You pick up your ringing phone and the caller rattles off a laundry list of detailed questions about your services: what’s bundled and what’s not, what’s your fee for power-washing restrooms, and how do your contracts differ from your competitors? The caller seems to know more about your services and competitors than you do. What just happened? This prospective client engaged in what Google calls the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Google’s Jim Lecinski, managing director or US Sales and Service and Chief ZMOT evangelist, unveiled the ZMOT concept in 2011 and introduced its role in today’s marketing.
Lecinski explains that ZMOT is when a potential buyer picks up his or her laptop, smartphone, desktop computer, or tablet and starts searching for products and services. They educate themselves about their various options, which companies offer those options, and which business is most informative in their purchase decision. The decision to buy is determined before they actually pick up the phone and call.
To succeed today, you need to win in the Zero Moment of Truth. How do you accomplish that? There are three main factors involved in winning the ZMOT: 1) creating a stimulus so prospects will look for—and find—your business, 2) having an impressive website once they’ve found you, and 3) offering well-written content on your website that educates prospects, nurtures your relationship with them, and connects them to you and your company.
That might sound like quite a tall order, but to start out, you need to concentrate in just one area: your website, since it influences the other two factors.
Good First Impressions
Your website is the absolute foundation upon which all other marketing activities are built. Why? Because 95 percent of your marketing—whether it’s word of mouth, Google rankings, or direct mail—will drive people to your website. At that point, they are evaluating you and your company. You’ve got to look good and deliver the information they are seeking.
Microsoft Research recently released a study that shows you have less than 10 seconds to grab the attention of someone who lands on your website. Therefore, it is imperative that your website looks good, is clearly organized, and promises a wealth of information about your business and industry.
We live in a visual world—looks count a great deal. However, even more important is the professional content on your website. Facts about your different services, the cleaning contract options, and value-added services can set you apart from your competitors.
And speaking of your competitors, it is a good idea to check out their websites to see what they are offering. Likewise, do some searching of contract cleaners in other parts of the country and glean some ideas from their websites.
Is it time to build a new site? Fortunately, there are different options for the small business owner. Hosting sites, such as BlueHost.com and GoDaddy.com, offer easy-to-use “website builders” and online support, which makes it relatively simple to build your own site. There are also marketing companies—some specializing in JanSan—that build websites as well.
Website Tips for ZMOT Marketing Success
Whether you build your own site or outsource it, there are some key factors to keep in mind that will help you win the ZMOT.
- Be Real. Use real photos of yourself, your employees, and the work you do. A smiling owner’s face on a website is like a handshake in cyberspace. People are more comfortable calling someone whose face they have already seen. They feel like they know you already.
- Be Professional. Share your expert advice and information, and make sure it is well-written, informative, and organized.
- Be Personable. Do you trust a website that does not have a full address? Aren’t you more likely to trust a company that discloses the names of their owners, principal officers, and staff? You are using your website to connect on a personal level with prospects, so make it personal!
- Be Content-Rich. Provide valuable information about your business. You can also re-purpose content from your suppliers, such as white papers, videos, and informational flyers. Consider hyperlinking to meaningful industry articles in trade publications.
- Be SEO Smart. Educate yourself on keywords to use on your website and in your meta-tags for page title, keywords and description. The use of keywords in these various ways will boost your search engine optimization. One resource is Google Keyword tool (www.adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool). This site enables you to search various keywords and evaluate their popularity.
The Value of Content
In the contract cleaning business, the battle for top search engine rankings is fierce. In addition to the sheer number of competitors in any given market, there is the added “franchise factor” of smaller independent businesses competing against large franchises and their well-funded marketing departments.
However, being smart about your website building and content can start leveling the playing field against these franchise giants. As you provide the information that people are searching for, you are educating them and connecting with them. A study conducted by the Custom Content Council showed that 61 percent of those surveyed said they feel better about a company that delivers custom content and are more likely to buy from them.
In addition to this valuable emotional connection created by website content, engaging content will help boost your user signals that are becoming increasingly important in landing your business on “page one.”
Search engines now evaluate visitor signals to determine rankings, such as how much time people stay on a site and how many pages they access.
Your website is the door to your company and the opportunity to win in the Zero Moment of Truth. Make it a door that prospects are excited about walking through and becoming one of your loyal customers.
Ginny Petru is president of JanSanOptimize.com, a division of Petru & Associates, Ltd., a marketing services company providing marketing solutions to the janitorial and maintenance supply industry since 1990.