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The most powerful skill you can learn this year

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

This week I started my new podcast (launching Feb 6th!) where I get into the brains of marketing, growth and product folks at B2B SaaS, to learn how they do messaging and copy. Although I’m learning a lot about it and about them, I’m also learning more about myself. In particular, about one skill I’m trying to master: listening…

Listening along with asking better questions is something I’m working on.

It’s a skill combo that never goes out of fashion and can open up a stream of opportunities and good luck you won’t ever otherwise get.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from my first 4 interviews.

  1. Ask more open-ended questions: this encourages others to share detailed stories and experiences. Which is where the gold lies. This has the added benefit of allowing the other person to reflect deeply on their journey, providing valuable insights in return. You act as a mirror for them.
  2. Get good at following up: it’s not only about making your followup questions interesting. You also have to make sure they are well-timed and relevant, diving deeper into specific topics when needed. This helps you uncover more nuanced details and clarify points that might have been ambiguous.
  3. Balance the flow: in a conversation or interview, always be mindful to allow for space to express the other’s thoughts but also try to steer the conversation to keep it focused and informative. It’s literally a workout for the brain, but worth it. And you’ll get better at it.
  4. Cherry-pick the key lessons: be careful not to imply stuff they don’t mean, but make an active effort to draw out what you learn from their answers. This makes the interview valuable for listeners and helps you highlight the broader principles.
  5. Connect the dots for them (when appropriate): trying to connect the interviewee’s personal experiences with the broader themes of the conversation makes the interview relatable to a wider audience, not just to the industry nerds.
  6. Examples are great: ask for specific stories and examples. It makes the discussion more engaging, practical, vivid and easier for the audience to understand and relate to.
  7. Make it a movie, not just a portrait: while focus on a topic is great, try to cover a spectrum when diving into the other person’s life. You want to get a comprehensive view of their journey and ways of thinking, not just a moment in time.
  8. Be human: empathy goes a long way. No one likes to be interviewed by a zombie. Show genuine interest. Get fired up! It makes them more comfortable so they can share even their most intimate stories.
  9. Finish up with by opening their closet: end the interview or conversation with something personal, no matter how unrelated to the main discussion. It’s fun, it shows them you did your research and that you value every facet of their personality – no matter how weird.

I’ll be learning more and more as I go, which makes this new project super interesting.

One of my favorite questions?

What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing now when it comes to [XYZ]? And if you were advising someone else on how to overcome it, what would you tell them?

It’s incredible to see how they self-coach 😀

To start, why not replying to this email with your answer to it? I’d love to know.

📚 3 things to get better at copywriting

1. Connect the dots

My biggest lesson from 7 years of customer research with 40+ SaaS clients? Check it out here. I also got a really good question I thought I’d spoiler for you here:

2. Turning your prospects into investors

Recently on a podcast I heard this great lesson:

As an investor you can have 3 kinds of advantages:

– Informational: you know something that other investors don’t
– Analytical: you do your homework better than others
– Behavioral: you think and act more rationally than others

Behavioral advantages are by far the most interesting as they are the most durable.

Let’s flip it. How can you help your customers either 1) get more, better or clearer information, 2) find that information easier and faster, 3) act on that information more decisively? It’s a pretty good model for increasing your conversion rates.

3. Start before getting eaten by the bear

Wes Kao wrote an excellent piece on how to cut the fluff and make your stories, presentations, pitches more effective. It’s a great reminder to catch yourself if you get lost in useless rambling.

A lot of stories, presentations, and pitches take too long to get to the point. When I’m explaining a situation, I remind myself to “start right before you get eaten by the bear.” This means to cut non-essential backstory so you can spend time on the juicy part.


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✅ Don’t miss it

  • Stater Story just published an update to my 2022 post about my journey as a copywriter and agency owner. You can read it here to learn how things went in 2023, what lessons I learned and what mistakes I made.

🤔 Thought of the week

“If you want to look good in front of thousands, you must outwork thousands in front of nobody.”

– Dan Martell

The work nobody sees is the work that separates you from everyone else. Learn to love and live that.

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.

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