Marketing for Small Businesses

Small Business Marketing: What’s In It For Me?

What's In It For Me?

W I I F M ?

This clever little initialism should be the first thought, and the first question answered when writing copy for your emails and product descriptions. We also call it “Starting with the Benefit” or “Selling the Sizzle, Not the Steak” but I think the best way to really get the results you want is asking yourself in your customer’s voice, from their perspective: What’s in it for me?

Most people want to list the facts first. It contains this and this. It is made from this material and comes with this thing and that thing. Well, that’s great – that explains what it is. But it doesn’t answer the most important question of all. What’s in it for me? Why should I buy it? Yes, I understand it has these things, but so do the others I found online. So why yours? Why should I give you my money instead of them? And if you don’t know why I should buy your product over theirs, then why are you selling it?

This little back-and-forth banter has actually gotten product developers and business owners angry at me, but often this is the only way I can get a straight answer, because it’s usually in the heat of that moment when they blurt out what their passionate about, and therein lies the answer. So tell me why you’re passionate about the thing you’re selling. Tell me why yours is better than theirs. This is why your customers will choose you over the competition – not from the facts you list, but from the passion behind why you chose to make it or sell it in the first place, aka The Benefit to Your Customers.

Great product description example

Say you’re a pet store and you sell dog food. Great. So does Amazon and PetSmart and a dozen other places within a 15-mile radius. You say, “Our store carries these brands, and they’re made of these ingredients.” Well so do they. I need to know what’s in it for me, personally. Why should I choose you? It’s not going to be the brands if I can buy them off, so what is it?

“At our pet store, we believe in the natural health and well-being of your pet. We love every pet as if it were our own, and offer a level of personal service and selection you can’t get anywhere else. We help you find the best match for your dog’s breed and size so they can live a long and healthy life with you, and we make sure to only carry foods that contain no fillers or chemicals that can be hidden in other big-brand foods. We did this because we saw dogs getting sick off those cheaper brands, gaining weight, suffering from allergies, and we knew there was a better way. A natural way. That’s why we do what we do. Because other places don’t have the knowledge or support that we do.”

Aha! That’s what’s in it for me! By choosing you, I now feel like my dog will be healthier and stay with me longer. It’s targeting me emotionally and letting me know what benefits I gain by choosing you.

Let’s do one more. This time let’s say you own a jewelry store and you want to promote a pair of earrings. Great. Tell me about them. “Sterling Silver Earrings made with sterling silver and a hook clasp. Handmade. Hangs about two inches long.” Again, this is telling me what it is. It’s not telling me what the benefit to me is. This isn’t reaching me on an emotional level, and it’s not telling me why I should choose your earrings over someone else’s. I can buy earrings online from Walmart that may look a lot like the ones you’re offering. So why yours? What makes yours special over theirs?

You can see why this can sometimes lead to a heated conversation, especially if you’re the one who crafted the earrings, or you’re the owner and take a lot of pride in your products. But this is the question you have to relentlessly ask yourself, especially when writing marketing copy. Because if you’re only telling people what it is, and not leading with the benefits that are specific to your customers personally, then your customers will go elsewhere to see if they can find it cheaper, or until they find someone who can answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”

By the way, do you think you have a better description of those earrings? I’d love to hear it. Give me your best WIIFM / Emotional Sell for these Sterling Silver Earrings. You can reach me on Twitter at @chuckverhey.

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