WIIFM: Your marketing mantra

What’s in it for me? You know the acronym: WIIFM. If you’re a marketer, WIIFM should be your mantra. You should be asking it about everything you create. Knowing, of course, that the “me” is not “you” — it’s your customer. Your audience. Your user. Your recipient. Your prospect. Your reader. Your donor. Your investor.

Doesn’t matter whether you’re tweeting, blogging, redesigning your website, creating a new logo, or writing an annual report. If you’re marketing, it’s all about your audience.

Who is that audience? What do they know about your offering? And why should they care? That’s where the self-interest of WIIFM really works — to focus your work.

Say you’ve reached an impasse in boardroom discussions about the merit of a given consumer marketing campaign. Imagine taking that marketing campaign out of the boardroom and into the living room of your customer. Does it engage? Intrigue? Inform? Or will it be shrugged off with a dismissive WIIFM?

Here are five ways to ensure that when WIIFM is asked, you have the answer:


These are fictional people who represent key audience segments. The personas you create should have names, faces, personalities, and, most importantly, goals, behaviors, and attitudes about your product or service. Not just for websites and digital campaigns, personas remain a widely respected, valuable tool for getting all decision makers in alignment.

Let’s say you’ve developed personas named Julia and Chris to represent teenagers, a key audience. As you create your marketing campaign, it’s not just what your CEO wants, it’s what Julia and Chris want. You’ve brought them into the boardroom. They’re sitting at the table. They have loud voices and strong opinions. Perhaps they’re annoying.

Listen to them. Give in to them. They’re the people who will buy your product.

Role Playing

Trying to choose a creative concept? Select a new tagline? Decide on a brand identity? Determine the look of your website?

After asking decision makers for their opinions, switch it up: Ask each person in the room to become who they are not. Assign roles based on key audiences. Then request that all comments come from the voice of that role. The results and the reframing can be quite revealing.

Concept Testing

Just because you like the concept doesn’t mean your audience will. Plan for concept testing, which can validate, support, or even refute your decision-making. Concept testing typically involves presenting several creative options and eliciting feedback in a one-on-one session with people who represent your target audience. Individual sessions ensure that opinions are not unduly influenced by the presence of others.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are the classic method of gathering WIIFM. Focus groups can be conducted in person, by phone, or online. Their success is dependent on the selection of participants, the line of questioning, the skill of the moderator, and the synthesis of the qualitative research findings.

Customer Advisory Councils

Want to know what customers think? Ask, and ask often. Establish a Customer Advisory Council to meet regularly, in person or online. Just be prepared to act on the recommendations you receive — or respond why you cannot. Your responsiveness will deepen customer loyalty.

WIIFM is the obvious, too-often ignored question. Ask it. Plan for it. Answer it. You’ll be applauded for your uncommon common sense.