What I Learned from Claude Hopkins

my life in advertising“Every great move I have made in life has been ridiculed and opposed by my friends. The greatest winnings I have made, in happiness, in money or in content, have been accomplished amid almost universal scorn. But I have reasoned in this way: The average man is not successful. We meet few who attain their goal, few who are really happy or content. Then why should we let the majority rule in matters affecting our lives?” (p. 94 – My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins)

It was a glorious accident that I found this book. I’d been helping my Mom and Dad clear out their recycling and reusable goods. Mom sent me into the book exchange to drop off a bunch of old books she was giving away and as I was sorting the books onto their proper shelves I found this gem of a book. I’d looked for a copy in the past but without much success … and here it was … FREE!

This book was a fascinating look at the life of a man who devoted his life to advertising. His accounts of turning money losing products into household names were brilliant and inspirational. His life lessons shared were priceless. And, I found many of his lessons applied to real estate just as much as advertising.

The easy application of his advertising lessons to real estate was delightful but not surprising. I spend quite a bit of time in our Real Estate Millionaire: The Essential Starter Course explaining the fundamentals of marketing and sales strategy because I believe that a good marketer WILL make an exceptional real estate investor.

A marketer must understand it’s audience in order to be able to entice them to take action. This means a good marketer will:

  • Determine what the market wants through careful market research,
  • Understand what needs to be said and what mediums should be used to deliver that message,
  • Be able to appeal to the underlying emotions that motivate the prospect,
  • Measure the results of their actions carefully in order to fully understand what messages, mediums and methods are providing the best ‘bang for their buck’,
  • Be good communicators, both in spoken and written words.

Bram and I on Knox Mountain in Kelowna where we were doing market research for potential purchases (click for the latest details)

I believe the exact same skills are critical to success as a real estate investor! Before we buy a property we spend at least a few months researching the market area. We typically narrow our focus down to an area as small as 4 or 5 square blocks. We find an area that has potential for growth due to increasing employment, improving infrastructure and desirable amenities. Then we learn what the tenants in that area want. Once we understand what area is poised for growth and what properties the tenants of that city are attracted to we go out and find it.

And, because we’ve spent so much time researching the market we already know what are the features to focus on when we advertise to a tenant. We already know what attracts people to the area – whether it’s  a short commute to downtown, an award winning school, trendy shops and restaurants or access to the beach.  We also know what features of the property are most important to our prospects. If very few places in that area have a large back yard or air conditioning but those are the most desired features we will be sure to emphasize them.

Understanding the market area and the tenants in the area right through to knowing how to market your property to attract the best tenants are critical skills. And, of course, you have to be able to communicate with people if you’re going to negotiate real estate deals and be a landlord!

Claude Hopkins would have made an exceptional real estate investor because he was a master marketer.

Here’s a few additional things Claude writes about that you might want to consider as you think about your next (or first) real estate purchase:

  • Always try to get immediate action from your prospect. Tell them what delaying will cost them. In other words, get them to fill out a rental application on the spot because if they don’t the property could be gone before they even have a chance to submit it!
  • Do nothing to merely interest, amuse or attract. Do what you have to do to win over your prospect in the cheapest possible way.
  • Answer any questions you have with a test campaign. In our case, we will use Craigslist or Kijiji to advertise a property we’re considering buying for rent (or rent to own). When people contact us we just explain that we don’t yet have access to the property but will take their name and number and will call them when we have it. We don’t share the address but will explain the features and the area of the property. Within a few days we know whether there is demand for that property or not.

And… one final piece of advice … if you’ve read my short article called “Before you Buy that Rental Property” you’ll know that I almost passed on a very lucrative deal because I couldn’t imagine ever living in that house. Well Claude Hopkins has some wise words on the subject of confusing your wants and needs as those of everyone else:

“We must never judge humanity by ourselves. The things we want, the things we like, may appeal to a small minority.” (p. 24).

Send Us A Message

If you have questions about points raised in this post, or if you’d like to learn more, then send us a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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