What is a dial tone? In the literal sense, it is the sound you hear either before or after you make a phone call. Now think beyond the literal sense of it and get a little deeper. A dial tone is the space surrounding intention to make a connection. And what does every marketer dream of? Finding a way to tap into that sense of intention.
Let’s start with the viewpoint of the consumer. As a consumer, I express my intention in a variety of ways but there are three that surface the most: I search online, I talk to my friends, or I go into a store.
- Searching Online: I am looking to a 3rd party that will help me match my thoughts to a solution. I have the opportunity to ask any question I want without worry of being seen as ignorant. Plus I can get closer to the actual definition of the problem I am trying to solve. Often that is the hardest part to figure out as a consumer.
- Talk to Friends: I am looking for a person to give me a recommendation. I am hoping to find someone who had the same problem as me and either found the right solution to refer to me or found the wrong one and will warn me about it.
- Go Into A Store: I am looking for a brand to direct me toward a solution. Maybe it is a common problem that many face and this brand has the solution sitting right in front of me.
All of these paths show my intention. Going from anonymous to very visible, I am willing to try a variety of tactics to get help in solving my problem. What I have found as a consumer, many companies are getting lazy when it comes to marketing to my intention. What are they doing? Advertising. Is it working? Think about the last time you actually noticed an ad, clicked on it, and bought the item… enough said.
Placing ads everywhere does not fully capitalize on intention. It is a good tactic for some things, however Marketers generally default to this as the main strategy in a large variety of circumstances. Why? It is easy, it is known, and it is predictable. Doing something different requires research, explanation, business cases, permission, approvals, meetings, meetings, meetings…
So what do we do as Marketers? We need to look at what we can control, what we can influence, and what we can foster. The largest areas of improvement surround intention with engagement on the consumers terms, not ours. Give their friends good experiences and a way to spread the word (discounts, coupons, special status). Give them a place online they can find others with similar questions (create or connect them to a community). Make the experience in the store about the consumer, not the brand (text in to learn more, listen on social, put information and products together). Keep in touch after the connection to see what else you can do (send receipts via email, call to follow up, send a thank you).
To ensure you are getting the most from your marketing, think about the dial tone moment for your consumers. We all show intent, just not everyone works to leverage it.