Delighting Readers -
Even During the First Moment of Truth
Moments of Truth - Consumer Products
Procter & Gamble coined the key instances in which a customer becomes impressed with a product as "Moments of Truth." Historically, the First Moment of Truth (FMOT) refered to when the customer saw a package on a store shelf; this experience influenced not only the possible purchase...but it set up expectations for the quality of the product. The Second Moment (SMOT) was the instance when the product was used, and the customer assessed whether or not the experience matched expectations. With the internet changing customer habits, another instance was eventually coined: the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT, Link), which is when customers form expectations before directly contacting (touching) the product!
Moments of Truth - Books
How does this framework translate to today's book selling? In this case, the ZMOT occurs when readers comb through online reader/customer reviews. Given that fewer and fewer books are purchased in an actual bookstore, the FMOT will likely be when a book arrives by mail (though one may argue it is when the cover is seen...online...or on an electronic device). The SMOT is when the reader actually reads the book. The main premise is to identify all touchpoints between the consumer and the product, and then enlighten each instance.
"Every touchpoint with a reader is important..."
The end of one reader's experience will start the process for a subsequent one, but less than ~10% of readers will post reviews (a statistic based on my own experience). This amplifies the need to impress potential readers whenever possible. "Giveaways" are an efficient way to jumpstart the process; these are online-events in which readers signup for complimentary copies of the book...usually with a non-binding commitment to review it. Every several months I host Giveaways of hardcopy (via Goodreads.com) and electronic books (via LibrayThing.com) for Lords of Dyscrasia. Every touchpoint with a customer is important, and a crafty partner of mine reminded me early on to not overlook one. With the focus on on-line/virtual touchpoints, I almost neglected to make the FMOT delightful for those receiving hardcopies by snail mail. Thanks to her, the books awarded to Giveaway winners have always been wrapped to impress (thanks Designlab!). The packaging features a handwritten note with well-folded Kraft paper; a presentation to enhance the First Moment of Truth for Lords of Dyscrasia readers.
Can the packaging effect the overall experience? Yes. The care exhibited in packaging reflects the care imparted when making the product. One winner even wrote back a hand-written note acknowledging the tradecraft:
"Dear S.E., I got your book today. The way you presented your book blew me away. First Class. I will give my review on First Read Good Reads as soon as I am finished reading. Good luck to you. I hope you sell a million. Sincerely, [reader]"