Thursday, February 23, 2017

WIIFM: An acronym people forget when writing for customers: Answer "What's In It For Me?"

There's a problem I often see when I check out corporate social media pages. The content is often about them.

It's what they want you to know about the company.

And it's important to include that kind of messaging in your social media content.

But often there are two things missing.

  1. Actual interaction with customers, influencers and others.
  1. Content that addresses the real issues of what customers need.
Interactions on social media -- except by customer service teams like at cable/phone companies, airlines, banks and other companies people complain about -- can be hard to justify to a higher up in marketing. That's because it entails someone going out a listening, finding conversations in which the company can add value (without being too intrusive). Basically it looks like you're paying for someone to play on social media, and that's difficult to place an ROI on that kind of work. So I understand the challenge both for the supervisor/client, who has to pay for it, as well as the pressure on the person trying to generate conversation and awareness that can somehow pay off or justify the time spent searching for potential interactions.

As for content that addresses what customers want, that can be difficult for organizations that don't have a real handle on their customers. This is especially challenging for startups that are trying to serve every category rather than focus one a customer type and then build/expand into other areas. (Look, when you're a startup, sometimes you're looking for any paying customer, regardless of your original strategy. We saw one client that was focused on healthcare pivot to the extent to redesign their software for an insurance client -- and not a life or health insurer but a casualty insurer.)

No matter the reason, when developing content, especially for social media, companies need to make sure the content answers WIIFM -- "What's In It For Me?"
We're all busier and more distracted than ever so WIIFM is a key question to ask when developing and posting content.

For those who are trying to generate more compelling content, ask yourselves, "Why should my customer spend time reading my content? How does my content help them do their job, live their lives?

In fact, for this post, I've been trying to keep in mind the person who needs to have more compelling content but doesn't know what to do. They're not always asking WIIFM. But they are asking how they can be more effective in their job.

And keeping WIIFM in mind from your customers' perspective can improve your game.
By the way, WIIFM isn't always obvious. Check out this Inc. article that provides some additional insight into what customers want: "Top CEOs Reveal Their Secrets for Finding New Customers." It's a short read but the one I found most interesting was the one from Ari Brandt.

I hope this has answered WIIFY.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Wall St. Journal Validates Our Gig Economy Prediction With Articles That Explore The Changing Nature of Employment

For the last couple of years, we've been seeing the gig economy as a trend of increasing significance, as the population of workers who either work side jobs or businesses (known as "side hustle") or hold a series of part-time jobs continues to grow.

This year, with a new Administration that promises to bring back jobs to America, it may become more politicized. Our perspective is not political but merely recognizing a seismic shift in how American work, since many seem to prefer being in the gig economy (made possible by technology) rather than work traditional jobs.

In Dec. 2016, when we issued our list of top trends for 2017, TrendReport 2017, we went a step beyond just saying that the gig economy would be important. We also said, 
"We need to more accurately define the gig and the sharing economies (i.e., Uber, which touches on both; as well as Airbnb) and to identify and track meaningful metrics, both to gain an accurate portrait of overall U.S. economy as well as develop appropriate policies regarding taxes, healthcare and social services."
Today, in a article, the Wall St. Journal noted: "Counting Up Contractors Is a Tricky Business Government agencies and employers have difficulty tracking the numbers because many contractors are hired by one company to work for another."

A follow-up article, that the Journal felt important enough to place on its front page, was entitled, "The End of Employees," and noted that "Never before have big employers tried so hard to hand over chunks of their business to contractors. From Google to Wal-Mart, the strategy prunes costs for firms and job security for millions of workers." Interestingly, the article did not refer to the "gig economy" at all but did refer to "TVCs—an abbreviation for temps, vendors and contractors (who) test drive Google’s self-driving cars, review legal documents, make products easier and better to use, manage marketing and data projects, and do many other jobs. They wear red badges at work, while regular Alphabet employees wear white ones."

These are two of the first articles we've seen that discussed the point we think is crucial in terms of understanding how the gig economy works, what it's impact is -- whether you're in a traditional job or a gigs -- and how to structure our tax policy and health and other benefits.

Check out the WSJ articles because we do think understanding the nature of the gig economy is important for our country's future, regardless of one's politics.