Gary: Let's roll.
Michel: Hey, Gary, welcome. Well folks, we're gonna have a great call tonight. I think it's going to be one of the calls that I would do, I'd be on if I was just an asserting copywriter because what we're going to do tonight is talk about some of the most effective strategies, some of the most pressing questions that you have about writing an effective copy itself.
I want to introduce you to Gary, but first before that, do not, I'm going to tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Michael Fortin and some of you know me as “The Success Doctor” and you probably also know that I've been the copywriter for some of the biggest names on the internet today. For example, I've written copy for John Reese, Yonix Silver, Michael Kimble, Kirk Christensen, Stephen Pierce, Shawn Casey, and many more.
I only started out in copywritingbecause I had no choice. I was a salesperson in my early career and I was just not making any headway with some of the more traditional door knocking techniques so one day I decided to write my first sales letter and then lo and behold, by writing copy, I noticed myself starting to skyrocket because now I was attracting people to come to me qualified people that I could easily sell to.
And then later on, I discovered direct mail. I was writing direct mail pieces and selling with sales letters and copywriting. I was also writing TV commercials and producing TV infomercials for some cosmetic surgeons and hair transplant surgeons and then later on, I decided to plunge into copywriting full-time and now I write copy almost exclusively for the internet.
One of my mentors throughout this entire process is a man they call, I believe, the King of Copy or Prince of Print. I think Gary writes some of the most compelling copy in the world today and even on the web, if you study Gary's letters and probably the single greatest copyright on how to resource online which is thegaryhalbertletter.com, you will probably build, oh you will build the not only the single greatest most profitable skill you can ever learn, but you will also have an edge over 99.99 percent of the people out there and by studying, I don't mean just read those letters.
I mean, write them out word by word, if not all of them, and look at how Gary uses tempo, uses psychology, the subtleties and nuances, how he tells compelling stories, how he uses the emotional grabbers, how he presses emotional hype buttons all of those things are super important. How he makes these compelling offers that makes you whip out your wallet and buy now.
Because I mean, before long when you do that, you're going to find yourself writing copy that grabs the attention of the reader until the very last find of your copy until the order your product or service.
So be prepared because this call is probably going to be the most power- packed call you've ever been on and dare I say, the most important call of your life. So without further adieu, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you the greatest copywriter of all time, my mentor, Mr. Gary Halbert.
Gary: Thank you, thank you very much.
I'm going to talk a little bit before I address your questions because I want to kind of motivate you to really learn this. I live in Miami and every day on the eastern coast here in southern Florida, people wash ashore from other countries, mainly from Haiti and mainly from Cuba. I want you to imagine that two Cubans wash ashore on the same day, maybe ten miles apart but they're both barely alive but they're healthy okay and they make it.
One of those Cubans use to work as a dishwasher and he found a way to rip off some of the guests at the hotel where he was and he had $500,000.00 in a waterproof bag strapped to his body. He comes ashore with $500,000.00.
The other guy comes ashore and he doesn't have anything except a tattered pair of bathing trunks on. He has nothing, nothing whatsoever except that he is a brain surgeon. He was a brain surgeon in Cuba.
Now let's fast forward to about three years from now and take a look at both of those guys. The first guy, the guy who had $500,000.00 that he stole, it would be my guess that he will no longer have his $500,000.00, that he'll have gone through it, that he'll have partied his way through it, and now he will be scratching to make some money.
He'll probably end up being something illegal, in drugs, he'll probably be dead, he might be in jail or something, but he won't have much.
The guy that came ashore with nothing, he'll live in one of the best sections of Miami, he'll maybe live in Coral Beach. He'll have a Mercedes, probably a great wife and the beginnings of a family, a very lucrative and high paying career in a hospital, etc.
The difference is that the guy who, the last guy I talked about came across with true wealth, the only wealth that really exists, which is the wealth between your ears. Somebody can take your money away, but if you have it between your ears, you can never be poor.
You can only be broke and that's always a temporary situation. And in my opinion, there is no more valuable skill in the world than to be able to write a written sales message. Every, a written sales message is the basis of everything from television script to radio to newspaper ads to internet, etc.
