From time to time, we all get approached by people representing their business to us. We call it ‘sales’ and it is essential to all commerce. I know what I do, when hit with a new product or business opportunity. However, what I hadn’t considered enough, was that of course my potential customers do exactly the same thing.
So, what are the steps we typically take, when people present us with the opportunity to do business with them? There seems to be a few steps. Evaluate relevance & interest, assess the credibility and reputation of the business, research market alternatives. The whole process can be completed in a matter of minutes, with just a thumb and a mobile phone.
As we commence the process we automatically keep score. Relevance and interest, versus desire or need. Benefits from the investment, versus risk of a poor experience. Features of this opportunity, versus alternate options. When you think about it, what is interesting about the score process, is the little antennae we all have, that goes off when something we expect to be there, is missing. In such cases the process can end right there, with a quick elimination and almost immediate transfer to the next listing.
Saying, “approached by people representing their business”, makes it sound like a B2B context, yet we essentially do much the same, in our role as shoppers or consumers, when an ad or product grabs our attention. These are the moments when your business has the opportunity to gain new customers. They are often referred to as “Moments of Truth”. Probably because, in 1986, the former President of Scandinavian Airlines, Jan Carlzon, wrote a highly regarded book, titled Moments of Truth. His core idea is that decisions follow a process. During the process, there are moments where your business or product has to win, or otherwise be eliminated from further consideration.
In 2005, Alan Lafley, head of Proctor & Gamble used this concept to drive a highly successful “store-back” strategy for P&G. In his strategy, Lafley proposed the first moment of truth for packaged goods products, occurred when the consumer stood in front of the display in the supermarket. The second moment of truth came when the consumer used the product at home.
Around 2009, Google were looking at marketing studies, one a longitudinal study from IRI Worldwide showed that 83% of shoppers make their purchase decisions, prior to entering a store. This of course suited Google, who used this to propose their Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) theory, where “Search” precedes most purchase decisions. Today’s stats unsurprisingly show ‘digital’ (referenced here as: online, mobile, social sites, networks & marketplaces) as a key influencer of shopper behaviour. This certainly applies in most categories. Importantly, it indicates that destination decisions are being determined through digital engagement. If people are more frequently starting out with the destination and perhaps product, already determined, your outlet may have just missed its moment!
So today, when an opportunity arises, if it rates a look on the relevance and interest test, statistically the first thing people now mostly do, is reach for their phone. (if that was not already where the opportunity was presented) Recent studies show, 75% of U.S. smartphone shoppers use their phones to assist them, even while in a physical store!
I know I check things out online, because it is so easy. If it is a business to business proposal, I expect to find the person that has contacted me on Linkedin. I see that as a moment of truth. The absence of a Linkedin profile, for anyone doing business today would surprise me. Some self-employed people, in trades or business to consumer categories might think it not important for them, but I suspect that might be changing.
When media reports reference internet data or digital profiles, it is often in a negative context of big brother, big business, or the government watching over us. Whether all that is of concern to you or not, the fact is that if you have skills, products or other resources to trade for money, today your sales or income potential is directly impacted by your, or your business’s digital profile. That profile is constructed in part by elements that you contribute, as well as those placed by others, such as comments or reviews.
If that thought is a little disconcerting, you might not have the option to just keep a low profile. For example, restaurants and accommodation are categories where there is no place to hide. A few quick clicks, will get you an immediate rating, together with a list of customer reviews. Given that we live in a community of diverse tastes and preferences, an absence of negatives here, might just be one of those missing things that tweak the antennae. (Review sites too, have their critics.)
Customers today expect immediate access and total transparency. Not being where you are expected to be, or having certain gaps in your profile can set off a customer’s antennae, perhaps more than the presence of a few negative comments. In the analogue world now past, it would be things like getting a direct mail brochure that doesn’t show a physical address, or not finding a certain business listed in the Yellow Pages. (not happy Jan!) I can remember the pain of choosing categories and display sizes, for Yellow Pages advertising. To me, the right Yellow Pages profile always seemed out of my budget range. In many categories, they really had you in a corner.
Today however, technology gives us all a voice, as well as the soap box from which to use it. Listing on Google My Business is free and it costs nothing but time and a little effort, to establish profiles on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. All are touch-points where lounge rooms, buses and cafes, full of people, consume information, images and ideas, (content) around their lifestyle and interests. Not surprisingly, whether shared by friends or merchants, some of the content, serves to stimulate purchase decisions or engage particular shopping behaviours.
Digital, mobile or social commerce is not a merely a generational thing. Just because you’re young and you know what FOMO is, doesn’t mean you’ve walked through your business, from a customer’s digital viewpoint. If you are older and believe your current customers just don’t care, you are possibly right. Who needs new customers anyway? Make a note to send your landlord some flowers, because she/he owns the connection between your business and your existing market.
The great news is that you have as much opportunity to leverage technology, to drive customers to your store, as any major national brand. There is virtually no barrier to entry. If anything, being a local business, gives you more presence and makes your business more relevant and accessible to your local community.
The place to start is to run a digital review. You may have already done some work to set things up, but when did you last google your business? How current are the details and images? Can you add a video or update some links? Open Google Maps and enter your business name. Are you immediately on the spot? Now, Google review your strongest competitor. How do they look? Try the same exercise on Facebook and perhaps a few other sites. Perhaps take a look at your Linkedin profile, as well as that of a peer, or a competitor you respect. For me this simple exercise, almost always results in immediate new ideas and activity, including at least an hour or two, creating or sourcing images, updating content and profile development. I will actually now go to go back and do it again, based on my research in writing this piece.
But how do you know what to present? What is the best strategy to frame your brand identity? I am sure there are marketing libraries dedicated to the subject, around personality, relevance, resonance and passion. Perhaps in keeping with the vision of the shoppers’ journey, you might use the concept of winning the moments of truth, as your guide. It is proposed there are three moments your business has to win:
The idea is that if you are not present, you can never win and once you have made your place, you can beat anyone on your day. To me this always makes me think of Steven Bradbury. (click this to remind yourself. It is sensational)
McDonalds don’t promote cheap hamburgers. I guess their theme is fun, but a big focus is community. Sub-plot is: convenience, consistency, service, availability, choice, cleanliness . . . Promote your advantages, you can always start with local, friendly . . .
Get the repeat sale. Placing the customer at the centre of the business. Promote relationships and loyalty (to your customer). Be present within their touch-points.
If you do not already have any of these digital pages or resources in place, the Shop Local O2O team is of course, at your service. (yep, that’s the sales pitch) Alternatively, below are some links to get you going. These major sites have extremely well developed training and support material. If you are still stuck, try searching YouTube. It is amazing how many people make excellent videos, which show you exactly what you need. Start with the ones that have the most views. Just ensure the information is recent, as Google and Facebook have recently updated their structure and some processes.
To underscore the opportunity for businesses today, I found this little ad from Google. It neatly packages a reality that has always been true. Commercial enterprise has to be accessible and present in ALL the touch-points that our “people” relate to, use and engage with. Google being a good example. Today, these places emerge from the small screen we all carry with us, as well as the devices around our home.
The Shop Local O2O Review presents a series of articles as free posts, we aim to provide a useful guide to building your business’ digital profile and drive local customers to your door.
Set up your business on Google My Business: Google My Business
Update or get on Google Map Maker: Google Map Maker
Create a Facebook Page: Facebook – Create Page
Facebook Advertising: Advertise on Facebook
Getting your business started on Twitter: Twitter Business
Getting your business started on Pinterest: Business on Pinterest
Getting your business started on Instagram: Business on Instagram
List your business on Bing: Bing Places