Someone Got Their Ducts Cleaned.
The entire consumer journey all in one conversation.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not great when it comes to the operations of our household. Whether it’s the eaves on the roof, the leaves on the ground, or anything between the two, I’m rarely the one who’s on top of the details of what we need to do and when. My wife, on the other hand, LOVES doing research. She’ll go deep into Google, cross referencing HomeStars reviews, tweets, and Instagram comments before evaluating prices using a proprietary algorithm that integrates E-bates with custom promo codes and the redemption of reward miles.
This weekend, we had a duct cleaning appointment scheduled for 8am on Saturday. After doing the customary investigation, we had settled on 416-So-Clean.
Short story even shorter: They were great.
Now, it’s not like they showed up with chocolates and flowers and a parade. Hell, I’d hate it if they did. I don’t want to geek out on duct cleaning content and I don’t need an over the top duct cleaning “experience”. I just want them to be professional, productive, and pleasant. As Mirum's Mark Goodman (and others) likes to say, “Be brilliant. Be brief. Be gone.”
They were all that. So I thought I’d share my experience.
Take a look at what transpired. It’s what brands need to remember. Influencer programs can be really effective but the majority of conversations are going on behind your back and they aren’t the extremes of people hating you or loving you or praising you. Many brands are just not important enough in the lives of consumers to warrant anything spectacular. You have one job. Do that. When you do, look what can happen to the conversation.
(Aside: I chose to not identify my friends. They may not want their comments broadcasted and I didn’t feel like reaching out to get their approval.)
1. The Stimulus
In Google’s Zero Moment of Truth, the stimulus is the moment when a consumer feels they need something. Maybe it’s a life moment. Or a time of year. Or a lease ending. But it can also be a billboard or a TV spot or a social post like mine that initiates someone thinking, “Hmm… Maybe I should get MY ducts cleaned.”
My post was the stimulus:
2. Immediate Reaction (Humour)
The first consumer reaction is often, “How does this apply to me?”
Often, it doesn’t. They can either choose not to participate or inject themselves into the conversation in a fun way.
3. Anti-Establishment Celebration
In any category, the establishment's behaviour usually defines the entire category. Used car salesmen are cheesy, hotels charge you 10x the price for food in your room, airlines are inhumane…. Every category has a stereotype and in most cases, they’re baked in reality. When someone encounters a brand that DOESN’T do what the establishment does, it can cause a reaction.
4. Searching Without Searching.
The initial stimulus gets people thinking. And thinking leads to questions. In this case, why would this friend search out the answers to his questions when someone he knows and trusts is leading the discussion? In this case, he even got an added bonus when someone else joined the conversation and provided more clarity and another perspective.
5. Brand Comparison
Different people have different experiences. They may not be compelled to write a separate review or share their experience, but once the stimulus initiates the conversation, they’ll hop on and provide their perspective. Now everyone else in the conversation has 2 different experiences from 2 different companies with 2 different price points to compare.
In ZMOT, the path starts with a stimulus. Then the consumer searches for more information and videos. Finally, they consult those who are more knowledgeable and who have no sales bias before they confirm with friends and family. Once the journey has been completed, they purchase. Well, this conversation covers the entire ZMOT journey in just one social post. For 416-SO-CLEAN, it ends with a transaction.
7. The Up-Sell
Even better than a positive confirmation is one that also mentions other services that the brand offers. This cross promotion is perfect for those who may not be thinking about one thing (duct cleaning) but who may desperately need another (carpet cleaning).
The brand wasn’t involved in this conversation and unless they have deep social spies, they will never know it even took place. They didn’t get additional customers because they marketed well, they got additional customers because they did their job.
7. It’s about trust.
One final word. It’s about trust. If I don’t trust you or the representatives of the brand, this whole process breaks down. I wouldn’t have posted. Others wouldn’t have chimed in. And I wouldn’t have got this direct message from another friend. His first question wasn’t about price or speed or services. It was about trust.
Go ahead and spend your marketing dollars. Amplify your Facebook posts, create your content, and run your ads. But also know that your brand isn’t involved in most of the conversations about it. So do your job. Be respectful of their time. And then let them get back to what they really want to do (which I can assure you, isn’t duct cleaning).
One final note: 416-SO-CLEAN didn’t ask me to write a review. Had they asked me to write a review, I wouldn’t have. Begging someone to give you a review isn’t begging them for the sale, it’s proactively begging them to help you get the NEXT sale. And that's not fun for anyone.