August 31, 2015

Never forget how selfish your prospect is.

A selfish prospect? There’s no other kind – so respect wiifm.

That’s why marketers are always talking about benefits. All sing praises to the virtues of the products or services delivered by their brand. Okay. Agreed. Clearly that’s a big step up from naively talking about features, which will get your knuckles rapped in Salesmanship 101 class.

Features are, to be sure, the beginner’s dead end. You can tell your selfish prospect that it’s organic, air-conditioned, gluten-free. All-inclusive, waterproof, genuine leather. Pocket-sized, available on Blu-Ray, insured by FDIC with polarized lenses … hey, they stopped paying attention four features ago.

So, while boasting about benefits is a perfectly understandable standard practice – blindly following that plan, merely listing benefits, can also fail. Benefits are not all equal because they don’t all relate to wiifm. Prospects wake up when they hear wiifm. Wiifm is overwhelmingly important. It’s Salesmanship 102.

Unless and until you connect the benefits of your brand to wiifm (What’s In It For Me?), benefits are just abstractions. Clinical, rational, logical abstractions. Some benefits might be mildly satisfying to the brain, but fail to reach the heart or the gut. Rationality fails to get the juices flowing.

Wiifm is about emotions, not reasons. Not, for example, about saving money, but the pleasure of saving money. Not because that craft beer tastes good, but because your pals will be impressed by your discerning taste. Not the energy-efficient specs of the backup generator, but ensuring you won’t get fired for the factory’s power outage. Not the improved chance of litigation success when you sue those bastards, but the anticipated satisfaction of revenge when you crush those bastards.

Simply put, if you’ve graduated from talking features to talking benefits, you’re only half-way there. Semi congratulations. Do the research to find the next big insightful leap, from benefits to emotionally relevant benefits. Forge meaningful connections with your best prospects. Let your brand narrative tell them you’ve satisfied their wiifm questions.

What a waste of time and effort it is to trumpet a brand strategy only to find nobody cares.