By Greta Menard, Principal, Capital MarCom, Inc.
What radio station does every one of us listen to? According to my first boss and mentor, a veteran journalist and communications coach, it goes by the call letters, "WII-FM." This was her trick for remembering the mantra, "What's In It For Me?," and while her acronym seemed a bit hokey at the time, it has stuck with me for 19 years. Today, I not only remember the concept of customer "WII-FMs," I incorporate it into my own work and advise my clients to do the same—especially when it comes to marketing message development.
Identifying and playing to the WII-FMs of our customers, constituents and other stakeholders is a basic tenet of audience analysis and strategic messaging. And tuning into that WII-FM frequency is one of the best ways to avoid a common pitfall in marketing: promoting product features instead of product benefits. It's an easy error to make, because we love to talk about our own companies, products and accomplishments. But our customers don't care about what we do; they care what we do for them.
To illustrate this concept, imagine your company is the creator of the electric pencil sharpener. It might be tempting to pound your chest and promote your status as the inventor of this innovation. But remember the WII-FMs of your prospective customers. They don't care that you were the first company to create the automated pencil sharpener; they care that your product can sharpen their pencils in half the time it took them previously. Automation and first-to-market status are product features, while time savings--what really matters to the customer—is the benefit that truly resonates.
When developing marketing messaging for your own products and services, remember to put those benefits front and center. Ask yourself how your offerings help your customers make money, save money, improve efficiency, or derive some other kind of tangible benefit. Ask yourself what existing problem or need your product solves. And ask yourself what unique benefit you deliver to your customers. Then, put those answers down on paper and create a core messaging document to serve as the basis of all of your external communications. These core messages, and compelling points to support them, should inform your entire family of marketing materials—from web copy to advertising, from taglines to Tweets.
There's an old adage in marketing that goes something like this:
- Customers don't buy products, they buy results;
- They don't buy product features; they buy what the features promise to do for them; and
- They don't care how your product or service is better than that of your competitors’ product; they care how your product or service is better for them.
In other words, remember your clients' WII-FMs. It's a strategy that maps directly to your business goals—and to measurable market success.