I once did a seminar called how to, it's the best thing I ever gave, how to write a sales letter that will make you rich, and that, the word letter should have been changed to message. But if you can write a sales letter and I've done it, you can literally reduce your overhead to like a dollar nineteen cents for a legal pad and a couple of ballpoint pens
You can do it any place, you can do it from the Rain Forest, etc. A lot of people, if they're copywriters, they ask me, you know I'm a copywriter, how do I get a client. Well that is an indication that he hasn't really learned his skill yet.
Because a good copywriter never even has to think about getting clients. If, if you want clients, I mean if I wanted to work, I can guarantee you, I could work 40 hours a day, 365 days a year and never begin to scratch the surface of the number of people that want to hire me.
About three weeks ago, I wanted to have a little extra money. I wrote an email, it took me 11 minutes to write it. So far, I've made $95,000.00 for it. I was just bored for a few minutes. You can really get to the point where you do that too.
Now I could tell you all the successes I have had, a lot of people know about those. The most widely mailed letter in history that mailed 600,000,000 copies and a lot of things. But I am telling you, you can do that from the jungles of Brazil, you can do it from a jail cell, it is a portable skill that is the most valuable skill you can ever learn and if you learn it, I promise you, you can have anything in the world you want.
You could use it to get yourself all the money in the world, you can use it to get yourself the finest specimen of the opposite sex you could possibly want, you can use it to produce presidential elections. I am literally begged by both parties and I won't work for them because I don't think if I worked for any of them, that the party that I worked for could lose an election and so, what, it's really worth learning to do this right.
And I like to kind of tell you something that I think will, I try to, you know what I try to do is I, I try and write in a way that has an impact on people and I want to read two letters to you. And I do a lot of, I start my seminars this way and both of these letters are written to your mother, whether she's living or dead. We're going to assume, it doesn't matter.
And I'm going to tell you what I have everybody do is I give everybody two first-class stamps, two number 10 envelopes, I have them write the address in the upper left hand corner of the envelope for anybody that's really a novice out there, that's the corner card of the envelope.
And I have them add one additional thing which is the date and the day because I never want them to forget this and then I have addressed to the mother, but to their own address. In other word, the attendee's address. And then I have, we, we, I have them write, handwrite two letters to their mother and I want to read to you the first letter.
Dear Mom, I'm very busy right now and I don't have time to call so that's why I'm writing you this letter. You know mom not only are you responsible for my very existence, you are also the nourishment that has made my life sparkle.
I'm under a lot of stress right now and for some reason, I started thinking about you. It has occurred to me that maybe I haven't let you know recently how much I appreciate you and how much I love you.
I especially like remembering you and then I have them fill in something special like, on my 18th birthday when you gave me that gold Rolex watch, or whatever it was. Anyway, I'm going to make it a point to see you just as soon as I can and then you sign love, and your name.
I have them fold that up, put it in the envelope, put a stamp on the envelope and seal it.
Then, we do it all over again with the second envelope and they write their name at the top of the envelope in the corner card and below that they write the date and they write the time which will be just a few minutes later. They address the envelope once again to their mom to their home and then they write another letter to their mom. This time it says:
Dear Mom, If I weren't such a long way from home, I probably wouldn't have the guts to tell you this but the following has been true ever since I was born. You have made my life a living hell.
Every person I know has a mother that is superior to you in every positive way imaginable. You are nothing more than a wrinkled up old bitch and as far as I'm concerned, the biggest waste of skin God ever created.
Speaking of God, as the good Lord knows, you're certainly not too mentally swift either. So just in case your low IQ keeps you from understanding what I'm trying to say, let me make it perfectly clear.
And then we have a subhead. Eat Shit and Die. Please don't call or write me. I have no inclination whatsoever to communicate with you ever again. Reluctantly your son or daughter, you sign your name and then it says P.S. dad sucks too.
All right, I wish I could hear the reaction to people on the line listening to that, but I'm going to pretend I can and I'm going to ask you the same questions that I asked the people in my seminar.
First of all, I want to, I would, I don't know if you could un-mute this just for a second so I can get a reaction, but I want to know how many of you people on this call think that had your mother received one of those letters or the other that there would be much of a difference in her reaction from which, depending on which letter she got. Do any of you think that's true?
