“What’s in it for me?”

  • I’m definitely not a fan of acronyms, but I love this question!
    • Partly because pondering it can help you better understand other people and what they are looking for, as well as the fact that its asked by most people on a daily basis in their subconscious mind

Don’t ask, don’t sell

  • The WIIFM question should be the default question explored every day by marketers, entrepreneurs, large corporations, and virtually everyone who interacts with other human beings
  • Its not complicated; Its just a matter of hearing your own message, pitch, or comment using your audience’s ears and determining if you are clearly defining what they will get out of it (i.e. a better quality product (even if the price is higher), more clients, a firmer butt, more time/less work, etc)
  • The question proves very effective if you market your products or services in such a way that not only appeals to a person’s interests, but actually addresses a person’s pain (Upon hearing your pitch, it ‘hits them in the stomach’ and they don’t think twice about buying from you because they desperately need whatever you’re offering)
  • However, the power of this question is frequently overlooked by many business people (and even those that have been introduced to the concept continue to ignore its value)

Experience, please

  • I’ve had a number of clients who came to me when they were fresh out of their professional training and excited to start their own business, however had little or no business or marketing experience
    • Some common initial marketing missteps were to make their marketing verbiage too wordy, too broad, and too ‘professional’ (not spoken or written in words a lay person can understand)
    • Easy mistakes to make, yes, but costly and frustrating at the same time
  • The WIIFM question becomes even more important in today’s culture where everyone is inundated with literally thousands of marketing messages a day and this information overload means that people rarely have an attention span that lasts longer than 30 seconds
  • In addition, today’s western culture unfortunately permits itself a level of selfishness and sense of entitlement that most would argue didn’t exist to this degree 15 years ago; All the more reason the WIIFM question must be explored
  • Nevertheless, cultures evolve (both positively and negatively) and the successful are those who can adapt most effectively

People are it, man

  • In leadership training programs I facilitate (a combination of group workshops and one-on-one coaching), the underlying theme, regardless of the workshop topic (be it time management, mentoring, communication, motivation, etc) is always people
    • This makes sense since virtually any business and group (from big multi-national banks to your local book club) is built around people
    • Understanding people and their desires and needs is key to success in business, as well as in relationships, happiness, development, progress, etc

Emotional resonance

  • To ask yourself the WIIFM question on behalf of your client or friend or stranger promotes a sense of empathy within you
  • The phrase ‘Walk a mile in their shoes’ is simple, yet nearly perfectly defines empathy in action
  • Another question that I love and use regularly is “What are your challenges?”
    • It builds rapport, shows you actually care, and opens a dialogue that can take a relationship to another level, professional or personal
  • To me, life becomes infinitely more interesting when you allow yourself to shift perspectives, to permit yourself some leeway in letting the ideas of others (the more preposterous the better; talk to me about this if you don’t agree) invade our ‘selfish’ minds and possibly throw us from our well-entrenched perspective for a moment; From this often comes the spark of genius and the spark that draws something out from your brilliant mind


  • There are detractors to the WIIFM approach (saying it can make people cynical or question the persuader’s motives), however maintaining sincerity when seeking to see things from the other person’s perspective will ensure you remain genuine in serving others

Practically speaking

  1. Slow yourself down (A skill I’m still very much working on, but buy into it more and more)
    • Schedule ‘me’ time and schedule ‘client time’
    • Don’t rush to appointments
    • Listen, really listen, to your clients (and your staff’s) complaints, desires, and dreams (And then when they stop talking, ask them more questions!)
    • Build a suggestion box and take the time to work it
    • Read (books, magazines, industry blogs, newspapers, your daughter’s favorite books)
    • Take more walks (without an iPod)
    • Light more candles
    • Meditate (even if its just an informal audio-free, dim lights, quiet sit at home or in the office)

  1. Narrow your focus
    • Reflect on a relationship with one person (Family member, best client, friend, etc)
      • Reminisce about your relationship with them (Both good times and challenges (positive and negative))
      • Then schedule time with them
        • By phone or in person
          • Go deeper than small talk (Dreams, goals, visions, challenges, victories, etc)

  1. Practice
    • Like anything new, it takes practice to become proficient at this, so don’t give up if the approach doesn’t come easy to you at first