What’s In It For All Of Us?

Posted on 16 March 2011

You’ve probably heard the famous question, “What’s in it for me?” – many marketing authors and consultants (including me) advise you to consider that question when devising your marketing messages, because your clients are asking it, consciously or unconsciously. It’s the filter people use to decide what’s relevant to them, and to make sense of the barrage of marketing messages coming at them all day.

That’s why marketing people always recommend that, in your marketing messages, you focus on the results and benefits that customers will get from using your product or service, rather than on the features of your product or service (i.e., the shape, colour, size, price, components, process…).

However, I’ve often heard people say they feel uncomfortable about that “What’s in it for me?” question, because it seems to suggest that we’re all driven only by selfish motives. They don’t like to think that their customers are asking that question, and they don’t want to be perceived as asking it themselves.

Here’s a way to reframe it. I think the “What’s in it for me?” question is actually shorthand for “What’s in it for me and the people and organisations and causes I care about?” And that could embrace the whole planet. Doesn’t that feel better?


The Lesson: When your prospective customers are deciding whether or not to buy your product or service, they’re weighing up the costs and benefits not just to themselves, but also to the people and organisations and causes they care about.

Action Steps: When you’re writing your marketing messages, appeal not just to your customers’ obvious, perhaps selfish, wants and needs. Appeal to their more philanthropic concerns too, and show how your product or service will benefit their wider community.

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