Book Review: Talk Triggers by Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin

talk triggers

Talk triggers are things that people naturally want to share with others.  It’s something unique, useful, or entertaining that people are excited to share with friends and family.  It’s  great way to amplify your marketing messages to reach potential customers.  

talk triggers nametagFor example, I have been a huge fan of LEGO since I was a kid.  I was at one of my favorite stores, Bricks and Minifigs (shoutout to the awesome owners, Scott and Heather), and I saw the employees wearing name tags made of LEGO.  I decided I had to have one.  When I was asked to speak at a conference recently, I wore the name tag and I had a TON of people ask me about it.  It generated a lot of interest and I got some great networking contacts as a result.  

What are you doing to create buzz via word of mouth?  What’s your talk trigger?

Book synopsis

Word of mouth is the most effective method of converting customers.  Think about the last time you recommended a book or movie to someone.  Or, think about the last time you looked for a mechanic or new doctor.  You probably got a recommendation from a friend, right?  Very few companies have a deliberate strategy in place to create word of mouth marketing.  Talk Triggers is the complete guide to creating a word of mouth marketing strategy.  

Talk Triggers Section 1: Why Word of Mouth Works

According to the book, word of mouth is responsible for 19% of all consumer purchases in the U.S.  83% of Americans report trusting recommendations from friends and family.  An astonishing 60% trust online reviews.  

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Your marketing will convert customers better if your customers get a recommendation from a trusted source.  You may not get as wide a reach, but you’ll have a more devoted base of customers.  

Think about the DoubleTree hotel, as Talk Triggers suggests.  I can’t remember ever seeing a commercial for their hotel chain.  However, they have an amazing talk trigger.  If you’ve ever stayed at a DoubleTree, you know what it is: warm cookies for every guest that stays there.  They get tons of free mentions on review sites from people who want to talk about it.  

As they say in the book, “Different is better than better.”  What about your business compels conversation?  Why should people be excited to talk about it?

Talk Triggers Section 2: The Four Talk Triggers Criteria

In this section, Jay and Daniel lay out the four criteria all talk triggers should contain in order to be effective.

1. Be remarkable.  He uses the example of Umpqua Bank which has a unique talk trigger.  In each branch, there is a silver telephone in the middle that anyone can pick up and it goes straight to the bank’s CEO.  That’s unique and interesting, right?  It’s inexpensive and it generates a lot of conversation because it’s a story worth telling.  

2. Be relevant.  The talk trigger needs to support your company’s broader objectives and mission.  Something remarkable that doesn’t align with your company’s branding and mission won’t make sense.  

3. Be reasonable.  This one is a little tougher to nail down.  It needs to be big enough to be noticeable but small enough to be trusted.  You can’t go giving away cars to everyone like Oprah, but it needs to be big enough for someone to see its uniqueness.  

4. Be repeatable.  Your talk trigger needs to allow for consistency.  If it’s something you do for one customer but not another, it’s likely to breed contempt.  The experience should be the same for each customer each time.  

Talk Triggers Section 3: The Five Types of Talk Triggers

In the next stage of their “4-5-6” strategy, the authors lay out the five types of talk triggers.  These are different options for talk triggers that will work for different businesses.

1. Talkable empathy: They use the example of Americollect, “the ridiculously nice collection agency.”  It’s talkable because niceness is not a trait typically associated with the collections industry.  Interestingly, this talk trigger is so strong that a big percentage of their employees are former collections clients.  They had such a good experience that they opted to work for Americollect. 

2. Talkable usefulness: This seems obvious.  But for this to be a talk trigger, the usefulness has to be surprising as well as valuable.  One example they give is Air New Zealand’s SkyCouch, which is a bed on the airplane.  Pretty cool, right?

3. Talkable generosity: Basically, you’re giving things away for free or cheap.  But a discount isn’t enough.  That’s not remarkable.  A unique type of giveaway or contest might work though.  

4. Talkable speed: This one might be harder to achieve, depending on your business.  But, if you’re able to consistently respond faster than a customer expects, that’s talkable.  Food that’s read fast at a restaurant matters to parents with crying kids.  They’ll talk about it.  If your team member answers phone calls within seconds and can get you on the phone with them in minutes, that’s talkable.  Depending on your schedule, this one might be hard to do.  But, it’s talkable!

5. Talkable Attitude: Here’s a fun option to put a unique personality spin on your marketing.  Maybe you have a fun, zany, or otherwise unexpected personality style you can bring to bear on your marketing and branding.  There’s a fine line between talkable and off-putting.  You’ve got to be careful to not to go too crazy with this, but there are great ways to infuse your personality in talkable ways.

Talk Triggers Section 4: Create Talk Triggers in Six Steps

1. Gather internal insights: In this step, you’ll meet with key staff from each department, then brainstorm ideas.  What are you good at?  What is your passion?  Which personality traits are unique about your brand?

2. Get close to your customers: Figure out how customers experience your product.  Why do customers refer to you?  What do people say about your company?  Why do they keep coming back to you?  Figure out what you’re already good at from talking to customers.  They can tell you what talk triggers may already exist.  

3. Create candidate talk triggers: Identify potential talk triggers from brainstorming with your team and talking to your customers.  Be sure that they fit the four criteria of a talk trigger from section 2.  Also, be sure that they fit into one of the five types of talk triggers in section 3.  

4. Test and measure your talk triggers: You won’t know if it works unless you give it a try.  Test your talk trigger, then start measuring responses.  Are you seeing the talk trigger in social media conversations?  Is it a significant portion of the responses/reviews on your site and others’ sites?  Call customers and see if they mention the talk trigger during your conversation with them. 

5. Expand and turn on: Now it’s time to get your team involved.  Get your customers, your employees, and your leaders engaged in the talk trigger message.  It can become a point of pride for your team that they get excited about.  

6. Amplify your talk trigger: Start promoting the talk trigger through your advertising, social media, email campaigns, and website.  

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The book’s talk trigger

Of course, a book like this needs its own talk trigger.  The authors offer that if anyone reads their book and doesn’t like it, then they’ll buy any book as a replacement.  ANY BOOK!!  They’ve said in interviews that there’s no limit.  It could be a rare first edition book worth thousands of dollars.  I don’t think they’ll ever have to do that, since the book is so great.  But, if they do, it’ll make an amazing, talkable press release.  


This book is absolutely phenomenal!  I’m still working on creating talk triggers of my own, but this book has already impacted my marketing efforts in a meaningful way.  If you can find a way to incorporate a talk trigger into your business, you’ll see huge dividends.  

I highly recommend this book to anyone considering ways to boost their marketing efforts or grow their business.  Thanks to Jay and Daniel for their insights!  Go read this book today!!

Buy the book on Amazon by clicking here.

talk triggers

If you like that book, then you’ll love these books as well:

Leave a comment below.  Suggest a talk trigger for our site or tell us your own!!

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