Jay Baer on Turning Customers into Content Marketers with Talk Triggers

 In Content Marketing, Content Strategy, Tips & How-Tos

Who is capable of promoting your brand most effectively?

Hint: It’s not your president or CEO. It’s not your sales or marketing department. It’s not even your employee advocates. It’s your customers.

Nothing can match the genuine, authentic impact of a recommendation from unbiased peers, colleagues, or friends. This is both intuitively obvious (wouldn’t you take the word of a trusted acquaintance over just about any corporate messaging?) and reinforced by data.

Most of us recognize the importance of word-of-mouth (WOM), which is the oldest form of marketing in existence, but few organizations have a formal plan in place to activate it. Jay Baer has devised one with his “Talk Triggers” system, which was the subject of his newest book (a highly recommended read).

He recently joined Jay Acunzo on The BIG Simple webinar to deconstruct a set of principles that he suggests “every company in existence can get better by putting into practice.”

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What Are Talk Triggers?

It’s fair to say that almost every company is, at least obliquely, focused on generating WOM buzz. They do so by striving to create awesome experiences, and delivering superior quality, and maybe even encouraging a customer here or there to tell a friend. But it’s rare to see a defined program around WOM, which Baer considers “the most important, least appreciated factor for your business.”

This glaring strategic gap drove the Convince and Convert founder to build out his Talk Triggers framework, which he describes as a “strategic operational differentiator that compels word of mouth.

The premise here is straightforward enough: human beings are psychologically wired to ignore things that are average and typical, while noticing and remembering things that are different. Therefore, brands need to find the delta between what their customers expect and what they don’t expect, then systematically deliver on it in a way that makes each experience uniquely memorable.

As a prime example of this model in action, Baer points out that Doubletree Hotels gives a chocolate chip cookie to guests every time they check in for a stay. It might seem like a small gesture, and it is (though it adds up — Doubletree hands out more than 75,000 cookies daily) but the ripple effect is undeniable. Baer’s research found that 34% of the hotel’s customers had mentioned this cookie, unprompted, to someone else in the past 30 days.

After sharing these insights with Acunzo, Baer follows with question: “When was the last time you saw a Doubletree ad?”

His point is that the Hilton Worldwide subsidiary is able to lessen its need for advertising spend by generating awareness, affinity and customer acquisition through this organically executed program. Sounds quite similar to the fundamental goal of content strategy, right? That’s why everyone in our field needs to be paying attention.

Talk Triggers: 5 Types and 4 Traits

Let’s dig into the operational and practical components of deploying this methodology. Baer divvies up Talk Triggers into five different categories:

Talkable Generosity: Being more generous than your customers expect. A free perk or add-on that delights patrons. The Doubletree cookie falls into this bucket.

Talkable Responsiveness: Being faster or more on top of it than your customers expect. Reliably rapid customer service response times or unusually quick service turnarounds would exemplify this.

Talkable Empathy: Treating your customers more kindly and warmly than they (sadly) have come to expect in today’s market.

Talkable Usefulness: Being more useful than your customers expect. (This is one that content marketers can really zero in on, I think.)

Talkable Attitude: Being a bit more quirky or “out there” than your customers expect. As an example, Baer cites UberConference and its hilarious custom hold music on phone calls.

Almost any Talk Trigger will fall under one of these umbrellas. But when implementing the strategy, you will want to make sure your differentiator covers these four R’s: it must be Remarkable, Repeatable, Relevant, and Reasonable.

To understand what these mean, let’s frame them around the aforementioned Doubletree cookies example:

  • Remarkable: Guests aren’t generally expecting to have a tasty, fresh chocolate chip cookie handed to them when they arrive at a hotel, making this act worthy of remark.
  • Repeatable: There’s no reason Doubletree can’t deliver this experience to every single guest (so long as they’re not allergic or what have you).
  • Relevant: Doubletree’s defining feature within the Hilton portfolio is the “warm welcome”; therefore, giving customers a cookie makes sense within the scope of their brand. You wouldn’t want a locksmith to show up at your house and hand you a cookie, Baer notes.
  • Reasonable: There’s a cost to preparing treats for each guest that walks through Doubletree’s doors, but it’s clearly not an unfeasible expense — the hotel chain has had this program in place for 30 years.

How Do Talk Triggers Fit into Content Strategy?

Talk Triggers aren’t a marketing concept — not exclusively, anyway. For a company to fully activate this idea, it requires cross-functional involvement from sales, operations, customer success and others. But without question, marketing can take the driver’s seat on such an initiative by spearheading audience research and crafting the way it’s presented publicly.

Think about it this way: When Talk Triggers are done right, you’re essentially turning your customers into content marketers by equipping them with a story to tell. How do you want to frame it? And how can the rest of your company’s content strategy support and elevate your unique differentiator?

Last year Doubletree launched an integrated marketing campaign called “Your Warm Cookie Awaits.” This year they published a cookbook and appointed a “Chief Cookie Officer.” Once a Talk Trigger has been developed and operationalized, you should make it a continual fixture in your content calendar to enhance its impact and effectiveness.

BIG Simple: Connecting the Dots for Powerful Customer Experiences

On the first episode of The BIG Simple, Tamsen Webster came on to discuss the Red Thread Method for connecting with potential customers by speaking in their language. In the second episode, Andrew Davis laid out the Loyalty Loop framework for customer retention. And here in Episode 3, Baer explained how we can strategically inspire those loyal customers to spread the word and attract new business.

These ideas all fit into one big picture for simplifying your work and driving better results. In the final episode of this series, Acunzo chats with Michael Brenner about getting buy-in on your big ideas and persuading others to take action. See this and all BIG Simple episodes now ON DEMAND HERE!

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