Please note:  After attending this course, a number of report were received verbally by the author, stating that elements of the package were not delivered as agreed (notably the software).  Readers should bear in mind this pattern of complaints when considering any related purchases.

This month, your intrepid reporter eats with mice, has his laptop bag christened, and learns to make lots of money from US property without ever owning it.

I’m sitting here feeling rather pleased with myself.  A couple of weekends ago, I reviewed Ayshe’s course on investment in the US.  In that article, I underscored the risks of investing in the US economy at the present time.  Under my left elbow as I type is my complementary copy of the Independent Newspaper.  Emblazoned across the front page is a feature on the crisis in the Dollar.  It’s just broken 14yr lows against the pound, and the $2 mark is in sight.  Sadly, due to the publishing delays, my metaphorical alarm bell ringing for readers has come a little late.  Nevertheless, I’d just like to revel in my brief moment of smug delight!

So why, you might ask, am I taking this opportunity to harp on about myself in a way that probably make you want to punch me?  Well, right now, I’m sitting listening to an American.  A real live one, delivered especially for the benefit of the investors I’m currently sitting with.  And he’s teaching a business system that’s so good it’s actually got me out of bed at 6am on a Saturday.  On average, I’m more likely to stay up till 6am than get up at 6am.  So if this guy wasn’t good, I wouldn’t be here.

If the US economy is sliding merrily down the tubes, why on earth would I bother getting up at 6am to learn how to buy property there?  Well here’s the genius of this system – you don’t have to.  Don’t choke on your cornflakes, but this is a property investment system that’s got nothing to do with investing in property.  Bearing in mind that the US housing market is taking a battering right now, this might not be such a bad idea.

Bryan Ellis comes from an on-line marketing background.  Those of you who have been living on a desert island for the last few years might not be aware that we now have this new-fangled thing called the internet.  Remarkably, this news seems to be seeping rather slowly into the world of property, where many investors appear to be convinced that the internet is the work of the Devil, and email arrives by witchcraft.

I was tempted onto the course by a preview seminar, run by Mark Anastasi.  For those of you who aren’t aware of Mark, he’s quite a phenomenon (and young enough to inspire profound jealousy).  He runs large free seminars, promoted over the internet, which contain an appealing and lucrative blend of content and sales pitch on a huge variety of investment topics.  These are far bigger than property networking events and apparently far more successful at shifting course seats.  You’d be well advised to register for his mailing list if you want to keep your ear to the ground on the latest training events.  The reason for this seemingly random digression is that this background gives a great insight into the difference between Bryan and just about everybody else you’ll come across in the world of property.  This difference is simple:  in the world of Information Technology, the value is in the information.  Bryan doesn’t give a fig for owning property.  He cares about owning information.  In this case, the information happens to concern property transactions.

That’s probably got you scratching your head, but really it should have your head spinning.  Let me explain further.  Bryan doesn’t need to buy properties, he controls them with contracts, and then sells these contracts on to other investors – ultimately trading the information and the rights, not the property.  He also uses the personal contact details he builds up on this quest to sell all kinds of relevant products to his investor list.  For your typical property investor, this all sounds a bit leftfield.  But this is the new world, and you best start getting familiar with these concepts.  Internet marketers build their mailing lists up like property investors build their portfolios.  And just like a portfolio, a mailing list will generate passive income while you play golf or sleep.

So how does this business model work?  Essentially, it’s a lot simpler than you might think.  Bryan uses the internet to build up three lists of people to market to: property investors, cash investors and sellers.  He then finds properties directly from the sellers on his list, or indirectly from the investors on his second list.  He then secures these properties using an assignable contract, and sells the contract on to other people from the property investor list, who happen to be buying at that particular time.  So how do the property investors get the money to complete the deals?  Simply, Bryan will mine his cash investor list to find someone who will back the deal.  So how exactly does he go about doing all these stages?  Well, you’ll have to go on the course to find out!

But why would you, the property investor, want to use a system that doesn’t involve investing in properties?  There are many big advantages.  Firstly and most obviously, the US market is a bit of a hot potato right now, and finding a way to profit from the legions of motivated sellers that this falling market offers is a great idea.  It’s just tricky to find a business model that doesn’t rely on buying assets that are falling in value – known in investing as ‘catching the falling knife’.  Bryan’s model allows you to benefit from the deals without grasping at anything with a Swiss Army logo on it.  Secondly, conventional property investing can be such a drag!  Tenants skip off without paying rent, they break stuff and their homes need fixing up every five minutes.  Of course, those little dramas shouldn’t stop you investing, but if you can find a business model that doesn’t rely on coping with these irritations then that’s got to be a good thing, right?  Thirdly, most property investment systems aren’t that scalable.  The typical property investor would really struggle to do ten deals a month.  This system can easily cope with a high deal flow, making modest and reliable profits on each trade.  Each deal might pay less, but the ability to trade in huge volumes makes this business system potentially far more profitable than conventional investing.

