Jay Baer has been figuring out how to get people talking about brands for a long time. His book Talk Triggers dives deep into the psychology of what makes brands and products worth talking about and what makes people actually talk – and not just take note. This is a fun chat with an interesting guest. Also, Jay admits that host Adam Pierno is his-and we quote- “inspiration.”
[00:00:22] Adam Pierno: Let’s do it. All right welcome back to another episode of The Strategy Inside Everything. This is going to be a fun one. I will tell you that right now because today’s guest is someone I’ve known for a long time. Former co-workers although Jay probably doesn’t even remember that.
[00:00:40] Jay Baer: Hardly.
[00:00:43] Adam: Jay Baer is the founder of Convince and Convert and how many books now? Your new book is the sixth book?
[00:00:51] Jay: That’s correct.
[00:00:53] Adam: Talk Trigger is your brand new book and–
[00:00:55] Jay: Once we stopped working together Adam, I started writing books. I don’t know if there’s correlation or causation there, but that’s mathematically true. [laughter]
[00:01:01] Adam: I like to feel that I inspired you Jay. That’s what I think happened.
[00:01:05] Jay: That’s what were going to say for the purpose of this broadcast for sure.
[00:01:08] Adam: You know that that’s going to be on the promotional materials, so I’m running with it.
[00:01:11] Jay: I love it.
[00:01:12] Adam: For the few people that don’t know you, give people just a quick background on where you came from and how you founded Convince and Covert and then I want to dive in to some of the thinking behind Talk Triggers.
[00:01:27] Jay: Sure, and thank you for the opportunity my friend. I started off in politics. I was a political campaign consultant. Did that for a bit. Then I worked for the government for about 20 minutes, and then accidentally got involved in intranet, way back in 1993, so 25 years ago. I’ve been in digital marketing since quite literally domain names for free. You could just buy whatever domain name you wanted. [laughter] “Who would want a website?” Like, “What are you talking about?” I’ve been doing this a long time. I had the good fortune of working with Adam for a few years at an agency that purchased my digital consulting firm.
My plan was, after that contract was up was to go teach at a university or whatever, but then we had the simultaneous collapse of the real estate and stock markets. I thought, “I can’t afford to be a university professor,” and so I started Convince and Convert 10 years ago this summer. We do digital marketing, social media content marketing, word of mouth strategy, for a bunch of really really interesting brands. We’re blessed to work with some of the most iconic organizations in the world. It’s a virtual firm. I’m in Indiana now but our team is located all over the world. I spend a lot of my time speaking and writing books, and those kind of things, and doing my podcast which is called social pros. Of course my team does all the hard work.
[00:02:53] Adam: I have a feeling you’re doing a lot of the hard work as well. If I remember correctly– [crosstalk].
[00:02:56] Jay: I’m doing a lot of work, but I don’t know if I would call it hard work. Giving speeches and recording podcasts is not exactly mining coal, but yes it’s time intensive. Put it that way.
[00:03:08] Adam: You still do get black lung though from being too close to the microphone.
[00:03:11] Jay: I do. That’s it, absolutely.
[00:03:13] Adam: I’m worried about you buddy. We’re going to get you a check up for sure.
[00:03:16] Jay: I appreciate that.
[00:03:17] Adam: I want to talk about Talk Triggers, because you didn’t just say, “I’m going to write a book about this and I don’t know shit about it.” You’ve been doing this and building these programs and the book rings true. What I’ve read of it so far, I’m not all the way through it, but what I’ve read so far, I was like, “Yes, this is very practical.” This is your sixth book, what made you inspired to write this book at this particular time?
[00:03:47] Jay: It’s interesting. I started creating content about word of mouth and actually using the phrase talk triggers back in 2011. There was a very long elephant like gestation period for this particular concept. I write all my books the same way, and for the same reason Adam, which is when I notice a pattern of inquisition amongst our customers. Where they’re asking myself or our strategy team similar questions over and over. I’m like, ” If these folks who are amongst the largest companies in the world don’t know the answer to this question, a lot of people don’t know the answer to this question.” That means we should go find the answer,and create a book about it. What was happening in this case is a lot of our clients were saying, “Well, we understand the mechanics of social, we understand the mechanics of content, but we’re not really sure what we should be saying.” I’m like, “What they don’t know is the story.” We went back and really did a bunch of research and discovered that word of mouth has somehow lost its way in business. It’s so incredibly important but we spend all this time worrying about social media and not enough time worrying about the fundamentals of what story our customer is telling about our business.
