Jay Baer - How to Create Word of Mouth

Social media expert Jay Baer explains talk triggers and gives his top examples. 

Jay Baer started his own Internet media consulting and training company, Convince & Convert, back in 1994 and has worked with over 700 companies including Nike and even U.S. Senator John McCain. Jay Baer is a New York Times bestselling author, internet pioneer, entrepreneur, and the most inspirational speaker on marketing, word of mouth, and customer service.

This interview is transcribed from Jay Baer - How to Create Word of Mouth from the Beyond Speaking podcast.


Brian Lord: What are talk triggers?


Jay Baer: Word-of-mouth has been around since the first caveman recommended a rock to another caveman. It is, to this day, the most effective way to grow a business. The research says that half of every transaction, half of all dollar spent, is driven by word-of-mouth. But, we don't have a lot of strategies for it. We just sort of assume that people will automatically talk about ourselves and our business. 


Brian Lord: What is an example of a talk trigger?


Jay Baer:  A talk trigger is a strategic, operational difference that you purposely undertake to create conversation. Some might argue that the array of crazy suits that I have is a talk trigger. My business card is a metal bottle opener and has been for 10 years. People say "oh I got your business card seven years ago, and I keep it in my golf bag" or "I keep it in my desk." If you can tell me where my business card is amongst all of your possessions, instantaneously, my work here is done. That is a word-of-mouth generator. All businesses can create conversation. All businesses can have a talk trigger that gets their customers to tell stories about them. But, you have to give them something to talk about and that's a big mistake that most people make. Same is lame, and most businesses say, "well here's our strategy: we're just going to be a good business and people will talk about that." Unfortunately, that just doesn't happen. People do not talk about good! They talk about different.


Brian Lord: What's a good example of that?


Jay Baer: One easy way to understand talk triggers is Skip's Kitchen, which is a very small nine-table hamburger restaurant in Sacramento, California. You walk in, you place your orders, and then they pull out a deck of cards from under the counter. They fan all the cards out and say, "pick a card." If you pick a card and it's a joker, your entire meal is free. That is the only promotion that Skip's Kitchen has ever done since they opened because, when people win, and about three people a day win on average, they go crazy. They put it on social media, they call their mom, they take selfies with the joker, they put it on Yelp, and TripAdvisor. It becomes this whole thing and then when they're with their friends that night, "Hey guess what happened to me today at Skip's? I went there for lunch, and I got the joker and my whole meal was free." It's this giant word-of-mouth engine. Now, do they have good food? Yeah, actually, really good food. They just got named one the top 30 places for hamburgers in the country. They have really good hamburgers, but that's not what generates word-of-mouth. It's the joker. You have a choice in your business: a choice to do things the same, or a choice to do things differently. When you choose to do things differently, that's what creates word-of-mouth.


Brian Lord: How do you think these people come up with the ideas for these triggers? I know you're saying it's not just an accident, it's very specific.


Jay Baer: Skip's problem was that it's such a small restaurant with only nine tables. They had lines out the door when they first opened and people were leaving because the line was too long. The original idea to keep people from leaving was to put TVs outside, but it seemed like too much of a hassle. He did not have a whole strategy, it was just a random one and it worked out. He got a deck of cards and tried it, and it instantaneously worked. The very first person he tried it on won. The winner said, "It's a sign, we've got to keep it now." 


Brian Lord: That’s amazing!

Jay Baer: Holiday World's talk trigger is very intentional. The founder of the company, Will Cook, said, "Look, we need to do something different than people expect and create conversation." He was really thoughtful about that. A lot of the complaints they would get before they rolled this out were sunburns and dehydration because it's an outdoor waterpark. Not only did they create this amazing word-of-mouth generator, but they also solved their two biggest customer service issues at the same time which is pretty genius.

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Baer's latest book is Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth. To order copies in bulk for your event, please visit BulkBooks.com

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