Michel: Yeah, doctors all ****. The question is what are those pills? Actually I can rep those weights 30 times and there is such a pill, but I didn't get it from a Haitian woman. But I was just illustrating the correctness that, that people have lost the art of storytelling.
Gary: Well you just kept me riveted there, well, whenever you were telling me that. And that's, it's sort of what John Carlton says. If you were to sell something don't think about selling it in a business room or something. Think about meeting your friend at a bar somewhere, just shooting the breeze, and, and, there's a product that you have that you're so excited about, what would you say to that person? Would you, you know, use this third person high falutin' corporate speak or would you be personable and tell stories about it?
You know, hey, this, this is what happened to me the other day, or guess what happened to me, or whatever. And, and, this is something I think a lot of people are missing in their copy, especially uh, one of the questions I get in, in the list of questions that we've gotten was a lot of people say, “Well, I don't have a story to tell. How do I come up with a story?”
Well you do have a story to tell. You haven't done enough research. There's a story within everything. John's one-legged golfer ad is, you know, he, he dug for three days interviewing those people until one of them mentioned well, you know, he's only got one leg. And John said, “What? This guy's hitting the ball 350 straight yards down a fairway with one, and he's only got one leg and you didn't think that was important enough to mention?” And then the headline became “one-legged golfer,” you know.
Michel: That, that's exactly what-
Gary: And, and if they don't, if you don't have a story you haven't dug hard enough. And remember this. When Claude Hopkins was asked to do a beer commercial he couldn't find anything that would distinguish that beer from the others as far as telling the story, but he noted all the precautions they took to make that beer clean and sterile. And he told that story.
Now, all the other beer companies did the same thing, but he's the only one that told the story, and he put that beer on the map. There is a story in everything, but you've gotta dig for it. And you know one thing, what do most copy writers do wrong? They don't work.
Michel: Yeah, exactly.
Gary: They don't work. You know, they're looking for an easy way, a magic pill, a freebie. You know, blah blah blah. You've gotta put your ass into this. You've gotta live it. You've gotta become obsessed by it. But it's worth it.
Michel: Well this is a, a question I was also asked was how do you get in the minds of prospects?
Gary: Well, I, I remember reading that question. And, and a related question was how important do you think it is to interview a prospect.
Michel: Yes, yes.
Gary: Now the person that asked that question should also be beaten. I wish there were ways that we had, you know, I think there are stupid questions. Everybody says no question is stupid, and you know, if you don't know the answer. I disagree. I think that's a stupid question. But I'm gonna give an answer anyway.
You, you get in the mind of your prospect by hanging out with him, by interviewing them, by reading about them, by asking questions about them, etc. etc. etc. You get it by work, and you don't get it by guessing what they're like. And a big mistake everybody makes is they presume that everybody else thinks the way they do about things. And they don't. They don't. They think very, very differently about things. You know?
I had an experience yesterday, it was kinda sobering. Uh, sometimes it's difficult to call my girlfriend in Costa Rica and for her to call me, cause the phone service is not perfect. So I have a voice mail that there's no phone to the voice mail, but I leave messages for her and she leaves messages for me back when we can't get to each other.
And I mistakenly, God, I, Jesus, I forgot that Sunday was her birthday. God forgive me. And uh, she had told me, and, and this is another example of my stupidity, that her birthday was gonna be Sunday, but she didn't care about birthdays, you know.
Well, Sunday she calls me up. She calls the voice mail and she says, “You know, today is my birthday, and everybody's been calling me to say happy birthday, and all my family, and all my friends, but the call I wanted was from my corazon and I call here and there's no message.” Because I'd changed the message to, “Hi this is Gary,” you know, “If you'll leave your name and number I'll get back to you as soon as I can.” And she said, she just called and said, “My name is Sirian Piedra. My number's 833-0754. Please call me when you can.” On her birthday.
Well, that's a little sign that I'd screwed up. So the next, but I hadn't changed the message. Even though I'd went out and bought her some nice birthday things and everything, and she called up, and see I thought it'd be efficient if I could use that voice mail when people wanna call me. ‘Cause other than email there's no way to get to me, you know, unless you just magically call me and I happen to be home, because I get an average of 600 calls a week. I can't take them.
