A collection of Gary Halbert's (a revered copywriter) letters to his son that impart wisdom on direct marketing and life lessons. Practical advice towards copywriting, or as Halbert puts it - "We don’t focus on writing better copy. We focus on creating better deals".
“It cleans you out, it settles you down and it gives you a nice glow that will stay with you throughout the day. “It will also make you more clearheaded and improve the quality of your thinking”
“nothing is impossible for a man who refuses to listen to reason"
"When most people tell others of any plan to make money, they are met with instant negativity"
"Once you set out to actually do something which may elevate your status, many people will tell you it can't be done, it isn't worth it, or remind you of all the pitfalls that they can think of."
"I don't care what you think of your friends or family, it is in most people's nature to stop you."
“Write down your goals and go over them every day, not just once a year.”
“I think it is because your peers translate your success into their failure for not becoming rich.Let’s face it, most people judge how well they have done in life by comparing themselves to their peers, and if one of their peers has become a multi-millionaire and could retire young and rich, then they will have to question their own choices.”
“Write down your goals and go over them every day, not just once a year.”
"Defensive Behavior Invites Aggressive Action"
“The first person to try and hold my dad back was his own father. On several occasions, my dad told me of how my grandfather told him he wouldn't be able to breakout of the average working Joe's existence.
“Once my dad stopped seeking his father's approval, he realized he was in control of his own destiny.”
“...[Halbert] had the ability and more importantly the WILL to eliminate or marginalize anyone in his life he felt was too negative.”
“ self-reliance is the real motive of great business men and not money.”
“Money, in my opinion, especially big money, is most often a by-product of enthusiasm. ”
“Always look for the most enthusiastic person, not necessarily the most qualified.”
- Call people in a telephone book (outdated)
- Create mail promotions to people who live in high income areas
- Find people who have a high enough income to maybe be interested in buying or investing whatever the thing it is that you're selling
- Mail promotion to list of upper income people who are proven mail order buyers.
"Someone who is wealthy, is a mail order buyer, buys similar products by mail, are repeat buyers/have bought several times, and paid big money for what they bought"
Three Guidelines to rely on when picking lists to test
- More recent someone buys something, more receptive they will be to your offer
- "Most important"
- More often a person buys an item, higher their desire for that type of service
- People put their money where their true desires are
- $100 prospect for diet pills is hotter prospect than a person who has only paid $10
“Clients, although they would never admit it, most often feel relieved with someone who takes a "don't you dare mess with my copy"
“My brother Kevin and I know far more about Gary Halbert-level copy than anyone else on Earth, but we don’t focus on writing better copy. We focus on creating better deals.”
“Most of the world's work is done by people who didn't feel much like getting out of bed.”
“All of us, including thee and me, have a slightly shrewd idea of ourselves. We often try to convince others and ourselves that we are something we are not, something we have an idea we "should" be
-" How to buy real estate with no money down" =>
- "How to buy LA real estate with no money down"
- How Cardiologists in LA can buy real estate with no money down"
- Read 3 times
- Read 2 times
- Find an ad you want to try to work
- Pretend you have a list of people who bought a book on how to make money in real estate. Get 3 or 4 books in investing in real estate, read, and take notes
- Get as many DM pieces and ads on real estate investing you can find, read and take notes
- Review notes from Collier and Hopkins' books and read headlines again. Presumably, you'll have a "central selling idea" ("Did you know there's a way for cardiologists to buy LA real estate without any down payments?")
- Create the product
- Extract good ideas from the source material on the topic (e.g. real-estate, overlay them with your own ideas, arrange in some logical form, and start writing)
"It's better to be in the spam box of a primary email address than to be in the primary box of a spam email address"
“For example, right now I am sitting cross-legged on my back here in room 7 of dorm 6 in the Boron Federal Prison Camp. I have just finished running the hill five times (4 miles), and I did it in 57 minutes and 5 seconds.”
“this type of personal, specific info bonds the reader and writer closer together"
“Well, here I am once again starting to write without knowing where I am going. All I know is that when I keep moving and writing and flowing, generally something decent emerges. We'll see.”
“One key question every business owner should ask is “how can I make it so ordering is even easier. Many great burger stands went out of business when the competition across the street added a drive thru.”
