What’s in it for me?


It’s a question a lot – if not all – of us ask, whenever we stumble upon something in life, or when someone pitches us something, with the idea of selling it to us.

It’s really quite natural for such a question to pop up in our heads.  Self-preservation and self-advancement are two of the foremost traits that have allowed the human race to evolve from its most primitive beginnings, to the most dominant species on this planet.

But this is not an anthropology paper, or anything remotely associated with the study of evolution or life-forms.  Rather, this is a quick discourse on how the question of “What’s in it for me?” continues to impact on human beings, in general, and on the advertising and marketing industry, in particular.


So, what’s in it for the other person or party?

Obviously, the people you interact with – or are trying to pitch your ideas to – have the same question in mind as you do.  “What’s in it for me?” is a key component in communication, and if you want to `sell’ (in every interpretable sense of the word) an idea, concept or thought to someone, you can’t just stay in your own head and life.

The key to successful communication here is simple: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and explain to him or her, “what’s in it for you”.  You will almost definitely have his or her full attention, then.

But how do you go about pitching ideas, selling concepts and convincing other people?

Here’s a quick yet direct formula that anyone can employ.


The 4 U’s


Seriously, just how useful is your idea, product or service to the person you’re targeting your pitch at?  The most basic of needs must be addressed here: Why would I even need this stuff, in the first place?

There’s really not much use – pun intended – in pushing an idea or indeed, anything, which does not influence or improve the targeted party’s quality of life, or meet his or her objectives, be it directly or indirectly.  We’re talking about simple, good old-fashioned practicality here, folks!


All right; so you’ve a useful, value-adding idea, product or service.  Now, just how interesting or different is your idea, product or service, compared to other similar or even identical stuff that already exist?

In short, what’s so special or unique about your idea, product or service, that the people you’re trying to sell it to should opt for yours, over others’?


If you can sell `Useful’ and `Unique’ to your targeted audience, you’re halfway through!  Now, you need to convince your audience, why they need your idea, product or service, there and then.

After all, there’s really no point in being able to convince people that you’ve a superior idea or product, if they linger, contemplate and cogitate over your pitch endlessly, without showing any real interest or commitment, is there?

Put simply, how long can any person or organization wait to sell its ideas, products or services, before they go bankrupt?


This is where you need to be super, duper specific on how your idea, concept etc. will benefit your targeted audience.  Would it make them look better?  Would it make them happier?  Would it save them more money?  Would it appeal to their inner geek etc.?

As you can see, it’s really a question of narrowing the process down, right to its very trimmings.

It takes two to tango

The late Stephen Covey (1932 – 2012), who authored the classic bestseller “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, said it all: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

There’s really not much of a point in having a great, life-changing product, concept or idea, if nobody wants it!  And this is why there is no substitute for humble, old-fashioned two-way communication.

At the end of the day, human beings are touchy-feely, audio-visual, emotion-driven creatures.  Our evolution has made us what we are today.  And if you can appeal to the variables and factors that drive human decision-making, you know you’ve nabbed that deal.