[00:05:08] Adam: You and I worked together at a shop that had a really tight PR team as well. Word of mouth as pre-social media was PR and figuring out that story and crafting it. I agree that people turned social media channels into word of mouth and forgot the mechanics behind how to actually get the word of mouth. What have you figured out as far as– [crosstalk].
[00:05:33] Jay: A Facebook Account isn’t a word of mouth strategy all right? It’s just tool. It’s just a mechanism for spreading word of mouth.
The mistake that we make Adam, is that in business number one, we overlook the true importance of word of mouth. In this book, we cite a bunch of research. We also did four separate research projects for the book itself, but the data show that between 50 and 91% of all sales, depending on what kind of business you are, are influenced by word of mouth. %50 to 91%. That’s a lot of dough, yet nobody has a word of mouth strategy. Nobody. Like you got a PR strategy, you got a content strategy, social strategy, marketing strategy, digital strategy, HR and recruiting strategy. Everybody’s got– You have a desk full strategies but nobody has a word of mouth strategy.
Everybody just takes word of for granted like, “Yes, our customers will talk about us.” Why do you think that? Why do you assume that your customers will talk about you, and what have you given them to talk about? Every business makes this mistake. They think that competency creates conversation and it manifestly does not. It does not. I don’t know everybody listening. I bet I know some of the listeners, but I know this for a fact Adam, nobody ever says– Nobody has ever said, “Hey man, let me tell you about this perfectly, adequate experience I just had to say. We don’t say that. We don’t say that because it’s not a story worth telling.
Same is lame. That’s really the thread line for this book. That same is lame. If you want to create conversation, you have to do something that your customers don’t expect. It doesn’t have to be giant. It doesn’t have to be wacky. It just has to be one thing that they don’t see coming. That’s what creates conversations.
[00:07:16] Adam: How does this go over in some of your bigger brands where you know customer satisfaction, CSAT scores are still the coin of the realm for some of those people, and I have to go in and say, “Guys satisfaction is the baseline. If we’re happy with just having satisfied customers you’re in big trouble.”
[00:07:35] Jay: It’s two sides of the same coin. We talk a lot about customer experience in business now. In fact my last book, Hug your Haters, touches on that subject a lot, and that’s okay but we have to understand that experiences can both keep customers, but experiences can also gain customers. Look the best way to grow any business, any business is for your customers to do that growing for. You’ve heard this phrase Adam, and I know you agree with me that it’s not entirely true, but is true enough, and the phrase is that advertising is a tax on the unremarkable.
[00:08:12] Adam: I do agree. [crosstalk] like necessary evil.
[00:08:17] Jay: It is, but if you actually have a word of mouth strategy, if you have a reliable method for your current customers to talk about you to potential customers, it makes you have to advertise less, and certainly put a lot less pressure on your paid promotional approach. That’s what we’re trying to do in this book, Talk Triggers, is give people a reliable, consistent, valuable framework to do word of mouth on purpose, because right now everybody’s doing word of mouth on accident, if that.
[00:08:51] Adam: That’s what I like about the book, it’s practical and it’s not saying, “Here’s this high theory and here’s going to be 65,000 words about it, and I’m going to rewrite the samee Paragraph 14 times.”
[00:09:01] Jay: That book’s been written. There’s a bunch of great books out there on word of mouth like, Jonah Berger’s Contagious, Andy Sonavitz’s Word of Mouth Marketing, Ted wright’s Fizz, and a bunch of others. Emmanuel Rosen’s, book about Buzz. There’s tons of great books out there and where [unintelligible 00:09:16]. You don’t need me to read another book that says word of mouth is important. That book is on the shelf times 10. What we have never heard historically is a book that not only demonstrates the importance of word of mouth, but also does so in a very modern and 2018 framework. Then says, “Okay, yes it is a important. Now here’s exactly how to do it.” That’s the part about this book that I think really matters. Is that we give you a step by step approach, for how to actually create a word of mouth strategy. We don’t just say it’s important. We say it’s, “It’s important. we say it’s important in here is, “How?” I’m really proud of that and people who have had a chance to look at it and start putting into practice, really like that part of it and I’m psyched about.