But I thought, you know, it'd be efficient if somebody wanted to know my number I'd give them that number, you know, for a couple of days.
Well, it was efficient. But you know what? I can get another voice mail for seven bucks a month, and you know what? My girlfriend thinks that's her voice mail. That's hers. It doesn't matter that I spent hundreds of dollars buying her a gift. It doesn't matter that I had me and my friend Hank sing Happy Birthday after she bitched about it. That was her email. That was her voice mail, you get it? That was hers.
Michel: Um hm.
Gary: And here I was, using it as a convenient method for other people to leave me messages. So just because I've gotten older doesn't mean I've gotten smarter.
Michel: Great Gary, thank you. That was, that was awesome. I think one of the things that a lot of people also tend to, um, to, to forget when, especially when they're writing copy, is uh, you know, there's, there's, there's always a good hook lying somewhere. John Carlton is a big preacher of finding the hook, the one thing…
Gary: He's as good as they get at finding them, man.
Michel: And, and the thing that I also tend to do a lot is to not only interview the client or interview the prospect, but at the same time is to get to use the product as much as I possibly can. And a lot of people tend to say, “Well, I, I don't think my client's gonna do this or my client's gonna do that.”
Kennedy says it best, he says that people have this tendency, this error to think that their, that they are their own client, when they're not. You're never your own client.
Gary: Well first of all, um, only about half the time do I do a job that people hire me to do. Instead I do the job they need done. They don't know what job it is they need done. That's why I haven't taken very many questions, cause most of the people listening to me don't know the right questions to ask. That's no sin. Nobody does, in the beginning, you know, of anything.
Michel: Well, you know, it's a great thing, and I want to stop you, Gary, for a sec, because one of the questions I got was stupid for me, was um, um, “I have a product. How do I sell it?” And I, I almost feel like sending them your newsletter issue about a starving crowd.
Gary: Well you're free to send it to them, but um, you know, um, people think if you're a good enough copywriter you can sell anything to anybody. Like, and I really cannot sell refrigerators to Eskimos. I can con them, I can lie to them and make them think they're space heaters, but the market is the very most important thing. And another piece of advice, uh, I'm going to give, and I'm gonna tell you a couple of things that are really important to get in before this call is over. Every one of you should have the SRDS mailing list book.
Michel: Um hm.
Gary: You can get it online, you can get it at the library. It's non-circulating. And it tells you about every mailing list available in the United States, tells you how big the list is, how fresh the list is, and what the unit of sale was.
Now there's a big difference between this list and Google adwords or anything like that, cause this isn't a list of what people like or are interested in, it's what they paid for. It's what they will pay for. And even if you're on the net this is more valuable than any other resource. Actually you can get this on the net. There's nothing as valuable as that.
And I'm going to tell all of you how to tell if you are worthy of the title “copy writer.” Every one of you. If you can't pass this test you should never take a dollar from anybody else for writing copy from them.
ou should go through the SRDS mailing list book and pick out what you think is the hottest list you can find. The, the list of the hungriest fish out there, and you should conceptualize an information product for that list. And then you should make a mailing to that list to sell that information product.
And let me tell you a really cheap way to get an information product. And you know, this is, one thing I learned from Jay Abraham. He's the best guy in the world to brainstorm with. And Jay Abraham taught me how to work with him. I made three quarters of a million dollars brainstorming with Jay for 30 minutes. Me and John Carlton, with a copy, I went out and mailed 800 letters and made three quarters of a million dollars.
Michel: Wow. Wow.
Gary: The guy's brilliant. But, but Eric taught me how to work with him. But if you're gonna ever work with Jay you get him in a hotel room. You make everybody turn off all the cell phones. By the way, Ron LeGrand says you can guess the person's amount of money in their bank account by how many times their cell phone goes off when you're talking to them. It should never go off. It's an insult.
And, but anyway, you put Jay in the hotel room. You have two big strong guys in a limo go get him. You bring him to the hotel room, you lock the door, you take the phone off the hook, you stop all calls, and you interview him, and you have a tape recorder on. And the first time Jay says, “Oh yeah, that's a good idea. I've got a letter that explains that back at the office, and I'll mail it to you soon as I get back.”
