MicroConf 2011 – Ramit Sethi

By Stephen Kellett
15 August, 2011

Ramit Sethi is author of the book I will teach you to be rich and also blogs at iwillteachyoutoberich.com.

Ramit’s talk was excellent and I’m glad I was present. He clearly knows a lot about pyschology. As with the other speakers I did record Ramit’s talk but Ramit has declined to allow me post the MP3 recording of his talk. Please do not ask for the MP3, I will not provide it. Sorry.

Ramit talks about behavioural change. How to get people to change their behaviour. For their own benefit and possibly yours too.

People are obsessed with micro-tests. Testing is important. But don’t over-test. Some tests are meaningless. You cannot test your way to success. You need to combine running the right tests with insight into what is significant and what is not significant.

You can cause behavioural change by deeply understanding your customers. Behavioural change can lead to business and/or personal success.

Said not received

Don’t do words that are said not received. Example of words that people use but which which wash of customers like water off a ducks back: “easy setup”, “fast”, “convenient”, “secure”.

Instead of “easy setup”, try “1 minute setup”. More specific benefit is better. “easy” doesn’t mean anything as it is a relative term, where as “1 minute” is a specific time amount and none-relative.

Think like a customer

Stop Thinking like an expert – don’t show off. Your customers don’t think like this or care.
Customers have their own problems, these are the problems that you should be answering.

Wrong: “What is the difference between corporate bond and mutual bond?”
Right: “How can I invest this $10,000 for the best return in 10 years?”

No one wants to be “financially literate”, they want to “know how to invest their money”.

You should write copy as if answering questions your customer have.

Paper Shredder

Ramit gives another example, this time using Paper Shredders. We’ve all used them. Ramit discusses the upsides and downsides of papershredders. He asks the audience for their ideas. Answers range from technical to benefits:

  • durability
  • security
  • number of pages
  • robust
  • hide your secrets
  • peace of mind
  • fear replacement
  • protect your identity
  • stop worrying

The number one problem with paper shredders is that they break. They typically break when they jam. Ramit then shows a very effective paper shredder marketing message.

“100% Jam Proof Shredder” (They even shred your scepticism).”
Note that there is no message on security even though all the competition messages on security. This works because the customers already know about the security benefits but they are sceptical on the reliability aspect of this product.

Customers come to learn, evaluate and buy. Your job is to improve this. Stop describing your product and start answering customer concerns. You need to understand your customer’s hopes, fears and dreams.

Proxy answers

When asking customers questions do not just accept the first answer. It may be the majority answer is a proxy for another answer. For example “I want to earn $1000 per month on the side” because “long term I want to be my own boss”. The second answer came from pushing back on the first answer.

Why ask people if they want to earn $1K on the side? Because $1K seems acheivable. On the side because you then know you don’t have to quit your job.

What do customers fear?

  • Price.
  • Isn’t worth the time to change.
  • Too hard to use.
  • Scared of breaking the computer.
  • Not enough time.
  • Is it right for me?
  • I can find this material myself.
  • I never finish things.
  • Price objections are often a proxy for some other objection.

Your testimonials should answer specific objections customers may have (using the list above).


Ramit deliberately excludes certain customers based on their profile. Ramit will not accept people with credit card debt. He knows that they are not good candidate customers, so he does not wish to waste time with them.

Solve the customer’s problems

Customers do not care about you. They care about solving their problems. Deeply understand their hopes, fears and dreams. Ethically help them acheive what they want to do, but they will not do for whatever reason.


Example survey: http://earn1k.com/members/how-to-write-a-mind-blowingly-effective-survey/

Surveys are good. Ask surveys occasionally. Surveys should be no more than 5 questions and always fun to complete. Use the results of the survey to write another article for your blog. Use a good survey tool. Ramit uses surveymonkey.com

Perry Box

At one point in Ramit’s talk he showed a long form conversion page that converted really well. He then focused on a part of the page and said this is the “Perry Box”, it helps convert even more customers. I wasn’t quite sure what this was but when I asked Ramit he kindly provided me with a link about this. It’s type of button designed by Perry Belcher. This video describes how it works.

Results in Advance

Spend time writing material for your website. Deliberately set time aside to do this. This provides a lot of free material for your customers to digest. If they like what they find that increases their chances of becoming a customer. Ramit did this 6 hours a day for 30 days for one of his projects.

Price objections

Price objections are often a proxy for some other objection.
Ask your customers what their concern is – why are they visiting your site?


Asking people for testimonials is good, if they say yes they will be more commited to your product.

Web Forms

Remove all facebook and twitter badges from web forms. You do not want any distractions on a form.

Recommended Links


Ramit also recommended a website firstclassliar.com but it does not appear exist.

Fully functional, free for 30 days