The “moment of truth” has been an important phrase in marketing for a while. First coined back in the day by P&G if we remember correctly (yes, we are that old). It started with the first and second moments of truth, the FMOT and SMOT respectively. P&G loved a good acronym! I can always remember being issued with my ‘TLA’ dictionary on my first day in the office at P&G. Ironically, the first acronym you had to look up was in the title of the book you had just been handed (TLA = three letter acronym if you hadn’t guessed).


The FMOT being the first point you interact with a product, service or brand. In P&G’s FMCG world this was typically at shelf. More recently, thinking (as well as the world) has evolved. This FMOT is increasingly more likely to be virtual. Indeed, some marketers often now us the phrase ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ (ZMOT). The moment before the FMOT when you are actively considering a purchase.  The SMOT then being the point you use or experience the product or service.

All very interesting I hear you cry (or maybe not). Why are you banging on about ZMOT’s, FMOT’s and SMOT’s? Well, these are crucial points for any business and their brands. How well do we truly understand them???

Focus connection on you MOT’s

Yes, many organisations will probably have folders full of research that understand these moments. From Brand Trackers to Usage & Attitude studies. Customer needs, frustrations and barriers will be documented and often quantified. But how well do YOU, as an employee, really understand them? Have you experienced those frustrations, have you seen them first hand? Hopefully your answer yes but we often see it’s a significant gap in many businesses. Otherwise, let’s face it, we wouldn’t do what we do!

I can think of many examples from our careers where there is a huge need for this first-hand experience. Something we refer to as building cognitive empathy with your customer. The empathy built by seeing, observing and experiencing something directly. Here are some memorable moments we’ve been involved in:

  • The marketing team at Huggies mainly being staffed by young men and women who had never known what it was like to hold a baby, let alone try and change one’s nappy when it was screaming the house down and you had only had 3 hours sleep in the last month. Your brand better deliver in that SMOT or you are going to know about it!

  • The team of a well-known cognac brand, who were all getting a bit long in the tooth, realised their brand was becoming the favoured drink of high net worth music artists in the U.S.  Their idea of a good night out was a meal with friends and a few bottles of red wine, not a city centre nightclub. A FMOT influenced more by status than how the drink is going to taste.

  • The team developing products for elderly patients of care homes. Who had never seen first-hand what living life, or indeed working, in such a an environment was actually like. Theres a huge need to understand how the SMOT can be as important to the care giver as much as it is for the person being cared for.


We believe the more you can truly experience these ‘moments of truth’ the more you will hopefully empathise with your customers. Does your brand have a specific point of market entry, a point at which it is first seriously considered? Or, is there a specific pain point in your category that shapes interaction with your brand or those of your competitors?

Do you really know what those moments feel like? Can you empathise? With empathy comes understanding. With understanding comes better decisions. With better decisions comes better business success. And success is never a bad thing.

Get out and Mingle – be better connected.