Now, I am guessing that most of the people on this call do not knit very often unless Rosie Greer is on the call. I do not think you knit very often and it would not make any difference how much skill I used to write that letter but let's take another scenario.
Let's say that you are married and for some reason you have to be away from your wife. You cannot be at the hospital and while you are gone your wife gives birth to triplets and some guy comes up to you and he is trying to communicate with you that you wife just had triplets but his grammar is screwed up, his English is faulty but is there any way he could communicate to you that your wife just had triplets that would not be of interest to you?
That is the difference between world class response and all this mediocre stuff. It is knowing what is important to people. You know you could… you could write in pig Latin that you wife just had triplets and you could be Shakespeare writing about the knitting machine. It would not make any difference. You got to know what is important to people. I did not get very far before I stopped my rant, so I will try a little harder this time.
Michel: That was… that was a perfect explanation. Actually, Gary, I use that explanation when people ask me that question. What I…
Gary: You know what I think really… what we should do with that question… anybody that asks that question if… if they are in public, they should be slapped right across the mouth. There shouldn't even be any discussion.
Michel: Or you should send them your cousin Guido.
Gary: Yes, or send to Guido.
Michel: I… I… I have somebody that commented about that and we had a posting on my copywriter's board.com… somebody said I value my legs too much, I have got to be on this call.
Gary: Here is what I usually say and, by the way, that brings up another thing.
Gary: Everybody in marketing almost, is afraid to have a personality. That is what you need to have, a personality, you know, and everybody is trying to hard not to offend somebody. I believe what Dan Kennedy says, if you have not offended somebody by noon, you are not a pro.
You know, look I have what I call the Boy George / John Wayne theory of marketing. You know, Boy George has his fans and John Wayne has his fans. Now, never the twain shall meet. Some people like big macho guys that mow down Japanese people with machine guns and other guys… other people like sexually confused singers who wear dresses.
There is nothing wrong with either of them but never the twain shall meet and the thing about Boy George and the thing about John Wayne is they give you something to say yes or no to, don't they?
You know, stop this nonsense of trying to please everybody. You cannot do it. You give away thousands of dollar bills and you cannot do it.
Michel: I think you said something in a seminar not too long ago or quite a while ago, I cannot remember exactly when but you said about… uh… people are so preoccupied about selling to the foxes without upsetting the dogs.
Gary: Oh yeah… I… I said that… um… when I wrote that personal ad that got me women from all over…
Michel: Uh hum…
Gary: The world… I… you know, there were a lot of fat, ugly women with moustaches that were offended by my ad and I said I didn't worry about offending the dogs, I concentrated on selling the foxes and that is something you people should take to heart. Let's see how long I can go before I start another rant. Try a question.
Michel: That… that… but that is such a perfect explanation I just wanted to add my own comment is that I usually tell people if you were a Steven King fanatic and… and the fact that you are a Steven King fanatic means that you are a person who is targeted for a Steven King book. Steven King puts out a book and it is 800 pages thick, are you not going to buy it because it is too long?
Michel: Of course not and not only that, you probably will buy it, sit down and read it all in one single reading because you just absolutely love the stuff. You probably wished the book was either longer or you will re-read the whole book again because it is so fascinating and that is the key… is the fact that there is a difference between boring copy and a long copy, actually I tell people there is a difference between long copy and long-winded copy.
Gary: Yes, that is a great way to put it. I am going to take credit for that though.
Michel: You sure can Gary.
Gary: There will be a point in time where I will forget you said it and I will take credit for it. That is a great way to put it, Michel.
Michel: Well, here is another question that is sort of tied to that, Gary. One of the questions that was asked was, “What is the difference between or how can you write copy that is… um… that is more…uh… that is cleaner, that is less hypey because a lot of people say they see a lot of hypey copy these days, especially on line.
So how can you tell the difference between, you know, copy that is hypey… how can you write copy that is not as hypey and for whom and how… how do you make sure that you just do not tell outright lies?
Gary: Well, first of all… um… hypey copy is used by people who really do not know what they are writing about and if they don't know what they are writing about, the more adjectives there will be in the copy. If you have a lot of compelling facts, you don't need the hype.
Now, hype has a place, I think… uh… but it…it is not nearly where you think it should be. If you will study the masters like Claude Hopkins or stuff, you won't say that is hypey copy but the best letters… the best sales messages are really hard hitting and dramatic without using all those adjectives and the people are using the adjectives in… in place of substance and that is the problem with most sales writing today.
