• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

I’m feeling magnanimous today, so I’m going to give a free word of advice to fledgling information peddlers and fund raisers. Okay, so it’s not actually a word -- it’s an acronym, and one that everyone should know already, but if my email inbox is any indication, this basic tenet of sales has somehow eluded a surprising number of people. The acronym? WIIFM – pronounced wif-em, standing for What’s In It For Me.

If you want to achieve something and you need someone’s help in order to achieve it, figure out a way in which the other person can benefit from helping you before you ask for their help. Let me give you two examples of what NOT to do: Dear Ms. Smith, I would love it if you donated $100 to my organization; Dear Ms. Smith, It would be great if you’d mention my company on the radio or television.

When Ms. Smith receives a message like this, I can guarantee you the first thought that goes through her mind is What’s in it for me? If that question is not answered in the first few sentences, assume your email will be considered briefly for a WIIFM answer, and if one is not to be found, it will then be deleted.

It doesn’t matter how worthy, interesting, or popular your venture is, when I receive a message from someone I hardly know that begins with “I’d love it,” or “It would be great,” I roll my eyes and flag the message to read later because I’m so annoyed with the sender’s naïveté that I need to take a step back. I’ll read a few other messages, and then return when I’m calm so that I can consider the information that follows such an unsavvy intro.

The reason I react that way – annoyed and offended -- is because all I can think is, duh. Of course you’d love it if I gave you money. You know what? I’d love it if you cleaned my toilet. When in the next week are you willing to commit to cleaning my toilet for me? And it would be great if you’d give me a ride downtown so I don’t have to find a parking spot. Why? Because I asked and I would love it if you said yes. Isn’t that enough for you?

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader


I Am Stardirt Aug. 3, 2011 @ 6:36 p.m.

Wow, I'm sorry you do not get a ride downtown.

I do.


Fred Williams Aug. 3, 2011 @ 9:48 p.m.


I would love it if you could please just go ahead and send all your money to me, n-kay?

Yeah, that would be great.

Oh, and can you make sure to tell me when you've sent it all. I don't want to have to log in to check if you've not sent it yet. Plus, if you don't mind too much, maybe you could also send along any credit cards that have any room left on them for charges?

Just be sure to wash them really good first, careful not to scratch them -- so use a non-abrasive cleaner, and put them in plastic bags so I don't get any of your germs.

Oh yes, one more thing. You know how I can't stand the thought of pee and poop, right? Well, if you wouldn't mind coming over and scrubbing out my toilet, that would be so appreciated. I don't have one of those plastic scrubber stick thingies, so I'm just going to have to let you use one of my sponges. I don't mind if you bring gloves, but that's totally up to you, Barb.

Can I call you Barbie? N-kay, great!

Thanks a lot. You know you can count on me anytime you're feeling lonely and have extra food you need eating. Just give me money for a taxi, and I'll come right over.

Love and kisses,



Fred Williams Aug. 6, 2011 @ 12:28 a.m.

Hey now, Barbie...you haven't responded to my polite request for cash and food.

How ungrateful. Here we are, best and closest of friends. Don't you remember that I actually met you one time at that one party where you were doing that thing? Jeez, you're so stuck up!

So I'll give you one last chance...only because I'm so kind and thoughtful.

I'm looking forward to receiving your money, and eating your food. Please be sure to let me know when you've deposited it all in my account, n-kay?

Oh, and don't go expecting me to offer you something in return. This obsession of yours of getting a benefit is disgraceful. You should give me your money, time, and food because of our friendship and your love for humanity. How dare you suggest that I should reciprocate? That's so unfair!


(Reverting to seriousness...hey, Barb. Hope things are going well. Thought this would cheer you up, maybe give you something to copy/paste/send to the next emailing mf who, in the words of the wise and venerable Dr. Dre, tires you by, "comin up to me, with his hands out, wantin somethin for free". Take care, keep writing, keep your head up, and stare down the idiots...best, Fred.)


Barbarella Fokos Aug. 6, 2011 @ 1:37 p.m.

Funny you mention it, Fred, because shortly after posting this blog I received three (count 'em) emails from people asking for things (legitimate, not jokes). In response, I sent a link to this story. You did put a smile on my face. And I dig Dr. Dre.


Twister Aug. 6, 2011 @ 10:30 p.m.

Dre ad ful.

But fac tu al. We no longer live in an integrated society, we live an a zero-one one.


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!