[00:09:56] Adam: Who is doing a great job with word of mouth? Who’s out there that I haven’t heard about– [crosstalk]
[00:10:01] Jay: There’s millions and it’s so random. That’s the part that’s interesting about it, it’s random collections of awesome. I’ll give you one that you know of and I’ll give you another one that you don’t. One that you know of, that we talk about in the book a lot is DoubleTree hotels by Hilton. Every day, every guest at a DoubleTree is given a warm chocolate chip cookie when they check in to the hotel.
[00:10:25] Adam: Yes, just got one last week.
[00:10:26] Jay: They’ve been doing this– There you go. They’ve been doing it every day for 30 years, 30 years, each day, worldwide. They currently give out about 75,000 cookies every day. We studied this in the book, did a first-party research project. We surveyed hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of DoubleTree customers working with our friend Susan Buyer, and we discovered that 34% of those customers have told somebody else, without being prompted, have told somebody else about the cookie in the past 30 days. On average, that means that 25,500 people talk about this cookie every single day. Companion question, when is the last time you saw a DoubleTree ad?
[00:11:16] Adam: [laughs] I can’t remember ever seeing one.
[00:11:18] Jay: The cookie is the ad. The guests are the marketing department.
[00:11:25] Adam: I love it.
[00:11:26] Jay: Every day for 30 years. I’ll give you another one you haven’t heard of. This one is not even in the book. This is special only for your show, because I learned about after the book was written. That’s the great thing about this too because I travel around the world talking about this thesis now and after my presentations people come up to me all the time and like, “Oh, do about this one?” I’m like, “No.” Taking notes, new ideas, it’s great. I need to write another book with all the new ones that I’ve gathered since I wrote this book.
[00:11:50] Adam: Right?
[00:11:51] Jay: It’s cool. I’m going to start a podcast, for just once a week. You know the Mike Rowe podcast, his new one?
[00:11:56] Adam: I do.
[00:11:57] Jay: Yes, so I’m thinking about doing that and just like eight minutes a week, just one Talk Triggers case study every week and that’s the show.
[00:12:04] Adam: You should definitely do that. If you’re getting-
[00:12:05] Jay: Yes, think about–
[00:12:06] Adam: – this is great examples, let’s hear it. I’m going to judge your idea by this one example that you’re– [crosstalk]
[00:12:10] Jay: Okay, here you go. There’s a physician in Seattle, Washington. He’s a very particular kind of physician because he’s a surgeon. He’s a very particular kind of surgeon in that he only does one kind of surgery. He only performs the vasectomy surgery. His name is Dr. Snip. Now, that in and of itself is amazing.
[00:12:43] Adam: Is that actually [inaudible 00:12:44]—
[00:12:45] Jay: I don’t know that. It’s immaterial to the story, because that’s not his actual Talk Trigger, although it is pretty great. His talk trigger works this, every patient on the way out the door post-surgery gets the usual pile of paperwork in post-operative instructions and insurance forms and whatever, but then in a small box each patient is presented with an engraved silver pocket knife and on that knife it says, “Dr. Snip vasectomy surgeon.”
Now, you can imagine that you’re with your buddies and you’re playing golf or you’re on your boat or you’re watching football and you open a beer and your buddy is like, “Bro, that’s a sweet knife. Where did you get it?” Like, “This knife? I got this knife from Dr. Snip, vasectomy surgeon.” Now, that-
[00:13:37] Adam: I love that.
[00:13:38] Jay: – is a kick-ass talk trigger.
[00:13:40] Adam: That’s amazing.
[00:13:42] Jay: Right?
[00:13:42] Adam: How do you– Are people just coming through– You should do your podcast by the way.
[00:13:46] Jay: Thank you.
[00:13:47] Adam: Are people just coming out of the woodwork to give you examples now?
