Harley David Rubin

Are You Thinking About Your Prospect’s WIFM?

Are You Thinking About Your Prospect's WIFM?
Image Credit – Constantin Stanciu/

Every product or business venture needs a strong value proposition. To be effective, that value proposition must answer the WIFM question.

“What’s in it for me?”

— Title of five different songs by five different recording artists

Way back in the 20th century, a grad school professor of mine introduced me to the WIFM concept. And beyond my love of saying it out loud — “WHIFF-um” — this idea became one of my favorite things about marketing.

Because at its core, marketing is trying to persuade someone to act. Whether you want them to click here, buy something, visit a location, etc., the onus is on YOU to convince them to do something.

This challenge is catnip for creative and strategic folks alike. Too often, I’ve seen both clients and agencies forget about the WIFM — and they don’t effectively communicate the ultimate reason (or reasons) that the prospect should do what they’re asking.

Why does the WIFM get forgotten?

There are many things that can get in the way of the WIFM, but the most common one I’ve seen is that companies fall in love with their product(s)/service(s) so passionately, they think everyone else should too. “Let’s say we have the #1 solution, that should be enough to move the needle.”

*angry buzzer sound*

Funny thing is, it’s totally understandable. Entrepreneurs work and sweat and bleed and grind to bring their business into existence because they truly believe in it. Their new company becomes an all-consuming existence, wherein the founder(s) are pouring their whole life and bank account and time and energy into it.

But the outside world doesn’t know about all that hard work, the obstacles overcome, the long nights spent stressing, the drawing board and trial-and-error and all that.

All they know is what your marketing messages tell them.

So how do you create a WIFM-focused marketing message?

It all starts with identifying your prospective customer’s WIFM with regard to your company and what you offer.

For example, let’s say you want to promote the fact that it’s your 10th year in business. It’s an important milestone for you, but why should anyone else care?

Instead of centering your marketing campaign around a message like “It’s Our 10th Anniversary!” — think about why that could possibly be interesting to a prospect. (Especially because it’s all about YOU.)

What if you tweaked it to say “Celebrating 10 Years of Serving [Town Name]!” — so you’d be communicating your pride in both the town in which you operate and that you’re dedicated to meeting their needs.

It’s only two words longer, but the second option makes this promotion relevant and worthy of note for your prospects. Plus, you could offer “$10 off” or a 10% discount for locals.

If they give you their email address, what’s in it for prospective customers?

In digital marketing, one of the most common objectives is to collect email addresses for future marketing purposes (email offers, e-newsletters, etc.).

It’s pretty standard — and smart — to ask for a prospective customer to provide their email address. Especially when that’s ALL you ask for (at first), since you’re already showing that you’re considerate by not bothering them for all of their contact information.

But even after you’ve begun collecting email addresses, remember that unwanted or annoying emails can feel like a major intrusion — not to mention how much they clutter up an inbox.

Here are three WIFM-related things to remember when asking for an email address:

  • Relevance
    Why should the recipient open your email in the first place? (Give them a good reason in the “subject” line.) Why should they read it? Have you given them something to click on or some other call-to-action that will benefit them in some way?
  • Time
    Keep your email brief and to the point. If you have 10 seconds of someone’s precious time, and they’ve been kind enough to open your email, you need to make your case in a hurry.
  • Unsubscribe
    Always ALWAYS ALWAYS provide an “Unsubscribe” or “opt-out” feature. Besides the fact that it’s just plain polite, if you don’t have one, it’s kind of spammy and could land you in some trouble — or at the very least, on a bunch of “Blocked” and “Junk Mail” lists.

Give ’em a WIFM!

You just KNOW you have the right solution for your prospective customers. But the problem is that THEY don’t know it.

In fact, they might not know you exist, or that they even need what you’re selling. That’s why you use marketing to try to let them know.

If they’ve been kind enough to allow you into their inbox, their eyeballs and their brains, then you’d better have a compelling message — focused completely on their needs and how you can make their job/home/life better.

Show them that you care, and I’m willing to bet you’ll find more followers, more customers and more successes.

FINAL NOTE: Yes, I know that there are technically TWO “I’s” in WIFM and that some people like to spell it WIIFM. This word guy just couldn’t abide “WIIFM.”

How do YOU focus on your customer’s WIFM?  Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below. And please share this blog with your social networks if you found it interesting!

Harley David Rubin

Harley David Rubin is a freelance copywriter, content creator and marketing strategist who has worked for both advertising agencies and corporate marketing departments for more than 20 years. He loves his family, pop culture, fantasy baseball and creativity in all its forms.

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