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The Micro-Moments That Matter To Marketers

28/04/2016 8:10 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Digital Branding Series #1: Understanding the micro-moments in a consumer's journey in non-Cartesian reality

Micro-moments are what every marketer is talking about today--those moments of intent in the lives of consumers, where they want to know, go or buy immediately and without any delay. Economic success is determined by the ability of intelligent platforms to curate these interactions and the ability of marketers to capitalize on and convert a multitude of such moments, every moment.

What about the journey of an individual?

In a Cartesian world, our lives could be mapped along definite oppositions such as mind versus body, space versus time, and so on. In that orderly world, time itself moves along a definite axis with fixed intervals and events could be mapped at definite coordinates.

Some moments are pivotal in action and consequence; others become pivotal in perception and remembrance.

In our perceived reality, however, certain moments matter more.

As we lead our lives, certain moments or junctures stand out as being more important or casting a bigger shadow on our lives. The way we perceive and recall and imagine these moments--how our minds can swiftly go back in time to certain memories or swiftly move ahead to imagine certain happenstances--determines the import and impact of the moment itself. Some moments are pivotal in action and consequence; others become pivotal in perception and remembrance.

In mathematical visualization, our life instead of moving along a uniformly graduated axis, moves in the complex multidimensional possibility of space and time. Each moment has its own depth, its own heft. Certainly, a moment in our life that intersects with a moment in the lives of others, acquires greater importance. But it is not just the sheer collision of paths, of chance happenings and meetings that explodes and expands the importance of a moment. The importance of a moment also depends on how attached or detached we are, as individuals, to its possible outcomes, how much we value the spaces into which the moment takes us. Our life can, thus, be envisaged as a multi-dimensional bubble map.

[T]he micro-moments that matter to marketers... possibly reside in the interstices of the moments that matter to us.

Storytelling has followed a similar arc over the ages.

In the one-dimensional approach of myths, fables and legends of yore, we followed the chronological story of the protagonist from a distance. But in the modern novel, the axes of time and space are shattered. We enter the story at any one point or event, and can move backward to a memory or move forward to a dream. These conscious moments are strung together like beads in the narrative of the story. As in a slow motion action replay, these moments that matter move not at the same pace as the rest of our lives; instead they acquire details and emotions and interactions, slowing down time itself and magnifying this singular moment that matters.

The pattern which links these moments within our own lives and interlinks with moments in the lives of others is the pattern in which our Jungian mind moves, from thought to thought, through associations and perceptions, like a gigantic multi-dimensional neural network.

What comes to mind is the abstract expressionist style of Jackson Pollock. His paintings overlay and enmesh layers of paint, in lines, drips and splatters on this three-dimensional mixed media canvas; they are complex space-time metaphors. Like the riffs of jazz music, which shatter conventional musical structure and emphasize improvisation, interaction and creative interpretation. Maps and graphs emerging from big data analytics patterns look similar--interconnected networks of nodes, complex and delicately balanced.

If, by chance, the interstitial moment in a consumer's journey meets and matches the message being broadcasted by the marketer, there is engagement or conversion.

Which are the micro-moments that matter to marketers though?

Possibly they are not the ones that consume us or expand to cast a shadow. These retail micro-moments possibly reside in the interstices of the moments that matter to us. These are the moments that lead up to or follow after the moments that we truly value or long for or remember or are haunted by.

For example, in the lead up to a major event in life, such as a wedding and a post-wedding vacation, consumers are seeking inspiration or looking for purchases. During and after their travel, the consumer is looking for a different type of information or purchases.

The question still remains for every marketer--how to identify these pertinent micro-moments when the potential consumer is open to a conversation or interaction or transaction and send relevant messaging? Approaches can be driven by intent or serendipity.

Just like a penumbral halo, each moment of import casts a gossamer shadow. Nifty big data and artificial intelligence analytics engines mash up those shadows to create micro insights. Each micro insight is a potential opportunity--to narrow cast options, to turn intent into adoption.

The moments that matter to the marketer lie in between the moments that matter to the consumer... These are the micro-moments to be captured and monetized.

Simultaneously, marketers craft their positioning statements and share it across all platforms and consumer touch points. If, by chance, the interstitial moment in a consumer's journey meets and matches the message being broadcasted by the marketer, there is engagement or conversion.

Ultimately, in this non-Cartesian reality, the marketer cannot capture the moments that truly matter to the consumer.

The moments that matter to the marketer lie in between the moments that matter to the consumer--like silken thread between beads, like white space between paint spatters, like melody between improvisations. These are the micro-moments to be captured and monetized.

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