WIIFM stands for “What’s in It for Me.” I hear this term used in business meetings often enough to make me question my chosen profession.
Of late, I’ve been thinking about the bad art of stupid acronyms like WIIFM. WIIFM stands for “What’s in It for Me.” I hear this term often enough to make me question my chosen profession. (Try saying it – “whiff-em.” Did you sigh after you said it? Yeah. Me too.)
Stupid acronyms fit into the same category for me as marketing speak. In my industry, we strive to complete deliverables that do more with less, always assessing whether or not we have the bandwidth to craft KPI-based solutions that empower brands to inspire their designated target audience.
To be above board here, I’m fluent in marketing speak. I may want to down a beer every time I’m in a marketing meeting, but when in France I speak French. I’m highly adaptable that way.
But I digress. God help us both, we were talking about WIIFM. Don’t you fret — I’m back on track.
Corporate Newsletters Are Dead — Here’s Why
Back to WIIFM (or WIIFY, which sound a little bit like a racy Judy Blume novel). Recently, an enterprise organization tried to hire me to lead their team’s WIIFM marketing efforts. In particular, they wanted me to train their team to write twice-weekly newsletters focused on — wait for it — the company.
Stupid acronyms aside, WIIFM and company newsletters don’t go together. That’s because company-centric newsletters are dead. I wrote my first corporate newsletter in the late 90s, and for some companies the model that worked 20 years must surely also work now.
Spam aside, we all get loads of email, as it’s near impossible to get off anyone’s mailing list. (Opting out of emails sometimes feels like a part-time job. I’ve been trying to opt out of Athleta emails for 2 years now, and my inbox is still filled with their promotions. On a completely unrelated note, I need to buy some more workout pants.)
More to the point, people don’t have time to read (and have zero interest in reading) a patchwork quilt of news blurbs about the company. We did this! We did that! We did the other! It all feels strangely similar to a weekly church bulletin or those weird inserts in the Tuesday ad stash that lands in your mailbox.
WIIFM – The Process of Pulling Apart the Quilt
Many companies (and marketing agencies!) still insist on creating the weekly or monthly newsletter quilt (sections focused on who we hired, what we’ve done, and tidbits about why we are so, so, SO amazing!). Case in point: two marketing agencies added me to their mailing list without checking with me first (thanks, guys!) and sent newsletters with subject lines like “We’ve got big news!” and “Check out our new site!” Like you, I have 1,482,567 things to do a day. Opening these emails became items 1,482,568 and 1,482,569.
When I see the squares that make up these newsletter quilts, I see possibilities. First thing I want to do is pull the quilts apart and piece them back together in a different way. I want to change up the story. “Here’s the latest mind-blowing thing the wunderkinds on our team did” becomes “Look how [our client] hit [pain point] head on and achieved [this mind-blowing goal]. Kudos to [our client] — together, we’re moving mountains!”
When I see company-centric content, I want to flip it and instead create:
- High-value, educational stories that become the basis for search engine optimized blog posts.
- Articles published on the company’s site, emailed to prospects, and cross-posted on other sites or online journals.
- Case studies that enable the target audience to see their wants and needs reflected back at them — as well as possible viable solutions.
- E-Books that engage the audience, teach a thing or two, and reinforce credibility.
Company-centric newsletters are dead, but when you pull apart the newsletter quilt you just might get a world of micro-content that, when structured with intention, packs a macro-punch. Help your audience see WIIFM. If you don’t, consider them gone. As in, see ya. (Unless you’re trying to wave goodbye to Athleta. Good luck with that.)
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