If there is only one thing you remember about buyer behaviour, and what makes people buy, it’s this; the most important person in anyone’s life is themselves. Whether we like to admit it or not, all of us spend most of our time thinking about ourselves and how life, work, relationships and the world around us affect us as an individual.

With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that one of the most basic rules for creating engaging marketing communications is to write in a style that makes the reader feel as though they are your only prospect or customer, and you are writing specifically to them. This is relevant whether you are producing an ad, writing a sales letter, creating web content, or doing a presentation.

I can remember many years ago when I was a struggling young sales consultant, my sales manager said to me, ‘There’s one thing you need to know about selling’. He then scrawled several large letters on a piece of paper – WII.FM – and shoved it under my nose. Banging his finger repeatedly on the paper he said, ‘Everyone only listens to one radio station you know. WII.FM’. I thought that was big statement considering I listen to at least four, and I was sure there were plenty of people like me. Still not getting what he was trying to say I naively said, ‘Never heard of it’. He looked at me for moment, then started banging on the paper again ‘What’s – In – It – For – Me. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or what you have to say, they want to know what’s in it for them. Don’t waste their time, or yours. Tell em what’s in it for them and they will buy from you every time. Don’t forget it!’. I haven’t. In fact it was one of the most valuable marketing lessons I ever learned.

Many businesses think that the role of marketing is to tell the world everything about their organisation, which generally results in communications that are full of self-congratulatory waffle that appeals to the chairman and CEO, and pretty much no-one else.

Prospects and customers want to know WIIFM – in other words, ‘Tell me how your product or service can add value to my life or business’.

For the consumer, adding value can mean feeling younger, healthier, wealthier, happier, fulfilled, successful, relevant and valued, in fact anything that provides them with the things in life that are important to them.

For a business, adding value is generally focused on achieving strategic goals such as boosting growth, increased profitability, improved efficiency and productivity, competitive advantage, industry and market recognition, and anything that contributes to ongoing success.

Businesses that are able to engage their target market with content that identifies with their needs and desires, offer an appealing solution, and illustrate how they are capable of delivering that solution, will win new customers and keep the ones they have.

Marketing is about telling the world about your business, but in a way that will appeal to your market through their eyes.