Persuasion & Empathy

10 min read (2422 words)

Note: This is a reprint of an email I sent to paid KDSPY users. It was in the context of a set of 3 emails.  This is the SECOND. The first email is here (read that first); the third is here.

Wow — what a response to my email on Monday. I’m still getting responses 48 hours later.

The great thing about having a large customer list is – you get a very diverse set of responses, and never know exactly who’s at the other end reading your emails.

The overwhelming praise aside, it seems I convinced a “trial lawyer” to stay subscribed to my list.

Here’s what, ‘Henry Brown’, said:

“…there have been times when I thought maybe unsubscribe, but I never did, and for one important reason…”

He goes on to say

“Some of the things you talk about either go over my head, or maybe I’m not in the mood to listen. Here’s what it is. Honesty. I trust you to tell me the truth. I used to be a trial lawyer and I know the difference between bs and honesty.”

Love that. I also got a proposal to be “rented”. Haha.

Suzy K Quinn, replied:

“I would love to hear more AND I would love to hire you or someone like you. Are you rentable? :)”

AND, it seems I have the attention of senior staff at Amazon.

Product Manager on the Amazon Ads team for Books, Janet Margot, writes:

“I’d like to hear more! “ … “I appreciate your approach to helping authors, and wanted to drop you a line to say so.”

Anyhow – you’re not here for that…

You want me to expand on my last email.

Note: If you missed my last email. Read that first. If it’s not fresh on your mind. Read it again. Otherwise, this will fly right over your head and bring about no benefit to you — and that is my aim.

First, a little summation, from a little different perspective.

The famous motivational speaker, bestselling author, and master salesmen, Zig Ziglar, was once quoted as saying:

Similarly, Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” relayed a similar statement, saying:

“The only way to influence someone is to find out what they want, and show them how to get it”.

Two masters of persuasion seemingly relaying a similar message stating what?

That success lies in what others WANT.

So – if you read my last email – you’ll know I was employed many years ago in the digital marketing space — doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and later on in my career, transitioned into Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

This gives me unique insights on the topic’s today:

Both the subject of “Keywords” and the psychology of sales as it relates to selling books, products and services.

The psychology of selling is a deep subject.

If I manage to even unpack 20% of the ideas and strategies (not lame tactics) – into a comprehensive, understandable format – from my crazy brain … I’d have done a pretty good job.

So, we understand that — following from my last email — there’s a big difference between needs and wants.

And what people “want” is where powerful emotions have a say in the (buying) decision.

So how do we determine what people want?

Well, that’s precisely why I created KDSPY in the first place.

The thing that amuses me to this day, is that many users completely overlook the very reason it was created…

And use it only as a way to improve their Keyword visibility —without realising the potential of what “insights” it can uncover about your market.

More on that in a minute.

As with everything — the 80/20 rule applies.

Remember the question from last time:

Are you focusing on your market or your marketing?

Leaving the creative (writing) process aside, here it is:

20% of your effort, will yield 80% of your results.

The mistake I see others making, is:

  • 80% effort goes into marketing.

And, only…

  • 20% effort goes into the market.

I actually think it’s a lot less than that (90/10), but for the sake of simplicity, let’s stick with the example.

Which yields very little in the way of results.

Why? … because too little time is spent focusing on the market – in understanding what they truly WANT (adopting empathy), and creating “compelling” books to put in front of them.

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “clarity trumps persuasion.”

Well, here’s another…

One of the best sales copywriters alive, was quoted as saying:

“A gifted product is mightier than a gifted pen”.

— Gary Bencivenga

Even he — a mighty wordsmith — is telling us that nothing can beat an exceptional, knock-out product (book).

So, shouldn’t our job be – to create incredible pieces of work?

By first finding out precisely what our market wants … and … discovering what will make it remarable in their eyes?

Of course it does.

But we can’t do that by putting little effort towards empathy.

Going deeper than what people want…

And we get into the very heart of the matter — desire.

