How to Get More Customers for Free Using Talk Triggers




Several months ago I saw Jay Baer with Convince & Convert present on how to get more customers for free using talk triggers. I was so taken by this concept, I just had to share it.

I personally believe that customer experience, both good and bad, triggers word of mouth which can have a tremendous impact on the future of a business.

I think most of us are already sold on the importance of word of mouth and referrals for our business, but if you need some convincing check out the Chatter Matters Infographic.

Let me ask you this - what can your brand do differently to trigger people to talk? Tough one to answer huh!

This is why Jay Baers' book "Talk Triggers" is so worth reading.

In this article, I will share some of the concepts Jay has written about that I believe can impact your business.

Let's start with the most obvious question first...

What is a Talk Trigger?

A talk trigger is a strategic choice to implement a consistent practice in your business that drives people to spread word of mouth.

Think of them as operational choices that are different and noticeable.

Have you ever been to The Cheesecake Factory? If you have, I'm sure you noticed their menu that's the size of a novel. It's got to be one the largest menus for any restaurant I've ever been to and it just so happens to be a great talk trigger. 

Key Requirements of a Talk Trigger

To be effective, a talk trigger must meet four key requirements.

1. Must Be Remarkable

A talk trigger needs to be extraordinary and must make you stand out.

You must think in terms of exceeding expectations. A talk trigger will help people spread word of mouth about your company.

They will typically spread the word by saying things like:

  • "You'll never believe..."
  • "I was pleasantly surprised when..."
  • "I was amazed they..."

What can you do that would encourage customers to talk about your company like this?

2. Must Be Relevant

Your talk trigger needs to be relevant to your business and/or your customer. Doing something for the sake of standing out isn't a talk trigger unless it's relevant.

This is an exaggeration, but...if an electrician gave every customer a nice watch at the end of every job it might be cool, but it's not necessarily a talk trigger because it has no relevance to the business or customer.

It's also not reasonable, which leads to the next point...

3. Must Be Reasonable

Trust plays a huge role in talk triggers. Your talk trigger must be reasonable enough to not cross the very thin line between trust and doubt.

In the example I gave above, the client would start to doubt why the electrician gave them a nice watch for fixing a faulty wire.

If people might say something like "that's not possible" or "why would they do that" when speaking about your talk trigger it's most likely not reasonable.

4. Must Be Repeatable

If your talk trigger is available to everyone, every time, then you have a good one.

If it's something you reserve for your "platinum" customers or they need to qualify in some way to get it, then it's not a talk trigger. It's that simple.

You should not exclude any customer from your talk trigger!


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The 5 Types of Talk Triggers

You've got choices when it comes to talk triggers. Here are the different types you can choose from:

1. Usefulness

Can you deliver more usefulness, convenience, or practicality than your customers expect? If so, you might want to use this type of talk trigger to get more customers.

2. Empathy

Can you put your company in the customer's shoes and treat them with more warmth and understanding than they could possibly expect? If so, this one might be your bag.

3. Generosity

Can you deliver more than your customers expect? If you're leaning towards this one just remember it must be reasonable to be considered a talk trigger.

4. Responsiveness

Can you respond to customer inquiries within 5-minutes? How about delivering your product or service on the same day?

These are great examples of responsive talk triggers that will surely help you get more customers via word of mouth.

5. Attitude

Can the attitude of your company be different (in a good way)? Would your customers respond well to that attitude?

If yes, then an attitude talk trigger might be for you.

Now that you know what a talk trigger is, the 4 requirements of a talk trigger, and the 5 types of talk triggers, let's look at how you can create one for your business...

How to Create Your Talk Trigger

Grab a copy of the book Talk Triggers for a complete perspective on this subject.

But for starters, this section is what you’ll need to create a talk trigger for your business and start getting more customers via word of mouth.

Step 1: Gather Internal Insights

Nobody knows your customers better than you and everyone working for you. Gathering data from within your organization is the first step towards creating talk triggers.

This important task should be a collaborative effort among all the departments within your organization (marketing, sales, operations, customer service, etc.).

Gather as much info as you can about your customer. You'll find some amazing potential talk triggers among the data.

Step 2: Dig Deeper Into Your Customers

In this step, you want to really try to put yourself in the customer's shoes and see what it's like as they move through the customer journey with your company.

Jay recommends asking yourself these questions to accomplish this:

  • How do our customers experience our product?
  • Why do our customers refer us today?
  • What do our customers say about our brand,
  • What do our customers say about our competitors
    or partners, unaided?
  • Where in the product experience is the right time
    for us to introduce a talk trigger?

You're getting closer! Now it's time to...

Step 3: Create Potential Talk Triggers

To uncover the real value of steps 1 and 2, imagine you are a customer and try to answer the following questions that Jay recommends:

  • When I buy or use this product/service I’m...
  • What I don’t expect from this product...
  • What I’m talking about in my life right now...
  • What I want is...
  • What I really want is...

Having the right context is a great way of creating effective talk triggers and these questions will help you find that context.

Do you have an idea yet? Now it's time to test and measure...

Step 4: Test And Measure

To ensure your potential talk trigger will have the desired effect on your customers, you MUST test and measure it.

Jay recommends coming at this with two perspectives:

  • Testing Perspective
    If a talk trigger becomes present in 10 percent of customer conversations during a test “sprint” phase, it has the potential to be a long-term talk trigger.
  • Measurement Perspective
    A talk trigger will need to sustain a presence in at least 25 percent of conversations to be viable.

These perspectives could help you understand why your talk trigger didn't work or why people chose not to talk.

Step 5: Expand And Turn On

This step is about getting buy-in from your employees and outside stakeholders (like strategic partners, vendors, etc.). If these people aren't onboard they won't enthusiastically support and rally behind your talk trigger, making it difficult for your talk trigger to gain momentum.

Once you know you have buy-in it's time to take things to the next level...

Step 6: Amplify Your Trigger

To amplify your talk trigger, share the talk trigger element in your customers experience in the following channels:

  • Advertising
  • Social media
  • Customer service responses
  • Email campaigns
  • Website
  • Mobile App

You can also encourage employees and stakeholders to share talk trigger stories from customers. 

Example Talk Triggers

I know it can be hard to really visualize this in practice. Here are some of the examples Jay Baer uses when discussing talk triggers.

  • Krispy Kreme Donut's: Their "Hot Now" sign letting people know the donuts are hot.
  • Doubletree Hotels: Hot cookies at check-in.
  • Holiday World & Splashin' Safari: Where soft drinks, sunscreen, and parking are free for everyone.

I hope you found this overview of talk triggers helpful. Talk triggers can absolutely help you get more customers, you just need to be committed to the process.

What do you think? Are you going to create a talk trigger for your business? Do you already have one?

Let us know in the comments below. We'd be honored if you feel this article is worth sharing too.

Are you looking for more solid local marketing tips and tricks? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Local Marketing.


We'll show you how to create a simple, effective marketing plan in minutes!

This is the exact same marketing plan we use for our business  and our clients.

It's simple and easy to use. Isn't it time you started seeing consistent, repetable results with your marketing? It all starts with the RIGHT plan...

Header image courtesy of Stocksnap.

About the author, Tim Fitzpatrick

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