Can you un-mute and have them tell me that.
Michel: Sure, just a sec. Here we go.
Michel: I, I don't think I can un-mute because we have over, the call is so packed that we have so much people on the line here.
Gary: Okay, I'm going to assume that most of you are smart enough to realize that there would be a dramatic difference in the reaction of your mother depending on which of those letters she got.
And then, I would ask all of the attendees and I'm going to ask you, what is the difference in the cost between the two envelopes? Virtually none.
What is the difference in the energy that it took you to address the two envelopes? Virtually none.
What is the difference in the amount of postage that you paid to mail those two envelopes? Virtually none.
What is the difference in the cost of the sheet of paper upon which you wrote the letter? Virtually none.
What is the difference in energy and time it took you to write that letter? Virtually none, all right, and yet one of those letters would have created a great warm bonding feeling and another one would have caused despair and a great deal of grief and unhappiness.
And what was the difference? There was only one difference in the world and that's the words, the words on a piece of paper. There is nothing in the world that is stronger than the words on a piece of paper, whether they end up being spoken in a speech delivered in a script or anything but the written word is the strongest most source of power in the entire universe.
Now, I'm going to tell you something else before we get into questions. Really and truly, you can, it doesn't matter after a degree how good of a writer you are. It depends, what you really want to be is a good knower. You need to know things that other people don't know. That will make the big difference between your response.
Now, I'm going to give you an outlandish example.
Let's suppose that you're at a New York cocktail party, very sophisticated and there's a beautiful woman in there. And, everybody is trying to hit on this beautiful woman and there guys that go in there that tell her they can get her into show business, there are guys that tell her they are multi-millionaires, there are young guys with ripped abs, there are guys that talk about their cars, you know, there are guys that talk about how they own a modeling agency, etc., but you have some special secret knowledge that nobody else in that, all those guys in there trying to pick her up knows.
And what you know is that she's a heroin addict and she's dying for a fix. So everybody can make their pitch but you can walk over to her with a baggie of powder and show it to her and say hey, I just scored some good scag would you like to try it out with me.
That girl will be out the door with you in a split second because you hit what she really wanted. Now that's an exaggerated thing but I would rather make my point in an exaggerated way than have you not get them.
So the first thing you need to know is you need to start knowing things. You need to know about people, you need to know about strategies, you need to know a lot of things that you don't know.
I'm going to tell you a few of those things to get started.
Let's suppose that you had a rich uncle who died and left you a thousand homes all over the United States and for some reason, they all had to be sold in 90 days and they all had to be painted and they could only be painted one color.
Would you know what color to paint them? I would. You would have them painted yellow. Why is that? Because yellow is the color that has the most what if, if you live in America, you should paint them silver, because that's American's favorite color for cars right now, it's silver.
This is an example of knowing things. You need to know those things, you need to study people. Now, I'll tell you some things that you don't know that were really important for you to know.
Decades ago, Claude Hopkins conducted an experiment in newspapers in New York City with millions of circulation and he was introducing a new product to market. You didn't have to pay to get a sample of this product because they knew that once you sampled this product, you'd become a lifelong customer.
So, he divided the call to action into three cells. The first one was it's easy to get your free sample of this product. All you have to do is write your name and address on a piece of paper and send it to us. As soon as we receive it, we'll send you the free sample.
Cell 2, it's easy to get your free sample of this product. All you have to do is call such and such a number, give the operator who answers your name and address, and we'll send the product right out to you immediately.
Cell No. 3, it's easy to get your free sample of this new product. If you want, you can write your name and address on a piece of paper and send it to us or you can call us and give the operator who answers your name and address. Either way you choose, as soon as we have your name and address, we'll send you the sample of the product.
Now, I can't hear you, we can't talk, but I'm assuming your still there. I always get the feeling that I'm talking to, into the air, when I do these calls. But assuming you're still there, I bet you would like to know the answer and the answer is the call only option triples the response for lead generator, triples the response.
Now, there is a reason for this.
