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How to understand any business and market fast

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

Copywriters should be learning machines.

I’m constantly amazed when I hear about fellow pen pushers who refuse to work with a client because they think the topic is too complex.

I mean, I say no to certain topics too. I would never write for the porn industry for example. But not because I don’t understand (c’mon 😆). Simply because it doesn’t match my values. Or I would say no to certain niches or types of businesses. But only because I’ve intentionally decided to work with B2B SaaS.

Not helping a potential client that both fits my values and niche/specialization because I think I wouldn’t be able to understand their business or product?

No way.

Quick background: I worked 10 years as a software engineer.

You might say: “Chris, of course you’re used to headaches and complex stuff”.

And while you might be true, I always start each and every project with a beginner’s mind.

A recent example for a new potential project where the topic is super low level…

It’s a product for developers and while I was a software engineer, the type of programs I used to write, were completely different from the typical web/app development.

Think stuff like this:

Industrial automation software engineering is an entirely different world from the classic startup software dev scene.

Anyway, if you’re a copywriter I’m about to destroy any hope you might have to remain in your bubbly comfort zone of “topics-you-know-like-the-back-of-your-hand”.

And even if you’re not a copywriter, but one of those potential clients constantly thrown around by copywriters who refuse to work with you because your industry is for nerds… You can tell them they should be able to learn it, and to learn it fast. Plus you can use what I’m about to share to dig deeper into whatever it is you do.

Enter, AI.

Duh… while I think copywriters should be learning machines – and they’ve always been, since the Claude Hopkins’ snake oil salesmen times – we should also know how to make our lives easier.

And we’re in a time when it’s never been easier to learn and get better at thinking clearly.

AI shouldn’t replace our thinking, but it CAN be a tool thought.

So let’s use it to help us think better shall we?

My favorite way to learn any business, ICP and market before starting a new project is to dive in with a fresh perspective and use a simple prompt I’ve created. I use ChatGPT to look at a website and tell me what it “sees”.

Here’s what my prompt looks like:

Your role: You are an expert conversion copywriter and messaging strategist.

Your objective: To help me understand my client’s business, audience and market.


#1 Ask me for the website URL
#2 After receiving the URL, look at the website navigating to it and tell me: what the company does, who it’s for, and how it does it in a unique and better way.
#3 Ask me where I want to dig deeper next, 1) ICP (ideal customer personas and their demographic, psychographic), 2) the product, or 3) the market/competition. Ask me specifically for numbers 1, 2 or 3 and expect one of those as the answer to move forward.
#4 Based on my question provide more information and keep answering questions as we go. Also, propose new potential questions that could help me dig deeper and get clarity and understanding.

And then I dig and dig, using my copywriter’s lens to pick the direction that best serves my purpose and helps me fill in the gaps in my knowledge.

Simple as that.

Here’a an example of what GPT shared:

Notice that part of my prompt also involves asking for additional questions. That’s because often the best way to think outside the box and “see what we can’t see”, is to ask better questions. I want ChatGPT to help me do that. Here are a few that it generated for me:

And when I mean digging deeper, for example what if I wanted to learn more about this:

One of my favorite questions is

What does this look like in their life? Why do they need to solve for this? Give me examples.

And boom, you get gold:

There you have it. In 5 minutes you were able to get inside a business, their product and their market.

You have no excuse anymore.

Go write amazing copy.

📚 3 things to get better at copywriting

Video: The unskippable ad.

I went on a GEICO advertising spree and stumbled on this one from their Unskippable campaign. It’s genius. They knew most people just skip Youtube ads after the first 5 seconds (which lately annoyingly have become 40 😡), so they made the actual ad last just 5 seconds. But then they keep you glued to it with a “surprise”.

Watch it to see what I’m talking about:

video preview

What can we learn from this? How can we make our copy unskippable?

Article: How to massively grow on Substack…

Just kidding, and while this piece might not help you grow your newsletter, but it will sure make you laugh. And it’s a great example of using fun in your voice, without trying to be fun!

When I launched Shades of Greaves in January, I had a clear mission: Start a Substack, I guess, because that’s what other writers I know are doing.


Swipe file: How to make you think you have a problem

I took this photo on the subway in Boston back in 2017. Loved it. Who’d have thought a furniture store can use sex in their advertising.


Work with me on your copy

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✅ Don’t miss it

Episode 3 of The Message-Market Fit podcast is out.

I had an amazing chat with Jimmy Rose, co-founder of Content Snare. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • How to evolve your product to meet market needs and secure your place in the industry.
  • How to identify core problems and transform them into lucrative business opportunities.
  • How to leverage customer feedback and iteration to skyrocket your product’s value.
  • How to unlock the power of open-ended questions to deeply understand your audience.
  • How to see your business through your customers’ eyes and tailor your offerings accordingly.

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

…no thought lives in your head rent-free.” Each thought you have will either be an investment or a cost. It will either move you toward happiness and success or away from it. It will either empower you or disempower you. That’s why it is imperative you choose your thoughts and beliefs wisely. – T. Harv Eker, Secrets of the millionaire mind

Be intentional about what you fill your head with. Guard your thoughts closely.

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.