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How to Operationalize a Word-of-Mouth Strategy

Author ryan.drawdy Category Uncategorized

This post is based on a podcast with Jay Baer. If you’d like to listen to more #FlipMyFunnel Podcast episodes, you can check them out here and listen to this episode below!

You’ve got a marketing strategy, a content strategy, a social strategy, an ABM strategy. You may have a crisis strategy, a sales strategy, a hiring and recruiting strategy .… You probably have an entire desk full of strategies.

But few businesses have a word-of-mouth strategy.

Jay’s on a mission to change that.

He’s the author 6 best-selling books, including Talk Triggers (as well as the founder of 5 multi-million dollar businesses.)

On this episode, Jay shares some of his best secrets about how businesses can operationalize a word-of-mouth strategy that will keep your customers talking.

Here’s what we’re unpacking today:

  • What talking triggers are, and how to use them
  • Real world examples of B2B companies creating exceptional word-of-mouth strategies
  • Conducting customer interviews to understand your touchpoints
  • Why the unexpected is the opportunity for brand differentiation

Jay, you’ve been talking about this idea of “talk triggers” for a while. Can you give us the download?

91% of B2B purchases are influenced by word-of-mouth. Of course you want to use ABM, you want to use content, you want to use all those things to help people make the decision. But nobody is going to make a decision or give you money unless they have checked you out with somebody who’s already a customer. Period. That’s just the way it works in B2B. Here’s the part that blows me away, and frankly, the reason why this book Talk Triggers exists. Nobody has an actual strategy for word-of-mouth.

We all just assume our customers will talk about us. We just assume they’ll tell our story. Why do we think that? What raw materials are we giving them to tell that story?

So, what we did in this book is give people a very consistent, proven, reliable, achievable framework for doing word-of-mouth on purpose, because right now everybody’s doing word-of-mouth on accident, if that. The key to this whole system is that you must have a talk trigger: A talk trigger is a strategic, operational difference that creates conversations. It’s not marketing: It’s not a contest or a coupon or promotion. It is an operational differentiator. It’s something you do differently, that your customers notice and talk about.

The talk trigger is the thing that you feed your customers. It’s not the only thing you do, it’s not your whole business, but it’s the thing that you feed them for them to talk about.

What’s an example of a B2B company effectively creating a talk trigger?

One of our favorite examples from B2B is UberConference. There’s a bunch of free conference calling systems, but UberConference has an amazing talk trigger, which is that their on-hold music is hilarious. Outright hilarious.

Go on social media and look for it. Do a search for “UberConference + hold music,” and you’ll see everyone telling that story. People often say the only reason they use them is because the on-hold music is so funny. That is an operational choice they made that creates conversation.

What companies from the B2B space are doing something exceptional with Word-of-Mouth?

One of the most famous talk triggers in the world is from DoubleTree Hotels. They give everybody a warm chocolate chip cookie when they check in. They’ve been doing it every day for 30 years. Today, they will distribute about 75,000 cookies worldwide. That’s a lot of cookies.

Daniel and I did a comprehensive, very expensive research projects research projects of DoubleTree guests for our Talk Triggers book. We discovered that 34% of them have told a story about the cookie to somebody else in the last 30 days. If you break that down, that story about the cookie is told 22,500 times a day. On a related front, when is the last time you saw a DoubleTree ad? You probably can’t remember, because the cookie is the ad. And the guests are the marketing department, which is what a talk trigger can do for you. The best way to grow any business, any business, is for your customers to grow it for you.

Sangram’s summary:

Ok, so here’s my summary from this amazing interview.

Number one: Figure out what the pulse of your brand is. It’s important to go back and look at how your organization operates, and consider the touchpoints and how you monitor, measure, and even think about your pulse. And if you don’t know what the pulse of your customer is, then you don’t know the pulse of your brand.

The second point: 91% of purchase decisions in B2B are influenced by word-of-mouth. So are we creating word-of-mouth by accident, or on purpose?

The last key takeaway: Whatever you’re doing, are we doing something that our customers don’t expect? That’s the only way to be differentiated in the marketplace.

Jay’s Challenge:

The worst way to do a talk trigger is the way everybody wants to do it, which is to sit in a conference room and brainstorm it.  If it were that easy, you’d already have one. You cannot do this without customer input. What you want to do is 18 customer interviews from each of these categories:

  • 6 interviews from new customers
  • 6 interviews from long-time customers
  • 6 interviews from lost customers.

Ask them the same questions: “At this point of your customer journey, what did you expect would happen? When we sent you a proposal, what did you expect would happen? When we sent you a renewal paperwork, what would you expect to happen?” etc.

What you’re trying to do is create a customer expectations matrix. Once you know what people expect through this series of interviews, you by definition know what they do not expect.

The talk trigger, the gold in the river, lies where they don’t expect it.

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