WIIFM you ask?


One of the most common phrases that you hear in the marketing world is “what’s in it for me”. In fact it is much more prevalent than just in marketing.

WIIFM is everyone’s favorite radio station tuned into just them. If you could only ask one question whether it was in marketing, leadership, HR or PR, negotiation, sales or virtually anything in business or everyday life for that matter, that question would be WIIFM.

WIIFM focuses you on one of the greatest issues an entrepreneur, leader, marketer, consultant and virtually everyone in business must grapple with. We, you, me, everyone, we all act in some fashion in our own self-interest from a narrow point of view. We all want to know how anything happening will benefit us.

If you want to sell something to someone, convince someone to join your company, buy your company, agree to a meeting, accept a product return, phone you back, nearly anything, you need to make sure they know what is in it for them. Very few people will do anything if they get nothing in return. And if you trick them they will never do anything with you in the future. Offering nothing is not a good approach.

Seems obvious but you need to remember it. In anything you do think how it will benefit them. Think about what they get out of it. What is their point of view?

This was very clear when I was working on a restructuring of a startup company that had been struggling to hit profitability. We needed reduce the debt load and raise some more capital and do it very quickly. The CEO and I worked out a debt restructuring package and planned to do a round of fund raising once the debt was dealt with.

The CFO wanted to email all of the debt holders and tell them that we needed to do this or else the company would likely go bankrupt. Wow what a way not to sell it!

I gathered the CEO, CFO and the board for a meeting and we talked about all of the debt holders and worked through what each one would be most concerned about and how we would address each person and their concerns. I then drafted emails to each including a simple but clear restructuring plan. With each email was included a write up for each person on how it would impact them and what was the long term potential.

Each of the debt holders had slightly different issues and timelines, concerns, hesitations and willingness. By addressing each one’s issues from their perspective we were able to get all twelve debt holders to agree to the restructuring with favorable terms. Each one was given the same terms of the restructuring but each one agreed for different reasons.

If we had sent only one message to all of them the result surely would have been different and much less successful and much less easy to complete. When the time came to raise more money we were even able to approach the same debt holders with an offer for equity. Not all took the offer but all were willing to meet with us and consider it. Again this is because we worked to understand there wants and needs on an individual basis and not lump all of them in together.

We tuned into the WIIFM for each one.

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