We’ve been banging the ZMOT drum now for quite a while here at Coolpink.

Pretty much every new business meeting, presentation or talk that we give includes a section on the topic and at each I always ‘ask the audience’ if they have come across the concept previously.

It may be surprising to learn that, even today, 90%+ of marketers that we speak to, haven’t. Occasionally there is a vague glimmer of recognition, but on the whole, awareness is still minimal.

This is troubling; given the fact that we are talking about Google, talking about the very future of marketing itself. And, let’s face it; they ought to know a thing or two about it, given the fact that they are, to an ever-increasing extent, creating the agenda!

So, why are people failing to fully grasp the enormous, market-redefining significance of the principals wrapped up in ZMOT?

Maybe that’s the issue. ZMOT is such a big idea, impacting across SEO, Content Marketing, Mobile, Social, PR and even in-store and customer service experiences. It’s everything that your business does, or doesn’t do. It’s how you look, sound and most importantly of all, act across all of these channels. Was the website accessible? Could you be found on mobile search? Was the in-store environment friendly and welcoming? What about after-sales? How do your email communications look, compared to the rest of your marketing activity? How friendly were the people on the phone when I called to ask directions to the store?

All of this stuff, good bad or indifferent, now finds its way into the ZMOT melting pot, gets socialized and shared and becomes part of the decision-making process of your next potential customer.

That’s ZMOT. And its implications for your business are indeed vast and potentially terrifying.

Unless, of course, you are getting things right.

In which case ZMOT becomes your best friend. In this brave new world, good ideas, great products, great, engaging campaigns and great service all become genuinely leverage-able marketing assets; more effective than any passive ‘above the line’ advertising campaign could ever hope to be.

From the consumer perspective this is all great news, of course. The market chooses the products and businesses that it prefers and these are borne up on an ever-increasing tide of essentially free word-of-mouth, peer-to-peer promotion. Advertising throws fuel on the fire, driving in potential new advocates and we have ourselves a genuine virtuous circle of good feelings, increasing sales and happy customers, whom in turn go on to spread the happy word. That’s ZMOT.

Meanwhile, the unscrupulous, the disingenuous, the sub-standard or plain just-not-quite-good-enough fall by the wayside or are publically shamed into either improving their offer or, potentially, withdrawing from the fray for good. Double your ‘advertising’ budget in this scenario and all you are going to achieve is to inform an even larger number of people of exactly how bad and unpopular your offer is, even faster. That’s ZMOT too!

In conclusion, this is all pretty basic stuff. But maybe we’ve forgotten some of the basics.

Marketing 101 tells us that, essentially, ‘marketing is everything’. It’s the product, it’s the service, and it’s the brand. Meanwhile, business guru Peter Drucker famously stated that business could be boiled down to just two fundamental activities, marketing and innovation.

I believe that ZMOT will eventually force business to return to that basic starting point. In too many businesses, marketing has become abstracted; an ‘after-the-fact’ activity, designed purely to try to shift units. As opposed to something fundamentally built-in, the essential reason-for-being, that runs through the very DNA of the business.

We’re seeing this come to pass at an alarming rate. Marketing teams struggle in the face of mounting business-wide obstacles and an ever-increasing mountain of disparaging social commentary, filling up the ZMOT space.

So our message is simply to echo the great Peter Drucker and urge businesses to think long and hard about those two fundamentals.

Continuously strive to understand your consumers and to innovate (i.e. improve) every aspect of your business, your product, and your service. This is, now more than ever, absolutely vital to your ability to survive and prosper in business today.

Get this right and you may never have to worry about ‘advertising effectiveness’ again… all you have to do is start the conversation and watch as ZMOT does the rest.