Marketing Lessons I Learned From the CIA

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I worked for the CIA for 6 years and learned many interesting lessons. And one of those lessons was pretty obvious—it was how much people are driven by money and the things that human beings will do for money.

And today I’m going to show you how to use ‘money’ as part of a unique direct mail technique I like to call “Marketing Espionage.”

If you decide to implement this technique it could help you close a lot of deals.

Here’s how it all came about: It took me 12 months to get my Top Secret security clearance.

The Agency background check is obviously one of the most thorough in the world. And a huge part of that background check is your financial background. They want to know your bank accounts, the cars you own, the houses you own, the stocks you own and every last detail about your financial life.

Why? Because obviously, one of the main reasons people commit espionage (against the US or for the US) is because of money. The Agency wants to make sure that you’re not broke or heavily in debt.

In fact, two of the biggest espionage cases in history were about money. These included Robert Hansen, the FBI Agent who spied for the Russians and Aldrich Ames, the CIA Officer who also spied for the Russians.

As we all know. We all want more money.

That’s one of the main reasons I left the Agency, because I wasn’t making much money as a government employee and was making a heck of a lot more money as a real estate investor.

And, like I mentioned earlier, that’s the main theme of my Marketing Espionage method. You see, when we are marketing to motivated sellers, money motivates them, just as much as it motivates you and me. Perhaps they are a tired landlord who wants to save money, and wants to sell to you so he stops losing money on vacancies.

Or perhaps you’re dealing with a motivated seller who hates Realtors and doesn’t want to pay them commission and wants to try and save some money by selling to you.

In short, Marketing Espionage is a direct mail plan with a money “theme”… that way you will have an edge over the competition and not have to worry that some homeowner will choose someone else’s letter or postcard over yours.

So… first you obviously have to have your mailing list. Whether it will be absentee owners, expired listings, free and clear owners, etc.

Next, you will be sending them a letter. Here’s what you will put at the top of the letter. On the left hand side in big black lettering you will put “For Your Eyes Only”. Then next to it you will draw a crude looking $100 bill with arrows on each side pointing to this $100 bill.

Then you will start your letter with Dear Bob and go on to say… “As you can see I’ve drawn a $100 bill on the top of this letter, why have I done this? Because I have something I want to share with you that could save you a lot of money… very quickly. You see my name is John Doe and I’m writing to you about quickly buying your rental property on 123 Main St. and potentially saving you thousands of dollars in the process.”

Of course, you continue on with the letter and list all of the benefits of working with your company.

But… the most important part of any letter or direct mail piece is making sure it gets read. And I don’t know anyone who would not read a letter with big writing at the top of “For Your Eyes Only” and a hand-drawn $100 bill.

Also, don’t worry about having to do this yourself. There are dozens of companies that draw these graphics for you and take care of all the printing for you.

Most importantly, make sure it looks hand written and the $100 bill looks like a crude drawing. This will attract more attention and get your letter read.

If you start using this type of simple letter, you’ll be sitting at kitchen tables like me, closing deals… while staring at piles of other people’s direct mail who didn’t get the deal like you did.

So… that’s only the first step of the Marketing Espionage method. Next week, I’ll tell you about the other steps which follow the money theme, which will hopefully get your phone ringing off the hook.

Put this first letter to use ASAP, you won’t regret it.

About Author

Jason R. Hanson is the founder of National Real Estate Investor Month and the author of “How to Build a Real Estate Empire”. Jason specializes in purchasing properties “subject-to” and has purchased millions of dollars worth of property using none of his own cash or credit.

4 Comments

  1. Interesting post Jason – but why Marketing Espionage? Espionage ’cause you were with the CIA?
    Anyhow, I agree with targetting motivated sellers and understand the image message concept. Plenty to think about!

  2. Having a purpose with your marketing is essential so I agree with your premise. So much real estate agent marketing is self promotional or just off the subject (recipe cards) that agents indirectly redirect the reader from the key objective… to make the phone ring, make sales, and earn a check!

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