In 2011, Google conducted seminal research on the “Zero Moment of Truth” (ZMOT). For those not familiar with this, Google identified that pre-internet, every prospect had to talk to a salesperson in order to get information needed to make a purchasing decision. They referred to this as the “First Moment of Truth” (FMOT).
Today, prospects begin their “buying journey” on their own, often intentionally avoiding salespeople until (and only if) they absolutely have to do so. This “Zero Moment of Truth,” radically changes everything for multifamily marketers.
We realize that this is not news for most of you. Marketers have been writing and talking about the ZMOT often since the study was released. Today there are more than 1.1 million results in a Google search of “zero moment of truth.”
A Lot Has Changed Since 2011
It’s been six years since the study was released and the internet of 2011 is not the same as the 2017 version. Consider some of the following changes:
- In 2011, the first Millennials were just turning 29. Today, almost 2/3rds of the generation that doesn’t really know a world without the Internet, are in the prime household formation age.
- Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) has left the pages of sci-fi novels and has begun to enter mainstream use.
- Companies like Uber, Facebook and Amazon have created end-to-end online user experiences, crafted uniquely to the user, that have absolutely shifted the expectations of website visitors and users.
- Apps like Amazon Echo and Google Home sit on desktops and counters waiting to instantaneously provide answers to the unique questions users have.
While multifamily marketers have certainly adjusted and embraced many principles of the zero moment of truth, the vast majority are marketing in much the same way as they did 2012, and this is not sufficient.
What Multifamily Marketers Must do Today to Compete & Win in the ZMOT
The ZMOT empowered buyers to be “masters of their own domain.” It enabled them to control their destiny and buying journey because they could find the information they needed, when they felt like they needed.
Buyers consumed content as they navigated their own educational and buying journeys. Marketers adjusted by creating relevant content in larger and larger volumes. Multifamily marketers embraced this by adding pricing information and floor plans to their websites, and using Internet Listing Services (ILSs). For several years that was enough.
Version 2.0 of ZMOT is characterized by the personalization, contextualization and the experience with which that information is presented. Floor plans, simple photos of the community and general information about community areas, while still necessary, is no longer sufficient.
Discerning prospects want to know more than just room dimensions and layouts. They want to know what the unit looks like, what special features it has and even what type of sun the unit is exposed to. To accomplish this goal you must rethink the way you advertise the property.
Today, your prospective renters desire unit-level data, displayed in a manner that is quick and easy to understand. They want to be able to feel what living in your community will be like, before they walk through the door for a tour.
There are three key advantages to this approach:
- You’ll stand out more clearly in a very crowded market.
- Prospective renters will begin to form an emotional connection to your properties before walking through your doors for a tour.
- Leads that never should have visited will be able to self-select out more confidently, reducing the burden on your leasing associates and freeing them to focus more on the prospects that are more likely to select your community as their home.
As the old saying goes, the only constant in the world is change. Multifamily marketers looking to enhance their overall leasing process realize that as the demands of their prospects change, their approaches must change with them.