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How to get inside your customers decision-making process

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

If you’ve been reading for a while you know I’m obsessed with understanding people’s decision-making.

Yesterday I was on a coaching call with a client and they had issues with understanding what language to use in their value proposition copy.

Turns out they’re running customer interviews, so I asked “Do you ask them about their decision-making process?”


The interviews they’re conducting are mostly product/usability focused.

Such a missed opportunity!

If you’re in marketing, you’re in the business of understanding how people make buying decisions. Plain and simple.

That’s why the questions you ask should help you uncover insights on their previous situation, alternative solutions, drivers, obstacles and jobs to be done (what they’ve hired your product to do for them).

BUT, if you can’t or don’t have the luxury of being able to interview customers, the following exercise could come in handy.

It’s called a “decision journal” and it’s a super valuable tool to help you study your own decision-making process. That said, I think it’s also a great way to do some role-playing and put yourself in your customer’s head.

Whenever you’re making a consequential decision, either individually or as part of a group, you take a moment and write down:

The situation or context
The problem statement or frame
The variables that govern the situation
The complications or complexity as you see it
Alternatives that were seriously considered and why they were not chosen (think: the work required to have an opinion)
A paragraph explaining the range of outcomes
A paragraph explaining what you expect to happen and the reasoning and actual probabilities you assign to each projected outcome (The degree of confidence matters, a lot.)
The time of day you’re making the decision and how you feel physically and mentally (If you’re tired, for example, write it down.)

How do you apply this process to understanding customers? Look at anything you have available on your ideal customers (reviews, case studies, sales calls/demos etc.) and use it to go through the following points:

1. The situation or context

  • Customer’s current state: Understand the customer’s existing situation. Are they facing a problem or seeking an opportunity? For instance, they might be looking for a more efficient project management tool because their current solution is inadequate.

2. The problem statement or frame

  • Define the core problem: Clearly articulate the main problem the customer is trying to solve. For example, “our current project management tool does not support remote collaboration effectively.”

3. The variables that govern the situation

  • Identify key factors: Recognize the key factors that influence the decision. This could include budget constraints, team size, integration needs, user-friendliness, and specific feature requirements.

4. The complications or complexity as they see it

  • Acknowledge complexities: Understand the complexities from the customer’s perspective. These could include multiple stakeholders with differing needs, integration challenges with existing systems, or learning curves associated with new tools.

5. Alternatives that were seriously considered and why they were not chosen

  • Competitor analysis: Identify and evaluate the alternatives the customer considered. Document why these alternatives were not selected. For instance, “we considered Trello but found it lacks advanced reporting features needed for our projects.”

6. A paragraph explaining the range of outcomes

  • Possible outcomes: Explain the potential outcomes of choosing your product. This could range from improved team efficiency and better project outcomes to potential initial disruptions during the transition period.

7. A paragraph explaining what they expect to happen and the reasoning and actual probabilities they assign to each projected outcome

  • Expected outcomes and probabilities: Provide a detailed expectation of what will happen after adopting your solution. Assign probabilities to these outcomes based on past customer experiences and data. For example, “we expect a 70% increase in project completion rates within six months, with a 90% probability based on similar case studies.”

Bonus: The time of day you’re making the decision and how you feel physically and mentally

  • Decision timing and mental state: While this point is more personal and hard to gather from written information or recorded calls, you could still hypothesize a few ideas. If anything you’ll exercise your empathy muscle and create assumptions that you can validate in actual customer interviews.

As usual, I think what works for one human, should work for others.

Yesterday on a podcast interview, my guest saids something along the lines of “It’s not B2B or B2C… It’s human to human”.

Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes is the best way to start a true human to human conversation.

📚 3 things to get better at copywriting

Video: How to repeat yourself the right way

In this episode of The cutting room Joanna Wiebe, goes over how to write about the same thing over and over without getting bored of it and keeping it fresh. It’s a great skill to have, not only in content, but in copy too, whenever you’re spinning up a narrative for different personas or solutions.

video preview

Article: Is your positioning shifting?

I’m always interested in the dynamics between B2C and B2B marketing. In this post, April Dunford shares how they differ and why B2B is more likely to shift. Are you checking your positioning every 6 months at least? If not, you should.

Swipe file: Eavesdropping and storytelling

This week I’m adding something special to the swipe file. Writer and producer Brian Koppelman just started posting these cool reels on his IG where he shares what he’s eavesdropping from random conversations while he’s out and about. And encourages us to put our headphones away and just engage more with the world around us. Every conversation, no matter how silly, could turn into a story.


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✅ Don’t miss it

Episode 15 of The Message-Market Fit podcast is out!

video preview

I had an great chat with onathan Davies, the Product Marketing Lead at Happeo, an intranet platform designed to boost employee engagement and productivity.. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Lessons from Jonathan’s journey for your career growth
  • How to elevate customer communication through company culture
  • How you can craft effective B2B messaging with repositioning strategies
  • How to adjust your strategy for optimal market fit
  • How to harness the power of research in marketing
  • How to leverage internal tools for external success
  • Balancing quantitative and qualitative data for informed decisions
  • Build genuine connections through authentic digital communication

And way way more.

Check it out here, wherever you listen to podcasts or on Youtube. And if you find it valuable, would you consider subscribing and leaving a rating? 🙏

🤔 Thought of the week

The richest person in the world and the poorest both get twenty-four hours in a day. The same seconds tick by for everyone. There are no refunds for time spent poorly, and no bank can lend you time. So while it’s practical to measure your wealth and opportunities in money terms, the currency that really matters is time.

Scott Galloway, The algebra of wealth

Budget your time like you would any currency. Learn what your spending habits are, control them and make them intentional. Spend your time with the urgency and quality your best self would.

Have a great weekend!

Chris Silvestri

Founder, Conversion Alchemy

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

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Every week I write about what I’m learning at my copywriting/UX desk ,with fun, insightful and quirky stories.

Let’s nerd about decision making, persuasion, habits, and conversion optimization.