Zombies, social media and the buying cycle

Ian Lurie

I think it’s time we all moved on.

I’m going to stop bitching about the phrase ‘social media’. In exchange, you’re all going to stop pondering whether you need a social media strategy.

The term social media is here to stay, clearly. And it is critical as new potential customers come looking for what you offer.

I’m going to prove it. With zombies.

'glad ta meet ya' zombie

Point 1: Your logo is not your brand

Most folks state that their brand is a fixed thing: It’s their logo, and maybe a style guide with some color choices in it.

They’re wrong. While a great logo can certainly fix your brand in someone’s mind, the logo itself doesn’t deliver the personality, experience and story that really establish your identity. Your logo is a name tag for your company.

Hello my name is Jack Crow

You meet someone at a conference party. You don’t know them. A quick glance at their name tag tells you their name, but not who they are. You could meet some guy named “Ian” at said party and have no idea that he secretly wants to buy an island so he’s safe in the coming Zombie Apocalypse. Chat with him a while, though, and you learn about his master plan.

The logo/brand relationship is the same. You see a pretty logo and say ‘ooooh’. A moment later, you learn that the company behind the logo sends monsters to kill cute little kittens. Surprise!

God kills kitten

Point 2: Trainability comes early and diminishes over time

A potential customer is at their most trainable the first time they encounter you. Online, though, you may not be the one the customer actually encounters. ‘You’ may be your own web site, your product on a shelf, or a disgruntled customer making up mean stories about you.

By the way, I don’t mean ‘trainable’ in a bad way. I just mean they have the fewest preconceived notions. The zombies, not your customers, are the mindless meat sacs.

Your chance to tell that customer who you really are diminishes fast, though, as they move on in the buying cycle:

the buying cycle in social media

If you don’t know the buying cycle, read Jennifer Laycock’s excellent article: Understanding the search buying cycle.

Your best shot at getting your story told is early on. The further the customer gets in her decision making process, the more she’s heard about you from others, and the less likely it is that you can shift her perceptions.

That little uptick at the end of the graph is not an accident. I find that if someone sticks around and learns to trust your brand, the easier it is to expand on your story.

So, you have to be involved at the very beginning of the buying cycle. If you’re not, you might as well be selling to a Stage 3 dragger. That’s a zombie whose legs have fallen off, in case you were wondering. Hey, you may need to know this someday.

Zombie: "They're coming to get you, Baaarbara. (I always wanted to say that)"

Point 3: The interest phase happens in social media

Online, the vast majority of interest phase investigation happens in social media (and search!).

This goes way beyond Twitter. At this point, you’d better include every blog, every review site, a few online publications and your aunt’s husband’s web site dedicated to all things zombie-related:

zombie web site

If other folks are out there talking about you and your zombie survival kit business, and you’re not, then they control what your potential customers learn during the interest phase. By the time they encounter you and your pretty logo, they’ve got a pretty fixed perception of who you are.

So the only question is: Are you going to let that happen? Hell no!

What to do: Your action plan

  • Start monitoring what folks say about you online.
  • Start blogging. Don’t complain to me. Just do it.
  • Make friends with others. A network of online friends can be your most powerful branding tool.

There’s more – you can read a list of 45 actions to take over here.

So get to work! Power to humanity! Death to Zeke!

(that’s an obscure zombie cultural reference – if you get it, you’re as sad as I am)

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. Have you read “World War Z”? I’ve never been a zombie movie or book fan (I’ve always been more of a Star Trek geek), but World War Z was a brilliant book. I don’t have enough good things to say about it.
    Sorry for getting off topic. I have nothing to say about the zombie-social media comparison…suffice it to say, that I loved it. Maybe I didn’t get so far off topic.
    If you haven’t read it, read it today!

  2. Great stuff Ian, Without using the buzz word social media your zombies have demonstrated the purpose of it in businesses today quite well.
    As mentioned above in the buying cycle all these three periods are met in social media to the fullest so embracing it is very important,but you can not use it as Audi has just tried to do it with the Green Police campaign.

  3. Your understanding of what a brand is, takes me back to my uni roots. They gave us the question; What is a brand? With that most people, including myself got it wrong. Through years of understanding it grew to become knowledge that a brand inst just visual identity, but what you relationship is towards it and the story that started it.
    Great article

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