April 2, 2007

Lessons from the Real Estate and Wealth Expo

You can observe a lot just by watching.
--- Yogi Berra
The Metro Toronto Convention Centre is jampacked for the Real Estate and Wealth Expo (Mar 24-25). I splurged on VIP admission but there are hundreds of people in the line at the registration desk. I wonder what general admission is like. Later I learn that 45,000 to 50,000 are attending. At $100 a ticket, that's $4.5 million.

The logistics are handled well. There are guides everywhere --- well-versed and genuinely helpful. Most of them are probably supplied by the venue. Signs abound. Printed programs are plentiful. In the keynote hall which probably seats at least 10,000, there are lots of screens. So everyone can see and hear.

Get Rich Quick
The theme of getting rich quick resonates with the audience. There are many strategies: stock trading (signup for training!), foreclosures (signup for training!), etc (signup for training!). Training for a typical 2-3 day seminar costs $1,000 to $2,000 after the "once in a lifetime" show discounts. There are numerous guarantees (though getting your money back isn't usually one of them). Instead, you can keep attending the seminars. Spouses can usually attend for free.

Get lots of reviews --- mostly negative --- here.

If you're able to hold on to your wallet, it's interesting to see many persuasion techniques in use by masters:

  • scarcity: only so many spots, offer only available now, must act now
  • no risk: lots of guarantees, no skills or money needed (as long as you can pay for their course ...)
  • commonality: started with (less than) nothing and became successful, so you can too
  • simplicity: everything is thought out for you ... you just reel in the money

As the hours pass, the audiences become desensitized to the sales pitches. So more powerful salesmen (and yes they are *all* men) step in. To maintain the audience's interest (and to attract them in the first place) there are presenters like Tony Robbins and Donald Trump. There are short 30 minute breaks with the likes of former boxer George Foreman (the only nonwhite) and author David Bach (The Automatic Millionaire, etc).

It was interesting how each presenter tried to show they were the best.

  • Tony Robbins talks about states, which are temporary. I talk about traits, which are permanent.
  • Unlike other presenters, I'm not here to sell you books and tapes.
  • One commercial real estate deal is better than 50 residential deals.
  • Billionaires bashing billionaires: I'm better than Richard Branson because The Apprentice goat higher ratings than his show. I'm better than Donald Trump because my dad didn't give me $25 million when I turned 21.
  • Getting a mentor is better than taking someone else's course

Various forms of testimonials were used.

  • reading letters
  • having past students tell their stories onstage
  • videos, especially of famous people (eg, Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup fame)
Lessons Learned
I'm glad that we don't use such aggressive techniques.
I don't care what you do.
I wouldn't want to be like you.
--- Alan Parsons, I Robot (1977)

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