[00:13:50] Jay: Yes. Oh, before the book was out, I did 40 keynotes on this topic, before the book was out. This is probably something I should have mentioned, maybe it’s not relevant, but I write books a lot differently than most people. For me, it always starts as a speech. I write a speech, and then I take that speech on the road like a comedian would do. Then, I make this speech better. If it feels like it’s resonating with audiences, then I’m like, “Okay, now, I’m going to make it a book.” I take the speech and expand it into a more system and add examples and it becomes a book.
I have done this talk triggers keynote a whole bunch of times before the book was out, and so when I do the keynote, people come up to me afterwards at Q&A and be like, “Hey, I’ve got an example for you.” That’s how I learned about Dr. Snip but now that the book is out, we have a talk triggers Facebook group that anybody who has read the book is allowed to join and there’s all kinds of new examples and ideas coming into the Facebook group every day, which is really, really fun.
[00:14:49] Adam: That’s really cool. In that way, you’re able to work the book out before you even sit down to write the book?
[00:14:55] Jay: It makes it better narrative flow in the book, because there’s a beginning, a middle and an end, the stories are fleshed out. You know from stage, which stories resonate and which stories miss the mark. It’s been a good process for me for sure.
[00:15:09] Adam: I noticed with your books you often have a partner, a co-author.
[00:15:13] Jay: I have a couple of times, yes. The first one and the most recent one. Well, that’s not true, I guess, I did for about two utility books too. I guess, technically, 4 out of 6. You’re correct.
[00:15:24] Adam: What is the– I did my homework, buddy. This isn’t a joke here. This is a real deal. What is the thinking, when do you decide that, “Hey, I’m going to co-write this with someone.” Or, “I got this one and I know what I want to say.” What’s your process?
[00:15:38] Jay: Interestingly, different reasons for different books. For Talk Triggers, which I wrote with my good friend Daniel Lemin, who was formerly the head of strategy at Convince and Convert, my consulting firm. We know each other really well and have worked together for a long time. I’m best at the, identify the pattern and tell the stories part of it. Daniel is really good, and he has another book that he wrote called Manipurated, which is terrific. All about ratings and reviews. Daniel is better at the process part of it, like, “Okay, step three, do this, step 4, do this, step 5, do this.” I’m not as good at that part, because I really am a strategist. He’s more of a practitioner. In this book, I would say, we absolutely, positively must have the how-to, otherwise, there’s no point of writing this book for the reasons that I articulated earlier. It was great to work with him on it.
What I tell people is the funny parts are mine, all the useful parts are his of this book. That is almost entirely true. Not to mention the fact I am busier than I have been in the past from a travel standpoint. Daniel is also- he is a very accomplished professional speaker and is out there all the time on the circuit. It’s great to have him as a co-author because if I can’t– If somebody says, “Hey, can you come give a speech?” And I can’t because I’m booked or for whatever reason, I can say, “Well, I can’t make it, but Daniel can.” It allows us to collectively cover more ground from a book promotion’s standpoint. He’s on a bunch of podcast too right now promoting the book et cetera. It’s almost like a divide and conquer kind of thing, which has been terrific.
[00:17:19] Adam: That’s awesome. Now, before we started rolling you said you weren’t sure how all this worked, but it seems like six books in, it seems to me you got a machine going pretty tightly along. What have you learned? What’s one of the big takeaways? I would assume something talk triggers itself. You’ve probably created some talk triggers around the book.
[00:17:42] Jay: Absolutely. Well, we felt like we had to. It was like, “Well, we can’t write a book about word of mouth and talk figures and not have a talk trigger in the book.” That would be hypocritical at best.
[00:17:53] Adam: I think for about a week my LinkedIn was full of people mentioning the book in pre-order. I was like, “Oh shit. He’s gone full commitment to this topic.”
[00:18:04] Jay: We did an influencer campaign on this one, where we sent out pre-launch kits to people that included the book, and a tin of DoubleTree cookies, and a stuffed alpaca, because there are alpacas on the cover of the book, which is one of the talk triggers. It’s hot pink and has alpacas on the cover. That pre-launch influencer outreach campaign bore a lot of fruit and created a lot of buzz around the book which was great, but the real talk trigger for the book itself is this item on the back of the book. It says, “Satisfaction guaranteed. If you bought this book and didn’t like it, go to talktriggers.com and send the authors a note. They will buy you any other book of your liking.” We will.
