Dîner en Blanc: The Zero Moment of Truth
This is the second year that Philadelphia is a host city for Dîner en Blanc – a flash mob style picnic where thousands of people dressed in white meet at street corners to be led to an undisclosed location. Once there, they have just ten minutes to set up and elegantly dress their tables, plate their own food, pour wine and champagne, and meet their fellow diners. It is a spectacular scene of soaring white linen napkins, sparklers, and decadent merriment.
I am very much looking forward to attending Dîner en Blanc again this year. I have been spending the last month feverishly searching for the perfect portable table, the bougiest tablescape ideas, white dinnerware, white attire, big hats, and authentic French food.
It occurred to me that my power searching is the perfect example of the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). The ZMOT is a phenomenon best explained by Google:
“Increasingly, consumers are making decisions well before the actual moment of in-store or online purchase. In fact, 88% of consumers research before they buy, consulting an average of 10.4 sources. Google partnered with Shopper Sciences to explore this so-called "Zero Moment of Truth" and identify what's shaping consumer decisions on the path to purchase.”
There are two key pieces of information here. The first key piece is that consumers engage 10.4 sources of information before they make the decision to purchase. This means that brands can no longer rely on only their website, store or single advertisement to communicate with their audience – brands now need to engage more marketing avenues than ever.
The other key piece is the part where we identify what shapes consumer decisions on the path to purchase. To know what motivates your audience, you have to fully explore each persona type within your audience – from their pain points to their priorities. Only then can you develop a digital marketing strategy that is targeted to moving your audience through their buying journey.
ZMOT in Action
To demonstrate ZMOT in action, I’ll walk you through my pursuit to create the perfect Dîner en Blanc (DEB) experience. As you read my approach, think about your own online search behavior.
Gearing Up for the Event: Perusing DEB’s Digital Marketshare
For months I’ve been on DEB Philadelphia’s website and Facebook page, waiting for updates on the event date, teasers on the event’s location, and announcements for in-store features at places like Williams-Sonoma, where inspiration, elegance, and candor are in abundance. DEB’s Facebook updates have led me to blogs, news articles, YouTube videos, Pinterest boards and retail websites – and this is just phase I of my information gathering, where I’m taking the pulse on all things DEB.
Embarking on the Buying Journey: Going from Awareness to Action
Once I registered for the event, it was time to find a table. I Googled “portable table”, “portable picnic table”, and “white card table”, just to name a few. I landed on sites like L.L. Bean, Target, Home Depot, and Amazon. I checked prices, sizes, ratings, and reviews, but I waited a few days to make a decision. During that time, I asked my parents if they had an extra table, and I also asked friends and my co-workers if they had a table. To no avail, and due to great customer reviews and a reasonable price, I purchased a portable picnic table on Amazon.
Next up, the dress! I visited every retailers website within 20 miles of Berwyn, from Lord and Taylor to White House Black Market. After getting ideas, I visited TJ Maxx and Marshalls, thrift stores, and a few Main Line boutiques. Macy’s sent me a Star Rewards coupon that led me to their store, and Nordstrom’s Facebook ad announcing their annual sale followed me around the social networking site for days. My purchase decision on the dress is still undecided – we’ll see what store or brand can deliver the right content, price, and experience between now and the event for me to ultimately make my decision.
Onto the centerpieces. I spent HOURS on Pinterest, researching ostrich feathers, glass hurricane tumblers, and white pine tree branch tablescape ideas. I can’t even tell you where I landed, but it was a mix of Michael’s, blogs, wedding sites, Etsy, and every other independent craft website under the sun. The final decision was to go to Michael’s to buy ostrich feathers, a glass tumbler, and little LED lights – and to take my dog for a hike to find the perfect tree branches to spray paint white.
The white dinnerware and champagne are two staples I always have at home. Cheese is easy. I’ll go to DiBruno Brothers and buy a few small pieces of creamy bries and aged gruyere’s, and of course, a big, crusty baguette. I’m still looking for the perfect recipe for the main course. I’ve Googled “French picnic food”, “authentic French food” and “French finger food recipes”, but I haven’t found a dish that is quick, easy and portable just yet. As I continue to peruse recipes, surely one of the websites will ultimately lead me to a store to buy special ingredients so that I can make the perfect French dish.
Multichannel Marketing + Content Experiences = Content Marketing Success
As you can see, I engaged multiple sources over the period of two months before making my decision to purchase. Amazon and Michael’s can’t take full credit for my purchases, as user-generated content on Pinterest and customer reviews were more compelling than either platform’s attempt to sell me on their products.
It is truly DEB’s vast digital marketshare of rich content experiences that guided my buying journey. Their obvious strategy to network with local brick and mortar locations, as well as to partner with bloggers, news sites and social media influencers is a successful strategy that benefits the organizations selling, as well as me, the buyer, who was searching for a little help and guidance along the way.
What’s this Have to Do with Creating a Content Marketing Strategy?
So, what exactly does my Dîner en Blanc shopping have to do with content marketing and how to go about creating a targeted digital strategy? We are all people who have needs – and we spend hours online looking for information, inspiration, facts, figures, price points and recommendations. Whether it’s for a French-inspired pop-up picnic, or if you’re the CTO at a large enterprise organization looking for cost saving IT solutions, the Internet is where 88% of people turn for information to help them make decisions.
How to be a Part of Your Audience’s Zero Moment
To ensure that your brand is part of your audience’s ZMOT, spend some time thinking about where your audience searches for information online, the language they use to search, and the kind of information they expect to find. Consider their buying journey and the other touch points they will engage before making a decision, and how your brand can play a significant role in their Zero Moment of Truth.