You have the big guys hit him in the mouth a few times. Because what you don't get from Jay in that room you're not gonna get from him. So I don't know what that related to, I was, I was talking about, I was babbling-
Michel: No, no, that's about brainstorming, which is good.
Gary: Oh yeah.
Michel: About coming up with a good hook or a good story or, or, you know, when people have a hard time you can, coming back to the issue of writer's block, because some people say, “Well, I don't have either a USP,” or “I don't have a hook,” or “I'm writing copy for somebody else, what do I do to find that one hook?” And, and I think brainstorming is a good point, and-
Gary: Well see, what, what a lot of you people on this call are doing is you're censoring yourself, figuring the client's not gonna like this. His wife's not gonna like this. It's, this is not gonna get by the regulatory agencies.
You have a built-in censor. You've gotta kill that built-in censor. Just write full out, write from the beginning. And the way you get the answers to this thing is you get his product, you get his testimonial, you get all his previous advertisements, all his previous controls, you interview him, you interview his men, you interview the customers, etc. etc. etc. You know, writing is like the tip of an iceberg. I did a, I did a piece for uh, Donna Mills, who was the star of Knots Landing.
Michel: Um hm.
Gary: And she was selling, uh, uh, beauty products for the eyes. And I was out in Santa Monica, California doing this, you know, and I just interviewed her. She was a really sweet lady. And uh, somebody said, “Man, you're really good.” They said, “You're fast, too.” They said, “How long did it take you to write that ad?” And I said, “Thirty-three years and 45 minutes.”
Michel: Perfect. Well said.
Gary: And that was it. You know, and what you've gotta do is, John had something like, I would like to play the guitar like John Carlton can. And he, he, he knows every song in the world. He can make the guitar talk.
And I tell him I want to do that, and what's the secret? And he says, “When there, when a new guy tells an old hand to play the guitar, he's taken up the guitar, they ask him two questions. And the first question is a trick question. How many lessons do you take a week? And it doesn't matter what the answer is.
And then it says how many hours do you practice a day?” And John says, and it's true, this is the answer to a lot of things. Ten thousand hours. And you know, I sat and figured out, I, I wrote winners before I became Gary Halbert. I first found my voice in the mid 1970s, and I have been writing since 1968. And it came out to about 10,000 hours. You'd better put your 10,000 hours in, cause you aint gonna do it otherwise.
If you want to write copy like Bencivenga, Halbert, Carlton, Scott Hanes, you know, a few other people, about 10,000 hours from now if you put it in you'll have it. And you need to start tomorrow.
What you need to do is start with my letters or somebody's letters, and you need to write them out, in your own handwriting, and you should do that every working day for the rest of your life, or at least until you've got 10,000 hours. See, I don't use templates anymore cause they're all embedded in my wiring. But you, you, most of you are not there yet. You've gotta get that embedded in your wiring.
Michel: I think it's a good point to also say that you've gotta start right away. One of the things I've learned that, well, I wouldn't say I've learned it but something that really hit me in the back with a hammer about it is something John Reese taught me when I was writing copyfor him, and actually when I saw him speak at a seminar was, you know, if you want to write, if you want to learn how to write copy write anything and put it up on the internet, and realize that that is going to be the worst it's ever going to be. Now your job is to improve the sucker.
Gary: John's a genius. He-
Gary: He's exactly right. He's a genius. He's got it exactly right.
Michel: Because all the people ask me, “How do you become a great copy writerlike you, Michel?” And I would answer, not necessarily the same way you do, you just did, Gary, but I would say, “I'm not a really good copy writer. I'm a fanatical tester, and I've written copy for fanatical testers,” and I've been lucky enough and privileged enough to have written copy. I've written copy that were winners.
But when I write copy for testers I know what works and I know what doesn't, and I just keep on improving it. And John Reese really hit me in the back of the head with that hammer because a lot of times, sometimes in that, it comes back to what you're saying about censoring.
Sometimes I would write a sales letter and I would go back and, and just, you know, pull my hair out, because I'm trying to figure out is there a better way of saying this? Who cares. Put it up. Test the sucker and improve on it. It's the worst it's ever going to be.
