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The art of the trigger question

loyalty loop Dec 11, 2019

What’s your customer’s trigger question? We all think we know the answer to this one — it’s whatever they typed into Google before they were directed to your site, right?

Well, not so much. You see, the real trigger question comes way before they even get to that stage. And I have a little exercise to share, that’ll help you uncover it, every time.

The curse of knowledge

Last week, I was in the Bahamas with 700 heating, ventilation, and air conditioning professionals — every one of them was an HVAC expert. Now, if you’re running a successful business, you too are an expert in your particular field. And when it comes to uncovering your customers’ trigger questions, that’s a problem.

You see, you know too much. It’s the curse of knowledge, and if you want to overcome it, there’s only one thing for it.

You gotta start acting like a moron. Yes, really…

Loyalty Loop lesson 1: Act like a moron (and discover your customer’s moment of inspiration)

Before you identify your customer’s trigger question, you’re going to have to forget everything you think you know about their journey, and crawl into their mind to figure out the real moment of inspiration.

So let’s practice...

Imagine you’re in Boise, Idaho, and last night the temperature dropped to 32 degrees. It’s the first cold snap of the season so you go to kick on your heating system, pump up that thermostat, and try to warm up the house. But suddenly you’re hit by an awful smell. It’s like something crawled into your system and died. So you turn it back off and find yourself in a moment of inspiration. You’ve found an instant in time that’s going to set you off on a journey you weren’t expecting.

So let’s go back to my HVAC experts in the Bahamas. When I asked them what they thought their customers’ trigger questions might be in that type of situation, they weren’t short of ideas:

“Who can I call to fix my heating system?”

“Who’s the nearest AC company?”

“Who’s open 24 hours?” 

Now, these are all great questions — but I doubt that any of them are the true trigger question, given the moment of inspiration. Because a non-expert hasn’t reached that stage yet. The non-expert is asking:

“Why does my heating system smell like fish?”

“What’s that smell coming from my heater?”

“How can I fix my heating system when it smells bad?”

You see, when you’re an expert, you make assumptions. You assume that the customer is much farther down the consumer journey than they really are. And to find out where they actually are, you have to forget your expertise, and act like a moron!

You have to act like you don’t know the first thing about your business and take it right back to the customer’s very first moment of inspiration; their first step on a journey they weren’t expecting.

Loyalty Loop lesson 2: Follow your customer’s journey

Regular Loyalty Loopers know that after every trigger question, the next job is to identify the prime brand, the first brand that pops into your mind any time a trigger question occurs for the moment of inspiration you’ve identified.

But again, you want to err more on the side of moron than expert!

For example, when I asked the HVAC people to identify the prime brand in our scenario, they all started yelling, “Google”. Now, they weren’t necessarily wrong, but for someone like me, a trigger question like the one in our heating scenario, would send me running to YouTube. Because I’m one of those people that think they can fix anything with a hammer and flashlight, YouTube, rather than Google, is my prime brand.

That would be the next step of the journey for me, and for tons of other folks that like to take a crack at fixing things themselves! 

Loyalty Loop lesson 3: Answer the trigger question immediately

Now, what do we find when we follow our customer’s journey, head to YouTube, and ask our trigger question? An ad. Worse, an irrelevant ad. An ad that doesn’t answer the trigger question at all.

And that doesn’t create a great Loyalty Loop experience.

So, if you have a heating company and you want to target this consumer, with this trigger question, the best thing you can do is to create a video that actually answers the question, that addresses their problem, and even helps them fix it.

Why? Because the goal of a Loyalty Loop experience is to build trust; to turn doubters into believers.

I know what you’re thinking, “Drew, if I do that, if I answer their question and show them how to fix the problem, how is that going to help me build my AC business?”

Don’t worry, Loyalty Loopers, I’ll show you how…

Our scenario has three possible outcomes:

  1. I’m going to watch your video on how to fix my foul smelling heater and realize that it’s too big a job for me to handle. I can’t fix it with my flashlight and wrench, so, boom, I’m out. I’m going to have to call someone.

You’ve created a whole new moment of inspiration for me, and who am I going to call? You, the person who tried to help me fix my AC. 

  1. I watch the video and decide I’m going to fix it myself. I try…and I fail miserably (it wouldn’t be the first time!). Now, not only am I now going to have to call someone, there’s a good chance I’ve broken something else in my DIY attempts.

So again, who am I going to call? You! For being so gosh darn helpful and trustworthy, of course.

  1. The wildcard outcome: I watch the video, I actually manage to fix the air conditioner myself, and feel like an honest-to-goodness superhero. Thanks to your video.

But the next time a moment of inspiration hits — when my AC dies in the middle of a July heat wave — who do you think I’m going to trust with my first phone call? Who am I going to look for first on YouTube? Who’s my new prime brand?

You! That’s who.

So, my friends, there you have it; a simple, three-step process to help you overcome the curse of knowledge, identify your customer’s true trigger question, and even create new moments of inspiration.

Make sure you catch next week’s episode a full day before anyone else by subscribing to the Loyalty Loop — I’ll see you then!


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