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Can you train AI to be your customer?

Welcome to today’s issue of Conversion Alchemy Journal. If you received this from a friend and enjoy it, subscribe here.

Hey Reader,

What if we could “engineer” empathy? What if we could train someone (or something) to act as our ideal customers, so we can test our messaging before it goes live?

Last week I’ve introduce the idea of Empathy Engineering.

It’s something I’ve been working on lately and the core principle behind processes like the one I use to pre-test email sequences with ChatGPT.

AI contains the entire knowledge of the internet on what human beings think, and of how they make decisions. Sure, a lot of it is irrational and emotional, and AI can’t simulate it, but what if we could get even 60% or 80% close to an accurate prediction?

Imagine how easier, faster and cheaper it would be to know what works and what doesn’t in our marketing.

Turns out some researchers are already looking into it.

In this paper they’ve found the first signs that AI could be used pretty well for market research.

The study suggests that GPT and LLMs can be powerful tools for uncovering customer preferences. Apparently, GPT (3.5!) was able to simulate “willigness to pay”, realistic reactions to supply and demand, and even decision making based on previous choices.

Thing is, simple prompts as of this writing, don’t work that well.

Try and ask ChatGPT to “act as XYZ persona”…

So, I’ve been scratching my head thinking about how we could train AI to wear the shoes of our customers.

What about actual “acting”?!

Actors do the same exact thing right? They step into their character’s shoes and literally live there until the movie is done.

Take Adrien Brody. For his role in “The Pianist,” where he portrayed a Holocaust survivor, he lost 30 pounds (14kg), gave up his apartment, car, and disconnected his phones to experience that sense of loss and desperation.

Can we make it so that AI takes it so seriously? (plus we wouldn’t harm anyone)

So, I went and looked into one of the most fascinating acting techniques, method acting. Created by Konstantin Stanislavski, it’s a technique actors use to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters. It’s how they develop lifelike performances (and what Brody used).

Sounds like what we could use for our purpose. Here’s how I would go about it…

How to use Method Acting and AI to understand your customers

  1. Deep research and background study: Just as method actors research and immerse themselves in the background of their characters, AI could be trained to thoroughly understand the target audience. Analyze demographic data, psychographic profiles, customer feedback, and market research to build a detailed profile of the typical customer.
  2. Emotional memory: Actors recall personal experiences to evoke the emotions of their characters. With AI, this would translate to using historical data, case studies, and customer testimonials to understand the emotional triggers and responses of the target audience. AI can analyze patterns in customer feedback and social media to identify emotional responses to similar products or messages.
  3. Character’s motivation: Actors identify their characters’ objectives and motivations. Similarly, AI could be programmed to analyze what drives the target audience – their needs, desires, pain points, and goals. Understanding these motivations helps in crafting messages that resonate more deeply with the audience.
  4. Subtext analysis: Method actors read between the lines to understand the subtext of their scripts. AI could be used to analyze the underlying themes and sentiments in customer communications and feedback, providing insights into what customers truly care about, which might not be explicitly stated.
  5. Environment and context: Just as actors consider the environment and context of their characters, AI could analyze the context in which customers will encounter the messaging. This includes understanding the current market trends, economic factors, cultural nuances, and the digital or physical spaces where interactions occur.
  6. Improvisation: In method acting, actors sometimes improvise to discover new aspects of their character. With AI we could use A/B testing and adaptive learning algorithms to test different messaging approaches, learning in real-time what works best for the audience.
  7. Continuous feedback and adjustment: Actors often adjust their performances based on directorial feedback and audience reactions. AI systems should be designed to continuously learn from customer interactions, feedback, and engagement metrics to refine and optimize the messaging for better resonance and effectiveness.

And probably many more, deeper ways.

Add to all of this our own human observation, judgement and insight, and I think engineering empathy could become a reality.

Yours truly is on it.

I might share a couple of prompts or even pre-made GPTs to help with some of it soon.

Are you interested? Just hit reply.

📚 3 things to get better at copywriting

1. Do you have “message-market fit”?

You likely know what product-market fit is, but what about message-market fit? If you’re in copy and want to make sure what you write truly resonates, this video walks you through how to do just that. As a copywriter myself I can honestly say we often don’t have enough skin in the game. Getting validation on our messaging should be the end of every single project. And spoiler alert: this is the direction I’m going with my business. 😉

video preview

2. Start with the soul

I just stumbled on a powerful mantra or reminder for how we should approach selling and communicating with our audience:

Start with the soul and end with the sale. – Marcus Collins, “For the culture”

In other words, appeal to emotions, seek to resonate – and then go into the logical arguments.

3. To engineer empathy, start with yourself

A couple of great questions from “Same as ever” by Morgan Housel that can be really useful in building empathy:

  • “Which of my current views would I disagree with if I were born in a different country or generation?”
  • “What is a problem that I think applies only to other countries/industries/careers that will eventually hit me?”
  • “Which of my current views would change if my incentives were different?”

✅ Don’t miss it

  • It’s Black Friday, so why not get on a discounted coaching call and work together on any copy/messaging challenge you might have? Or you can grab a session on GrowthMentor while they’re free!

🤔 Thought of the week

“The real power of the truly successful person is coming out of their genuine attunement to the humanness of the other person.”
– David R. Hawkins, M.D./Ph.D. , Success Is for You

Empathy is a superpower. Master it and you’ll have mastered yourself and your relationships. It’s not easy and you’ll have to be able to tune it out sometimes, but that’s part of the process.

Have a great weekend!

Chris Silvestri

Founder, Conversion Alchemy

🙌🏻 Let’s be friends (unless you’re a stalker)

23 Greyfriars, Eastgate Street, Winchester, Hampshire so238ea
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Every week I write about what I’m learning at my copywriting/UX desk ,with fun, insightful and quirky stories.

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