hand to let go. Between my hand and my brain are a complicated series of nerves that pass messages along in both directions.
These nerves aren’t one continuous string between my hand and my brain. Rather, there are thousands of nerves along the path connected at joints. The nerves don’t transmit physical stimuli like heat. They convert the sensation of heat to an electrical impulse in the nerve. When that message reaches the end of one nerve, the electrical impulse becomes converted to chemical messengers that cross the gap between nerves.
In between nerve joints (called a synaptic cleft) the chemical messengers are called neurotransmitters. These chemical neurotransmitters are what propagates the electrical message across empty spaces to ensure that the message travels from one nerve to the next along the path to the brain. Once there, my brain will interpret the message as “that pot is hot, move your freaking hand away” and send messages back along the path to my hand. Amazingly and despite it’s complexity, the response to stimulus happens almost instantly.
Here’s an image that further illustrates my description.
The Neurotransmitters of Marketing
I’ve had this idea for a long time, but it wasn’t until I read the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) that I was able to simplify this next thought.
In marketing, mobile devices are the closest thing to a neurotransmitter in biology. Mobile devices are becoming THE conversion transmitter between a brand’s stimulus (ie. broadcast message) and a consumer response (ie. shares, likes, RTs, reviews etc).
Mobile connectivity allows consumers to interact with brands in real time and pass along or ignore a brand’s message. We use our mobile devices all the time and it’s only going to grow from here as smartphone penetration increases. According to the ZMOT paper, two thirds of us sleep with our mobile phones right beside us…as consumers unlock information, they’ll add their own data and opinions to the conversation on their own sites and blogs, on social networks and on new features no one has imagined yet. Simply put, mobile phones are MOT (moment of truth) machines”
Closest to the Consumer
In radio, we often cite research that says radio is the closest media to consumers before the moment of purchase. While that may have been true in the past, I believe mobile devices now own that title.
Let me give you an example, I plan on going shopping this afternoon. My wife and I will listen to a couple of radio stations on our way to the mall, look for parking and then leave our car (along with the radio) in the parking lot. After shopping, I’ll get back in my car and rejoin our favorite radio station. However, my iPhone remains in my hand the entire time I’m in the mall. My smartphone becomes my connection to everything. While I’m shopping, I rely heavily on my phone to connect with friends, ask for advice on products, search the internet for price comparisons, scan barcodes for information and read product reviews.
The time from when I get out of my car to when I get back in my car lies a gap where brands can no longer push messages to me. In my mind, this gap is similar to the synaptic cleft between neurons.
On one side of the gap, electrical impulses (commercials) are delivered to me through the nerves (cable, satellite, cellular towers, billboards, magazines, paper) of broadcasters. On the other side of the gap, response from the consumer brain directed back at advertisers. Bridging the gap are the iPhones, Android devices, Galaxy tablets, iPads and Blackberries that we all carry with us every moment of the day.
By design, mobile devices are portable, personal, untethered, internet connected, consumer research tools. They are the tools most capable of crossing the gap between the environmental stimulus of brands and the brain of a consumer.
Have a look at this video to get a better understanding.
What you can do about ZMOT
The good people at Google have suggested 7 ways you can win at ZMOT
1. Put someone in charge
2. Find your Zero moments
3. Answer the questions people are asking
4. Optimize for ZMOT
5. Be fast
6. Don’t Forget Video
7. Jump in!
For me, winning ZMOT all comes down to one thing -Alignment. Every business has a limited number of 3 marketing resources: time, people and money. Aligning your resources to reflect your consumer’s media consumption behavior will ensure your brand is relevant to today’s consumer. That likely means changing your marketing budget so that you can afford to put someone in place who can find your zero moments, optimize for ZMOT, use video, find out the questions people are asking and discover more about your own zero moments.
What do you think about this? Do you agree or disagree?
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A Couple of ZMOT highlights
“this is the first time in history that word of mouth has become a digitally archived medium” B. Hurt, CEO Bazaarvoice
“don’t call them search engines. Call them Connection engines” R. Tobaccowala, VivaKi
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