What’s in It for Me?

I’ll never forget Joe Shy. He was a former Proctor & Gamble executive turned marketing consultant. I was 24 and a partner in an Atlanta software company.

Joe was flipping through our sales collateral, and he looked me right in the eye and said, “What’s in it for me?”

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

He said, “When people are looking at your sales material, or anything else you publish for that matter, they are subconsciously asking the question, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

Joe kept poking his forehead with the four fingers of his right hand when he asked the question, “What’s in it for me?”

He didn’t ask the question just once. He kept repeating it while he slammed the tips of his fingers into his head.

Each time with increased volume.

What’s in it for me?
What’s in it for me?
What’s in it for me?

That meeting happened over forty years ago. I still remember the round dining room table where we were sitting. It had a laminated wood top, chrome legs, and fake leather chairs. That was our conference table. Richard Brock and I were sitting there in our three-piece gray suits.

To this day, every time an entrepreneur shows me collateral materials, I’m reminded of Joe sitting there with his open-collared shirt barking this profound truth, “What’s in it for me?”