Create Your Business’ Talk Trigger: The New Word of Mouth


Word of mouth has been the number one way to gain new business for decades. But, how many of your companies have a strategy to create word of mouth? And how would you even create a strategy like that?

Those are the questions Jay Baer, from digital marketing firm Convince and Convert, tries to answer in his new book about talk triggers – or, in other words, the reasons people tell their friends about your company or product.


You Need to Choose to be Different

The first thing Jay thinks sets a talk trigger apart from your typical marketing campaign is - difference. What does that mean?

Jay believes every company has a choice: to do things the same as their industry or to be different. The first step to creating a talk trigger and generating word of mouth is figuring out what you can do to be different from your competitors.

Often, this can be as simple as giving every hotel guest a warm cookie, like DoubleTree, or having a fun game for customers play when they order food from your restaurant.

Operations is the New Marketing

Jay believes that with the increase of artificial intelligence in digital marketing, customer service is becoming a large part of marketing strategy.

He also believes that operations is the new marketing.

Instead of spending hours on a campaign, wondering if anyone will engage with you on social media, you could create a talk trigger and have a whole new type of campaign that is entirely customer generated.

If you can get your customers talking to new, potential customers – well, isn’t that the point of marketing?

So - What About Social Media?

Jay doesn’t believe that marketing as we know it will disappear. He simply believes that we should all take some time to reevaluate the focus of our marketing.

For example, a talk trigger often turns into a story we tell our friends when we are surprised by something extra nice or considerate a company did for us. But we don’t often sit around a table and talk about ingenious tweets a business sends out, or a Facebook ad that stunned us.

However, social media is still a form of word of mouth. The only piece to consider is that you want to be doing things that create user-generated content – another form of word of mouth – instead of constantly Instagramming into the void.

Types of Talk Triggers

According to Jay, there are five kinds of talk triggers. In the podcast, he references two that are unique - but similar in that they keep the needs of the customer at the forefront.

Wow Customers With Your Generosity

If you had the chance to hold a convention inside of a zoo, would you do it?

Many people say yes, and the Flanders Convention Center knew they would. When the government in Antwerp, Belgium, decided to build a new convention center, they wanted to do something different. They built the center inside of their zoo, and now, whenever a conference is held there, attendees get a free trip to the zoo.

Jay points out that this is a talk trigger because anyone who leaves has a great experience. They go home, and they tell their friends or supervisors, and everyone wants to go to a conference there.

The Flanders Convention Center garnered a bunch of free marketing, just by sticking out enough for someone to go home and tell a friend.

Keep People Coming Back for Your Usefulness

What do you think it takes to become the best-rated business on Yelp in all of New York City?

One locksmith can tell you. It takes being the most considerate and useful person in your field, and going above and beyond what customers expect of you.

This locksmith will charge you one flat price for emergency services – one flat fee, so his customers always know what they will be paying. That’s great in itself, but this man takes it a step further. He also performs a free security check of your apartment and lets you know possible weak spots. He then oils every lock in your apartment, again for free.

By providing these extra services, he makes himself so useful, his customers just have to tell their friends to call him when they need a locksmith.

Keep It Simple…and Consistent

While usefulness and generosity are two types of talk triggers, there are a few rules to consider when creating a talk trigger.

First, remember to be consistent in whatever word of mouth strategy your team comes up with. It is definitely not true that any word of mouth is good word of mouth.

For example, Jay mentions that you don’t want to foster bitter feelings toward your brand, like some airline companies do. Instead of creating barriers to enjoying your brand, find a consistent advantage you can offer to every customer, every time.

The point of this rule is that any talk trigger, no matter how small, can make a difference as long as it is an opportunity offered to everyone.

Is It Too Good to Be True?

For our second rule, try to keep things realistic. Don’t offer customers the chance to win big on something – for two reasons.

First, that is most likely not going to be an offer you can consistently offer, which breaks the first rule. And second, an offer like winning a car is more likely to generate suspicion than word of mouth.

Just keep things simple. Something as small as a warm cookie is enough to propel a brand into successful longevity.

Learn More from Jay Baer

You can learn more from Jay about talk triggers and plenty of other topics at You can also follow his digital marketing advice firm, at the website Convince and Convert where you can find his podcasts, eBooks, webinars, and blog posts all in one place.

Keep an eye out for Jay’s new book about word of mouth and the 4-5-6 of talk triggers, coming soon.


Jay Baer is the world's most retweeted person among digital marketers. He is a renowned business strategist, keynote speaker and the New York Times best-selling author of five books who travels the world helping businesspeople get and keep more customers. Jay has advised more than 700 companies since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, Allstate, The United Nations and 32 of the FORTUNE 500. He is the founder of Convince & Convert, a strategy consulting firm that helps prominent companies gain and keep more customers through the smart intersection of technology, social media, and customer service. His Convince & Convert Media division owns the world's #1 content marketing blog, the world's top marketing podcast, and many other education resources for business owners and executives. The creator of five multi-million dollar companies, Jay is an active venture capitalist and technology advisor, as well as an avid tequila collector, and certified barbecue judge.