Automotive Digital Marketing

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One of my most favorite sayings in the world goes like this:


“A sale, like a war, is won by many battles and lost by one”



This is true across every industry and business and why there is no single ZMOT (Zero Moment Of Truth). There are multiple events that take a customer to the point of decision to contact your dealership or buy your car.

Our own studies have shown along with many others that a visitors will visit a site multiple time and even see and click multiple ads before they convert to a lead basically showing that there is no one single moment where a visitor decides to convert or buy.


So what is ZMOT?


Well for the car business I believe it’s a name for the process a visitor goes through before…
“you get a seat at the table”. (I talked about this in “The Currency Of Trust” post in March of 2010)
That’s really all a lead is… “ a seat at the table”, like any other marketing you will still have to sell yourself, sell the dealership and create rapport with the customer to get the dealership visit and / or ultimately the sale.


So what has ZMOT changed?


Actually nothing, the most it has done is made us aware that customers and visitors have more places than they want to get the information they want about buying a car and that we need to be transparent, something we have all known for some time. It has made us aware that the first point of contact and decision is on the web not on our lot, again something we have known now for many years.

At the MOST ZMOT may have made more dealerships see that the conversion is the point of your web marketing, without it you don’t have a chance to gain the rapport and relationship you need to sell the car.

That brings me to the ONE THING… there is a single action that can dramatically affect your ability to convert leads and sell customers today. That is NOT giving the vital information needed to make the decision to consider you dealership in the buying process.

Marketing is so fragmented today and every visit is so fragile that it only takes ONE THING to not look right to your visitor, ONE THING be clouded, one moment where you message isn’t clear or its too hard to get the information the visitor or customer wants or needs for the them to just move on or that lead to just not email you back or just not answer the phone when you call.


“It is all too easy today for consumers to just cut you out of the buying process for you not to be ultra-transparent and more importantly HELPFUL. The bottom-line the consumers web shopping experience when it comes to automotive is more of a process of elimination not one of inclusion”


So the ONE THING is more of a ZMOL (Zero Moment Of Loss) if you have marketed or sold in the car business long enough you have experienced it, you have even seen it physically that moment when you know you just lost the sale.


That’s just my perspective… What say you?


Larry Bruce @pcmguy

Views: 1699


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Comment by Larry Bruce on December 13, 2011 at 4:01am

@Ralph & Thomas 

No one has thicker skin than I but that is not the point. You want to criticize my point of view NP bring it that is what these forums are all about and you're right Thomas when you find a flaw in a process or plan that is a bonus. 

My problem comes in when you can't debate the merits of the post but you just have to say something negative so you attack personally, I'm sorry guys that's just "Bullshit" and that is when I excuse myself from the conversation. 

Comment by Jason Manning on November 30, 2011 at 10:40am

Ralph, I really think that Facebook is so much a problem for Google that they will do anything to swing the focus of the world...and a big social portion is The Business World.  It sure did work IMO.  Some people are following Google like groupies.  I like Google, but I am ready for their business tactics as well.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on November 29, 2011 at 7:49am

Thomas Kelly, your post was my early Christmas present this year.  Thanks!  

Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 29, 2011 at 5:27am

I really like Jason Manning's comment... He is right that Google tends to slap labels on the obvious, publish and then move on... And, that's probably good guidance for the rest of us as well, because as we debate the meaningfulness of ZMOT, or lack of, Google has already moved on and is now focused on something else. 


Sometimes these things remind me of tossing a raw steak over the fence to the 2 Dobermans guarding the salvage yard that had a wrecked Dodge Coronet 500 with the 1967 Stage III 440 Magnum heads that I wanted for my 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner... As those Dobermans fought over that raw meat, I was leaping from vehicle hood to vehicle hood, getting to my objective. 


So, the question i will ask again is this What is Google's REAL objective for publishing and promoting ZMOT?  Is it truly small business development of customers for Adwords, or could it be to prepare the foundation for further changes in the way advertising is positioned and ranked... Beyond the pure auction model?

Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 29, 2011 at 5:18am

Thomas - I'll pick up the rest of the Starbucks tab any time, date or place just for the privilege of having a conversation with you... There is no doubt that your point is valid regarding the ability of any ADM member in formulating their own opinion and then acting upon it.  However, I will share something that a guy named Paul Rushing once taught me, early in the creation and launching of ADM...


