The following insight came from my podcast interview with Andrew Bustamante, where he shared about Marketing Lessons Learned from the CIA.
When I sought to launch the product, I knew from the beginning; I wanted to be loyal to the CIA, be true to my spy training, and weave the values into the business itself.
So here’s, here’s a little bit of kind of an example of how that works. If you want to target a human penetration in the spy world, you target an asset with access to secrets: North Korean nuclear general or Iranian nuclear scientists, counterproliferation, anything you can think of. If you want to find a bad guy, you have to know who that bad guy is, not necessarily by just their name. If you know their name, their face, their passport number, you’re in good shape. But more likely, what you know is you know where they operate. So you as a CIA operative, you have to go to where that person is. If they’re in a slum in Bangalore, then you’re going to the slum in Bangalore. If they’re in the Ritz Carlton in Singapore, you’re going to the Ritz Carlton in Singapore. You don’t expect the bad guy to come to you.
Then, you already know the mind of a bad guy. The bad guy is not sitting around thinking to himself, “I wonder how CIA officers think.” The bad guy’s busy doing bad guy things. The CIA’s job is to sit around thinking, “if I was a bad guy, what would I do? Where would I go? How would I operate?” It’s that taking time to save time concept that you were thinking. We do a lot of planning, a lot of thinking where we sit there and ask ourselves, “who are we going after?” We call that person an avatar. Who is our avatar? Sometimes we call the target. Who is our target?” And we come to a clear idea of who the target is, where the prey goes, how much the target spends, how they spend their money, where they travel, how they travel, who they talk to. So we go to Bangalore, we go to Singapore, wherever that bad guy is.
But we don’t stop there. We don’t just go to their place. We know that to attract them and get their attention without getting all sorts of other attention that we don’t want, we have to be extremely intentional in approaching and talking to that person; we don’t wear a big sign that says, “I’m CIA, come talk to me.” We go, and we find that location, and we try to come up with a cover story or a legend that will appeal to our target but not appeal to everybody. For example, if we know that our target is an avid soccer fan, and he follows Real Madrid in Spain, then we might go undercover as a PR person for Real Madrid.
When we know who our target is. We get into their circle, and we drop a real quick statement like, “oh yeah, I’m here scouting out locations for Real Madrid.” Right away, you have that person’s attention. The person next to them who follows some other soccer team or who doesn’t know anything about soccer doesn’t care who you are. Still, you’re going for that one target; you know they like Real Madrid soccer, they know that you’re the PR person for Real Madrid, you have their complete and total attention. And now you can run an operation. Now you can start building a relationship, and you can start finding out vulnerabilities and start getting new information. The end goal is to make that person institutionally loyal to the CIA. To win their loyalty, win their business, and have a long term relationship. That’s how we operate at the CIA.
So when I launched EverydaySpy, I just followed the same process. I asked myself, “How do I find the person who wants to learn spy skills? How do I have a conversation with just that person?” Even more important, how do I talk about EverydaySpy in a way so that if people aren’t interested in EverydaySpy, they don’t even notice I’m there because I don’t want that person. Suppose they hear about me and are interested in conspiracy theories, but not spy skills. In that case, I need to get that person as far away from me as possible because they’re wasting my time, wasting my resources, and they’re compromising my op with my real target.