Whats in it for me

Ever strolled into the boss’ office, shared a big idea, then discovered it fell flat?  Or ever put your heart and soul into a presentation but found the audience sleeping?

It’s pretty easy to get frustrated in these situations.

So today I’m offering a tip to boost your effectiveness and ease the frustration, but before I do…a quick story…

I remember rolling out one of my first big projects– a 7 site ERP implementation in Latin America.  It was failing because so few people actually cared. In fact they just saw it as making their work day harder, so the project just kind of limped along.  Everyone eventually made it work but there were lots of short cuts taken which left significant gaps.

I was in charge, and they were “supposed to listen”. I can remember venting to my boss ,”they just don’t get it”.  “Can’t they see how big this is for the company?”  I learned a valuable lesson that could have made this project much more successful.  If I’d answered one important question first…

Successful Employees Always Answer WIFM

When you’re rolling out a project, writing an email, preparing a presentation you’ll experience a lot more success if you think about it first from the perspective of your audience.

Assume you audience always want to know “What’s In It For Me?” (WIFM).  In other words, the audience wants to know the benefit to themselves of listening or reading  before they ever get to what you’re offering.

I’ve tested this myself in conversations, emails, blogs, presentations, etc…and I can tell you that people will listen more closely, and you’ll achieve better results if you start by answering WIFM.

Answer this question for your audience, and you’ll find:

  • More receptivity and attention to your message – they’ll clearly understand what you’re providing as a benefit to them versus just doing you a favor.
  • Increased willingness to help – In helping you they help themselves
  • Broader support – People are usually more willing to share and build support for an idea when they can relay the benefit to others.

See how those bullets above are the WIFM for you reading this article today 🙂

Why WIFM Works So Well

WIFM has been used effectively by marketers for years because it works so well. It works because marketers know that we humans try to understand how what we hear benefits us.  We often do this unconsciously but think back to the last article you read then took the next step and shared.

What was it that made you share it?  Probably something related to how helpful it was. The clearly understood the benefit.

The reality is that if we can’t seem to make the connection between what we’re hearing or reading and our own personal benefit, then we often just check out or start drifting off to something that does.

So take the guess work out and tell them exactly how what you’re saying, doing, or offering helps them.

Everyday Scenarios to Wield Your WIFM

It might seem a little strange at first but realize you can use WIFM in your daily work in many different scenarios.

  • Get your emails read.  Insert WIFM into your first 2-3 sentences. Bonus points if you work it into the email reference line.
  • Get your boss to listen. If you’ve got an idea to share, start the conversation by answering the WIFM for them and the company first (you last).
  • Engage your audience. Include WIFM in the first few powerpoint slides so it’s clear to your audience.

Here’s more on how to apply it.

Four Ways to Win with WIFM and Get Better Results

You can even think a little bigger and apply WIFM to your role, career, and even a project you’d like to work on.  Try this.

#1 Have a new idea to transform your role?
WIFM: Answer how does this make the boss’ life easier.

#2 Want to stop doing a seemingly meaningless report?
WIFM:  Answer how it frees your time up to make a bigger contribution somewhere else.

#3 Want to skip a weekly meeting?
WIFM: Answer what you’ll be doing instead that will make an impact.

#4 Want to get funding for a cool project?
WIFM: Answer what’s the return on investment for the organization?

Now try one of these WIFM strategies in your work day.  Notice the results!

So what’s your story of applying WIFM at work?  Please share in the comments below.

To Igniting Your Work Day!


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