Jun 06, 2019 | 3
Minute Read

Marketing 101: What’s In It For Me

happy girl in field

If you work in the field of marketing, or are selling virtually anything on Earth, the acronym WIIFM should be top of mind in every activity in which you and your company partake. WIIFM stands for What’s In It For Me, and it’s what truly drives most buying decisions.

Having worked in sales for over two decades, I encountered my fair share of sales “experts” that would instruct sales professionals to learn how to properly position the features and benefits of a company’s products and services. The product has “X” and, because of that, “Y” happens.

The problem with features and benefits is that is doesn’t always create an emotional connection with the consumer. Without an emotional connection, chances of completing the sale are reduced significantly. Simply by answering the question “What’s in it for me?” the single most important component of the sales process can be easily accomplished. Once the person understands what’s in it for them, emotion has been created. Be a sales artist and paint a picture as to why this person needs - or should want - this product or service so badly.

Real life examples

I can think of a few real life examples where features and benefits went out the window and an emotional connection closed the deal on spontaneous, big-ticket, life-changing purchases. The biggest of those purchases was our first home in Arizona. Having lived in various modest homes in Ohio, all which had basic shingle-style roofs, I had always considered homes with tile roofs to be special. Maybe it was just what it represented to me: warm weather, palm trees, vacation, fun. Why I found tile roofs appealing didn’t matter. To me, homes with tiled roofs represented a positive, happy emotion in my mind.

When I had previously vacationed in warm-weather climates, I’d see houses with those fancy tiled roofs and tell myself, “you’re going to own one of those someday.” A features and benefits salesperson could talk to me all day long about how efficient, and less expensive, a traditional shingled roof might be. It wouldn’t have mattered. I had already painted a picture in my mind of what “good” looked like, and it looked like a house with a tile roof. I really didn’t care if these happened to be more expensive or required more upkeep. When the Arizona real estate agent took us to the house with the beautiful tiled roof, I knew I was looking at my next home. Practicality will lose out to emotion every single day of the week.

I made a similar, spontaneous decision when I purchased my last car. I had been deciding between a Toyota and a Nissan. Both were rated and priced similarly, drove essentially the same and looked like one in the same vehicle. The Nissan salesperson kept pushing the features that he thought made the Nissan supreme, especially talking a lot about the transmission and how inexpensive, by transmission standards, it was to replace. The Toyota dealer on the other hand asked me what I liked in a car. Besides the obvious things such as safety, decent gas mileage, and roominess, I told the salesperson that I really liked a great sounding stereo and a vibrant color on the car, namely royal blue.

The two lots were across the street from each other. I visited both dealerships twice, and drove each vehicle twice. The Nissan was slightly cheaper, may have been ever so slightly more comfortable and had that built-in advantage of knowing if the transmission went, it could be replaced for under a thousand dollars. I bought the Toyota instead. Why? Because the salesperson took the time to find the one on the lot that came in a royal blue with the top-of- the-line stereo system.

These were things that were important to me - they made me feel good. Transmissions don’t really emit much in the way of emotion, and because that Toyota salesperson knew to appeal to my emotional side, he got a sale that day.

Words that work

According to Brafton.com, the words we use will determine whether or not an emotional connection is created. Additionally, the way a message is delivered will have a significant impact on the end result.

Brafton states some general guidelines when it comes to using words that work and creating emotional reactions.

  • Use strong verbs to encourage action.
  • Appeal to the senses with sensory words that tell a more engaging and persuasive story.
  • Evoke emotional reactions to influence buying decisions.
  • Choose positive connotations, always steering clear of words and phrases that may inspire negative thoughts or feelings.
  • Remember that context matters; only use these words when they make sense and complement your brand voice.


Marketing is stories

It doesn’t matter what the product or service is, the key is to create an emotion. People like to envision things. They envision themselves in a new home, car, wardrobe or vacation destination. Using words such as “imagine,” that build that bridge between a product or service and that person’s emotional sweet spot is the key to success.


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Dave Clark