I have been working with clients in the online space since the mid 90s and have always been intrigued by the lag time between consumers’ use of online capabilities and the marketers’ recognition of the way this is evolving. At 15miles, our local search study has shown greatly increased usage of sources by consumers, and highlighted the need to expand the marketing perspective and encompass these capabilities.
In the last local search study, on average consumers used over 8 different sources to research their purchases. From search to local directories, from corporate sites to dealer sites, and from shopping engines to social media, the consumer dialogue is varied and deep. It is a challenge for marketers, no doubt. But, ignoring the reality will become more costly than marketers can afford.
We have helped clients engage in this conversation, primarily at the local level. In some cases, this can be directly controlled by the corporate “minders”. But, increasingly, this is becoming a case where they have to let go of the reigns, and allow the local representation of the brand have the latitude to interact with the consumers more freely. It’s scary for some. But, authenticity and local voice are becoming increasingly important directly to the purchase.
Earlier this month, Google, and Jim Lecinski released the ZMOT ebook and site; it dives into the reality of current marketing. The Zero Moment Of Truth is a quick read through the reality of modern marketing. It highlights what we have been saying. There are many online touch points (to use an old phrase) that influence the consumer’s decisions. But, unlike the time when the phrase was first used, very few of these touch points are in anyone’s control.
I encourage marketers to read the ebook. It contains some good research, excerpts from industry leaders and hits you with the hard truth.
Later this year, 15miles will release the next local search study. I fully expect this to show even more diverse sourcing by consumers, with greater reliance on informal, uncontrolled dialogue. The only question left is how long brand wait before they engage, or fail.