Talk Triggers: Boosting Word of Mouth for Your Events

talk triggersPost authored by Donna Kastner, Founder of Retirepreneur

“Same is lame.”

So says Jay Baer in his latest bestseller, co-written with Daniel Lemin, Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth

To win the hearts, minds, and loyal attendance for your event crowd, event professionals will need to set aside the predictable “Rinse & Repeat” playbook and serve attendees a few new experiences they won’t expect.

And as they do so, it’s also important to embed talk triggers around each new experience, which might happen before, during, and even after the live event.

What’s a Talk Trigger?

As noted in the book, it’s “a purposeful, operational differentiator that creates conversation among customers and recruits potential new customers in the process.”

Did you notice that this is a conversation where you—the event organizer—aren’t as visible? These Word-of-Mouth (WOM) exchanges have far more impact when you’re not around.  With that said, there are quite a few steps you can take to “seed” these crucial peer-to-peer conversations.

Keep in mind, talk triggers happen online and offline – and the most successful organizations are very intentional about their strategy for earning these conversations.

Alas, many companies are still in the dark on harnessing the power of word of mouth.

Consider this:

  • Word of mouth is directly responsible for 19 percent of purchases and influences as much as 90 percent of them.
  • Fewer than one percent of companies have an actual strategy for generating these conversations.

But fear not, because in the Talk Triggers book, you’ll find a wealth of strategies, formulas and success stories to help you join the one percent, beginning with four criteria.

To be an effective talk trigger, it must…

  1. Be Remarkable
    This concept of remarkability comes with a bit of risk that you might turn off some customers. Yet in the book, Baer and Lenin share stories about how brands that dare to be remarkable are graced with a healthy surge in customers and revenue.
  2. Be Relevant
    To check off this box, there needs to be alignment with company positioning and objectives. Talk triggers must “make sense within the context of what you do, who you are, and what you stand for.”
  3. Be Reasonable
    Simplicity is the driving force here and the story they share is about a new boutique hotel chain, Graduate Hotels. Each Graduate Hotel is situated near a major university. And their talk trigger? The room key – designed as a replica student ID for famous alumni.
  4. Be Repeatable
    As outlined in the book, “A talk trigger should be offered to every customer, every time. The impact of that differentiator is far greater in total, because it is achievable by us all.” People love to share stories, especially ones where they’re the lead character.

talk triggers

Five Types of Talk Triggers

As I scan these five types, I suspect many of you will gravitate to one or two that are easier to implement at your event. You’ll notice “talkable” is the common thread running through each of these five:

  1. Talkable Empathy
    Empathy requires time, as you engage in one-on-one conversations with customers and listen intently. Scripted exchanges tend to block empathy. To master this type, you’ll need to be nimble yet brave enough to follow your attendees (or exhibitors, or sponsors) where they lead you, as they’ll sometimes reveal thoughts, feelings or experiences you didn’t anticipate.
  2. Talkable Usefulness
    Based in logic and utility, this type tends to touch on ways you make life easier for your attendees. The 8 Phases of a Successful Event is a perfect road map to start plotting a few of these conveniences.
  3. Talkable Generosity
    Have you noticed how products are shrinking, yet the price stays the same or moves higher? Known as “Shrinkflation,” it’s becoming a common practice. Yet the power of generosity, especially amid a sea of shrinkflation, can spark plenty of WOM buzz. One story they explore is the Five Guys “extra fries” concept.
  4. Talkable Speed
    In a recent survey, customers rated speed 350 percent more important than politeness – WOW! Speed matters big time in today’s rush-and-hurry world. When event guests arrive, how can you reduce or eliminate wait times?

    Shameless Plug: if speeding up registration is a challenge for your event, click here and we’ll help you with new ideas to earn more WOM around talkable speed.

  5. Talkable Attitude
    Joie de vivre and flair rule supreme for this type. You might start by identifying a few signature elements within your event where you can double down on design details and, to borrow a line from Bonnie Raitt, “Give them something to talk about.”

talk triggers

One Final Caveat about Talk Triggers

In the final chapter, they point out that the more amazing the talk trigger, the shorter the shelf life.

“They’re the comets of word of mouth. Things are talkable until our parents and grandparents begin talking about them, and then nobody finds them remarkable anymore.”

It’s for this reason that I recommend you add talk trigger creation to your annual event planning discussions. That way, as some talk triggers sunset, there’s always a new set moving to the launch pad.

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