One of the things I talk about in my most recent book, Make It Meaningful, is the importance of communicating the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). I do think it’s important, but in recent work I’ve found an interesting alternative. I’m not sure I completely have my mind around how to address it, so as I’m wont to do, here’s some ‘thinking out loud’ about What’s In It For Them (WIIFT).
To start, WIIFM is about connecting learners to a visceral understanding of the reason for the learning experience. There should be a clear value proposition, to them. It can be either having to do with either the consequences of having the resulting skill, or not. The point is that they ‘get’ that they need this (then there’s more). I believe that learners will invest in learning if they understand why.
However, in this instance, we have audiences who may or may not be interested. This is a suite of offerings, different for different potential clients. What we want here is for them to quickly determine whether there’s WIIFM. We don’t think everyone will be appropriate for every thing we’re providing. Importantly, we don’t want them to waste time on ones that aren’t relevant. So we very quickly want to establish what’s in it for the appropriate audience.
There are a number of ways to send signals. For one, the filename and the title of the resource can (and should) be clear what this particular thing about. Then, there should be a brief description of why this particular thing exists. Then, there can be a brief introduction saying what is going on. Obviously, all should align, so that folks can get in with the minimal effort to get there.
This, to me, suggests that the intro either explicitly making it clear who we think is the audience, or provides an initial statement of what the outcomes are so that individuals can self-select. I’m not sure yet which I think is better, or even whether it’s useful to do both. There’s a tradeoff, of course; brevity is useful, and so is clarity. I suppose we can always make our best guess in the instance. For sure we’ll test it.
So, I’ve been led to wonder how to communicate What’s In It For Them so that they know whether they’re ‘them’ or not! There are also probably converging influences. I reckon marketing has this issue, as does documentation? What have seen/done/found out? I welcome your input.