“Surprise and delight” is the darling of the marketing industry. Brands go to great lengths to create special moments for customers, as when Ritz-Carlton treated a stuffed giraffe named Joshie (left behind at one of its hotels) to an all-expenses-paid adventure.
When this tactic works, it works really well. Customers become giddy with excitement, and they associate that feeling with the brand that provided the experience. What’s more, those customers generate word-of-mouth marketing by sharing their surprise with others on social media.
But surprise and delight is more of a fleeting publicity stunt than a word-of-mouth strategy. Brands that want long-term results must create sustainable praise by giving customers consistently stellar experiences.
Something to Talk About
A talk trigger is an unexpected experience that gives someone a reason to discuss your brand with other potential customers.
The Cheesecake Factory is one of my favorite examples of a company that has mastered the art of talk triggers. Diners who visit a Cheesecake Factory are often bowled over by the restaurant’s extensive menu, which features page upon page of tantalizing options. People leave the restaurant pleased with their experience and eager to tell others about their culinary adventure.
In some ways, talk triggers are not actually marketing. They are simply a brand delivering consistent greatness that customers cannot help but praise. The experience is more than a publicity stunt — it becomes a brand differentiator. Here are a few ways to build your own talk triggers:
1. Gather your intel. There’s so much you can learn about your customers without ever leaving your office that will provide fodder for talk triggers. Bring together the insights of your sales, marketing, and customer service teams to create a compendium of facts and opinions.
2. Study customers in the wild. Flesh out this internal document with insights gleaned from interacting with customers. Call them, find them in your stores, or send quick online surveys. Not only will this provide up-to-date information on customer needs and wants, but it will also endear you to them — a survey by Genesys found 40% of customers want companies to make a bigger effort with customer service.
3. Select potential talk triggers. Once you’ve compiled this research, find the problems that your product solves for customers, and work to reverse-engineer talk triggers. Make a short list of experiences that will get your customers’ attention. Assess triggers for their deliverability and potential “wow” factor, and choose one that will deliver the highest potential impact with the least effort.
4. Test your top candidate. Introduce your chosen candidate to a segment of customers, which will allow you to measure its impact in a controlled way. Share the trigger with customers across channels, and then sit back and listen. Is your brand’s social media interaction increasing? Are particular products receiving more attention? Look for evidence of customer chatter on social media, peruse online reviews, and monitor customer emails for any useful insights.
5. Roll out and repeat. If your trigger is working, customers will be chatting about you with their friends. Once this happens, it’s time to roll that talk trigger out to your entire customer base. If it didn’t create the spark you wanted, choose a different candidate and repeat the process.
Rather than focusing your energy on surprise-and-delight publicity stunts, create a talk trigger lab at your company. Implement a constant process of discovering customer preferences, testing triggers, and measuring their impact. Give your customers more than a once-in-a-lifetime experience — deliver everyday experiences that make your customers happy they keep choosing your brand.