People don't do their homework. You know, they don't fill it up with substance and if you have a lot of substance, you do not need a lot of hype… um…
Michel: Well, actually that is a perfect lead in to the next question is, “What are the biggest mistakes you see copywriters commit?”
Gary: Uh… the biggest mistake that copywriters commit… uh… is they do not know how to do what they are doing.
Gary: And they don't study. I'm… I'm going to tell you a few things that… um… there are a lot of ways to write a sales letter and this is not the only way and it is not the only god way but it is the way John Carlton does it and it is the way I do it.
We write the bullets first because the only reason that people buy what you are selling from ad for the most part is because of the quality of the bullets. Now I have an ad in front of me that has… it was for a book I wrote called Killer Orgasms — How to Have the Best Sex Humanly Possible.
It has 64 bullets in it and… um… about 14 of those bullets would be irresistible to me but the point I want to make is a lot of people will buy something in a 14 page sales letter because they want to know the answer to one bullet.
Now I wrote a bullet for Entrepreneur Magazine one time and this was back in the 1980s when everybody was doing cocaine and I wrote “Fake Cocaine: A Legal Substitute that Fools Everyone, Even the Experts.” And do you know that for years, people were calling in to get that product just to find out just what the hell that was. And… and I mean it was buried in 150 other bullets.
Now this… ah… the promo for this sex book contains 60 bullets but I am going to read the one that I would want to know if I did not know the answer. There are very few of them. The real reason why Prozoc and Zoloft are so popular in this country. Almost no one, even doctors understands the starting sexual implications.
The single biggest sexual complaint women have about men, the single biggest sexual complaint men have about women. Now I put a star by this one — A dead giveaway that proves a woman is faking her orgasms.
They have to go to another… I am skipping over a bunch which I don't think… um… what lesbians know about sex which men don't and why more men today are losing their women to other women. The single most important thing a woman can do to make herself more attractive to the opposite sex. The single most important thing a man can do to make himself more attractive to the opposite sex.
And this is the bullet I believe gets more people than anybody else, than any other bullet to buy the book — three sure fire ways to tell if your spouse or significant other has had sex with someone else in the last 24 hours. The No. 1 rule which absolutely must be observed for women to have a truly spectacular orgasm.
And then there is a whole bunch of bullets I do not have a star by. Flirting sequence used by almost all women, that 95 percent of men don't even recognize and how it instantly gets them makes sex ten times more exciting when he does learn to recognize and understand these little known secrets. The one best way to win the true undying love of a member of the opposite sex.
I am skipping over some of these because I'm… I'm considering this a PG call… um… a 15 minute change in the way you shower and dress which may very likely double your attractiveness to the opposite sex.
Now let's skip that one. How to guarantee your lover almost never stops thinking about you and how to make sure her thoughts are supercharged with passion and white hot smoldering anticipation. Very important but almost unknown trick which will end nagging on both sides of the relationship forever.
Then there is a bunch more bullets I haven't X'd and we come to one, the single most important thing a man can do to win a woman's love forever. The most important and most little known quality a man must have if he wants to acquire a truly desirable woman and have any chance of success. Women will overlook everything except this.
Okay, I have nothing else starred but there is something really, really important about these bullets. None of them were hypey and all of them are based on truth and what you have got to know is you have got to know the truth. Now, if there are some women on this call and she… and they are listening to it with a man, you watch the woman when I tell the secret to the bullet and… um… and they will nod their head yes.
Okay, a dead giveaway which proves if a woman is faking her orgasms, do you know what that is? When women have orgasms, they always curl their toes, they cannot help to do it. The cannot help not to do it… um… okay, three sure fire ways… how about if we just change that to one sure fire way to tell if your spouse or significant other has had sex with someone else in the last 24 hours? Is there any hype in that?
Michel: Not at all.
Gary: Not at all is there?
Gary: But isn't that something you would really like to know? The one sure way to tell if your woman has had sex with another man in the last 24 hours? Well, there is a way. And I will tell you what it is and you will say aha as soon as I explain it to you.
Let's suppose you or your wife or girlfriend is having an affair with somebody in the office. They leave the office, go to a motel and they have sex. What is the first thing they do after they have sex? They take a shower… they take a shower to remove the evidence.
They remove the makeup residue, the lipstick on the collar, the scent of the other person, etc., etc., etc. so if your spouse or significant other is all of a sudden coming home freshly showed at times where she wouldn't be, like she wasn't at the gym or the ballet class or nothing, the reason that she is taking no showers is to remove the evidence of an affair.