And yes, I’m talking about that bodily organ that pumps blood around your body. That critical life force where the root of desire takes form.

Last email, I stated:

“If you get to the ROOT of all human decision, It’s based on our ever present desire for creating higher experiences of JOY (positive emotions) … and lesser experiences of PAIN (negative emotions)”.

The easiest way I can distill this?

Think of emotion as the fire.

The spark, the accelerant, the gasoline — that’ll be desire.

The reason for the fire in the first place — is to feel something (positive emotion).

The driving force…

The “motivation” to act…

All comes from DESIRE.

Our job — as creatives?

Is to tap into the already present desires in our market. Desire cannot be “planted” in your prospects.

Even the best salesman in the world cannot create desire. Desire is already present in the hearts and minds of those you seek to serve.

Your job is to know “intimately” what those desires are for your readers, and attract them in new, unique, compelling, and arresting ways – positioning your book as a worthy vehicle to “satisfy” them.

I told you this was deep.

If all you did was reverse those 80/20 metrics?

And spent more time researching, and speaking to your market to develop “empathy” — you’d be in a far better position to attract your ideal audience in unique ways separating yourself into a category of one and selling more of your work.

Think about it:

What can the largest bookseller in the world tell us about what people truly want?

In plain sight, it’s there for us to see and use to our advantage.

And no, this isn’t a plug for my software.

(90% reading this have it anyway).

Heck — you don’t need KDSPY to unpack the data, it can be done with a little manual “intelligence” and good ol’ detective work.

I created the software for my own use.

Then decided to offer it to the world (smart decision).

The thing is — Amazon sells 1.2 million books a day.

They tell you which books are the bestsellers and give us a BSR to calculate sales volume.

Then – they reveal the reviews, the positives, the negatives, laden with stories and emotions and powerful insights from the mouths of the very people we’re looking to attract and buy our work.

“Sometimes what you’re looking for is right under your nose and you don’t even know it.”

No idea who that quote is from, or even if it’s correct…

But let’s roll with it.

You don’t need much more to find out WHAT people want – than what they’re already buying in over 20,000 categories and sub-categories on Amazon.

The inspiration behind KDSPY?

It wasn’t as a Keyword tool – although it can certainly be used that way – it’s market intelligence on a silver platter.

NOT data of what you “think” people want — it shows real world DATA on what people are voting with their credit cards, precisely what they WANT — and are buying right now, today.

Giving you the sales volume and revenue potential, too.

The missing piece? (the reason for this BLOG)…

The binding agent that can never be part of a push button operation?…

Their real WHY. (desire).

What are they feeling “now” and what do they want to “feel”.

Desire and emotions are born from our FEELINGS.

The WHY they are buying is where our research needs to lead next. If you want to master sales and (ethical) persuasion to sell more books — that 3 letter word is what will serve you well. “WHY”.

Sure, you can:

  • Model a bestselling book…
  • Write a better one…
  • More comprehensive…
  • Better cover…
  • Better title…

Many have tried.

And failed miserably, too.

WHY was the missing piece.

They failed to understand WHY the book is a bestseller.

What the driving force was behind the book selling so well. WHY is when you start to uncover their true desire and motivation to act.

If you want to sell more books, you need to BECOME your market…

Live in their shoes…

And see the world from their point of view.

When I was doing CRO for million dollar companies?

It was ALL about the data.

The intelligence on the market — In their words. From “carefully” seeded (open-ended) questions that we’d ask them to understand their POV. Their language. To develop empathy.

Understand their buying objections.

We’d use responses from over 200 people to adjust our messaging to:

  • Improve clarity…
  • Seed their language in the copy…
  • Overcome objections…

And create new products and unique offers that would resonate with them.

And – the results were outstanding.

It’s not even about PERSUASION – which brings in images of slick coercion, and HYPE that you see everywhere today.

People want to feel UNDERSTOOD.

To feel like YOU get them. Their struggles. Their day to day existence.

“Clarity trumps persuasion.”

