Learn how to increase your annual grant income by applying one of the most useful marketing acronyms

WIIFM “What’s in it for me?”

I first heard this acronym when I bought 33 Days to Online Profits by Yanik Silver and Jim Edwards (2000). It establishes the premise from which all marketing efforts must start; and that’s “what’s in it for me”; the “me” in question, being the person from whom you are trying to get something.

Of course, for marketers, the “something” is money and ongoing business relationships… Wow, wait a minute, that’s what the writers are trying to get too!

My boss asked if I would facilitate a meeting between her and the county corrections center social worker who wanted to apply for funding to start a prison re-entry program. My goal was to go through the federal grant application paragraph by paragraph, explaining the rules, regulations, and requirements, as well as suggesting programs, potential partnerships, and delivery methods.

In preparation for this meeting, I called the resource person listed on the grant at least twice to clarify certain points, and downloaded several reports and documents showing the results of similar programs across the United States. Why am I telling you all this? Because the meeting took two hours of my time, and at the end, the social worker said these words: “I don’t think the county is willing to commit to the cash contribution that the grant requires.”

My first thought was “WTF, if that’s what you think, then why have I been here for the last two hours giving you some of my best ideas?” But that’s not what I said; instead, I explained the principle of WIIFM to him. I asked him questions like:

“How much money will the county save on liability insurance if it implements the program you’re trying to fund?”
“How much money will the county make if it receives these funds?
“How many jobs will the county save by implementing this program with outside funding?
“How much money will the county save by being able to shift the cost of inmate expenses to an ancillary funding fund, or cut some of the expenses altogether?”

The WIIFM Principle should be the foundation from which you build your program idea, develop your grant application, and solicit the necessary support to get the funding you want. You always need to know what’s in it for the other person. It would probably be helpful to make a list of what’s in it for the other person so you don’t have to stumble over the answer or think about it, causing gaps in your presentation. You must be so familiar with your list of potential benefits on your behalf; the benefits should come out of your mouth. Ideally, your list should be recited slowly enough that they grasp at least 75% of the benefit for themselves right away, and remember the remaining 25% when they have a chance to reconsider their request. You must recite it quickly enough to show that you have given your interests a lot of thought. With practice, you may even begin to sound as if you consider your interest first, and yours secondary.

How does that sound? More or less so:

“As you know, the federal, state and local governments are experiencing an economic crisis. We (include yourself in your problem and share your burden) are in the process of weighing the prospects for furloughs versus layoffs, which I imagine must be stressful.” for you (the governing body, the town hall, the board of owners, etc.)

I’m here today to introduce you to a funding opportunity that will help the County:

– Eliminate some of the expenses incurred by having to provide liability insurance; for our department alone that figure is $_____. If we can successfully acquire this financing, that will eliminate $___ and bring your cost down to $___.

– By applying for and subsequently receiving this grant, the county may increase its overall operating capital by $___ even though there is a cash match requirement, since the cash match only applies to quarterly expenses, the county does not have the burden of the obligation to spend money “up front”, but you only have to pay your share of the expenses as they are incurred.

– This funding has the potential to offset the cost of ___ existing jobs, in the amount of $___

– Because we’ve already been doing most of this on our own, so to speak, we have programs, people, and partnerships that make it easy to use funds to offset existing costs, while hiring minimal additional staff. meaning that this funding will offset payroll expenses, operating costs, and may pay a portion of the salaries of existing employees whose time (a portion) will now be dedicated to this new program.

Closing sentence:

“Right now, it costs the county $75.00 per day (hypothetical) to house and provide services to its inmate population. With the receipt of this grant and the start of the program I described here today, it will cost the county only $50. dollars per day to house and provide services – that’s a savings of *$35,000 per week, $140,000 per month and $1,680,000 per year! By now, everyone at the table will be thinking what they can do with the extra million – no county!) do with an extra million dollars a year!”
(*calculated on a population of 200)

Here are the questions Yanik Silver and Jim Edwards say you should be asking yourself on behalf of your client, consumer, client, or funder:

And that?
Who cares?
What’s in there for me?
Why do you bother me?
If you have good answers to these 4 critical questions, then you are well on your way to success. (2000)

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