I had complained to him that his criticism of opinions i expressed were putting a damper on my willingness to express an opinion.  He called me on the phone and basically said, "If you are going to use the social web to express your opinions, you had better develop a thicker skin... This is not a venue for wall flowers..." Or, something to that end, (Paul, I am hoping I didn't botch the quote too bad).  At any rate, Paul was right... This network/community was created to allow the free expression of opinions and information, along with the counterpoints and debates that will inevitably go along with such expressions of sentiment and opinion.  Often times this is not pretty, or nicey nicey, and will at times divert into areas that are irrelevant. 


But, that is what makes things like democracy and freedom of speech messy and at times chaotic.  Like so many of the changes in the auto industry... There is usually a value side, but also many people who are made uncomfortable.  I have been around long enough to have asked customers, "Yeah, well... will Kelly buy your trade-in for what that stupid website says it is worth?" to have then suggested "Let's take a look at the Kelley Blue Book Trade-In Value at to get an idea about what you can expect for a trade-in value..."


So, regardless of what you believe today, including the value, credibility or prudence of opinions expressed, be prepared to possibly have a change of heart in the future... You may end up being surprised how easy it is to change your opinion when financial and career success are involved.  So, before an attack is leveled based on any one ADM member's opinions, I suggest you temper your response to include consideration of that person's perspective... And, likewise... Let's keep in mind that remaining somewhat professional in regards to our acceptance of criticism without taking such commentary to be a personal attack is probably good advice as well... Sorry to ramble on about this topic!

Comment by Ed Brooks on November 29, 2011 at 5:05am

Larry - The conversion is the ultimate goal, whether on the lot or online. There is a clear path to get to that conversion. But I think you have to have the realization that with a purchase as large as a car is a long path for many - and it takes some time. Your customers will move forward and sometimes back before ultimately contacting a dealer - any dealer. You want that dealer to be you.


In order to make it thru the ZMOT, marketing experts long ago documented what you have to accomplish; Awareness > Perception > Purchase Intent. When customers are in the research phase, before they have evaluated alternatives, they will NOT convert, simply because they aren't ready. If you focus only on the end result (the conversion), you'll miss the opportunity. First you need to improve or solidify their perception and increase their purchase intent.


Trying to close (convert) too early would be like walking up to an 'up' and saying "ready to buy?" without going thru your process - your Road to the Sale, if you will. The Road to the Sale was developed so green peas wouldn't rush to the close - don't be a green pee, my friend.

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on November 29, 2011 at 4:55am

Looking for something wrong does have a reward/bounty, it’s called excellence. Vetting a topic on a forum is what is done. When a characteristic of passion is confused with someone’s character, it becomes my Zero Moment Of Loss. This thread, now approaching 1100 views, has served many well I would guess.  All of the players in this thread, each with their own set strengths and weaknesses bring value to the discussion. I think most of us here are capable of coming to our own conclusions after sorting and sifting. When is gets personal we run the risk of stymying participation in the future.

My opinion and two bucks won’t get you a decent coffee at Starbucks.

Comment by Larry Bruce on November 28, 2011 at 9:04pm


Ed and Tim sometimes you kill me because you seem so narrow minded and I know you're not, it's almost as if you look for something wrong like there is a reward for it.

Customer perception, social proof, look and navigation, call to action, headlines all of these things are important so YOU CAN GET THE CONVERSION!

They are the very essence of conversion optimization. I am focused on the results and how we got them so they are repeatable and so we can improve on them.

You guys act like there is magic in this stuff its not magic is science.

Comment by Jason Manning on November 28, 2011 at 8:49pm
I could really care less about the ZMOT concept. Seems regurgitated to me. Google is such the orchestrator of dominance and controversy when they feel the urge. I'm reminded by Google to glance and keep moving on certain subjects. Try harder Google. Enlighten me the next time. Don't just slap a term on my business details...
Comment by Ed Brooks on November 28, 2011 at 6:06pm

Tim makes a point about your focus on conversion Larry. If you think about it, ZMOT is the stuff that happens BEFORE a conversion. The things that create awareness, enhance consumer perception and increase purchase intent. But maybe you don't think that stuff matters... :-)

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