In addition:

Multiple choice surveys mean squat.

Focus groups? Forget about it.

You want real world insights “from the mouths” of your target audience, in their own language, that gets to the root of their real WHY.

In previous jobs, I’d get frustrated as hell with boring meetings about what the FOUNDERS of the company THINK we should be doing to move things forward in terms of messaging, marketing, and additional product offers.

Jumped up muppets with deep pockets, fed with silver spoons from a young age having everything handed to them on a silver platter, and having to listen to what?


Nobody cares about opinions. Opinions mean squat in the real world. Endless damn meetings.

Wasted money, time, energy on f’ing opinions.

The only thing that matters comes from your customers, your market, your readers. Their emotions. Their hopes, dreams and desires.

Their feelings.

Tap into them — and you’ll never have to work as a slave for an idiot boss again.

Want to be better at writing and selling FICTION?

Become a master at human emotions.

Watch popular movies that relate to your market and try to identify every emotion the characters are FEELING. Let yourself feel it intensely. Internalize it. Relay it. Document it in unique and arresting ways. Let others feel it through your writing.

Your readers want to FEEL.



Just to take them out of their “boring day-to-day cycle” of wake up, feed the dog, have breakfast, go to work, come home, have dinner, go to bed.

Repeat. Day. after. f’ing day.

Please. Entertain me. Let me FEEL something.

Again – WHAT are we really selling?

Here’s a wild example from history in a totally unrelated industry. Just to serve as an example of the power of feelings and emotions – regardless of how difficult it is or isn’t to apply this to books.

In the 1900’s, and for decades after, cigars, and cigarettes were marketed based on their “rich tobacco taste”.

In an attempt to increase sales?

Advertising was seemingly positioned to come from a doctor recommending certain brands (as seen in this ad from 1916).

Decades later, after taking a step back due to declining sales (or the ever present need for MORE profits), I’m sure it crossed someone’s mind one day …

“What are we really selling?”…

And the Marlboro Man took the doctor’s place.

The difference?

In 1955, when the Marlboro Man campaign was started, sales were at $5 billion. By 1957 –– sales were at $20 billion, representing a 300% increase within two years.


There’s no way for people to resonate with a doctor.

Feels like blatant coercion to me. But a strong, muscular cowboy on horseback gazing into the sunset like Clint Eastwood?

That’s what drew millions of young adults into FEELING more hip and rebellious amongst their peers. To imitate their idols. And to project a self image of themselves to be cooler amongst their friends.

Wrong? Yes. Powerful example, nonetheless.

I’m not saying this is easy to apply to selling books.

It just serves as a wild example of how to change the beliefs – and behaviour – of large swathes of people by getting to their core DESIRES, and projecting the FEELINGS through words and images – that they want to feel.

Hope this is proving useful.

Next – I’ll talk about the #1 critical thing every author must have today.

It brings everything together.

  • The insights…
  • The understanding…
  • The empathy…
  • The marketing…
  • It gives you control…

Control of your market AND your marketing.

That’s what you need to win today.

It’s not easy…

But it’s the best advantage you’ll have against deep pockets.

I almost forgot…

Let me put the “Keyword” thing to bed right now.

STOP wasting your time trying to endlessly rank organically on Amazon for those piddly 7 keywords in your KDP account.

AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) lets you bid on 1000 keywords for pennies.

It’s wildly PROFITABLE…

The cheapest way to drive paid traffic ANYWHERE (50x cheaper than Facebook).


Like anything though – the 80/20 applies.

Bid on 2000 keywords, and in 4 weeks, you’ll be left with 100-200 keywords that can drive x40 more traffic than you would organically – AT A HUGE PROFIT.

There’s an IF.

You need a compelling book in the first place.

Hence, this series of emails.

Combine the intelligence you gather about your market – bid on 1000 related keywords for visibility in Amazon – and you’ll be singing my praises

Combine it with what I talk about next

And you’ll have a BUSINESS you can be proud of.