What's In It For Me? 







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Mayur Gala

The 5 most important words for any marketer are "What's in it for me?" If you can answer this simple question from the perspective of your prospects and customers, you’ll be far ahead of your peers who attempt to create marketing. Your customers don’t buy from you because they are madly in love and can’t get enough of your restaurant’s Cole slaw, your dental office’s Novocaine, or your auto repair shop’s grease. Nope, believe it or not, most of your customers don’t give a hoot about your products or services, except for in those moments when they need your products or services to help them.

  • “I want to remember the summer picnics when the family was smiling and laughing as we all ate hamburgers and grandma’s special Cole slaw.”  Don’t sell food, sell happy memories;
  • “I want to get rid of this damn pain in my mouth.”  Don’t sell medicine, sell pain relief;
  • “I want to get my car running again so I don’t have to beg my friend to borrow his extra car just to get to work every day.”  Don’t sell car repair, sell freedom and self-sufficiency. 

If you aren’t helping your customers solve their problems and helping them to achieve clearly articulated benefits, you’re just talking to yourself with your marketing.  “Features tell but benefits sell.”

A Handy Shorthand to Identify Your Products’ Benefits.

Do you know how to communicate the benefits your products offer your prospects and customers?  May I offer you one very easy to remember tip?  Whenever you write out or verbally state a description of what you are offering, always end the sentence with “… which means.”

For example, if I were to offer you “Invest $2,500 per month in Gary’s Done-For-You Email Marketing Services where I will write one email per week and send it to your customer list which means you can spend more time with your wife and kids at home because you won’t have to struggle hour after hour to figure out what to write in your customer emails because I’ll do that for you.” 

While many business owners would be happy to merely check the box on the to-do list for “send weekly email marketing”,  a much more powerful reason to offer is the ability to spend more time with the family, to be a more involved spouse and parent.   

Other examples:

  • “Buy our green chile cheeseburger that’s made with Hatch green chiles and Southwest Cheddar Cheese made in Clovis, NM which means you’ll eat uniquely New Mexican burgers that use authentic New Mexican ingredients;
  • Schedule an appointment to take advantage of our New Patient Special which includes x-rays, a basic cleaning, all for the low price of $59 which means you can attract strangers to you with your beaming smile;

Emotional Benefits are the Strongest

Emotion is the trigger that gets somebody from being a shopper to becoming a buyer.  If you can articulate a benefit that triggers a desired emotion within the shopper, you’re going to be much more successful selling than somebody who only focuses on the functionality (what it does) of a product or service.

So when you’re answering “What’s in it for me?”, try to answer with a benefit that triggers an emotion.  Saving time and saving money are two of the most common benefits marketers use to sell their products.  They are also very real and very tangible benefits.  But you’ll need to go at least one level deeper with these two benefits in order to tap emotions.  My earlier example of the Done-For-You email marketing services WILL certainly save a busy business owner time, but it’s what the owner gets to do with the time that’s truly important. 

Yellow Fishes, a marketing agency in India articulates the best categories of benefits that truly trigger emotions in most shoppers: 

  • Recognition  – Recognition can be in the form of being identified as “special” or even superior as in Tesla S owners are prestigious – not every person can afford to pay for such a luxury car and quantities are so limited you must know somebody in order to get one; or it could be being considered a role-model or standard as in “Choosy mothers choose Jif” – a “good” mother would naturally want the best for her children;
  • Belonging  – Apple has created a “cult” following around its more popular and advanced products such as the iPod and the iPhone.  For many, owning one of these Apple products signaled to others that you were part of the “in” crowd.
  • Confidence – Red Bull immediately comes to mind for me when I think of brands that conjure confidence.  If Red Bull can give me wings, I can take on most any challenge;
  • Individualism – I think back to an old David Ogilvy campaign from the early 1950’s for Hathaway Shirts (which ironically were mass produced dress shirts) that advertised the Man in the Hathaway Shirt who struck an individualistic pose while wearing an eyepatch;  

