How to Stay Focused On your Customers: WIIFM Explained

June 06, 2014 |   5 minute read


How to Stay Focused On your Customers: WIIFM Explained
For a long time we've been purporting in our content marketing workshops the concept of WIIFM. Here’s a recap of the definition in case you missed it.
WIIFM - "What’s In It For Me?” And as someone once said to me, that’s the radio station to which we’re all attuned. What’s In it For Me is an acronym to make sure that all marketing and sales teams are focused  on their customers’ interests first - not self-interests. So instead of talking about your company, you need to keep your messages and language focused  on the motivations of your target customer, and what their interests are.
In an online marketing world, we’re used to typing in “Cucumber, sausage, tomato” and getting some kind of functional recipe up on page 1 of Google. Type in a few keywords, get the result you seek.  I like to call this expectation the “On Demand Expectation” -  it’s an expectation we bring to every website we visit. The internet is successful because of it’s ability to allow us to self-serve information of all kinds. You can be completely selfish from behind your computer screen - and we like that.
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So anyone who is reading your content online is going to come to your content with this ‘on demand’ expectation. And this has 3 implications for your website content:

  1. They want to be able to recognize themselves and their questions in the layout of your site, so they can get on the path of delving deeper into your information.
  2. They want to feel secure that your company is 110% dedicated to serving the customer’s needs first.
  3. They expect that you will communicate consistently with them so that at all times you are focused on the consumer's motivations — not the company’s motivations.
But the thing is — it’s really hard to stay focused on your customers’ interests all the time. I mean, we’re attuned to WIIFM too - nearly all sales people find it hard NOT to think about themselves when they are selling. I was reflecting on this this morning and it occurred to me that it’s one thing to know we should focus on the customer, but how do you stay focused on their interests when you feel like you have your own objectives and targets to meet?
I feel like sales teams and marketing teams (who are paving the road for sales) need to really have some sort of mantra so that they feel they can stay focused on the customer.
Jill Konrath, author of SNAP selling and Selling to Big Companies,  uses the acronym “SNAP” to signify how you need to communicate with your sales prospects at all times. For Konrath, staying focused on your customers is as easy as “SNAP”:
  1. Simple
  2. Invaluable
  3. Aligned
  4. Priority

At Tangible Words, we think that #3 "Aligned" is the best point on the WIIFM scale, because it addresses the need to really keep your message aligned with the prospect’s goals.
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Sell Aligned and Keep In Mind the Customers "WIIFM"?

So how do you do this when you are communicating? Here’s the process we use at Tangible Words to ensure we are running a customer-centric organization:

  1. When I’m speaking with a client I try to concentrate on really being a good listener, and showing that I care by acknowledging what they say to me. When I was in Teacher’s College at Queen’s University, I was really moved by Nel Noddings’ book, Centre of Care. She talks about how important it is to acknowledge others - to show them care, concern, and to really acknowledge their presence. I used this philosophy throughout my teaching career, and still do in content marketing workshops, and I use it still in sales conversations. In this way I feel like I am staying present with my customer’s issues and being focused on what they are looking for. In content marketing, this means having an excellent profile of your three target audience segments and laying out what their desires, goals, concerns and motivations are so that you can predict the kinds of things they’d say to you, since you’ll be writing to them before they have a chance to speak back.
  2. However, WIIFM is about even more than listening to your audience’s interests - it’s about always making sure that you are communicating in terms of value the customer can expect from your product or service. You can think of it as “benefits” they can expect from your product (read more about explaining your benefits). Of course, it helps if you’ve listened to them first so you understand what things they consider valuable and can speak to those.
  3. The third way to focus on customer-centric messaging is to make sure your customers have the experience with you that you want them to have. A good place to look first is your website content - is the information organised around your prospect’s interests, or around your company’s interests? You want to strive for the former. So instead of creating your content based on what you OFFER as a service provider, focus your content around what they are looking for - once they recognise themselves in your directional text, they will get on the path to self-serve the information they want from your website (e.g. your knowledge, or making a purchase of your services). It’s a simple thing, but if the experience on your website is bad, if it feels clunky or “too hard”, you aren’t showing customers that you are focused on them - you are proving that you are too disorganised internally to really care about how you make them feel. None of us want to be sending that message.
So these are some simple things we do to “live and breathe” What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) while we preach it. Do you have any further recommendations for staying customer-centric in a digital age?
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