“...and so, Mr. Jones, as you can see, what I am offering you is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a piece of a legalized Nevada whorehouse. I hope you can take advantage of this offer. But, if you can't, would you please drop me a note and tell you can't participate at this time. That way I'll feel free to make this exciting offer to someone else. I've enclosed a self-addressed envelope and I have even put a stamp on it because (either way) it is important that I hear from you right away. Please, please — reply today!"
“Describe what it looks like when happy customers receive the benefit of your product.”
“If you are online, add a few videos. They probably won’t watch, but it makes the reader feel like they can just pick and choose what they are interested in reading.”
“The proper time to let people know you are pitching is after you have started seriously fueling their desire.”
“Now here are a few things you should always include.
A complete description of your product including how many pages, how many words, how many photos, who wrote it, facts about the author (his age, background, success stories, etc.).
You should also take notes on what this product will do for you.
Will it make you wealthy?
How will more money help your customer?
Will he be able to buy a better car?
Take more vacations?
Afford a better home?
If so, put it down.”
“So, to make it clearer your letter should:
“Brainstorms come at the times when your brain is well nourished and the most relaxed, which means the ideas come when you least expect them.”
“ ALL great copywriters write their nugget notes, bullets, and headlines by hand. You will lose ideas trying to remember how to record a note on your phone”
“Sometimes, my nugget notes consist of just one word. Sometimes they consist of meaningless phrases. Many times my notes make sense but many times they don’t. No matter. I never worry about it. I just keep writing. I write what occurs to me as I read the list cards, the jackets of books, the ads, the DM pieces, and all the rest of the material I have assembled.”
“Remember, the copy is only about you in so much as it proves how you can help the prospect solve their problems.”
Elaborates on AIDA
“Attention comes first. Naturally, we must get our readers attention before he can become interested in and desirous of our offer. Getting attention is CRUCIAL. If you don’t get it, your letter or advertisement will never be read. That’s why I like to attach things to the top of my DM letters. I have attached coins, dollar bills, 2-dollar bills, Japanese “pennies”, Mexican pesos etc. and there gimmicks has always gotten a lot of attention.”
“How do we do this? Well, let’s start by feeding him interesting facts. Like how much money there is to be made by investing in Maui real estate. By telling how much sand (cubic tons) is on the beach where we got the sand in that baggie. By telling how this is one of the best beach front investment opportunities in Maui. By telling how many pretty girls there are around. By telling the specific kinds of fish you can catch right off the beach. Etc.”
“What we do to create desire is we describe the benefits our prospect gets if he buys our product or service.
Now, in the case of an investment-orientated offer, what we have to offer is the prospect of making money. At least this is our main attraction.
So, what's let's do is let’s help him to picture in his mind the benefits of having more money. Don’t think it’s not necessary. Remember, you must always do even the obvious. Here then, are some benefits of having more money:
New car - impress your friends and family, ride in comfort and luxury
Nice house - comfort, luxury, and status
Peace of mind - no worries about bills or financial emergencies
Vacations - money lets you travel the world, go where you want when you want”
Attract the opposite sex - money, as any fool knows, makes you much more attractive to the opposite sex - it gives you more opportunities to meet them in nice places also
Leisure time - money buys time: perhaps the best reason of all for having fun goes”
“Would you like to get in on this great investment opportunity? Would you like to be one of the privileged few who actually own a piece of the finest beach in Maui? If so, it’s easy to order. All you have to do is fill out the order coupon and send it to me with your payment, etc., etc.”
“And, above all, tell him to do all this RIGHT NOW! TODAY!”
“Not everyone who followed this writing exercise became a good copywriter but everyone who did become great wrote out the winners.
This lesson should also be applied to online copy as well as sales scripts, ”
- "Well, as a matter of fact"
- "Now, naturally"
- "And, of course"
- “You will have the freedom to choose what to do with your day.”
“The Layout Of Your Advertisement Should Catch The Attention Of Your Reader... But... Not In A Way That CausesHim To "Notice" The Layout!”
“YOU CAN DO A BETTER SELLING JOB WHEN AT FIRST IT DOES NOT APPEAR YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO DO A SALES JOB.”
“Dear Mr. Noble,
I thought you might like to see what the Noble coat-of-arms looks like in full color so I am sending you the enclosed snapshot.”
“Listen to this: When a person goes for a job interview, the interviewer decides whether or not to hire that person in the first 40-seconds.
And this: In a jury trial, the members of the jury make up their minds as to whether the accused is guilty or innocent during the first half hour or so (during the opening argument), and they spend all the rest of the time the trial takes in finding ways to justify the decision they have already made.”
