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The psychological hack all best-selling authors use to sell their books

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

You might be familiar with the stages of awareness.

  • Unaware
  • Problem aware
  • Solution aware
  • Product aware
  • Most aware

For most SaaS companies, their audience sits somewhere between the solution aware and product aware. Their prospects know there are solutions to their problems and sometimes they’re even aware of the company’s product as one of those solutions.

But when it comes to selling to unaware or problem aware people, those who are either oblivious to having any issue or those who know they have one but don’t know how to solve it – that’s when it gets tough.

You typically have a lot of education to do.

Well, there’s a shortcut.

Let me explain.

Yesterday I’ve interviewed marketer and SEO pro Brendan Hufford for the podcast.

One of his ideas that I loved, is about “finding a problem your customers have no name for” giving it a name using your own IP and then live to solve it.

It works because naming something your potential customers intuitively know to be true but can’t yet define, hits them emotionally and logically at the same time.

Naming their problems is like magic

Science backs it up too. Specifically a couple of models from cognitive psychology, social psychology, and behavioral economics. By naming a concept that resonates with an intuitive but undefined problem you leverage:

  • Cognitive fluency, by making information easier to process, relate to, and remember
  • Labeling theory, by creating a mental framework that helps customers understand and value your solution more effectively
  • The endowment effect, by making your potential customers feel a sense of “ownership” or familiarity with the problem and, by extension, your solution
  • Anchoring by being first to use the term, it acts as an anchor, shaping following perceptions and discussions about the issue

Then I stumbled on a recent episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast with Cal Newport (professor and author of “Deep work” and more best sellers) where he basically revealed how he uses the same exact “trick” for his book titles:

It’s all I do as a writer basically is come up with two word terms for things that widely exist and everyone already knows about. Deep work already exists, I just put a name to it, digital minimalism. It’s like, yeah, I’m just putting a name to a philosophy, that’s my whole secret. I’ve said this before to people about pragmatic nonfiction writing the goal is not to try to teach someone something completely new they didn’t know about. The goal is just to try to help people articulate something they already know deep in their gut is true, they just don’t have a framework or terminology for itDon’t try to convince people of new things. Explain to them what they already know in a way that lets them take better action.

That last part there is what matters: “…in a way that lets them take better action”.

That’s what we’re in this for right? To convert, to sell, to have our readers take some kind of action.

You can name their problem before they actually make a name for it, like Brendan said, or you can look at it in a couple of different angles.

Here’s a few silly but hopefully helpful examples for fake SaaS products:

“Emotional resonance”

Think a project management tool designed for remote teams. It not only streamlines workflows but also addresses the underlying emotional challenge of remote work: “Isolation Friction.”

By naming the emotional pain point and offering a solution that instills connectivity and collaboration, the SaaS aligns with the emotional realities of its users, making the solution more compelling.

“The myth”

A cybersecurity software could introduce “The Legend of DataGuardia,” a narrative where the kingdom (the company) is under threat from various mythical creatures (cyber threats).

DataGuardia (the software) is the hero born from the need to protect the kingdom’s treasures (data).

“Conceptual contrast”

A SaaS offering a new CRM could use the term “Static CRM” to describe traditional systems, while branding theirs as “Dynamic Relationship Engine.”

The contrast not only highlights what makes their offering unique (dynamic personalization capabilities, AI-driven insights) but also reframes the conversation from a tool-centric view to a relationship-enriching perspective.

“The hidden cost”

A SaaS that reduces software development time through better code reuse might highlight a previously unnamed problem: “Innovation Tax.” This term encapsulates the hidden costs of reinventing the wheel due to poor code reuse practices.

By naming and solving the “Innovation Tax,” the SaaS not only offers a solution to a technical problem but also addresses a critical efficiency and cost-saving issue.


A company providing a next-generation email marketing platform could trace the evolution from “Bulk Blast” (the era of mass, undifferentiated emails), through “Segmented Send” (the introduction of audience segmentation), to their current offering, “Predictive Personalization.”

You get the gist. And notice I’ve actually used this “naming” approach to name all of these examples (meta🔥).

Anyway, if you struggle to think of how to sell to less aware prospects in your market, think about how you can connect the dots in their minds for them.

How can you name their problem for them?

📚 3 things to get better at copywriting

Video: An electric muscle car?!

I’m a big Dodge fan (proud owner of a 2013 Challenger 😍) and when it comes to marketing, they rarely miss the mark.

For the launch of their new EV “muscle cars”, they just published this video:

video preview

I recommend you watch it, but more than that, look for the story behind it.

It’s about positioning themselves as a category disruptor while at the same time staying true to their brand’s values.

They told us we couldn’t sell HEMIs, but they never told us that we had to be boring and slow

Article: AI is misunderstood…

Great piece about what AI for marketing means not and what it might mean in the future.

My key takeaways:

Deploying AI without human oversight is asking for trouble
Marketing world is infatuated with AI and the potential is limitless—but it is still potential. This is new technology that’s still going through its early iterations, by both its creators and its users.
Businesses and people that choose to rely disproportionately on AI tech today will likely regret their choices. If you lay off your human marketers in favor of a machine with little to no supervision, expect the output to be generic, bland and indistinguishable.

Swipe file:

From another trip in the US a couple of years ago, this container banner ad got my attention.

Great example of making normally boring brick and mortar branding more interesting and eye catching. Also, perfect CTA speaking.

Interestingly, since then, the brand changed their tagline to “One goal. Zero waste.” I’d love to know the reasoning behind and the the trend that might have influenced it.

How can you make things just a little bolder, a little different?


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✅ Don’t miss it

Episode 5 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 navigate the intersection of sales, marketing, and product
  • How to use surveys and customer interviews to gather actionable insights
  • How to pitch without pitching at conferences (this one is genius)
  • How to ask the right questions to uncover deeper insights and opportunities
  • How to craft effective presentations that captivate and persuade
  • How to leverage messaging to strengthen your sales approach
  • How to understand the customer’s career progress
  • How to use empathy to enhance your sales and marketing strategies

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? 🙏

New ChatGPT copywriting prompt galore

These past two weeks I’ve had some fun experimenting with more ways to use AI, specifically ChatGPT, to write copy. It’s still not amazing, but you can get pretty much to a good 70%-80% stage.

Good enough to get a ton of ideas and decent drafts. It can literally save days of work writing your SaaS homepage for example.

Find more ideas from yours truly on Copyhackers’ website.

🤔 Thought of the week

“Stand resolute and your reward is not the pursuit of happiness, but happiness in your pursuits.” – MJ DeMarco, Unscripted

On your route to happiness it’s easy to forget that the actual pursuit is supposed to make you happy along the way. Be present.

Have a great weekend!

Chris Silvestri

Founder, Conversion Alchemy

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

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