Use the WIIFM test to say things more simply

wiifm test

By Chris Gillespie, Co-Founder, Find A Way Media

In writing, less is more

"Omit needless words" - Strunk & White

If you want to make more sales, write for others. More often than not, however, when we begin writing for others, we really end up writing for ourselves. 

This is why once you do commit something to your blog, on a flyer, or in an email, you should subject it to the WIIFM test. That’s “What’s In It For Me?” This is the question that's going through your reader’s mind when they read anything that you write.

"What do I stand to gain from this?" they wonder.

If you do indeed have something to offer, you have to come right out and say it, or you risk losing their attention immediately. 

Most companies don’t do this and it's because learning to write with your audience’s desires in mind is a hard-won skill that takes practice. A few years in a sales role will do it for you, as might some time spent in marketing or advertising. 

Mostly, all of us just default to writing about ourselves. It’s why we so often hear and read inexcusable lines like:

  • Hey I was just calling because I wanted to …

  • I was hoping I could have a minute of your time …

  • We’ve been in business for over 40 years …

  • Our products are vastly superior …

When we read or hear those, all we can see is “me me me.” No WIIFM.

The fix is a simple one: just remove the "I"

When you stop and review your writing, take out the “I.” Take out the “Me” and the “We” and “Our."

Replace them with “You” and re-write your piece until it all makes sense. Do this and you'll notice two things: First, your writing will get much more compelling. Second, it will get much much shorter. The WIIFM test will force you to re-evaluate your assumptions about how cool your service or technology is  - you’ll have to shed your veneration for the story of how you made it and you’ll have cut it down to nothing more than how it benefits your audience.

You’ll learn to turn flabby phrases like:

Our software has the most advanced security features on the market which make it practically unassailable. We’ve spent the last seven years perfecting it, and have used revolutionary proprietary encryption to block millions of DDOS attacks."


Rest easy knowing advanced security software has your back.

Because the truth is, nobody cares about your technology. Nobody cares about your proprietary encryption. And nobody cares that it took you seven years to develop it. If they care, they’ll ask. All you can be sure that they care about when you’re writing to them is how you’ll make them feel safer, and that’s what you have to lead with.

That’s how you’ll spark an ah-ha moment where they think, “Oh, that’s what’s in it for me!" And that’s where sales are made.