If you buy the book and you don’t like it, go to the site and I’ll get you anything you want. First edition Bible, we’ll figure it out. We will make that happen. That’s a big claim but we believe in the book. We think most if not everybody will like it. That’s our talk trigger. It is the first business book ever that you could theoretically make money on if you don’t like it.
[00:19:10] Adam: You just gave a bunch of enterprising people a big idea.
[00:19:12] Jay: I know, I’m waiting. I’m just waiting. That’s what Daniel said when I was concocting this. This is one of the ones that I came up with. He was like, “Are you sure?” He said, “Well, what happens when somebody wants this $10,000 cookbook that he found on Amazon?” I’m like, “Well, A, we’re going to have to buy him a cookbook and, B, I’ll have a press release written in 10 seconds.
[00:19:28] Adam: Yes, there you go. Let’s turn it into a positive talk trigger.
[00:19:32] Jay: Absolutely.
[00:19:34] Adam: No shit. That’s like an automatic.
[00:19:36] Jay: Yes, I would hope so.
[00:19:38] Adam: Have you gotten any pushback to the book? Has anybody given you any blowback, or have you gotten any kind of negative feedback that you’ve learned from that is helping you as you keep out and getting out on the road and presenting a story?
[00:19:50] Jay: Yes. Actually, really not so much at all, which is terrific to see. We’ve had people who I respect say things like, “This is the best business book I’ve ever read,” which is crazy. I’m not even sure I would say that, but this has been the best feedback of any book I’ve written and all the books I’ve written have been well reviewed, so that is super amazing to me and extraordinarily just blown away by the reception to this book. I would say the one piece that didn’t surprise us but it was mentioned is our friend Chris Penn who’s a super brilliant data analyst said that hey, in the book we talk about Social monitoring, the social listening and sometimes you can find a talk trigger by looking into your social media chatter from consumers. He did some analysis and said that’s true but not really for a lot of brands because your talk trigger is not going to be mentioned 100% of the time or so often. It’s just going to pop out of the data and he’s right about that, so I wouldn’t call that a criticism but just a clarification of the process. A couple of little things like that amongst what I considered to be super nerds but other than that it’s been great.
[00:21:02] Adam: That’s a super duper nitpick, but I get it. We do a lot of social intel and so we usually we’ll– you really have to sift to find out what those things can be and they don’t just jump right–
[00:21:17] Jay: That was his point and not only about the book but just about social intel in general. People who don’t do that all the time as you do and we do, they think you can just like dial-up, spread fast or whatever and press a button and it’s, “Here’s what people think. It’s not quite that simple.”
[00:21:33] Adam: If only it was, but the biggest words in the word cloud are not usually all that meaningful. It’s always like people, good, great, hey.
[00:21:42] Adam: Discard all those. Those are garbage. You’re going to go to this real tiny words in the outskirts.
[00:21:47] Jay: Well, and we talked about this in the book that the very best talk triggers in the world have a talkability rate of four and 10, so four out of every 10 customers notice it and mention it and they’re like, “That’s not very great, but it’s amazing.” You think about that. 4 out of every 10 customers tell somebody else about this one thing and when you take it out of the vacuum of 4 in 10 it’s pretty extraordinary but most of your talk triggers are less than that. It’s 2 to 3 and 10 are the ones where you’ll usually see it.
[00:22:18] Adam: No, I mean if you think of a positive NPS score as being 7, 8, 9 and 40% of those people are talking about one topic, one of the trigger.
[00:22:27] Jay: That’s pretty huge.
[00:22:28] Adam: That point it’s not lost on me. Let’s talk more about the research you did, because I am a nerd and I love research. You did a bunch of primary research to test out some theories, to prove them, to disprove them. Tell me just methodology wise, what did you do? You said it was Susan and you and Daniel are working on them?
[00:22:48] Jay: We did five projects actually. I’ll just do it in the order in which I remember them. Project one was a survey of Doubletree customers to measure talkability of the cookie. Survey project two was a survey of the cheesecake factory customers to measure talkability of their freakishly enormous and broad menu. Fun fact. 38% of customers mentioned the menu.