You need to be aware that this is very different from most of the courses I’ve reviewed in this column.  You’re essentially buying two things by purchasing the course.  Firstly, you’ve got the business strategy and all the skills and training that you get on a normal course.  Secondly, you’ve got a fully developed internet marketing system that is all set up and ready to go when you leave the course.  This is far more applied and developed than anything I’ve come across on any other training course.  You can’t do the ‘Ruthless Internet Marketing System’ justice by describing it as a course.  In many ways it’s got more in common with a franchise.  To be fair, I haven’t had the opportunity to review the operation of the system, as I’ve not implemented it myself.  I’m only able to review the course and the principles of the ‘franchise’ system.

Bryan’s business system has been developed in the US, and can be run remotely by UK based investors.  There’s no reason why you can’t market for US properties very successfully.  Marketing for investors may be a little harder for UK based investors, as they will not be able to rely on using their existing network of contacts.  If you’re looking at building this system to work in the US, you will need to build a list of investors who want to invest in the US.  You can of course look for these people in the UK, but of course there are huge advantages to searching in America.  If you don’t fancy doing this part of the business system, you can always team up with someone who’s got an investor list across the pond.  There’s nothing wrong with a joint venture!  However, it’s worth noting that the system can be adapted to work in the UK too.  When I went on the course, it was on the very first session in this country, but Bryan assures me he’s currently in the process of developing amended materials that are specifically focussed on the UK.  Our contract law is significantly different and the legal materials need a re-write if they’re going to be used for UK customers.  Further, the marketing materials are being re-written in English (as opposed to the strange dialect used across the pond).  Even the unamended material is potentially useful for the UK, but personally I would want to use documents that have been prepared especially for our home market.  I’m looking forward to casting my eye over the Anglicised version of the course, which should be ready for the next course intake.  However, it remains to be seen how smoothly the system can be operated in the UK as our conveyancing procedure is considerably more complex than that in the US.  The US implementation of the system is very quick and easy to operate, and I’m keen to see how efficiently it can be operated in its UK incarnation.  It usually takes me some weeks to get to the point of exchanging on most of my deals, and if Bryan and his team can come up with a faster procedure then I’ll owe them a pint!  I may be an old had at this game, but I’m open-minded and I’m perfectly willing to believe I’m missing a trick or two.

So what’s the difference with the US legal system that makes it easier than the conveyancing palaver that our darling government has lumbered us with?  Surprisingly, in the US, you can create a valid property sale contract using a faxed signature, without witnesses and with no legal advice.  Personally, I think this is a shockingly bad system, which is open to all kinds of abuse – but that’s the system that exists over there, so you can have the pleasure of work within it.  There’s one other important difference in the US.  A buyer can purchase a property without changing the mortgage.  You just leave it in place when you buy (NB for legal geeks, I’m not talking about assumption, this is different).  I’ve been told you can sometimes do this in the UK too, but this is very much news to me.  I’m really keen to see how close to this level of simplicity we can get in the UK.  However, even in its US clothes there’s absolutely no reason why a UK property investor shouldn’t work exclusively in the US, or indeed any other country.  The only downsides to doing this are the overheads of overseas phone calls and suchlike.  I know we Brits struggle to deal with foreigners, but sometimes it’s worth the effort!  You can adapt this system to work wherever you like.  Fancy buying Yurts in Mongolia?  I’m sure you can make it happen – providing of course you’re average Mongolian motivated seller can get a reliable internet connection!

What makes this course different from so many others, is that it’s not just about learning.  It’s perhaps more similar to a franchise or affiliate system than a standard course in some ways.  It gives you a fully established business solution, all set up and ready to go.  All you have to do is operate it, tweaking and developing it further if you want.  (Please note that I have NOT reviewed the system’s operation).  The upshot of this is that you’re supposed to be able to get up and running fast, making money very soon after you come off the course.  However, you’ll probably want to get some additional training on some of the areas Bryan doesn’t cover in too much detail.  For example, he doesn’t go into much depth about the way to handle sellers.  If you’ve got a good feel for sales and customer relations, you’ll be happy to wing it, but having more training in this area would be a definite plus.  Don’t worry, though – loads of other courses cover this in considerable detail, so don’t start thinking that this means there’s a fatal flaw in the Ruthless Internet Marketing System.  The big plus with Bryan’s approach is his unique approach to marketing, and in many ways spending too much time focussing on stuff you can readily learn elsewhere could be seen as a minus point.