Well, the thing is… what I am trying to point out to you is these things are facts and I have twisted them into bullets and these are called blind bullets because I do not give away the secret. The No. 1 rule which absolutely must be observed for a woman to have a truly spectacular orgasm and we are going to stop talking about sex here folks because I know some of you are shriveling but do you know what that No. 1 rule is? The woman has to feel absolutely safe… um… and the… um…
There is another one I like here… um… the one best way to win the true undying love of a member of the opposite sex, especially a woman, you know what that could be? I will tell you what it is… small, unexpected gifts. Not gifts that you give her for her birthday, not gifts for the wedding anniversary, just small unexpected gifts that are special unto her. Like you know she likes to collect these little clay Peruvian figurines and you seek out and find one. It might cost you $5.00 and you have it delivered to her with flowers, unexpectedly, out of the blue and she will love you for that.
Um… and then there is one that… uh… it is not so much about sex as it is about relationships and… um… I am going to… I am going to put on my relationship counselor…um… hat here and… uh… and it says, a very important but almost unknown trick which will end nagging on both sides of the relationship forever.
My girlfriend and I, actually she is my fiancee, is a woman who has the best heart I have ever met. She is also, at least to me, the most attractive I have ever met and I made a deal with her when we first started going out together four years ago, and I have never broken that deal, and she cannot imagine that a man would make such a deal with her and here it is… the deal is if I do anything that offends you or irritates you, you will only have to tell me about it once and I will never do it again.
Now, my girlfriend is Costa Rican, for example. Everybody in Costa Rica, they never eat with a hat on so I take my hat off when I eat. A very simple thing.
Now that doesn't mean I am going to let this woman tell me I can never go out on one of my boats again or something like that or I have to change my profession, but you know, the thing is if you do things that irritate your loved one, and they are pretty easy to quit, most of them, you know, let's say that every day you come in the door and you take off your coat and you throw it on the floor and it irritates the hell out of her, just don't do it any more.
We have a contract with each other that we never do something that the other one expresses that causes them consternation, we never do it twice and everybody can do that but yet that made a great bullet but behind that great bullet was a great truth.
I didn't have to use any hype to write this ad because… do you understand? I was searching out strong truths… exciting truths and then writing those exciting truths and I didn't have to say… uh…a really killer way to have an explosive mind blowing relationship, you know, that sucks the air out of the room and blah, blah, blah, blah. You just make a simple statement of what that is.
Now, when you write… you should… I… I would suggest to all of you, start working on your bullets first because if you are… you know… everything about the bullets, your whole piece is about the bullets, that's… that's what it is about and the rest of the piece is to get them to attract their attention to read the bullets and to attract their attention to… or… or to get them to believe the bullets. That is the only purpose of the rest of your letter actually… actually though there is the headline.
For example, I worked for Sam and Leslie Fishbaum, they had one furniture store in Denver and they have either five or seven now and… um… they only have certain… you have what you have to sell and that is all you have. So what they had was a wide selection of furniture, low prices, no money down, no interest, two years to pay, etc., etc., etc. What they had was what they had and we call it the yada, yada, yada — that is what they have to sell but the difference is, if you want to make it killer, you give the reader theatre and reason why.
Now, theatre would be attaching a dollar bill to the top of the letter as a grabber. Do you understand that? That would be theatre. Theatre would be attaching a real photograph to the top of the letter or attaching a coin or something like that.
A reason why is why you are getting such a deal on this mattress. And one of the letters that we wrote told them that they got such a great deal on this mattress because we could not sell them in retail although the mattresses are perfect, we could not sell them at retail because the manufacturer screwed up and sewed the labels on backwards. That letter worked so well we had the manufacturer sew the label backwards on all the mattresses and, you know, so we would say, you know, it has been raining here lately and we have water damage to some of the furniture and Sam would go up on the roof and drill a hole in it so that some of the water came down and screwed up some of the furniture.
It's…it's a variation if you haven't read the Robert Collier book of the scratch and dent sale and that was the reason why. That's… the first thing I described to you was theatre and the second thing I described to you is reason why.
But it all gets them to… when they read the yada, yada, yada, to believe it and to understand it. By the way, I would like to give a little bit of a pitch here. Um…
Michel: Go ahead Gary.
Gary: The… um… if I had to win a copywriting contest or one of my children would die, the person I would least like to have as my opponent is Gary Benzevinga and he publishes Benzevinga's bullets and they are free and if you don't read those, you are missing a monster asset.
Michel: Oh yeah, I agree.