The other two responses allow the person the option of delay and delay is the death of a sale. But wait a minute, that was done 50 or 60 years ago. What happened if it does, I've tested it 17 different times and it, the phone only option triples the response every single time, it triples it. I bet some of you didn't know that. I'll tell you something else some of you didn't know and you need to start getting off your ass and finding these things out if you want to get world class.
Did you know that more people will call a POTS number than a toll-free number. POTS means plain old telephone service. Did you know that if you lived in the (702) area code and you asked people to call that number, you will get more calls and they'll be free than you will if you put an (888) or an (800) number. Take your own guess why, I know it's true, Agora Publishing knows it's true, we've just tested it over and over.
My guess is, that when the people call a toll-free number, they are afraid they are going to get a high pressure salesman or they're going to get trapped in voice mail hell. But it really doesn't matter. I don't really care what the answer is, I only care that I know the answer, okay.
Now, a bunch of you people are working online and I'm going to let you in on a little inside secret. Ed Dale tracked me down one time and he said, he came over from Australia and he said I've been going every place and telling people I want to be the best copywriter in the world and he says all roads seem to lead to you right here in this living room.
And we talked and I said that's very flattering and we talked for a little while and I said hey Ed, you got some websites dontcha and he said yeah, I've got five of them. I said I'll betcha I can talk to you for three minutes and dramatically improve the response of each one of your websites, every one of them, no matter what they're selling.
He had five websites and I said if I win, you owe me a dinner, right. And he said okay, and I said do this. Don't take away the page that says Click Here to Order.
By the way if you've got a website and you've got a page that says Click Here to Order, you are throwing money away, you're throwing it away and I said here's what you do, you say it's easy to order. Just pick up your phone and dial such and such a number and give the operator who answers you know your ordering information.
He made that change and it worked so well, he went back to doing it the other way because he didn't want the rest of the online community to know what he was doing and we talked on the phone and I said, hey Ed, do you owe me a dinner or not. And he said I think I owe you dinners for the rest of your life because the least improvement that he made was 200 percent and it went up to 1,000 percent.
Now, for you online guys, there's some online secrets I am not going to tell you. I mean, you're not ready for that powerful a secret, but I'm going to tell you some powerful, one very powerful one.
I'm going to tell you a couple very powerful ones. One of them is you get somebody to come to your site and a lot of people and Michael you did this at AskGary.com, and I told you there was a fatal flaw and I was going to tell you what it was?
Michel: That's right.
Gary: You said put your name and email address here. That stops a monster percentage of people from going any further. Now I myself signed up for Classmates.com much to my dismay as I'm sure a bunch of you other because they never ever stop hitting me. And people fear that.
Now, you notice on my website, you can click here to view newsletter archives and the other thing is click here if you want to be on my announcement list. Now I have thousands people on my announcement list because they've learned to trust me but you don't have to be on my announcement list. You can just go there.
You can just go to my website and read all the stuff and I don't have to know your web address, so that is a killer. Now, you got a lot of questions but instead of 500 questions now, you would probably have you know, 3000 questions if you hadn't put it there.
Gary: Now here's the other monster mistake and I can see all your heads out there buzzing, this guy doesn't know what he's talking about, blah-blah-blah, which is going to lead me to talking to efficiency versus effectiveness.
But first I'm going to tell you, if your website says click here to order, you are standing on a cliff throwing your money away because I will tell you something, click here to order, how many people visit your order page and how many people order. I'll tell you what the average stat is. One out of 20 people who visit your order page order.
Now why would you guess that is? Do you think these people just like to window shop order pages? No. That's not it at all. The thing is, it is much easier to not fill that form in as something they want than it is to make the telephone call. That's a, and you want to give them only the option of calling to get it. And people will say but I want to capture their email, what a sale, okay.
So you make them call you and another thing about order forms that everybody hates, computers are completely unforgiving. You're going to ask them to type in their name, their address, a bunch of stuff, their credit card stuff and if you transpose one number bong, an error thing goes off. I know a guy, Scott Haynes, very good copywriter, a very good friend, wanted to order a piece of software and gave up after 17 tries.
You know, and the order form is an invitation to sales doom. Anybody that has a click here to order is throwing money away.
