Home copywriting, Experiments, real estate • My Brief Career as a Criminal

My Brief Career as a Criminal


“Talk to an attorney, he said, “before you bring a world of hurt on yourself.”

That’s one of the comments I got when I posted my business idea on a private forum I belong to.

Damn! I was this close!

I had figured out how to perform a badly needed service at virtually no cost. I knew how to streamline the process into a repeatable system. I was going to outsource most of the work.

I was going to create a training program out of the business, and sell it to thousands of investors across the country. In fact, I already had a small group of real estate investors lining up to pay me, thanks to some of the most effective copywriting I’ve ever done.

This was it! I could finally buy a villa in southern Italy and retire by the age of 50. Except for one glaring detail. I was breaking the law.

You need a real estate broker’s license to do most of the things I was proposing. One reader who vetted my copywriting for me said, “The ad is effective. The activities are illegal.”

There are some big lessons from this. The first one is hopefully obvious: When you have an idea, don’t keep it to yourself! Run it by other people. I’m saying this because it’s usually something I don’t do.

Lucky for me I’m trying to be less of a hermit and involve more people in every aspect of my life. Otherwise, I’d be telling you this story from a prison cell.

The second take-away is related to marketing and copywriting. If that’s something you want to learn about, here’s the rest of the story.

“Landlords! I’ll bet you $25 I can find you a dream tenant in 14 days”

My criminal business activity was to help landlords find and screen new tenants. My wife and I have done this twice for our own property, and this summer I helped fill a few vacancies for a friend.

I wrote a Craigslist ad explaining what I do and why it’s needed, and asked a bunch of people for feedback.

One of my mentors, Gary North, was impressed enough to publish an open critique of the copy. I got so excited, I tweeted the link to the world–right before I realized that only paying members of his website can see it.

The copy was based on one of Gary Halbert’s methods for writing an ad. (If you’re interested enough in marketing to have read this far, you’d better look up Gary Halbert and read his stuff.)

His suggested first step is to write a fact sheet about your product or service. I usually do this, but not Halbert style. I typically come up with a few dozen facts. Gary Halbert wants a list that’s 15 pages long. I had to rack my brain to think of more and more ideas.

This in itself is a great way to promote your business. It greatly increases your chance of finding a Capo D’astro Bar. But there’s more to the story.

After you have your fact sheet, Gary Halbert wants you to copy an advertisement by hand. It’s the one David Ogilvy wrote for the Rolls Royce. If you’re a copywriter, I recommend you copy the ad, too. If not, at least Google the ad and read it. You’ll get a deep new respect for the power of simple facts.

Anyway, I did my homework and loaded facts into every stage of my ad. Aside from the glaring legal issue, the responses to this ad were positive. Gary North had this to say, before he critiqued my ad almost line-by-line: “I want to go through it here to show you why I think it’s going to work.”

He did say the last third of the ad was weak. And I’ll tell you why this makes sense.

I filled my ad with concrete facts…until the close. The result was that I left readers wondering what they were going to get, and what they had to do.

One comment read: “My only question at this point is this: ‘What is this really going to cost me?'”

In other words, the deal killer was the uncertainty. The lack of facts at the end.

Since I can’t legally offer this service, I pulled the ad and I won’t post it here. But I’ll tell you what my closing says:

“If this sounds like something that could help you, please reply to this ad. I’ll send you a simple questionnaire, follow up by phone or email if necessary, and then I’ll get to work.”

Here, a few facts could have dispelled the uncertainty. I should have said, “I’ll send you 5 simple questions to answer, and if anything is unclear I’ll follow up with a 10-minute phone call. No matter what, you will only pay x dollars, as promised.”

Now the reader won’t be left wondering what this is really going to cost them, either in time or money. Five questions, x dollars, and maybe a 10 minute phone call if they need it.

The number one reason people don’t buy from you is that they simply don’t want what your selling. But the number two reason is they don’t believe you. For whatever reason, they don’t believe you can provide what you say you can provide.

The best way to strengthen your close is to be a fanatic about dispelling every last trace of doubt and uncertainty. You can go a long way towards accomplishing this by backing up your claims with facts. And that’s a fact.

What are the 3 most important facts a potential client should know about your business? Leave them in the comments below.





One response to “My Brief Career as a Criminal”

  • Jay Tabrizi September 7, 2017 at 6:41 pm Reply 

    They should know:
    1) I traveled 217 days last year to secure the best quality ingredients
    2) I spend 3 times the industry average on quality control.
    3) I’m more than just a supplier. I help my clients get more business, and I never expect anything in return.

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