Gary: Well I'll tell you what, Michel. You may have made the most important point of the evening. My friend Joaquin DePosada puts it another way pretty succinctly. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. And you know, I used to never want to do anything unless I was already good at it. Well you're never already good at anything, you know, your first time out the box.
Gary: You know, there was a pro playing in a Pro Am tournament, and the amateur said, “I'm embarrassed to play with you,” and he said, “Why?” He says, “Cause your fair, you know, your T-shots are straight down the middle,” he says, “Your approach shots from, you know, fairway shots are great, you're great around the green, you're a great putter.” And the pro said to him, “Well don't you think it would be a little strange after 20 years if I didn't play like this?” And the amateur was comparing himself to somebody who had done the 10,000 hours.
Gary: And, and, and I wanna make what I think is a point of supreme importance. The, the un, the acceleration of the acceleration is accelerating. That's my way of saying it. There is no way that anybody on this call knows what they're going to be doing 24 hours from now, five years from now, five months from now, five hours from now. You can have a Christopher Reeves moment at any time. You'd better do what you're gonna do right now.
In fact me and Mongo have come up to some, Mongo's Scott Hanes, we believe it so strongly that if exercise is your priority, or writing copy, you know when you do it? You do it immediately when your feet hit the floor, before you even make up your bed. Because the chances are anything you don't do immediately upon getting out of bed, life is going to crowd that in on you and you're not gonna do it.
Well, I'll put off exercising til just after lunch. Well, you know, I'll put it off til dinner. You know, blah blah blah. The only thing that for sure gets done is what you do immediately upon getting out of bed. And another thing I will tell you, and it's about time to conclude this, I think –
Gary: But um, I'm gonna tell you a true story, and not only do you not know where you're going to be, you don't know what strange thing is going to happen to you. And I'm gonna tell you about a strange thing that happened to me, and I think it gave me a big advantage over everybody else at a very early age.
I was only 20. And I've told this story in seminars, and I once told it, and there was an 85-year-old school teacher in the front row from Alaska, and I thought she might be embarrassed that I was telling this story, but she laughed so hard I started worrying she was gonna have a heart attack right there.
And I'm gonna tell you a story, and, and I want you to know, this could've happened to you. That this really happened to me when I was 20 years old.
I was a military policeman. I was in Germany, and um, I was on patrol duty with another MP. I still remember it, he's a big guy named Deroy. We got called to the station and we had to strip off our uniforms and stand in a line up, uh, and there was a German civilian there, and he, you know, was trying to pick one of us out of a lineup. When this lineup was over they told everybody to go but me. The German civilian had picked me out of the lineup.
And let me tell you what happened before that. That I was a great jokester, and when we stood role call before we went on duty, just like you see in the police shows, you know, they tell you the criminals to watch out for, this guy raped so and so, this guy broke into this convenience store, etc. etc., well there was a guy who uh, broke into a farm, a guy's barn.
A farmer's barn. And he sodomized the farmer's cow. The farmer came out and caught him, and he hit the farmer, knocked him down, knocked over the bucket, which knocked over a candle, which started a fire, and then he ran off the property.
Now when you're in the military all of your clothing, you have your serial number in there. And I had an overseas cap that was too small for me so I had thrown it away. And the guy who did this was actually wearing my overseas cap, and it fell off, and it was left at the scene. So they already had a predilection to think it was me.
Now, my life went in the blink of an eye from being an upstanding do-right MP to a guy who is under arrest for sodomizing a cow. And I want to tell you how that changed my life.
They only allowed me to do two things. I could stand role call and I could go to the mess hall to eat. And when I would go to role call, you know, they would say, “Smith,” “Here Sergeant.” “Downs.” “Here Sergeant.” “Baker.” “Here Sergeant.” They'd say “Halbert,” and 600 guys'd go, “Mooooo,” like that.
And you know, I couldn't even imagine that I was in such a situation. I was engaged to a German girl that I later married. Her parents hated me. Can you see me, and this is true, sitting there trying to explain to them why they have to come down to the military police station and explain where I was on a certain night, because I was under arrest for having sex with a farm animal.
