Is the ‘CSI effect’ hindering your success?

If you are a financial advisor or real estate professional, a condition very similar to “the CSI effect” could be hindering your success.


The CSI effect is a problem faced by the justice system when juries place too much faith in fingerprints and DNA evidence. It’s called “the CSI effect” to suggest that forensic shows like CSI (and others) are tainting real-life juries by making them believe that forensic evidence is easy to obtain, can be processed by a lab in hours, and decisive beyond a shadow-of-a-doubt.

Although the CSI effect is just a hypothesis, it does raise the issue that today’s media might be making everyone an expert.


You might not be prosecuting criminals but you might be impacted by the CSI effect anyway… or, at least something similar. Our prospective clients have access to all kinds of information — from us and from others; on TV and the web. There is no shortage to the information that they can access.

Unfortunately, it has made “amateur experts” out of many clients, turning naive homebuyers into superstar DIY real estate agents and untrained investors into the next Jim Cramer.

Let me be clear about something before you read any further: Savvy clients are good. I’m not proposing that financial and real estate professionals would be better off with clients who couldn’t tell their left hand from their right hand. The root of the problem is NOT that they have access to lots of information to make better decisions. Rather, the root of the problem is that they have no filter to help them navigate the complicated world of real estate or investing.

They’ve been empowered and informed but not equipped.

The result is: Real estate professionals are finding lots of people going the list-it-themselves route or are assuming that they are expert househunters. And financial advisors are finding lots of people who leave voicemails on the advisors’ office overnight because of some great stocks they found while browsing online.


This is tricky. You don’t want to belittle them by telling them that what they know is wrong, nor do you really want to validate that their unsorted knowledge is a replacement for your expertise.

What clients really need is structure. They need decision-making systems. They need rules. They need ways to synthesize their information. They need frames. They need order. They need taxonomies. They need context. They need the bigger picture.

Right now, your clients are looking at splotches of paint on canvas; you need to help them step back and see the entire painting.

Here are some ways to work with your clients to counter the CSI effect:

  • When writing your blog, make sure you use categories (or some other sorting system) that make sense in the bigger picture.
  • In all of your marketing, make sure to highlight that the one piece of information you’re expressing is a single cog in a giant piece of machinery.
  • Prepare information, verbal and written responses, and proactive marketing to address the reality that some of your clients will tell you about something they saw on TV or the web that doesn’t mesh with what you do. (For example, a normally conservative investor tells a financial advisor about a speculative stock they just heard about from a friend on Facebook).
  • If you’re looking for a great idea for your next downloadable document, consider a “big picture” ebook that your users can use to sort out the huge, unsorted mass of information available to them on the web.

I believe the CSI effect is real… and it’s affecting more than just the justice system. I think many of my financial and real estate clients are facing a similar situation.

But I also think that this is an opportunity for you! Rather than joining the ranks of real estate and financial advisors who ONLY give out unsorted, unfiltered information, why not become the professional who helps prospective clients MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL.

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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