What’s in It for Me?

by Dean Hybl

Remember the “.com” boom?  For nearly two years, if your company was a “.com” some venture capitalist would throw money at you regardless of whether you had a defined purpose, a business plan or an actual product.

Today, as we find ourselves in a major economic slowdown that makes us long for the mild tremor we experienced at the end of the “.com” period, it is becoming evident that the exact opposite is now true.  People are being so cautious and close-to-the-vest with time, energy and resources that whether you are asking someone to invest in a company, purchase a product, feature your business in the media or go to a website or blog, you better be able to quickly and succinctly illustrate the benefit for them.

In a new post to her blog: “Talk it Up,” Heidi Miller, who has created a successful business around illustrating for companies what is in it for them when it comes to social networking, recalls a recent encounter she had at a networking event.

A young woman approached her with a business card and told Heidi that she and her partner had created a website and were “trying to grow their audience.”  When Heidi tried to draw out more details, the woman played coy and without giving any hint about the purpose or content of the site said that they wanted their audience to create their own responses.

There may have been a time when it was fashionable to be mysterious and create an interest for a product or service without immediately telling people what the exact benefit would be for them, but that time is over.

Whether you are targeting the media or consumers, in today’s market it is all about ensuring that you accurately and quickly communicate the content or purpose of what you are promoting and why your audience should care.  According to Heidi, “You have to give me a reason not to throw your business card in the trash can on my way out the door.  Give me something, some motivation to check it out later.  Tell me what’s in it for me.”

When working with clients on message development, we always ask four simple questions:  Who do you want to communicate with?  What do they know about you?  What do you want them to know?  What do you want them to do?

With competition increasing and resources decreasing, it is now more important than ever to make sure that you target your messages to the appropriate audience and clearly illustrate to them “what’s in it for me.”

It may sound simple and basic, but as Heidi reminds us, it is a lesson worth remembering and likely one that will help make the difference between success or failure.

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