[00:23:21] Adam: That sounds right.
[00:23:24] Jay: It’s silly. It’s the worst place to be a server because you are like, “Hey, you guys ready to order?” Like, “No, we are still not ready to order.” [laughs].
[00:23:32] Adam: I am only on page four.
[00:23:34] Jay: Why don’t you go on break [chuckles] and then you come back and let us know. Third project was to classify and categorize and essentially segment audiences by proclivity to engage in word of mouth behaviors. There’s actually four different types of audiences, recommenders, and skeptics, et cetera, and really what we draw from that is, as we were talking about a minute ago, Adam, there’s nothing that you can do that’s going to get 70% of the people talking. It literally does not matter. It doesn’t matter. You could give everybody a gold bar on the way out the door and, and 40% of them will never mentioned it because they’re just not wired that way. They don’t talk about anything to anybody. It’s just how they are.
[00:24:21] Adam: I love that.
[00:24:23] Jay: We did a whole project on that, which is really interesting stuff. Then we did a social chatter analysis with Jason Falls at the Conversation Research Institute, and looked at some talk triggers that have become less relevant. One of the things that’s true about word of mouth strategy is that you can be lucky like Doubletree and have one that you can make stick for 30 years and then sometimes something happens and it doesn’t work anymore.
The one that we actually researched specifically, we referred several, but the one that comes to mind is enterprise rental car. You remember I’m sure, their talk trigger was we’ll pick you up. They were the only metro car company that would deliver the car, take you to the car, whatever and that was a pretty good talk trigger and they actually used it for, I don’t know, 10, 20 years, long time.
[00:25:20] Adam: It was almost a tagline for them.
[00:25:21] Jay: It was both. It was both a tagline and a talk trigger, which is when you really got something. That made a lot of sense until Uber. When you have uber or Lyft, and you can press a button and get somebody to pick you up whenever and wherever, having the weird rental car kid to pick you up is no longer interesting, talkable or even pleasant. What we proved in that project was that the talkability of that differentiator has diminished to the point of almost nothing now.
We did that project and then the last one we did was a massive study. I’ll make sure you get a copy of it called Chatter Matters, The 2018 Word of Mouth Report. Longitudinal Study of over a thousand people about the impact of word of mouth on how we vote, how we buy stuff, et cetera. It’s like 26 pages or something. Tons and tons of tons of findings in there. One of my favorite ones in that report is that 66% of Americans would trust an anonymous online review, like on Yelp or Tripadvisor, more than they would trust a face to face recommendation from an ex girlfriend. Which I love that one. That’s one of my favorites.
[00:26:35] Adam: It’s like weighing neutral inputs versus negative inputs.
[00:26:38] Jay: That’s it, and so I really liked that one. It’s a pretty good one.
[00:26:42] Adam: [laughs] That’s amazing.
[00:26:44] Jay: One of the key parts of that study, The Chatter Matters Report is there’s, more than I actually thought before we did the research, pretty significant generational differences in word of mouth. Young people, millennials in particular, are more prone to make recommendations this way or to seek recommendations this way than other generations. Pretty interesting stuff.
[00:27:07] Adam: Could that younger generation get above the 40% threshold that you mentioned?
[00:27:11] Jay: Within that cohort, absolutely because 71% of millennials have made at least one word of mouth recommendation in the last month. That compares to 55% of all Americans.
[00:27:30] Adam: Got it.
[00:27:31] Jay: It’s possible.
[00:27:32] Adam: Doe gen Z follow suit or does gen Z drop off?
[00:27:35] Jay: It’s interesting. Not quite as much, so we think, we don’t have evidence of this but, but our interpretation of the data is that because, depending on where you do the cut, some Gen Z folks aren’t really in a workplace. They just don’t have as many conversations and they’re always on their phone even more so than millennials. They don’t have as many chances or opportunities to engage in word of mouth, but our supposition is that as they get into the workforce, you just have more,” Let’s go out to lunch as our team,” or whatever, and then that’s when people naturally get into giving a recommendation behavior. I think that’s what it means, but again, that’s just reading the tea leaves of the data.
