“What’s in it for me?” The most important question.

The three questions a prospective client is thinking (if not asking) are: Who are you? What do you want? What’s in it for me? The last one’s the kicker.

Audiences of any kind – whether they’re customers, employees, volunteers or donors – don’t have time for anything else, especially today with so much “information” coming at them.

You have to convince them quickly that your product, service or idea is useful to them in some significant way, or you can forget about holding their attention. It’s as simple as that. (You’re a consumer, so think about how you feel!)

Unfortunately, many marketers, writers and other communication professionals haven’t gotten the memo. They only view the potential transaction from their own, one-sided perspective. They think it’s all about the product. But that doesn’t work anymore.

Let’s say you’re the CEO of a mid-sized business who wants all employees to begin using a new data management software program that is easy to use and improves efficiency. But we all know change is difficult for people, especially new technology. You’d like to encourage your staff to adopt the new software as soon as possible, but you also don’t want to command them like you’re Atilla the Hun. So you may draft an email like this:

The new “Data-Fab software is now ready for use. We would like everyone in the organization to transition from our existing software to Data-Fab by July 15. To help you, we have an online training module. Please take the training and start using the software as soon as possible. If you have any questions, call HR.

A typical email, for sure, but good luck persuading your employees to make the change. You haven’t given them one good reason to use the new program, so you’re likely to get some resistance. “I’m not doing this… I don’t have time to do the work I already have.” Or, “What!? I’m still getting used to a program we have.” Or, “Really? The old system is good enough.”

But if you identify what’s in it for them, you might at least convince people to take a look and give it a try. Or, even better, they actually may be enthusiastic about the benefits of the new system.

Here’s how the introductory email could look:

I understand how busy you are every day. To help you save time and streamline your data management work, the new Data-Fab software is ready for use. Based on national surveys, this program is much easier to master than the existing system because many of the boring keyboard steps are now automated, so you can get the data work done faster and out of the way.


An online training module is now available, and we encourage you to make the transition by July 15th. We’re confident you’ll be pleased about the time you’ll save and the improvement in your productivity. Feel free to call HR with any questions.

To be persuasive, remember, it’s not about you or even your product. It’s about your audience and what they need or want. First and foremost.

Let’s talk about your writing project!

Don Heymann

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