Whether consciously or subconsciously, your prospects ask themselves this question within seconds of seeing your ad, mailer, e-mail, Web page or editorial feature. And as marketing communications practitioners, we try our darnedest to anticipate this question and provide meaningful answers.

In fact, you’re asking yourself this question right now.

What is it? “WIIFM?” stands for “What’s In It For Me?” If your prospects don’t quickly find something in your pitch that turns their crank, tickles their fancy, soothes or moves their soul, educates, enlightens, entertains or solves a problem, they move on. It’s like a contract your prospects make with you: “If you bring me something that will benefit me in even some intangible way, I will gladly read, listen to or watch your message.”

Now, the more tangible you can make that benefit message, the more likely your prospects will be moved to take an action that will benefit you.

Think like your customers and prospects

In business-to-business marketing communications, you have to do more than just put on your customers’ shoes; you have to put on their clothes, hat, glasses and, sometimes, their pocket-protectors. Then you have to step inside their brains, understand their values and anticipate their challenges and concerns. Only when you craft your marketing messages with respect for your prospects’ point of view will you succeed in maximizing positive responses.

Here are some hints for delivering customer-centric messages in your marketing communications:

  • Based on your product positioning, determine the one or two things about your product that are most important to your customers. Then, tell your prospects how your product addresses their problems in the clearest and most familiar (to them) language possible.
  • Eliminate references to “we” and “us” (meaning you, the company). This includes claims of superiority (the biggest, the best, the oldest, the friendliest, the most experienced), as these facts are better communicated indirectly—by tone, ad quality and, ultimately, your product’s performance/value and your customer service.
  • Don’t just list product features. Product features are nearly always meaningless unless they are tied to a specific benefit that a customer deems valuable. Generally, each market niche perceives features and benefits in its own way. Consider separate, vertical market ads if different markets use your product in different ways.
  • Put every one of your marketing communications messages through the WIIFM? Test before you put it into the marketplace. If you haven’t told your prospects why your product matters to them, you can’t expect prospects to be interested in your products.

Once you’ve communicated how your product can make prospects’ lives easier, safer or more profitable, what’s in it for you? More market awareness and interest, more inquiries and more sales. Want to learn more? Contact your account manager or e-mail smcpherson@cccinc.com.