A Copywriting Shortcut: “WIIFM?”

By Alexis Rodrigo | Copywriting

Sep 24

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Back in my UNICEF days, I learned an important copywriting tip–but didn't know it then.

Anytime I was writing anything, my supervisor told me to always explicitly answer the reader's question, “What's in it for me?”

I learned to do this whether I was writing a letter inviting a celebrity to attend a high-profile event… or an advocacy kit to motivate legislators to support a bill for children… or a poster encouraging mothers to bring their child to the health center for immunization… or a direct mail letter asking a hard-working professional to give UNICEF money every month.

This was particularly difficult because we weren't selling a product or service. Our promises could sometimes be very abstract. But forcing myself to always answer WIIFM in every thing I wrote, helped me develop the discipline to find and express the value in what I was offering. It could be something as ephemeral as “good will,” or “easing your guilt,” or “feeling like a good citizen.”

It's also a good exercise, because you learn more about what motivates people. You'll be surprised; it isn't always money or fame. Earning the admiration of others is a strong motivator. As is leaving a legacy of hope for the impoverished.

How To Use WIIFM

Even if you know nothing else about copywriting, doing this single thing will instantly make you a more persuasive and compelling writer.

Do it for your opt-in form: Why should your site visitor sign up for your free report or newsletter? What's In It For Him?

Do it in your blog post: Why should your blog reader post a comment? What's In It For Her?

Do it in your sales letter: Why should your prospect click on the buy button? What's In It For Her?

Do it in your email: Why should your subscriber click on the link? What's In It For Him?

Anytime you're creating content and asking another person to do something– in whatever form, whether written, audio, video or in person–always let them know what's in it for them to do as you say. And why should they even read, listen or watch what you have in the first place?

This is a nifty shortcut for making your content benefit-oriented. Sometimes people get stuck when thinking of the “benefits” of their product or service.

To make it much easier, simply imagine your reader asking you:

“Oh yeah? Why should I do that? What's in it for me?”

Answer that question and you're well on your way to writing more persuasively.

Please Tell Me

Is this something new for you? If not, how have you been using it? If it is, how will it help you now?

Please share in the comments below. Your inputs will help all of us become better communicators.

Creative Commons License photo credit: sergis blog


About the Author

Lexi Rodrigo is a communication and marketing professional for multimillion-dollar businesses, co-author of Blog Post Ideas: 21 Proven Ways to Create Compelling Content and Kiss Writer's Block Goodbye, and host of "Marketing Insights LIVE!." Connect with Lexi on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

  • Mike Korner says:

    This isn’t a new concept for me but I like how you gave examples. So many people just tell people to be sure to stress “what’s in it for me”. I think your examples really help illustrate the message. Thanks!

  • Yazz says:

    Thanks, Alexis, this concept is new to me. I think I knew about it but your presentation of how to address it, is very helpful. I will keep this in mind from now on.

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