I really, that really happened to me. And, and I had to take a lie detector test. I won't even go into that, but I think you will admit that is a bizarre thing. Now they caught the guy who did it, he was a Puerto Rican who stole my hat. It's a good thing I didn't catch him because I would've killed him, you know? I mean, but that's how bizarre life can turn on a dime. And I learned that at 20 years old.
And I've also learned don't, you know, the future, if you want to make God laugh tell him about your plans. Tell God about your plans if you want to make him laugh. And the point is, you want to be a great copywriter, you want to be a great marketer, and you want to achieve all these things, do it right now. Tomorrow might, tomorrow is promised to no man. And if all of you people enjoy this two hours of ranting of a madman and you want to do it again, we'll do it again.
Michel: Thanks Gary.
Gary: As long as somebody sends me their snail mail address.
Michel: Well uh –
Gary: If anybody's interested we'll do this again. If you want to do it in a week or two I'm up for it. Because maybe I'll even answer questions next time.
Michel: Alright, I have, just because I mentioned my email for, for that little call, I've gotten over 200 emails right now waiting for me. Um, I want to thank you, Gary. My God, this has been the most, the best two hours I've ever spent.
And of course, any time with you is, is just fabulous, but, and I know that you don't like to be put on a pedestal, but, but I do look up to you a lot, and I think that this has just been a phenomenal two hours. I just want to –
Gary: I would ask you one favor.
Gary: Don't ever describe me to anyone as being sane.
Michel: I, I, I told a lot of people that listener discretion is advised whenever I emailed them. But I want to thank, thank just one person before we end this call, and it's Peter Stone.
Gary: For sure.
Michel: Peter is a person that brought us together. Peter's also a phenomenal copywriter. He's done some, some work for me, he's my editor, he's my fresh pair of eyes sometimes when I'm too wrapped up and I'm doing, I'm writing copy sometimes five, ten, even 15 sales letters in one month, I just, I can't handle the, the workload.
So sometimes he's there to look at my copy and tell me what's wrong and what's not. And I look at it and I say, “My God, this man is brilliant.” Peterstonecopy.com is his email, uh, his web site address. And I want to thank Peter. And Gary, you've been, you're the man. And I, want to thank you so much for –
Gary: I'd be the last to deny it.
Michel: Oh I'm sure you are. And I, and I-
Gary: And if anybody wants to they can email me at [email protected] and say things like “I really enjoyed your call.” Now if you have negative comments I don't want to hear them. You know, I just want positive comments. I don't want the truth necessarily. You can email me and lie to me.
Gary: You know, I'd rather have a, a, a lie that made me feel good than a truth that made me feel bad, you know? I've got a, enough to, but I really do try and make my lessons important. I'm very passionate about teaching people, and, cause there's so much garbage out there. You know, there are people teaching marketing that, they've never learned it. They have no right to be teaching it, you know?
Gary: And, and I know what it's like to be broke, and I've literally, I've been in a running house with no water and utilities because I spent the money on postage for orders that didn't materialize.
Michel: Well, me and John Reese were chatting one day about that because there was a time when we were both, uh, I was bankrupt, and I was literally eating, you know those little packages of, of Ramen noodles?
Michel: For 25 cents or a quarter. I lived on that for six months. And, and, and exactly what you just said, Gary. Is that nobody really knows how to market if they don't, if they haven't gone through the school of hard knocks. So-
Gary: But somebody find me that cell phone.
Gary: Oh wait. Wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait, I've got one more thing.
Michel: Go ahead.
Gary: It's really kind of important. Uh, this will kind of interest, uh, some of you. Uh, I have a friend, he's a paraplegic named Dave Kekich, and he's a multimillionaire, and Dave Kekich, uh, is working with another guy, and they have a piece of software that is really pretty, uh, I'm looking to uh, I think this is it. I'll tell you what this software does. And I'm not a geek, so the importance of it can be gauged by the other geeks here.
Um, it's called Intellimine, and uh, Intellimine LLC owns exclusive commercial licenses to technology which searches the Internet globally in 61 languages for individuals with a high level of interest in any subject, product or service. This technology was developed under federal government contracts with the objective of searching the web for terrorist-related chatter.
It has been successfully deployed for several U.S. government agencies for a growing number of commercial enterprises who are finding new prospects and opening new businesses at near zero up-front marketing expense.