[00:28:20] Adam: Right. Well, there’s always a little bit of that. When you were talking about the Doubletree example, you got to this with Enterprise and Uber and I’m actually working on something that’s comparing Enterprise and Uber in a different way, but when I think about Doubletree, they’ve owned that weird cooky thing for, like you said, 30 years. It is crazy to me that no one else has put a toaster oven behind their desk and started doing that. What if Marriott courtyard brand decided to start giving out chocolate chip cookies? What kind of impact does– [crosstalk]
[00:28:54] Jay: It’s what happens all the time. I’ll give you an exact parallel example. You probably remember, I think it was about a decade ago, and I should look it up because I had to mention this a couple times recently, I’ll look up the dates, but it was like eight, 10 years ago, Weston hotels rolled out the heavenly bed.
[00:29:12] Adam: I remember.
[00:29:14] Jay: Remember that? Their whole deal was we’re going to invest millions of dollars in “Sleep technology” and we’re going to have the comfiest bed and all of the hotel kingdom. That seemed to be a pretty good idea. Such a good idea in fact, that Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt, and one other train, I can’t remember all rolled out their own version of it. Some of them went with a sleep number bed, et cetera, et cetera, and they copied it so quickly that they could never get a toe hold and keep it as a talk trigger. They decided to roll it back. It is still “The Heavenly Bed” but they never talk about it. It’s no longer their thing.
[00:29:47] Adam: No, it was the lead for about a year and a half.
[00:29:50] Jay: That was it, about a year and a half and that was all the runway they had, and sometimes that happens. Sometimes your competitors match it quickly enough that you can’t own it. I would argue that’s Zappos’.
problem today, Zappos had a talk trigger of their own for two, three years and it was free two-way shipping. They were the only ones who would do free two-way shipping. Now almost everybody does two-way shipping so it’s not talkable anymore. Nobody can have it as a talk trigger anymore.
[00:30:20] Adam: That’s interesting. Those things can just get taken from you. Unless you figure out a way to make it your own [crosstalk].
[00:30:24] Jay: Yes, sometimes it’s just not–. I mean, you can’t really dictate the moves of your competitors. You can’t really protect it. You can’t build a moat around it, which is why we talked about in the book.
We have a whole section at the end it says, okay, what happens if you’re Weston, what happens if you’re Zappos, what happens if you’re enterprise, and all of a sudden your talk trigger isn’t yours anymore, and so we have a whole process for what you do, then you kind of go back to step two of our six-step process and kind of reconfigure and retest and re-measure and roll out another one.
[00:30:59] Adam: The audience that’s listening right now are strategy people that are really digging for consumer insights, and connecting the dots across consumer insight to a business insight and trying to connect those things. How do you run that terrain when you’re trying to dream up triggers or you’re trying to identify triggers that could work, or from an inside perspective?
[00:31:21] Jay: Yes, It’s got to be– Here’s the worst way to come up with a talk trigger. The worst way is to get all the smart people in a conference room and brainstorm it, because if it was that easy, you’d already have one. However, that’s how most people go about it, which is why in my presentations now I have to take a whole like segment of the talk and say, “I know everybody in this room is thinking when can we schedule the brainstorm to work on our talk trigger and let me tell you right now what a bad idea that is. Instead here’s the beginning of this process.”
I won’t get into the whole six-step process because will take too long but here’s the key part. The first thing you do, create a customer journey map if you don’t have one. Document all your touch points and inflection points with your customers before, during, post-sale. Second step, interview three groups of customers. You interview new customers, longtime customers, and lost customers.
This is not a survey, this is a conversation. Okay, this is qualitative. About five customers per bucket is sufficient typically, so 15 interviews, 5,5, 5. What you’re trying to do in those interviews, Adam is you’re asking these customers, “Okay, at this step of the process. When-” I know B2B- “When we sent you a proposal, what did you expect would happen?” What you’re trying to create is a customer expectations map, because once you know what people expect, you by definition know what people do not expect, and that gap between what they expect and what they don’t expect is where the gold is. That’s where the talk trigger lies. One of the interesting things about word of mouth strategy is that, amazingly, the more perfunctory, the thing that you put a twist on, the more talkable it is, because it’s always been wallpaper for everybody.
