Does the Rubber Meet the Road on the Path to Purchase? Thanks for nothing digital ecosystem.

Let’s start at the end. I’ve been riding on brand new Nokian WR-G3’s for the past few weeks in the very changeable NYC weather. Suddenly, driving is “way more fun”. My car, a 2001 Subaru Outback H6, is reinvigorated and I am attributing it all to the tires, the actual tires.

How did I discover the tires I really wanted?

Word of Mouth and phone calls were the only things that worked.  Every other aspect of the digital ecosystem that surrounds the path to purchase for a set of tires is horribly broken. Failures. Full stop.

The entire ecosystem has failed at providing me any value at all points along the path to purchase.

  • Make me aware that I might want to buy a new set of tires and why – I just thought you waited for the treads to wear down.
  • Know that I was due for new tires – I should have bought them a year or two ago – so many folks – from the dealership I bought it from to the various services stations and garages – to the ecommerce sites where I have bought parts and especially to the tire shop I had used previously
  • Get me relevant information about what is available – the search engines do not help you get to useful information, the return a bunch of SEO friendly pages that are simply ads.
  • No direct useful info from the brands themselves.

I’m a brand new Nokian brand loyalist and Nokian doesn’t know I exist or how I found them. If you think I am beating up on Nokian, you are missing the point.

The entire ecosystem failed itself. As I went down the entire path to purchase, not a single entity that I touched collected any actionable information from me. They don’t know what MY path to purchase was. They weren’t helpful in any of my “moments of truth”. They don’t even know I made a purchase.

The number of missed opportunities is staggering.

Think this is limited to tires? I am having the exact same situation purchasing a replacement dishwasher. This sorry state of affairs is everywhere.  In every “industry”. In every “vertical” It’s in B2B, B2C, B2B2C, Bricks & Clicks, physical & digital.

For 30 years, I’ve been professionally neck deep at the bleeding edge of what we now call “Digital”. Despite the blistering pace of technical achievement and adoption, despite huge investment and effort by the various brands and channels in the ecosystem, buying tires (or dishwashers) today is more horrible than ever.

Having participated in hundreds of digital marketing initiatives aimed at improving this situation with some very talented and well intentioned people, the goals are far from being achieved. Looking back, a handful of fundamental principles have emerged as persistent blockers to successfully seizing the opportunity.

Individually, these principles are simple. They are not new. They are well researched and documented. However, it is the connection of these principles into a coherent approach for establishing digital brands that have real impact and lasting value. To be clear – this is not about “the Uberization of X” – it is much more than that.

You may already have some of the principles in your mission statement – the point is how those words are turned into action. It is how the principles are applied to all aspects of the organization. It gets to the very heart of organizational culture and what your brand wants to be known for, in 50 years.

Those who are brave, who reconsider their place in the ecosystem, and make a sustained investment, the opportunity remains.

Yes, a story about tires can lead to turning point.

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