The Intellimine data mining technology is designed to bring any selected client in nearly any industry to market dominance. Our test indicates the ability to identify millions of customers worldwide who we can then contact with specific and highly motivational emails and all at virtually no cost.
Moreover, the software is intelligent. It continues to refine its searches and continually add email addresses as it gets smarter about the subject it is seeking. We believe this technology can be developed to the point where it reverses the typical web search.
Today a searcher goes to Google, Yahoo or Ask Jeeves to find information. A typical search uncovers hundreds or even thousands of hits, which must then in turn be researched to uncover information the searcher is seeking.
Our knowledge platforms, on the other hand, are well-organized resources eliminating the need for searching in the current manner and creating exceptional loyalty among our users, who then can be offered products and services in which we have ownership or shared revenue interest. In other words, the technology promises to provide us with a continuous stream of new prospects at near zero cost, and there's some more about this stuff, but basically, uh, what this stuff does is it, Dave was telling me about it today.
It scours the Internet and only gives you names of people who are really interested, uh, here's the rest of it real quickly. Only represents the biggest, um, the biggest expertise.
An important aspect of our strategy is to build the most comprehensive knowledge portal about most products and services available anywhere. A knowledge portal essentially combines all information, communication, sources and resources available to any subject to people who want information/knowledge on that subject.
For example we will provide chat rooms, forums, libraries, downloadable video products, discounts on related travel, calendars of upcoming events, unique resources relating specifically to a particular product or service and more.
This resource alone modified after huge knowledge portals already constructed by our licensor will provide a unique resource for customers and prospects and should instill great confidence in your company and its industry community worldwide.
Unlike current search engines our technology organizes all important information in one environment and then searches the web for parties interested in that subject who are then invited to join a community of parties with their common interest.
Our knowledge platforms are well-organized resources and eliminates the need for searching in the current manner. By providing rich content we believe we will create exceptional loyalty among our users, who can then be offered products and services in which we have ownership and shared revenue interests. Our data mining technology, according to its developers, is at least ten times more powerful and much more targeted than any similar technology while complying with spam issues.
The developers also believe they have a long way to go in terms of improving what already exists so we can look forward to an exclusive commercial licensing to breakthrough advancements without investing our capital in its development.
Our license covers all future improvements and advances to the $40 million technology — they spent $40 million bucks on this — which is under constant upgrading and refinement by its developers through tens of millions of dollars' worth of ongoing contacts with U.S. agencies.
Now, I don't know if you guys all understood that, but as I understand it they say they've done this, and they've emailed some of the producers of it, and they've never had an opt-out person yet, because it goes through and discovers the people that are interested in exactly the subject that you are selling. But anyhow, if you want to call this guy, and again, I'm not involved in this.
This is not a joint venture for me or nothing, it's just something a little bit geeky I'd pass along so you guys wouldn't think I'm just a stone age guy.
David A. Kekich, K-E-K-I-C-H. His telephone number is 310-265-8644, and for all you geeks who would rather, you know, uh, do things without actually pressing the flesh or communicating with people, it's Kekich, K-E-K-I-C-H at transvio.com, and the web site is www.transvio, T-R-A- N-S-V-I-O.com.
Tell them Gary Halbert sent you, or you don't have to tell them Gary Halbert sent you, but it seems to me somebody should find out what that's all about.
Somebody should find me a telephone that doesn't do anything except send and receive calls, and all of you who want to triple the profits of your web site almost immediately should send me your snail mail address. That's all I have to say for the month.
Michel: Thanks Gary. That's, that was awesome. I'm gonna leave on this note, because we, we are past our two-hour mark, so thank everybody for being on the, on the call tonight, and uh, and Gary, thank you so much for sharing this, this amazing stuff –
Gary: And have somebody send me a note to [email protected] and say, “Boy, you were great on that call last night,” or something. You have, anything but an eat shit and die message.
Michel: Well I don't want to, I don't want to have any emails asking me, “Why is Gary's email address is [email protected],” because I know the story and I don't want to tell it.
Gary: Should I tell that? Or –
Michel: No, no, no. But actually, if there's a lot of interest we'll probably do this again, Gary.
Michel: Good night people
Gary: Bye bye.
Michel: Bye bye.
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.