Writing Ad Copy – WIIF*T*!!

Okay – this headline is not intended to be an expletive. But, after recent experiences with a group of students in a senior-level, project-based, PR campaign class, I’m thinking that maybe the old copywriter’s acronym of WIIFM (“What’s in it for me”?) may be somewhat misleading and result in a lack of focus on the end user – THEM! The better acronym may be WIIFT- “What’s in it for *them*!”) I have been so indoctrinated into “selling” to people since my early childhood that I think I may take certain things for granted – one of which is that, if I want to “sell” or “persuade” somebody about anything – whether it’s buying a product, giving me a job, going to eat where *I* want to go eat, etc., I need to think about WIIFT – “What’s in it for *them*?” And, I need to…

1) Think about – and *really* understand my target audience. Who am I trying to influence? What do I know about them? The more the better! What are their needs? Their fears? Their hopes? Their insecurities? How does what you have to offer meet their needs? Assuage their fears? Further their hopes? Calm their insecurities? The answers to these questions give you some insight into “key messages” that I could include in any appeal – whether email, blog, news release, ad, etc.

2) Given what I know about my target audience, understand what their “alternatives” are to what I have to offer. These are my competitors – direct and indirect. If they don’t choose what I have to offer, what alternatives do they have? What do they value about these alternatives? Knowing this gives me some insight into what “key messages” I could include in my appeals. What’s different – better! – that I have to offer than their other alternatives.

3) Again, given what I know about my audience what tools/tactics might be most effective in reaching them with my carefully crafted messages? While social media is very “hot” right now, and may be very appropriate with certain audiences, it is not appropriate for all audiences. I need to think about *my* audience – where they go, what they do, what they read, what their hobbies are, etc. The answers to these questions will help me determine how best to reach them with my messages. The more related to what they’re doing, the more likely they are to be “in the mood” to hear my message. For example: what better place to deliver a message about “incontinence therapy” than on the inside of a bathroom door, or behind a urinal?

Bottom line: If I can do a good job addressing WIIF*T* I’m much more likely to be able to achieve WIIFM!


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