**This content was inspired by research and case studies contained in “Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers With Word of Mouth,” the new book from Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin.
At many points in the life of your brand, it’s natural to look to other companies for inspiration. You nab a template for your next design project. You take the hiring advice of that famous blogger. But when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing, only truly unique stories will do.
In terms of word of mouth, talk triggers are stories that customers are willing to repeatedly tell about your brand. A talk trigger stems from something great delivered by your team. By stimulating conversations among consumers, that talk trigger becomes a lasting differentiator.
While it’s impossible to create a single advertisement that appeals to tens of thousands of potential customers at once, word-of-mouth marketing can generate that sort of reach organically. Skeptical? Ted Wright, CEO of marketing agency Fizz, claims that word of mouth from a single thrilled customer can spread to 40,370 people within a year. Imagine how much of an impact your brand can have if you create word of mouth from hundreds of customers every day.
The key to a successful word-of-mouth campaign is the aforementioned talk trigger. Talk triggers are built-in differentiators that are able to create customer conversations without fail. To be successful, however, they must be made of unique material. You cannot simply pluck talk triggers out of the air or borrow them from competitors — they are the result of careful work by the team behind your brand.
Unlike most other parts of your business, talk triggers are not “owned” by any one department or function. Your marketing team will shape them, your sales team will deploy them, and your customer service team will communicate them. In other words, it’s a true team effort.
United We Stand
The challenge of creating a stellar talk trigger is that all corners of your organization must be involved and inspired to deliver it. Talk triggers need time, evolution, and plenty of care to have an impact. They must also be refined through customer feedback and analysis — necessitating a commitment to teamwork and a dedication to customers.
Here are six steps that can help you take your talk triggers out of the hands of a few lucky marketers and empower your entire organization to generate word-of-mouth buzz.
1. Do some internal exploration
The right talk trigger for your company must come from within. To find it, start by gathering internal insights. Collect everything you know about your customers, including their habits, their desires, and the ways they interact with your products. These are the ingredients that will make your talk trigger meaningful.
Talk triggers might seem like spontaneous events (at least to customers), but they will only be effective if they are crafted using the systematic interpretation of data by an invested team. Instead of delegating the task to particular roles, find out who on your team knows your customers best. Find these fanatics and begin building your internal expertise.
2. Get ideas from your customers
If you avoid talking to customers, your talk triggers will always be limited. They will be distanced from the true concerns of the very people you want to influence. Surveys and market research are great, but they do not allow people to communicate their real needs and wants — the information only skims the surface.
Instead, take your investigation into the frontal lobes of your customer base. How you do that will be unique to your brand. Whether it’s via a probing email or a face-to-face conversation, do whatever it takes to figure out what your customers truly want.
3. Create a shortlist of talk trigger candidates
I’m sure a few successful talk triggers were created on the fly, but most are the result of insights and intentions. Actively discover what your customers want, and find the right context to appeal to those desires.
Once you have the right intentions and insights in place, there are probably plenty of possible talk triggers you could deploy. Spend time looking through your list of potential talk triggers and select a few of the most promising candidates. You won’t know the value of a particular talk trigger until you try it.
4. Test. Measure. Wait.
It’s time to put your potential triggers to the test. Admittedly, this might seem intimidating at first. How do you test something that is designed to organically travel so far away from you?
To observe talk triggers in action, you must cultivate a great deal of patience within your team. It takes time to see the full impact of talk triggers, as the message slowly spreads from one person to another. Monitor the tone of social media posts, initiate conversations with customers who are exposed to your talk triggers, and test your material on small subsets to see how many people talk with their friends about your trigger.
5. Deploy your chosen talk trigger
After you find a talk trigger that works like a charm, it’s time to deploy it to your target audiences. Depending on your brand, your trigger could be deployed in any number of ways. It might be best expressed as a subtle, almost invisible differentiator, or it could take center stage and define your brand.
A talk trigger is not like a marketing campaign. Because talk triggers are operational differentiators, the way you deploy them is as important as the story itself. Word of mouth is a far cry from traditional advertising — your entire organization needs to actually be different in order to show consumers that you’re worth discussing. This requires every person and department to align around your chosen talk trigger and find ways to incorporate it into regular work routines.
6. Crank up the volume on your talk trigger
When your team has truly embraced your talk trigger, your work is not quite done. While the beauty of a great talk trigger is that it amplifies itself — moving organically from person to person — you should still do whatever you can to help it along.
Enlist every department to boost this natural phenomenon as part of your ongoing strategies. Marketing can use its skills to generate further momentum, and customer service can continually test the temperature of the trigger during conversations with customers. When every department works to make your talk trigger resonate, it will begin to take root with audiences.
Talk triggers can lead to incredible results when used correctly — a single word-of-mouth impression generates five times more sales than a traditional advertisement, after all. The six preceding steps can ensure you choose the right talk trigger for your team and then get everyone pulling in the same direction. Put your diverse brains together, and turn your insights into stories that your customers will keep telling.
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