Gary: And… um… it… the last bullet he wrote was about one of the most important words in advertising which is because and he articulated it better than anybody I have ever heard and Gary Benzevinga and I have had a mutual fan club… uh… respect for each other for years and one of my proudest moments is every Thanksgiving he sends a big one ounce gold coin to somebody that has made a big difference in his life and I got one of those coins, you know, and it is one of my most precious possessions and I will tell you one further story about Gary Benzevinga.
Jay Abraham came to me and he was showing me these financial… uh… sales lettersthat people were using to sell financial newsletters, etc., etc., and I said, Jay, these things are working because I never knew anything about that field yet and he said, why yeah, do you think you can do better?
I said Jay I can do better than this in a coma and I just cranked these out, one right after another, never had a loser. It was easy. It was **** and then I was sitting in my apartment, an Oakwood Gardens Apartment in Burbank, California and I read my first letter ever written by Gary Benzevinga and I almost vomited. Do you know why? Because vacation time was over. From now on I had to work for a living when I was writing those things because he is so damn good, it is ridiculous. So… and he is going to have a seminar… um…
Michel: In May.
Gary: In… in May and get your ass to that seminar. I'm… I'm going to pay to go there and be there… I… I mean, there are very few people for whom I will sit in a seat and learn but I will sit at the feet of Gary Benzevinga. I know I don't have a **** with him.
Michel: I definitely will be there myself. It's… it's… you know if people want to subscribe to his newsletter, it is benzevingabullets.com and the last one was about exactly that…that… the use of reasons why and the one word that can trigger the most response and it was one of the questions that was asked a lot on that… uh… web page that we set up Gary and… and that leads me to a couple of things that I just wanted to throw in her.
You know, a lot of people ask… um… what kind of scarcity tactics do you like to use because a lot of people nowadays, especially on line, they go and visit this… this web site that sells some kind of ebook that says you have got to buy before X date and people know that they have this coding behind there that changes it every day whenever they visit the web page so they say, are there…
Gary: At first everybody knows that's a lie and I don't think that you should write lies. Uh… everybody knows if you say you will only sell 500 and people order 700, you are going to take the other 200 orders so stop doing that.
Michel: Uh hum…
Gary: Now, if you are talking about scarcity, you know, for your copywriting services, be good, there won't be any scarcity. You know, I… I remember Denny Hats used to write a newsletter called who is mailing what and he mocked guys like me and Gary Benzevinga who said we could not take any more clients that we were booked for a year. Hell, Gary Benzevinga would be booked for two or three years in advance, the bastard!
Michel: So are there any other scarcity tactics, Gary, that you would like to… uh… to propose?
Gary: Well, I will tell you one and… uh… it is an important one that I use but it… it also… the tactics need to be based on truth. I tell people I can only take so many clients and that is the truth. I only can.
You know, I mean, I… I could… I could write continually but I like to take time out to see my girlfriend and my grandchildren every once in a while, you know, so that… the scarcity tactic, first of all, do not lie about it because… but I will tell you one thing that I have learned to offer people.
If you buy something from me, like a fairly expensive set of tapes that I have to sell, you know what you get with it? You get free access to me for an entire year to answer your marketing questions. They cannot duplicate that on Ebay.
Michel: Great… good answer. Actually, one of the things I wanted to go back on was bullets because one… one of the most common questions that I have gotten is, Gary, a lot of the copy that you write you seem to alternate your bullets between bold and unbold and so on and so forth…
Gary: It is a technique that provides eye relief.
Michel: Got you, perfect. In terms of… of headline and… and I… I believe truly myself that the single greatest part of your copy, besides the bullets that you just mentioned, Gary, the single greatest part is the headlines.
Gary: The headline is the single greatest part of the copy. By the way, I have got a great headline, I want somebody to help me fill in what comes after — half dead Cuban washes ashore in Miami with strange secret that can double the income of most U.S. citizens.
Gary: You know what the hottest headline I ever wrote was?
Michel: That was one of the questions, go ahead.
Gary: Toba Borgnine swears under oath that her new perfume does not contain an illegal sexual stimulant and the whole city of Los Angeles was saying does it contain… is a sexual stimulant legal? And we got 7,000 people to come out for her perfume launch, the biggest perfume launch in history and we couldn't get any more in because the fire marshal wouldn't let any more people into the Century Plaza Hotel.
Gary: And one of the subheadings was wife of famous movie star agrees to give away 1,000 samples of her new fragrance in order to prove it is really safe to wear in public.” A little theatre there.
