The Digital Signage Insider

Examples of the First Moment of Truth (FMOT) in Digital Signage

Published on: 2012-05-24

I remember reading Procter & Gamble's announcement about their research into the "First Moment of Truth" like it was yesterday. This makes me feel quite old, as it in fact happened back in 2005. At the time, WireSpring was highly focused on using digital signage for shopper marketing, so the idea that a really important part of a brand connection happened right at the point-of-purchase made a lot of sense to us. In fact, we blogged about the First Moment of Truth just a few days after P&G's article first appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Having had nearly 7 years to fully digest what FMOT means, we now know that it moments of truth can be found in any environment, not just retail stores. And understanding how they work inside of your environment -- whether it's a call center floor, an office break room, or a retail store -- can make the messages that appear on your digital signs much more effective.

What is the First Moment of Truth?

The First Moment of Truth (FMOT, pronounced EFF-mot), is the 3-7 seconds after a shopper first encounters a product on a store shelf. It is in these precious few seconds, P&G contends, that marketers have the best chance of converting a browser into a buyer by appealing to their senses, values and emotions. And in fact, as P&G's original FMOT director Dina Howell (now the CEO of shopper marketing mega agency Saatchi & Saatchi X) noted, there are actually two moments of truth: when a browser first encounters a product in the store, and each time a customer uses the product. As they best said way back in their 2002 Chairman's Address, "The second moment of truth occurs two billion times a day when consumers use P&G brands. Every usage experience is our chance to delight consumers."


Image credit: numb3r on Flickr
If you're a retail marketer, none of this should be news to you. However, the FMOT school of thought can (and should) easily be applied to just about any other venue where digital signs are used to communicate with an audience.

Example 1: FMOT for a Hotel Lobby

This one's easy. The lobby area is the very first place a guest encounters when he arrives. It must typically be crossed each time that guest enters or exits the hotel. And it frequently adjoins or contains a meeting or break area, and possibly an eating area.

Since the success of most hotels hinges on repeat business (and word of mouth referrals), instantly making a guest feel secure and comfortable is essential, and most hotel designers have learned a thing or two about making lobby areas that will accomplish this. Adding digital messaging to the hotel lobby mix can enhance things further, though.

Show off the best features of the hotel, whether they're amenities (e.g. a nice outdoor pool or well-stocked exercise room) or local attractions. Or highlight some spectacular deals, offers, or things that other guests have said were great about the hotel or the location. Or if you really want to get fancy, have the screen personally welcome guests by detecting the RFID chip embedded in their loyalty cards as they walk in.

The content should be gorgeous (get some pro photography and follow our best practices for digital signage content), and each 3-7 second clip should sell one idea or concept. Ideally, the digital screens should be integrated into the lobby itself so as to not come off as an afterthought.

Example 2: FMOT for a Small Restaurant

Much like a guest staying at a hotel, a restaurant patron needs a certain level of comfort and trust to have a great dining experience. More than that though, they have to want to eat your food. A common saying is that you eat with your eyes before you eat with your mouth, so fortunately it's fairly straightforward to use digital media to sell your food (before you actually sell your food).

As before, high-end product shots reign supreme, so you don't need to overthink the content too much. Another popular approach is to show patrons enjoying the food (this can get tricky if you don't have an eye for photography/videography, though). And if you know you have some kind of quirky appeal, go ahead and exploit it. For example, I once knew of a restaurant that asked anybody who finished their 6 lb. mega-steak to sit for a short video interview that was then played in a loop in the waiting area. (I think those lucky patrons also got a free gallon-sized vat of Lipitor and an ambulance ride to the hospital, but I digress.) It was a little bit silly, but that played right into the restaurant's well-known angle, so it worked for them.

As for sign placement, many small eateries have a queue or waiting area. And even really small places have a wall behind a counter. Any of these locations is OK as long as the sign doesn't look like an afterthought. Nothing gets ignored quicker than a dinky screen showing cut-rate content, so prime placement and attention to detail are key.

More examples

For an employee to really contribute at their job, they have to be happily employed. And that means that employers must prepare for a fresh FMOT every single day of the workweek. So employee FMOT messaging might focus on little-known company benefits, exciting upcoming events and news (and I mean actually exciting to the employees), and a reminder of the mission statement and why the work is important (easy for a company making dialysis filters, harder for an ERP software firm).

A church's first moment must help affirm that it is the right place for worshippers to worship at -- that's the big reason behind so much of that fancy church architecture, after all. So FMOT messaging should focus on the uplifting impact of the important work it does. Calendar events need to be more than just words in a box. They should include pictures (or at least explanations) of who is going to be positively affected by the event, why, and how.

The list goes on and on. Doctor's offices and other healthcare facilities have an obligation to engage patients with a positive FMOT. So do vets, for that matter. And government institutions would do well to explain to their constituents exactly what good they are doing for the community.

So the next time you're asked to work on a digital signage project, or if you're in the business of selling these systems, take a moment to think about what the First Moment of Truth means for the venues installing the systems and the people who will ultimately see them. Framing a digital sign's purpose in terms of FMOT can help solidify its value and set a course for content production -- and both of those things are critical if your project is to be a success.


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