Pilling a Dog

Your customers don’t know they have a problem. How the hell are you supposed to sell to them?!

We discussed this in 30×500 not too long ago, between a student, Alex, and me… and now I’m sharing it with you.


  • The student in question was doing his Sales Safari research on the Flippa forums, focusing on a thread by a woman who was doing everything wrong in her quest to sell her web site.
  • “Worldview” isn’t just a term, it’s a concept from 30×500, because Niches are for suckers.
  • Ebombs are what we in 30×500 call targeted, actionable, educational content marketing pieces. Cuz that’s way too many words.

30×500 STUDENT:

1) PAIN: I’m worried about losing money on a website. FIX: Checklist of due diligence items when buying a website.

2) PAIN: I don’t know what my expectations should be when buying a website. FIX: List of typical characteristics when buying a new website.

3) PAIN: I don’t know where to start when it comes to buying a new website. FIX: List of things to expect when buying a new website.

Pain 2 seems to be more literally what she [the customer being Safari’d] is asking, but Pain 1 seems like it is more useful in general. But maybe the pains and their fixes should be really specific?

Thanks for your help, I’m still a bit lost in general, some of the pains Amy identified in ebomb reviews as separate still feel the same to me.


Hey! Great question!

The pain here is something like: I don’t know how to avoid being ripped off when purchasing an incoming generating website.

How about

5 Signs Someone Is Trying To Rip You Off on Flippa ?

the Pains you identified below are much closer to a core pain… which is great for a product! But ebombs can be very superficial (or, shall we say, immediate), and list posts often the most superficial (immediate) pains of all.

Take the pain and directly reverse it.

“I don’t know how to avoid…” “Here’s 5 things you need to avoid…”

… to which I’d add that if you have to change worldviews — and this woman sounds like a hot mess, really — then you need to lure them in with stuff they know they want, and then go “but really, if you have xyz problem, you ought to consider this other thing instead…”

You know, pilling the dog. Wrap that unappetizing pill in tasty, tasty bacon.


Pilling the dog, by the way, is different from bait and switch.

In a bait and switch, you offer something they want and then at the last second, swap in something else less desirable.

In pilling the dog, they still get what they want but you give more than they originally bargained for, in their own favor!


“It’s medicine… it’s good for you!”

You shouldn’t always strive to change a person’s worldview. In fact, if your product’s success depends on everybody changing their deep-seated beliefs… you’re probably screwed.

But it can’t hurt if you help them with an immediate issue and some day they realize “I can’t keep doing things like this” and they then start looking for something to help them move forward and look, hey, at that blog they’ve been reading forever…


It’s borderline impossible to change someone’s worldview unless they WANT to have it changed.

You can pill the dog and lead them to discover it themselves. But be careful with expectations. I’d put this approach in the “advanced techniques: not for the weak of heart” category.


Yeah, worldview change is hard.

First, they have to be open to it. Maybe they haven’t deliberately thought “Gee what other worldviews could I have?” — but something deep down is leaving them dissatisfied.

Or they are in a crisis. That’s when people most often end up changing.

You can’t force either of those things… you can only be a gentle nudge when one of those things is already happening.

But, the ebomb you wrote MIGHT change worldviews. Somebody might go there looking for info cuz they’re desperate not to be scammed… and at the end you turn a little light on that suggests maybe there’s a better way.

It can be a side effect. Deliberately setting out to do it — while selling a product — is probably not going to get you great results. You don’t want to sell to somebody who disagrees with you on a deep level!

Your approach to “Hey, here’s more on x topic” or “have you thought of it like this? read this other article”… that could be very beneficial. :)

In short: people don’t change…

…until their life sucks. That’s the dirty truth of the Fuck This Moment (FTM).

In your biz, you can work a Be There When They Hit a Fuck This Moment strategy.

But if that’s your only strategy for acquiring customers, well, there’s little you can do to drum up sales when you want to, because you can’t force somebody else’s FTM. Epiphanies can’t be forced.

You can, however, build up a library of actionable educational content marketing (we call them “ebombs” in 30×500). And if you play your cards right, if you write to reach people using their existing pains, and each time you lift up the curtain a little bit more, you can help people over the hump… and help them see, bit by bit, that their suffering is caused by their worldview, and they can change it.

It’s still a tough row to hoe. Far easier to serve people who are already in the process of changing, already in motion.

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