Recently, PrintInTheMix, published the results of a study detailing the influence of “Print, Digital, and Social [Medias] on Today’s Purchase Decision”.
The study broke the purchase decision process into three parts;
1. "Stimulus" -- marketing efforts that spark the consumer's awareness and familiarity with a product or service;
2. The "Zero Moment of Truth" -- research and fact finding activities about a product or service directly undertaken by consumers;
3. The "Final Moment of Truth" -- the moment at the shelf, before purchase, in the retail store.
The study was conducted in April 2011 among 500 consumers across a variety of purchase types.
(click here to see survey details and results http://printinthemix.cias.rit.edu/fastfacts/show/458).
When analyzed closely, this study gives great insight into how various media channels affect the ways consumers discover products, conduct product research, and make final purchase decisions.
1. During the “Stimulus” stage, consumers will often first discover a product or service through some kind of direct marketing or mass media campaign. Even in today’s digital world, this first-stage discovery can often be linked to some form of print advertising such as direct mail or a magazine ad, or a traditional mass-media channel like television or radio. For these consumers the product found them, not the other way around. This holds true in my personal experiences; I first got seriously interested in Ford Mustangs (was “stimulated” to learn more) because of the awesome magazine ad I saw, amongst other reasons.
This scenario highlights the importance of utilizing a well-rounded marketing approach (print, digital, targeted, and mass media) in order to attract prospects. Many marketers are feeling pressure to “get with it” and move to new advertising formats such as location-based mobile marketing or social media. These formats are great, but as this study shows, traditional marketing channels can still be very effective.
2. After being “stimulated” consumers usually go online to research a product before they ever make decision or move to the “Zero Moment of Truth”. In my company’s own sales presentations we quote a Forrester Research statistic that states that 66% consumers prefer to respond to an ad online.
People are a social animal by nature. We love to seek out opinions from our peers, such as friends or fellow product users, before making a purchase decision. In my case, I spent MONTHS digging through various forums, blogs, and other online resources before I settled on my decision to purchase a Ford Mustang.
Just as we shouldn’t discount the effective of offline marketing channels, we should also place high value on new and emerging online marketing channels. Clearly, it is to a business’s advantage to maintain a great web presence. In order to help influence purchase decisions, a business’ website needs to be full of valuable information for their customers and prospects. Similarly, social media should be leveraged for valuable "word-of-mouth (WOM)" and peer review info.
3. A good public image and good customer service are crucial to actually convert a prospect into a sale during the “Final Moment of Truth”. In my case, I chose to purchase my Mustang from the dealer who I most enjoyed working with.
Our public image speaks volumes about the type of business we operate. If a storefront is a mess, or sales staff carries themselves in an unprofessional manner, what does that say about the products and services we are trying to sell?
As successful marketers know, maintaining a quality brand identity and image, and aligning their marketing messages and having a great, reliable source of collateral can do wonders to the bottom line. When it comes down to it though, good marketing will create sales opportunities, but great customer service and relationship building will turn opportunity into reality.