Automotive Digital Marketing

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Mastering The Bigger Picture With ZMOT, FMOT, and SMOT

The past two months I have been focused on applying the concepts introduced by Jim Lecinski's book "Winning The Zero Moment of Truth" for the automotive industry.

I have been blessed to collaborate with a number of industry leaders on my approach.

I want to specifically thank Dennis Galbraith for partnering with me on the Automotive Zero Moment of Truth Study which started on October 25th.


Inspecting The First Moment of Truth

We just finished Week Three of the six-week study with 125 dealers and the data, discussion, and strategies that we are uncovering is very exciting.  For example, today's webinar was focused on how to improve the First Moment of Truth (FMOT).


Phone-Up Ninjas Founder and CEO Jerry Thibeau mystery shopped 20 dealers in the study.  What did he find?  


70% of the dealers in the study were wasting a portion of their investments in Stimulus and ZMOT because they had poor phone handling and lead handling processes.  


A group of the dealers got a failing grade, which impacts tens of thousands of dollars of investments a month.


The data showed that a small SHIFT in a dealer's budget (< $1,000) could ensure that they have a consistent process in place to hold their employees accountable for phone and lead handling.  


The ROI of this random inspection was clear; with high employee turn-over, dealers can not afford to ignore independent measurement and coaching.


(Note to readers:  If you have not had Jerry's company conduct an independent audit of your phone handling processes and Internet lead handling processes, it is the BEST investment you can make this month.

Data Driven ZMOT Strategies For Car Dealers

At the 2012 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference, Dennis and I will be sharing specific processes and investments that will help dealers fine tune their digital marketing strategies for the year ahead.


Until February, I wanted to share some thoughts in advance to members of this community.


First, the diagrams in Jim Lecinski's book are more appropriate for consumer goods purchases and not completely accurate for car shoppers.  Consumers who go to the supermarket to buy fabric softener will leave with that item purchased.  


Consumers who contact a dealership or walk-in, do not always buy the first time.  This of course if the reality that dealers live in each day.  65-75% of "Ups" walk out of the dealership without a car.

Car shoppers, once motivated by some stimulus event, will move between the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) and First Moment of Truth (FMOT) a number of times.  The unsold leads and ups continue their online research until they buy, and will often become a FMOT for another local dealer.


Google research indicates that car shoppers are influenced by 18 difference online sources before they contact the dealership.  This is a sobering statistic which begs the question for your dealership: "How Many of Those Influences Can We Control?".


The more dangerous question may be: "What are Those Influences Saying About Our Dealership?".


Investing or Wasting Money of Stimulus?

We have also been discussing the balance of "Stimulus" spending vs. investments in ZMOT, FMOT, and SMOT.  Stimulus spending is Radio, TV, and Newspaper.  This started a very lively conversation in Week Two.  


In summary, a challenge was presented: If you don't have a Unique Selling Proposition and enough money to create the right frequency of stimulus, you may need to get out of Stimulus spending all together.  Since only 4% of consumers are in the market to buy at any one time, short burst stimulus spending is very ineffective.


The second idea that was discussed that stimulus is best positioned for branding and not "sale" messaging.  Wait till we discuss the data in February on that thought! Many car dealers invest in traditional media to push a short term sale!  



Early Strategy Thoughts To Consider

Dealers who understand this pattern of behavior, come to some quick conclusions:


  1. Dealers need to review the balance of their stimulus spending compared to ZMOT, FMOT, and SMOT.
  2. Dealers must have a strong presence (visibility) during the Zero Moment of Truth in any case.
  3. The dealer's visibility strategy must include a variety Page One SERP assets; websites, microsites, blogs, videos, social media, third party reviews, and pay-per-click advertisements.
  4. The dealer's digital assets must answer the questions that consumers are asking.  In the best case, these digital assets present the dealer as the local market expert.
  5. Dealers must have a Reputation Marketing Program in place to ensure that the online perception of the dealership matches the reality of the in-store experience.
  6. The personnel that handle consumers during the First Moment of Truth (FMOT) must not treat customers as if they have not done any prior research online.
  7. Consumers who visit the dealership showroom should be asked what they were researching online. Why?  Because Google says that they are influenced by 18 online sources, on average, before they contact you!
  8. Consumers who say they will "be back" should be invited to share the "I need to do more research" experience right in the dealership. Dennis Galbraith suggested today that dealers should provide their sales staff with tablets so they can collaboratively research local prices and availability before the consumer leaves the showroom.

Peeling Back The Onion

There are so many clear inspection points and strategies that are evolving from the Automotive Zero Moment of Truth Study that I can't wait until we have the final whitepaper completed and presented at DMSC.


In the meantime, get everyone in your dealership to read Jim Lecinski's Book by visiting  Best of all it's free!


I also invite members of this community to join me at the 2012 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference prior to NADA 2012.  Rooms are $69 per night and you can register online by visiting:


Ralph Paglia will be doing two workshops at DMSC, so come out and learn from the founder of this great educational community.


Watch The DMSC ZMOT Introduction Video

  Brian Pasch CEO of PCG


Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing
Text PCGedu to 75674 get information on our upcoming conferences
Brian Pasch

Views: 1822

Tags: automotive zmot, dennis galbraith, fmot, jerry thibeau, smot, zmot


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Comment by Brian Pasch on November 12, 2011 at 10:31am

Jerry, awesome that you shared your findings and I hope it motivates ADM members to have you inspect their dealership as well!

Comment by Jerry Thibeau on November 12, 2011 at 7:18am

Thank you Brian for the opportunity to participate in your study.   Folks this is reality and Brian hits the nail on the head!

Here is a look at how the dealers in our study scored on phone calls (0-4 scale.  And yes Ralph, I am taking your advice and converting to 0-5):

Here's an example of getting it right.  Take a peek at a real dealerships scores after 9 months of training.  Names were covered for privacy:

After nine months of training, here is what that equates to in real world results:



Those are real results from a dealer who takes their phone calls very serious. Of the 7 random calls we have monitored for November, six have resulted in an appointment, five showed and three bought for a closing percentage of 43%.  If you look at the grid above over the last 9 months, a majority of this dealers calls have been scored as "Excellent."  Everyone of those excellent calls resulted in an appointment.

If you're not training your staff on how to handle a phone conversation, you might be better off directing your sales calls to this voice message: Your New Automated Message

Here is a look at how the "ZMOT Study" participants scored with Internet mystery shops (scale based on 0-5):


Comment by Jerry Thibeau on November 12, 2011 at 7:17am

In my prior post, click on the pictures to get the whole view.

Here's a look at your "First Moments of Truth"

Fewer people are coming to your dealership, more and more people start their shopping experience on the Internet or telephone.  Yet many of you are not taking these shoppers serious!

This adds up to serious money made or lost for your dealership.  Don't believe me, then go plug in a few simple numbers using our financial results calculator: Results Calculator  The number you will be presented with are based on increasing you closing percentage on phone-ups by 5%.  Meaning if yours is now 10% and you experience an increase to 15%, this is how it impacts your gross revenue.  The Internet portion is based on a mere 2.5% improvement.

Throwing more money at advertising is not the answer, take the time to train your people on how to proved a better "First Moment of Truth" and you'll see a greater return on your advertising investment.  Your growth will come from the opportunities you are currently mismanaging!

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