Hathaway shirt ad

  • Nostalgia  – Jingles and music in advertising can evoke precious memories.  In 2016, Miller beer brought back a classic jingle it used in its advertising the 1970’s.   If you were a fan of the cable TV series, Mad Men, you may also recall a powerful scene when Don Draper pitched a new campaign to Kodak that was all about tapping into nostalgia with a product he called the Carousel

Next time you sit down to write or evaluate a description of your products or services, put yourself in the shoes of your prospects and customers and ask yourself “What’s in it for me?”  As the marketer, if you cannot come up with an answer that promises an emotional benefit, keep working at it or ask your copywriter to keep working at it. 

I've got a fever


How to create word of mouth for your local store marketing plan


After graduating from Stanford Business School and taking my very first marketing job at Del Monte Foods, I moved to San Francisco and was looking for a new dentist.  A co-worker suggested I visit Dr. Leon Feldbrill. “He’s kind of a rock and roll dentist,” she shared.  Not quite sure what that exactly meant, yet being a huge music fan, I scheduled an appointment to visit the good doctor.   As I point out in an earlier blog post, Dr. Feldbrill’s office looked and felt like a Hard Rock Café, and of course, he is a music fan which led to several interesting discussions about bands, venues and music (and parties – to this day I’m still amazed that when he first looked at my teeth and noticed a slightly chipped front tooth, he nonchalantly asked “Opening a beer bottle?”  And of course he was right!

That’s the power of word of mouth.  A dentist had created something so different than all the other me-too, boring-ass dentists in San Francisco that I gladly followed up with my co-worker’s suggestion.  To this day, a retired Dr. Feldbrill and I are Facebook friends.  


The key to word of mouth marketing is not in building the best website (or launching a mobile app for your business – enough with the mobile apps already!), it’s not in offering steep price discounts, it’s not in producing slick and fancy TV ads or putting up billboards near the busiest intersections or highways.  Nope, believe it or not, the key to successful word-of-mouth support is to do something that gets others TALKING ABOUT YOU.  You do something to get noticed.  You DO SOMETHING to be considered different.  Being average is boring.  Being boring is not getting noticed (except in a negative way).   Copying what your competitors do is playing it “safe” and accepting what it’s like to be average.  


It doesn’t take much to find ways to be above average.  

  • What if you offered free coffee or free wine to your customers? 
  • What if you offered free pizza, cooked by the neighborhood pizzeria that you bartered / partnered with? 
  • What if you showed your favorite movies in the waiting room and handed out free buttered popcorn and boxes of candy?
  • What if you had free pinball machines and classic video games (such as Pac-Man and Donkey King) in the lobby? 
  • What if you had a magician or stand-up comedian entertain those waiting in your lobby? 
  • What if you have an auto repair shop and you gave customers free movie tickets and a ride to the movie theater while the car was being worked on?
  • What if you are a fitness trainer who only trains white collar professionals (e.g., CPAs & attorneys) who are often chained to their desks many hours each day?

I find with many types of creative exercises, the more examples I see, the easier it is for me to identify examples that work for my situation.  Along those lines, I’d like to help you by sharing the following 10 best articles I’ve found on the internet about Word-of-Mouth marketing:

  1. How 22 Successful Companies Fought For Their First Customers
  2. Not Just A Crock: The Viral Word-Of-Mouth Success Of Instant Pot
  3. Facebook Adds New Tools to Amplify Word-of-Mouth Recommendations, Boost Response
  4. 25 Powerful Ways To Increase Your Word-of-mouth Marketing 
  5. Dance festival grows from 5,000 to 30,000 attendees with word-of-mouth marketing
  6. Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Building a Strategy That Really Works  
  7. 6 Creative (and Cost-Effective) Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategies
  8. 5 Steps to Create a Deliberate Word-of-Mouth Sales Referral Program
  9. How Lush Cosmetics uses word-of-mouth marketing 
  10. 10 Word-of-Mouth Marketing Tactics To Grow Your Business 


Focusing your business on a niche is another way you can establish a unique point-of-difference against your competition.  When you pick a niche, remember you are usually deciding to serve it at the expense of all other customer groups. 

a la the dentist for rock and roll music fans? 