[00:33:23] Adam: Yes it’s funny to me. I love doing interviews, customer interviews for any kind of brand that I’m working on, B2B, B2C, whatever it is. I just feel like those conversations are so valuable. Do you get pushback on those? Or is that an unusual thing? I feel like it’s an uphill battle sometimes saying, “Hey, we want to interview these sorts of customers to get to those insights.”
[00:33:47] Jay: I mean, in our company we talk about the business development process, so they know it’s coming. Like it’s not an optional exercise but you’re right. I mean, it’s because- and I wouldn’t talk about this all the time, but I certainly will on this show with you. Marketers don’t know what customers want. We think we do. We pretend we do, but we don’t, and how can we? We don’t talk to customers.
Marketing doesn’t talk to customers. Now we used to. You’re not old enough, Adam, I don’t think but I am to remember the time when we didn’t have any other choice. Like we didn’t have any software. There were no reports, like my first agency, I used to work for Nelson Ralston Rob in Phoenix as an intern. This is back in the 80s, and my boss, Bob Rob, who’s now the editorial page writer for The Arizona Republican newspaper, he told me something when I was an intern that I will never forget. He said, “No good marketing happens at your desk.” His deal was, his deal was you should not be in the office.
Many managers are like, “How come you’re not in the office? Like what are you doing? What are you screwing around?” He was the exact opposite. He was like, “Why are you in the office? you should be out talking to our customers, or even better talking to the customers of our customers.” Somewhere along the way, because now we have computers and Google Analytics or whatever, we’ve kind of lost that spirit. It’s just easier to sit around and press a button and a report spits out, but that’s why we’re so specific in the book about creating what we call the triangle of awesome.
The triangle of awesome is your talk triggers implementation team and it must include marketing, sales, and service. In the middle of that triangle is ops. Ultimately, a talk trigger is an operational exercise. It’s not really a marketing exercise.
[00:35:55] Adam: I think we’ve believed that the Google Analytics report tells us what we need to know about customers or about people, so we don’t go do that work. We don’t go out, hit the street and go actually go observe people in the store or observe people doing the thing or want to go interview people. I don’t think people don’t want to know the information. I believe they feel that Facebook analytics or Google Analytics gives them the insight they need, but I just don’t feel like you get enough unless you’re asking them like, “Why did you pick that? Why didn’t you order this thing that’s half the price? Did you not know? Like, where’s your mind?”
[00:36:34] Jay: Look, I’ve said this before. We are surrounded by data, but we’re starved for insights. You know, people are like, “Big data,” big data is worthless. It’s about big understanding. I mean, a number is just a number. It has no actual value outside of context. I think conversations is what creates context, so the more interviews we can do, I think the better off we’ll be. That’s kind of the key to this process. Is to really get a better sense of what customers expect. Then find something that they think is boring and then make it not boring.
[00:37:14] Adam: There’s your opportunity.
[00:37:14] Jay: That’s it.
[00:37:16] Adam: That’s awesome. Jay, this is great. You’ve mentioned it, conversations are powerful and I really enjoyed this conversation.
[00:37:24] Jay: Oh, it’s a blast.
[00:37:24] Adam: Since we got on the floor [crosstalk]
[00:37:26] Jay: Way too long to appreciate it.
[00:37:28] Adam: Thank you so much for making time and continued success with the book for sure.
[00:37:34] Jay: Thanks so much. I should mention that if people go to talktriggers.com, there’s tons of free stuff there. infographics, research reports, book club discussion guides, PowerPoint presentations, like all kinds of free stuff, go grab it. It’s my gift to you.
[00:37:48] Adam: Yes, normally, I ask people where you can be found online but in your case, I kind of feel like everybody knows but just for the fun of it. You can run down your way, where they can find you.
[00:37:57] Jay: I’m Jay Baer in all the places that you might expect. Then our main site is Convince and Convert. We’ve got thousands and thousands of blog posts and webinars and research projects and videos. Everything for for marketers and business people. Then my podcast is called Social Pros.
[00:38:17] Adam: Excellent. Thanks again and I really appreciate.
[00:38:19] Jay: That was a blast, we’ll do it again