According to research by Google, 97% people search online before deciding to buy from a local business. Ask yourself this one question and you’ll realize the extent of this problem (or opportunity) depending on how you frame it:
Question: When was the last time you watched a movie on TV without checking its reviews? Keep in mind that when a movie is shown on TV it is not that Friday release but something older. Also a TV movie means that you have no marginal cost as you are anyway going to pay the cable bill. Your only additional cost is the time you commit to watching a movie.
Answer: Most folks are unwilling to invest the average 120 minutes on a Hollywood movie on a TV run without Googling the movie and checking reviews on IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes etc.
Somewhat more unkind is the restaurant customer who walks out of a restaurant, just as the waiter appears, because by this time the Yelp reviews can be seen on the customers’ mobile phone.
In other words, almost no customer is likely to buy your product or service without Googling it first because people are doing research before spending only time infront of a TV and before deciding to have a $8 lunch sandwich.
All this is happening because of the fundamental disappearance of information asymmetry. There was a time that it really mattered to have the movie or food critic write a piece in the newspaper. The movie or restaurant would then take a blurb from the critic’s writing and feature it in the promo for the movie or at the door of the restaurant.
Restaurants still do this, but frequently the customer decides not to try the restaurant based on reviews online and does not get the opportunity to see that wonderful review by the food critic of the newspaper. In other words, the “no go” decision is being made from the cell phone browser.
So where does it leave the business ?
By assuming that people are Googling your product or service you can be empowered. Empowered to describe, explain and justify why your product or service is great on a continuous basis. You get out of the mindset that the customer knows less than you about your industry, your competitors or about how other customers feel about different offerings in the industry.
Assuming information symmetry can do wonders for a restaurant. Let us say that a New England snow beleaguered lunch place is getting bad/average reviews for its clam chowder soup but people like the piping hot turkey sandwich and the sweet potato fries. By trying to fix the clam chowder ( relaunched as “new” clam chowder) and talking more about its popular products on the website and social media can turn things around.
Simply ignoring the customer voice or pretending that new or even existing customers will not check it, is going back to the old times where information was power.
Now that anyone with an Internet connection can instantly research your product or services gives equal and more power to the average consumer. In B2B markets, when a buying engineer Googles something they see,read and understand things at quite a different and enhanced level than the sales engineer who is trying to make a sale from a canned sales script.
Assuming that your customer has Googled your product,company and you can go a long way in improving the value of whatever you offer the market. About StratoServe Digital Marketing Services.