Rock and roll dentist office

a la the auto collision repair shop for Lamborghinis Bentleys, Porsches, or Bugattis? 

Lamborghini Collision Repair

a la the restaurant that only serves breakfast and lunch?

Wecks Albuquerque - Breakfast and lunch restaurant

a la the clothing store for goth and other counter-culture teens?

Clothes for goths

a la the restaurant for video game fans

Restaurant for gamers


Most business owners are too close to their business to be objective or to identify creative ideas.  The truth is, however, that most of you actually do have ideas inside of you that could help with word-of-mouth in your business.  One simple way to bring those ideas out of your brain is to apply the “You know what would be cool?” test.  Think up some new ideas that make you say “That would be cool if I did…”  I suggest you come up with 3 to 5 new ideas then test 1 idea each week and see what your customers say about them.  After testing the new ideas, pick the one that works best to create word-of-mouth.

Just decide to be cool, to be noticed to be talked about.  Then and only then will you have the strongest foundation to build a local business that owns and that is a leader in your neighborhood.  THAT’S the essence of great Local store marketing.

Copywriter, blogger and author, Ashley Ambirge has some mighty fine ideas of how she would establish a local business as a candidate for word-of-mouth and why word-of-mouth can be considered an alternative to SEO


“Guerrilla marketing” is a term coined by Jay Conrad Levinson who wrote a book in 1984 titled Guerrilla Marketing.  In Mr. Levinson’s own words, the idea is:

achieving conventional goals, such as profits and joy, with unconventional methods, such as investing energy instead of money.

Guerrilla marketing is generally an alternative strategy to more traditional advertising forms such as print, radio, television and direct mail.  While it could be the foundation of your Local Store Marketing strategy, I prefer to use it as one of four pillars.  It’s also a way to get your business and brand known for being different, which is the foundational requirement of word-of-mouth marketing.  While I don’t believe most of the ideas in this article will create WOM, they do a fine job of pointing out how you can get creative without spending lots of money.

The examples in this article, however, show ways brands have created temporary word-of-mouth.  Temporary word of mouth is a good way to get your brand name known (such as in a launch or startup period) but is often unsustainable.  Think of it as similar to getting a newspaper article written about your brand.  It’s not going to drive new traffic into your store 3 or 6 months later but it will likely get you new tryers and buyers.    

What if you hired a marching band to perform outside (or inside) of your business?  After football games in Berkeley, and especially after a win, the Cal Marching Band is often seen playing and marching inside one of the most popular bars in town.  It usually brings such excitement to the patrons that drink orders (and sales) skyrocket.  Henry's Public Grill is a place that alumni talk about as the place to meet for game day spirit.

The following are a list of 10 guerrilla marketing ideas I’ve assembled from a wide variety of sources:

1. Picket your own business

Fake Protest

2.  Wrap a vehicle with your brand and logo

Vehicle Wrap

3. Conduct a blogger outreach campaign

Blogger outreach campaign

4. Create a peer-to-peer  online challenge (a la the Ice Bucket Challenge or the #nomakeupselfie campaign)

peer-to-peer online challenge

5. Showcase your product in an unexpected or surprising location

Product in unusual locations

6. Create humorous or surprising signage

Creative in-store signage

7. Produce 3-D chalk art of your product

3-D chalk art

8. Produce “sculpture-style” outdoor signage

Street sculptures

Creating a distinctive point-of-difference that prospects, customers and other business owners in your neighborhood is the foundation of an 80 / 20 Local Store Marketing strategy.  




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