“WIIFM”: How to Drive Decision-Makers to Your Next Event

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

A busy decision-maker (we’ll call her “Shannon”), she’s pulled in a lot of directions. Her team demands her, her family needs her, and her own self just wants time alone. So where’s the time for you and your request for her to attend your upcoming event?

Let’s imagine you call her today, out of the blue, to invite her.

“Shannon, so great to talk to you. We’d love for you to join us for our (fill-in-the-blank… happy hour, lunch ‘n learn, ballgame) on Tuesday, August 28th. We’ll send you an e-mail invitation with more details.”

Shannon cordially replies, “Okay. Let me think about it,” and ends the conversation.

Now, this could end well and she accept your invitation. But as you know, far too many invitations are declined. We can’t help but wonder why.


Well, we’ve done the research as part of our NextLevelFan product development and believe this is the issue: The “What’s In It For Me” (AKA “WIFFM”) Test.

Since we’re all naturally “in it for ourselves,” I’ll assume there’s no argument here. However, not all of us relate to the Shannon persona and therefore don’t realize how she logically and emotionally evaluates her event invitations.

So how do we convince our “Shannon” to attend our event? We find the answer by breaking down the “WIIFM” question itself.



The word demands specificity. Shannon wants specific details about the event.

An average host sticks with the average invitation script: date/time, location and general description.

A great host incorporates imagery (photos, video), brief testimonials, social proof and guest and real-time insights that make Shannon realize this is not just an event; it’s an experience.

When creating your next event, consider the various types of content listed above. Determine how you can marble them into your invitation or talking points in order to paint the right picture for Shannon, before she paints the wrong one on her own.


“…In It…”

When someone gives us a gift-wrapped box, we first ask ourselves “ooh, what’s inside.” And whether we guess right or not, that box is getting unwrapped. Why? Because it costs us nothing to see what’s inside.

Different from a gift, when you offer Shannon to attend your event, there’s a literal or figurative cost associated. She’s weighing her business policies, her professional goals, her family responsibilities and more. The last thing you should do is treat it like a gift and make her guess what’s inside.

Show her what it’s like to be your guest.

Let her see high-quality pictures of the food, the venue, the content, or the VIP experience before making her decision. Let her see she has autonomy to choose something about her experience, whether it’s where she sits, what she eats, who she meets, what she learns, etc. Let her know how you’ll handle logistics and ensure her walk-up and walk-out experiences are seamless.

Instead of letting her play the guessing game, give her a preview of what’s to come.


“…For Me?”

Our own personal needs are impossible to avoid. In fact, I recommend you don’t.

For Shannon, it’s important to remember she’s been burned by past events that didn’t produce the “wow” she anticipated. You’re competing with that cynicism or more if she’s experienced it at one of your previous events.

Fear not, though. You’re better now having read this post.

It’s time to differentiate yourself by catering to her business acumen and estimating her own personal ROI.

Help her determine a ROI by creating a business or professional case for the experience. If it’s a sporting event, create some time, pre-event or post-event, where she can learn more about your upcoming product release or provide market feedback to improve your offering to her. If she knows guests with similar titles or interests will be in attendance, she may justify attending to learn from others in her field. You may ask her to “show-off” her expertise with your product to a prospective customer.

When she realizes your experience will deliver outcomes she cannot easily acquire elsewhere, you dramatically increase your likelihood of her not only accepting but attending.



The allure of an event for a decision-maker like Shannon comes down to how thoughtful you are about your own experience. If your event marketing strategy lacks clear direction, try reading this post and applying it to your specific use case.

Shannon will be impressed when you put yourself in her shoes.

Written by Brian Barker

Spent 12+ years running hundreds of B2B events before attempting to save the world as an elementary teacher. When I realized how awesome our teachers are (and that I wasn't cut-out for it), I pivoted to B2B event tech.

My wife rocks! My kids are awesome! I'm just playing catch-up...

View my LinkedIn