The course was held in the Novotel West.  This is an excellent venue and is easily accessible by public transport and by car.  It’s just off the A4 and within easy walking distance of Hammersmith tube.  There is on street and underground parking available.  The room was ideal – correctly sized, comfortable seating and with good acoustics and clear view of the speaker and projector (which admittedly went fuzzy for one session).  Getting these ‘peripheral’ things right is so important.  You don’t need a posh hotel, but you do need to make sure you can hear, see and sit without strain to enjoy a weekend course.  The training kicks off at 9am, which is pretty punishing for people travelling from afar – I was dragged out of bed at 6am.  You can stay in the Novotel, but it is of course pretty pricey!  Bryan is an engaging speaker, who works well with the audience.  There are plenty of hushed moments when he holds everyone’s attention tightly.  The audience was fairly experienced, with some excellent questions and support from the other group members.  The presentation style was simple, with adequate explanation of the concepts.  The only downside was perhaps the length of some sessions.  No matter how good the content, it’s hard to concentrate on the same topic area for two hours.

Bryan prides himself on making people succeed, and that approach makes him and his business partner Carole great to spend time with.  During the week that they were in the UK, I made the effort to see them several times.  Obviously, we were keen to show them the finest Britain has to offer, which included going to spectacular meals in the most glittering venues in Hammersmith.  Sadly, this consisted of an average pub with below average food, and a Lloyds No.1 bar.  The pub served a burger Bryan described as a ‘hockey puck’, initially due to its size, but later because of its culinary quality.  Despite the fact that it was inedible, we were still forced to pay for it.  Not to be outdone, the rival eatery treated us to mice running up the wall during our meal.  A plus point in my opinion, as it appeared to be a crucial gambit in our successful efforts to get our meal for free.  A no-money-down dinner.  Despite the insipid food and rodent company, the meal was hilariously funny.  Halfway through, the assembled throng decided that my laptop bag (which I carry everywhere) was my partner and hence needed a name.  So now you’ll frequently see us together at networking events. Andrew the investor and Vivian the red laptop bag.  We’re a lovely couple, and we never, ever argue.

The course is may seem expensive compared to others you can go on (priced at just under three grand), but when you look break it down you’ll see that this price is actually perfectly sensible.  Broadly speaking, you could split the price in two, one half for the training and one half for the turnkey business system.  If you then consider that it’s a 2-day course, then the price is equivalent to less than £750 per day.  This is still pricey, but not excessively so, especially when you compare the quality of content with most of the more ‘samey’ courses available on the market.  You won’t be likely to find the material covered elsewhere on the property scene, which makes a big difference if you’re a training course veteran.  Furthermore, you’ll leave the course with a money making website set up and ready to go, and the right to sell the course to other people as an affiliate (I’m pleased to say that if you follow the link at the bottom of the article, I’ll be earning a bob or two).  In summary therefore, it’s quicker and simpler to make your money back than on most other courses.  The techniques you cover are also more generally applicable than the content of most courses.  You could adapt most of what you learn to sell everything from CDs to cheese, so if you’re not excited by the original business model you still have the potential to benefit hugely from the course.  I probably won’t be taking the Ruthless Internet Marketing System and operating it verbatim, but that doesn’t mean for one second that I don’t feel I’ve benefited from the course.  Bryan’s training style is such that he teaches general principles, leaving you to adapt them to their specific use.  This works very well if you want to apply the content to more than one sphere of business.  Much of what is taught is a thorough, general and relatively basic introduction to internet marketing.  If you’re already a guru of SEO, Overture, OneShoppingCart, Clickbank and Aweber then you’ll learn much less on this course than a novice will.  However, property investors are often a bit scared of such new-fangled technology and usually stick to a more Luddite way of doing business.  As a result, many haven’t even heard of the concepts above, and they’ll really have their eyes opened by this course.  If you’re already an advanced internet marketer, your learning will concentrate on the actual business system, and you may pick up less from the general training.  It is of course unrealistic to expect to be able to walk off a two-day course knowing everything about every area of internet marketing.  Bryan’s knowledge is pretty encyclopaedic, and excepting the UK-specific knowledge there were only a few times on the course when suspected I might be able to teach him a trick or two.  That level of knowledge is pretty damn rare on a property course, I can assure you.  It’s worth noting that some of the pre-written marketing materials include some pretty cheesy but highly effective sales techniques.  Some people might not want to use these, but of course they’d potentially risk losing deals as a result.  However, all the materials are customisable but there’s no compulsion to use anything you don’t feel comfortable with.  You’re free to pick and choose which materials or sections of the content that you want to develop.

A major plus point of the course is the personal follow-up.  Bryan books in a specific consultation session with everyone who wants one.  As I’m already operating at a fairly advanced level, I gained a huge amount from being able to talk about my own business with him, gaining the benefit of his in-depth knowledge and fresh perspective on my enterprise.  As a result of this, it looks like we might end up working together on some future projects.  All in all, he’s a great bloke to be in contact with.  He perspective, knowledge and expertise are not readily replaceable.

This course will be a massive eye-opener for UK investors, especially those who are unfamiliar with US investing or with internet marketing.  I’d certainly rank it in my top three courses ever.  Quite simply, it’s bloody brilliant.  Some of the smart ideas I’ve picked up had me buzzing with excitement – and from someone who thought they’d seen it all before, that’s a pretty big complement.  Sign up at www.ruthlessinternetmarketing.com