2017-09-14 / Columns

‘When Doing Business, Remember To Explain WIIFM’

Think Outside, No Box Needed: Advice for Growing Your Business
By Jim Plouffe

As old as I am, I still want everyone to like me, even though I know that is impossible. The emotional side of me has never come to grips with the reality that getting everyone I meet and know to like me is an impossible goal.

There is an old saying (credited to a lot of different people) that goes something like this: “I am not sure of where the road of success starts, but I am sure the road to failure starts with trying to please everyone.” Ricky Nelson sang in his last hit record, “Garden Party”: “You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.” Making yourself happy or pleasing yourself can be taken to the extreme. There is some balance involved to keep all of us from going to the extreme.

I always like it when a potential customer or client asks me for references. My response is always the same: Do you want my good ones, or do you want my bad ones? I have both positive and negative references. It is impossible to be in business without having some people think you are the worst individual they have ever done business with, or that you are the best person they have ever done business with. It would be nice if your best list of references were longer than your worsts. As much as we try to get everyone to like us, the task is impossible.

Some businesses exist because they serve a segment of the market that no one else wants. Several banks got their start by serving customers and a market that their competitors were afraid to serve or didn’t want to serve. Looking for or discovering these under-served markets can produce big opportunities for the right individual. All illegal markets are served this way. There has never been a shortage of people willing to profit by doing the wrong things. Even these people have good and bad references. It’s all a matter of who you’re hanging out with and what type of character you see yourself as.

We all act in our own self-interest, whether we want to admit it or not. It is natural to act that way. We all have our agenda in every interaction we have. We may not disclose it or expose it to those that we are interacting with, but our agenda is always leading us, hoping to get its way.

Personal agendas are the reason that the W.I.I.F.M. formula exists. W.I.I.F.M. sounds like the call sign of a radio station, doesn’t it? The W stands for What’s, the first I stands for In, and the second one stands for It. The F is for For, and the M stands for Me. W.I.I.F.M. — What’s in it for me. If you are ever going to convince another individual to do something, you are going to have to explain what’s in it for them.

The features of your products or service are just that, until you explain how that feature has a direct benefit to your customer, client, or patient. Or until you explain What’s In It For Them.

Figuring out why other people would want to be associated with you and be your friend is important to building your network of people who would want to help you succeed. Maybe that is why my goal is still to have everybody like me, even though I know in reality it is impossible to achieve.

Here is a little secret I have learned, however, about getting people to like you: Talk with them about them. Show an interest in them, and listen to what they tell you about themselves. If you do, you’ll make it much easier for the people you meet to like you than to dislike you. The late Zig Ziglar was known for saying, “People want to know how you care before they care what your product or service cost.”

Jim is a mission, management, and marketing expert. If you are unhappy with the status quo of your business, department, or personal achievement, call (906) 643-6643 or e-mail jim@ThinkOutsideNoBoxNeeded.co m. Jim is available for speeches and presentations to your company or organization and one-on-one executive coaching and business consulting.

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