But, I tell you what, you guys thing but it's so efficient. Now I'm going to talk to you a little bit about the difference between being efficient and being effective.
I was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia. That is on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River. If you travel on the river 30 miles north and go to the other side, you will begin Marietta, Ohio. Now, the Mississippi River is possibly a thousand miles west of the Ohio River.
Now I want you to imagine that two guys are in a canoe in the Mississippi River and I don't care which way they're paddling, north or south. But they've learned how to paddle that canoe like pros. They have a perfect J-stroke. You know, they hardly ripple the water. They get the most forward movement for the least energy expended but guess, you know, they're very efficient.
Just like everybody on the net is. They strive for efficiency but guess what, they're never going to get to Marietta, Ohio. Because Marietta, Ohio ain't on the Mississippi River.
Now let's put somebody on the Ohio River that doesn't even have a canoe. Let's put him on a log and make him paddle with his hands. This is about the least efficient way he could do it. But as long as he's going north, he's going to get to Marietta, Ohio because he's doing something that's effective.
I wish I could get some feedback from you but do you all understand the difference. You know, you strive to be effective, efficiency is a bonus, but everybody on the web says I just, this is just so efficient you know. You want to learn to do what is effective.
Okay, that's a few opening comments and now we'll answer some questions until I think of another rant to go off on.
Michel: Thanks Gary, that was awesome, thank you very much for sharing that. I have so many questions as you know, I could have probably had more if I had –
Gary: You just did, just try them.
Michel: Well let me answer the question about long copy versus –
Gary: This is the one question I think out of 500, I've got about 25 percent of just that one question.
Michel: Okay, first I want to tell you that I think everybody that asks that question is a complete moron but having said that, I'll try and redeem myself by explaining it to you.
I want you to imagine that God came down from heaven and if you have a wife or a girlfriend that you love, he took her away from you and you could never have her back. And he put 100 women on an island and God said to you, “I just feel like having some fun and so because I feel like that, I'm going to make you select the woman you spend the rest of your life with from one of these 100 women and just because I'm God and I'm feeling ornery, I'm going to make it a little bit more difficult for you.
I'm not going to let you talk with any of these women on the phone. I'm not going to let you see a picture of them. I'm not going to let you see a videotape of them, nothing. I'm going to ask every one of those women to write you a letter about herself and from those 100 letters, you have to select the lady you're going to spend the rest of your life with.”
What do you want that letter to say. Hi, I'm Bunny. I'm an Aquarius and I like to walk on the beach in the moonlight? I don't think that's the kind of letter you want. I think you want to know everything about Bunny. I think you want to know how old she is and how tall she is, how much she weighs, what color hair she has, what her teeth are like, that's just physical stuff.
You want to know what she's in to, what kind of education she has, you know, just everything. You're going to spend the rest of your life with this woman. I'm Bunny and I'm Aquarius doesn't get it, does it.
Now, let's bring that down to earth a little bit more because that's kind of exaggerated. Let's make it a car. And for some reason, you are no longer allowed to see the car that you're going to pick. The government came down and said from now on, nobody can see a car before they buy it. They can't hear about it, anything. The car makers just send you a letter.
Well, what would you want to know about the car? Hey, this is a good car, it gets great miles per gallon, you know goes from 0 to 60 in 5.4 seconds and it's real comfortable too. I don't think that's what you'd want, I think you'd want a 50-page letter telling you everything there was to know about that car.
And so it is with selling. The people who are not interested don't want to hear anything about what you have to say, won't read anything. To hell with them, we don't care about them. We're going after the buyers. One more illustration.
Michel Fortin is a senior marketing specialist, renowned copywriter, and digital marketing expert. For the better part of 30 years, he's produced countless successful marketing communications and profitable campaigns that generated in excess of $300 million in sales. He's broken many industry sales records, including being instrumental behind the first ever “million-dollar day” online marketing campaign in 2004. He's worked with thousands of businesses and entrepreneurs around the world in a wide variety of industries on building their businesses, improving their marketing, and increasing their profits. He's a published author and often speaks at industry events. To connect with him, visit his LinkedIn profile where he is most active.