Michel: Well, here is a question that was actually based on that, the question was specifically for Gary Helber, do you think in this extremely cynical age that your traditional Toba Borgnine style promotions are still valid?
Gary: That question is almost too moronic to answer. What I do was valid when people were carving out their messages on a chisel on a piece of stone and they will be valid 2,000 years from now… uh… when everybody is getting text messages on microscopic cell phones imbedded into your brain.
Selling is selling is selling and it is all the same. The Internet has not changed anything about selling. Let me tell you about selling. There are only three things involved. You have a prospect, a pitch and a delivery system for the pitch.
All the Internet is, is a delivery system for a pitch. That is what you need to remember and people say, writing for the Internet and I know you do that, it is no different than writing for the newspaper, which is no different than writing for direct mail which is no different than writing for television.
The… the… what makes a good pitch is what makes a good pitch and let me tell you guys what you are all doing wrong, all the on line community, everybody is doing this wrong, you try and get something from the reader before you have delivered a lot of value he cannot get any place else.
I would venture to say I have one of the most profitable web sites on the Internet and I, honest to God, put that web site up after I had received thousands and thousands and thousands of letters from people telling me how my life had changed… how my information had changed their lives.
Mostly it was about money but sometime it saved them from committing suicide, it inspired them to go on and make it and save their marriage or whatever and I thought, well, hell if it is that valuable to people, I will just go ahead and start throwing it up on the Internet.
And, you know, I started putting them up and after about two or three months, people started writing me and said don't you have anything to sell? I want to buy something from you and they started… and the last time I sent… um… a full fledged newsletter out, my **** rating, you know, jumps up and down whether I am putting stuff on the side or not, it was 1,630 and I… I don't even know how to link my web site to somebody else.
I don't even know how to work Google Ad Words. I know a little bit about that. I don't even know how… uh… to maximize the effectiveness of a web site. I don't know any of that stuff. You know why my newsletter is so popular? Because it contains content and a lot of you dorks out there are trying to make a lot of money without first figuring out how to serve people.
Michel: Good point.
Gary: I get riled when I talk. I… I… um… you know I talk about sex and politics this way too. Actually, I don't.
Michel: Well, here… here's another good… and you… you probably nailed…uh…about a good 50 questions right there, Gary, but one of the questions about the headline was, you know, a lot of people say they have seen so many of these very long headlines. First of all, are they still effective and what kind of formula do you use whenever you write a headline?
Gary: Well… uh… okay, I am going to try and get down to the level of somebody who would ask such a question. Um… I can get down to anybody's level, I just give myself a lobotomy here and lower my IQ about 70 points, yes, long headlines are effective. Let me give you a few tips about headlines.
Um… if you are stuck, just start with the words “how to.” Uh…how to… and by the way, if you want to learn to write headlines, every one of you should have a copy of I can never get it right by Julia Hadelman or Hadelman Julius… the first 100 million…
Gary: That is the basis of all good headline writing in America. Read the first 100 million and you will know everything you need to know for the rest of life about writing headlines. Yes, long headlines do work, Patricia. Short headlines work too. You know, for example… uh… you will see little ads and it will just say corns?
Everybody is going to pass by that little ad unless they happen to have corns and that's… that's all it needed was that one word. You know, I mean, if you are dealing with a junkie, you would say, want to score some heroine? That is long enough. But most of you probably aren't dealing with people who have corns for the **** market and…
Michel: I think… I think John Carlton whenever he says… he says a great word, he says… he called it pithisizing which is a big difference between being brief and being pithy because there is a difference between trying to be short and not sending the message you need to say rather than saying the message that you can say to the right kind of people in the shortest amount of words possible and… and a lot of people sometimes they have these very long headlines that are just… you fall asleep and I agree with that because you just don't have the right copy but… uh… I have written headlines…
Gary: Wait, I will tell you one of the biggest differences between the people who really make it in this business and the people who don't, the people who make it buy everything that is out there by every good guy there. You should have everything John Carlton has ever produced.
Michel: Oh yeah… oh yeah… definitely.
Michel Fortin is a certified digital marketing expert and renowned copywriter who specializes in a unique combination of SEO, CRO, and UX to improve traffic, leads, and revenue for his clients. For the better part of 30 years, he's produced countless wins, generating in excess of $300 million in sales and results that have broken many industry records. He has worked with thousands of businesses ranging from individual entrepreneurs to enterprise-level multinational companies. He's the author of two top-selling books and often speaks at industry events. To connect with him, visit his LinkedIn profile where he is most active.