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WIIFM? Buyers Ask “What’s In It For Me?”

A harsh truth that you need to accept is that people who buy what you sell (your customers and clients) are generally selfish and don’t care much about you.

When they think about buying, one main thing is going through their minds.

What’s In It For Me?

In marketing, this is often abbreviated to WIIFM and people will joke about buyers listening to their favourite radio station WII-FM.

They will rarely come out and ask the question directly but it is going through their minds.

Why Are They So Selfish?

They don’t mean to be nasty or unpleasant but buying involves making a sacrifice of something valuable to them.

To buy, they have to sacrifice money and want to be confident that they’ll get something back that’s worth even more.

Some people care about money in itself.

Most see it in terms of other options.

If I buy this smartphone, I can’t buy that laptop.

If I buy this holiday, I can’t go on that holiday.

If I buy this new car, I will put a major dent in my savings and I won’t have as much security in the future.

This makes purchasing decisions complicated, and sometimes, it’s much easier not to make a decision – to leave the bank in the bank – than to buy something and regret it later.

How Do You Answer The WIIFM Question?

OK let’s look at the issue both in the specific and the general.

If you’re talking to the potential buyer in person, you can investigate the problem and its implications and you can find out about the solution the buyer wants and the criteria they might have set to find the right solution.

If you’re wondering how to do this, read

SPIN Selling Questions – Effective Sales Questions

Then when you present your solution, you need to be addressing its features, advantages and benefits.

Strictly speaking, the “What’s in it for me” question is answered by the benefits.

However, without back up, they can sound too good to buy true.

Buy this product and you’ll be:

  • Irresistibly attractive to the person you want.
  • Amazingly rich and powerful
  • Slim and shapely with the body you’ve always wanted.

Can you see how benefits can sound superficial and even hyped.

It’s enough to put off rather than entice a wary potential buyer who is only too well aware of the sacrifice that has to be made in buying from you.

That’s why I believe you need to be backing it up with features and advantages.

You will hear the phrase

“Features tell, benefits sell.”

That’s true to an extent.

Many features are technical, and we don’t automatically understand the importance of having the new and updated ZB76a widget and why we’d be wasting our money if we bought the old, obsolete product with the ZB75 widget.

These features need to be translated but as we are educated, we begin to understand.

The promised benefits become much more credible and remember, to buy, we need to be confident.

For more information about features, advantages and benefits, please read

Features Advantages Benefits Make Your Selling FAB

Answering WIIFM In Marketing

It’s harder to do all the work in your marketing unless you resort to a 20 page sales letter that lets you spell out your entire sales story.

You have three main options:

  1. Hit the most common emotional hot buttons. Cherry pick the benefits and associated features and advantages.
  2. Use your marketing to drive people into a sales consultation where you can move to discuss their specific issues and pay-offs.
  3. Educate and pre-sell over an extended period. The product launch formula introduced the idea of a sideways sales letter where the sales message is consumed in bite-sized pieces.

What is best? That depends on your particular situation including the nature of the product or service you sell and how open to influence your buyers are. Some products are much easier to sell than others as your own buying experiences will show you.


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