One of the big issues small business owners face is turning cold leads into hot prospects. So, when Google conducted a study on consumer habits to find out when leads are most likely to buy, it’s something we were all keen to find out. Google called this hot lead moment The Zero Moment of Truth, or ZMOT.

As any business owner would know, reaching this moment is crucial in ensuring your business’s survival. So how do you achieve this elusive zero moment? Well, Google discovered a few interesting things that will help you do just that.

The study found that most people aren’t ready to buy at the first touch point with the product or service. In other words, the first time they see your website or brochure probably isn’t going to be the moment they make the decision to buy. Google found that a buyer needs 7 hours of interaction across 11 touch points in 4 locations.

These terms may be unfamiliar, so let’s put them in layman’s terms. A touch point could be a flyer, a newsletter, a review, a video, a blog post or a television advertisement. A location refers to means through which the consumers are receiving these touch points, such as on social media, a website, in an email or in person.

How to increase your customer touches (in a non-sleazy way)

11 touch points in 4 locations. How are you doing?

Let’s look at the locations first. Do you have a website? Social media profiles? A store front (or, if you’re online like us, do you go to networking events)? If so then you’re off to a great starting point – even if people aren’t interacting with you on all of these touch points yet, the potential is there.

If your business isn’t present in four different locations, think about what you can do to increase your presence. Can you write some guest posts for different blogs, or articles for industry journals? Is it time to create a Facebook page? Is it time to start meeting people face-to-face? How about building an email list (and actually emailing them)?

The next item is the 11 touch points. Across these four locations, a customer needs to interact with you 11 times. So they might visit your blog four times, read three emails, like your Facebook page, call you once, have a face-to-face consultation and see an article you published on Inc. or Anthill.

Now, the way most people try to increase their customer touches is by asking for subscriptions so they can deliver content on a regular basis. In exchange for these subscriptios, they might offer a free ebook, a video series, an introductory course, or even a free coaching session.

The problem with this is that everyone is doing it. As a result, your ideal clients are becoming more and more wary about submitting their email addresses for ‘free’ information, because they know that ‘free’ is code for ‘this person wants to sell me something’.

The issue here isn’t that these people are not a match for the free offer. In fact, the free offer could be exactly what they need to solve their problem!

The problem is that they haven’t been pre-sold. (Yes, your ideal customers need to be pre-sold on the offer that is designed to pre-sell them on your services.)

So how else can you increase your touches, locations and hours?

We’ve established that the ZMOT is a result of 11 touch points in four locations over seven hours, though the main issue with this is that it can be difficult to reach these metrics, due to the pre-selling issue. Plus, even if someone does subscribe to your email list or connect with you on social media, there’s a secondary issue of reaching seven hours. After all, how long does it take to like a status update? How long does it take to read a blog post? How long does it take to read an email (if they even open it to begin with)?

If each touch only takes a few minutes, it’s going to take a long time to reach seven hours.

The easiest way to hit 7 hours…

This is where a book is invaluable. First, it’s a separate location. Tick. Second, because most readers won’t read it in one sitting, it could add up to several different touch points. Tick. Third, even shorter books take a good three to four hours to read. And if your reader is engaged in all of the action steps you set along the way, you could easily build up your seven hours with your book alone.

And even if they don’t reach those seven hours with your book alone, this interaction is more than enough for most readers to sign up to your email list. After all, once someone starts reading your book, they recognise your credibility. They discover what makes you different to everyone else. They find out what works and what doesn’t. They realise the value you can provide. Then, when you give them the opportunity to develop an ongoing relationship with a free offer, they’re more likely to take it.