“What should you do? What I did. Write, run, walk, talk, jog, etc."
“What matters is that I am going through the "process" of writing it. And it is the process or physical act of the writing and the road work that does the therapy”
“My father taught me to wait 72 hours after being emotional to make any important decisions.”
"It is hard to stay emotional for 3 days and if you still want to sue someone, leave your wife or quit your job start the process.”
- "i'm going out of business"
- "im having a fire sale"
- "i owe taxes and need to pay them off fast"
- “A mutual friend of ours, Tom Smith, said I should write you because, he says, you are the best judge of value of a book like this that he knows.”
- “Did you know there are only 117 So & So families in the entire U.S.?
- Yes, it's true. And, because you are one of them, blah, blah, etc., etc.”
“What happens when you read your copy out loud is that you will verbally stumble over all the places that are not smooth. Then, of course, what you do, is rewrite the rough spots and read the copy out loud again”
“You see, advertising writing needs to be the best writing of all. It needs to flow from start to finish without a bump or a bubble.”
"“Get yourself a collection of good ads and DM pieces, read them aloud, and copy them in your own handwriting.”
- "How To Raise Your Child's I.Q. Before It Is Even Born"
- "How To Fix Your Car To Get 50% More Miles Per Gallon"
- "How To Collect Social Security At Any Age"
- Find a hot market (mailing list)
- Find or create a product (preferably paper and ink) to sell to that market.
- Create a direct mail promotion that describes the product (or service) and the benefits of owning the same.
- Make a test mailing (1,000 to 5,000 pieces)
- Analyze results
- If results are good, mail 20,000 to 100,000 more letters
If results are still good, start rolling out and taking care of business”
You must always find the market first, and then focus on a product.
“ The mistake is finding or developing a product FIRST and then looking for a market to sell it to.”
“Products are a dime a dozen. They are important, but much less crucial to success than finding a hot market. I'll tell you this: A guy with a new product cannot always find a hot market for that product but a guy who has uncovered a HOT MARKET can always find a product to fill the needs of that market”
“It doesn't matter how much you learn if you don't use what you learn.”
“[People who stay up to date in their fields] Have idea files that contain newspaper articles, notes of unusual info, hot new ideas, good layouts, unusual propositions, and so forth. They also know who the leaders are in their respective fields and they communicate with these people on a regular basis.”
“This was a first class letter that was designed to raise funds for a children's hospital. When the recipient opened the envelope, he discovered a... dollar bill attached to it.
The copy explained that the writer wanted to donate a thousand dollars to a certain children's hospital, but that he realized that a thousand dollars wouldn't go very far.
So, what he (the writer) had decided to do was divide his $1,000.00 contribution into 1,000 - one dollar bills and then mail these bills to 1,000 different people.
Now, he went on to say, what he hoped is that everybody who received one of these dollar bills would decide not to keep it and, instead, send it straight to the hospital with one or more dollars of their own.”
“Dear Mr. Everett,
As you can see, I have attached a crisp Iraqi Dinar to the top of this letter."
“Now I like this better using the Dinar better than the dollar bill for several reasons:
- The reader can't spend it so it can sit around reminding them
- It's cheaper than a $1
- It is more memorable.”
“The ability to remind them of you previous message is priceless because the prospects feel they got to know you [better]"
- study copy, then struggle to land jobs
- after failures, write a winning ad
- all of sudden become the "new hot shot"
- not wanting to deal w/ hassle of finding new clients, they stick with one or two clients
- then either ads fail to produce profits, or client refuses to keep handing over money for what they consider to be a few hours of work done a long time ago
“The best copywriters love to write and keep taking clients, but to get them, you need something profitable, easy, and very interesting to snag them away from other opportunities.”
“Namely: I pay attention to myself and when I am off, I drop out of sight and do what is necessary to strengthen myself.”
“It is important here, it is important out there, and it is especially important in business dealings. People can smell it when you are weak. When you are vulnerable. They can smell success too.”
“nobody wants to help or be with the sulking kid.”
“My relationship with my father and mother has always been really strong, but one thing I learned from both of them is not to waste time with people who are simply dead weight....time is too precious to waste on people who undermine your confidence, hold petty grievances and don't add to your enjoyment of life.”
“You can learn to respect yourself by creating your own moral code and standing by it.”