You know what’s in it for you, but what’s in it for me?

You might like curry, but what does your reader like? Make it clear that you're writing for them.

You might like curry, but what does your reader like? Make it clear that you’re writing for them.

How can you switch your mindset to think of your reader (or client or potential customer etc.) and what they need or want or would like? In a nutshell, it’s simple, just ask, What’s In It For Me? (WIIFM)

Of course, maybe what you’re doing doesn’t have much in it for me, maybe it’s just for you, maybe it’s just a nice story. That’s fine, too. But if you’d like people to read, share and maybe buy what you’re doing, it makes it easier if you think about from their perspective.

A funny thing tends to happen when we take this generous approach with our creations: When you make it about them, they’ll make it about you. — Jeff Goins, goinswriter.com

Jeff explains it simply but powerfully in a short post (Here’s a Simple Way to Get People to Care About What You Create).

Great idea! So how do I do it?

I think there’s a simple process you can go through to focus your content on how it might benefit your readers (customers etc.). I’ll put some real life examples below. I’m going to use writing and articles, but it could be used for products, services, etc .

  1. Your title: what do you get out of it?
  2. Audience: who are you writing to? Are there specific points or topics that would interest them? If you’re in a niche, target that specific group.
  3. Benefit: write out, even if it’s not directly in your title, the benefit for the reader. Keep it in mind.
  4. The WIIFM title: try out a few titles, run them by some friends or people who you might target.

I’ll take an easier example from my archives of an article that has a clear benefit, but could be improved. In the following example, I even say “we” whereas in a more direct message, it could be “you” or at least the implied you.

  • Original title: How We Stayed in an $8,400 Villa in the South of France for Free
  • WIIFM #1 title: Travel Like a Millionaire … Without a Million Dollars.
    • Audience: For a travel audience, maybe a travel blog or magazine. Die-hard travelers who are looking for an alternative to hotels. Probably not low-budget travelers, but mid-level or even high-end travelers.
    • Benefit: think out of the box: no hotels or even AirBnB, but even better: it’s completely zero dollars.
  • WIIFM #2 title: Own your home? Trade up to a mediterranean villa … for a weekend.
    • Audience: It doesn’t need to be a travel magazine, but even a lifestyle magazine or just an Oprah-like publication who wants to show something different.
    • Benefit: you leave your home empty only costing you your mortgage. Put your largest asset to work as an exchange.

Let’s take some less-obvious example where it’s just a post, a journal-style post about a day with my son. Although the title does have an implied benefit (about improving our memories), how could we make it even more directly appealing?

  • Original title: Can We Strengthen Our Memories?
  • WIIFM #1 title: You remember your weekend getaway with your son. Will you in a year? Will he in 20 years?
    • Audience: Parents who … forget what they did last week much less last year. Parents who feel guilty for not remembering things their kids do. Parents who would like to have more of a record of their experiences–especially with their kids.
    • Benefit: By writing it down, it’s deeper into your own memory and you can later on bring up certain examples–that you normally would have forgotten–to wow your son (and maybe your spouse!) by reminding them of that crazy weekend you had last year. Improve your marriage? Better long-term relationship with your kids?
  • WIIFM #2 title: Can’t remember what you did last weekend with your son? He can. Write it out to engrave the experience in your brain cells.
    • Audience: Parents who are concerned about losing their memory. Not even Alzheimer’s but even just anyone who feels like they can’t remember like they used to.
    • Benefit: writing will actually improve your memory. Could look into the actual brain cells that are created or modified that make this all truly happen.

You get the idea. As I write this, I realize the same tool could be used to even the subject line of an email to your boss, cousin (with whom you’ve been having trouble) or even spouse. How could you rework that title or subject towards a mindset of WIIFM? Do you have examples of where you’ve done this? I’d love to see them in the comments!