First Call With Gary Halbert
This was an interview with the late Gary Halbert. A few weeks later, we did a follow-up call. So be sure to go listen to that one, too.
In the early 2000s, technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today. This interview was so overwhelmingly popular, it reached our 1,000-line capacity before the call started. So apologies for the quality, which was less than desirable.
The recording is about two hours long and split into 30-minute segments. (As broadband wasn’t fully adopted yet, the split was to help with downloads.) You can listen to each part, download the MP3s, or read the transcripts below.
Other calls and links:
- John Carlton and Michel Fortin
- Gary Halbert and Michel Fortin – Call #2
- Resources mentioned on the calls
Michel Fortin: Gary you on?
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.
Gary: I want you to imagine that an ad was written by me. I mean it was just a brilliant ad… a brilliant headline… a brilliant copy. It just flowed, etc. and it was about knitting machines.
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.
Gary: No, I trained him. Actually, that’s not true. I did train him but he was really good by the time he got to me.
Michel: Well, this is an important question because as we do, Gary, and as many of the people who do write good copy do, is that they have swipe files and I have a cabinet that’s just absolutely –
Gary: Oh, man, stop. I got to stop you. I got to tell you a story.
Michel: Go ahead.
Gary: I swear to God this is true and it’s fresh — fresh off the press. Eric Weinstein — I don’t know how many of you people know him — but he works in marketing and he used to be my list broker back in Los Angeles and for a while, here in Florida.
And he called me up and he said, “Gary, I just got back from Switzerland. You know, I’m not in the list broker business any more and I’ve got all these ads, you know, in folders that — and letters that are controls.” He said, “Do you want them? Because I’m going to throw them out.” I said, “Do I want them?”
I sent a guy up to get them. He just brought them back. There’s 200 folders of winning, tested advertising ****. Two hundred folders. They’re sitting in my other room right now. Is that — that story’s three days old. It was that — do I want them? Oh, no, you know?
Michel: But, Gary, you sell some swipe file resources yourself?
Gary: Yeah, I do. I — you know, I don’t want to turn this into a pitch because I really don’t, but I will tell you this, I’ve given a lot of seminars but the best one I ever gave in my life — I don’t know why it is — I was just at concert pitch and it — you know, nobody tells everything they know and — but this time, I said the hell with it and I gave it in Miami Beach.
It was called How to Write a Sales Letter That Will Make You Rich and it was the best on copywriting that either me or anybody’s ever given. That’s the first time the two mother letters I brought out, you know.
And I’ll tell you something. I was scared when I dictated those letters — made them write it because I thought people were going to throw stones at me. But I said, you know, you’re nothing but a wrinkled up old bitch, eat shit and die. But it got the point across and, by the way, I want to make a point about getting the point across.
If you’re a scuba diver, you don’t have to learn very much but the thing that you need to learn — the half dozen things you need to learn — you better learn them. Because if you don’t you’re going to die. And one of those things is that you learn that you don’t hold your breath under water. Now, I’m going to explain to you exactly why.
Let’s suppose that, um, you’re — you dive off a little cliff into the ocean that’s really deep and you hold your breath. You have no scuba gear on. You take a big breath and you fill your lungs to satiety, you know, in other words, you fill them as large as they’ll go. We’re all inclined to do that.
Now, as you go down and the water pressure pushes against your lungs, the area in there will get smaller and smaller and smaller. That’s okay. Because as you come up, you’re kicking your way to the surface, there’s less pressure and your lungs get bigger and bigger as the pressure gets less and less and by the time you return to the surface, your lungs are the same size as they were when you dove in. Everything’s fine.
Now, but let’s say that you’re 60 feet down and you want to get to the surface real quick and you take a great big gulp of air and you fill your lungs to satiety. Well, since the water pressure is compressing the size of your lungs, you have taken in five times as much air as you could take in if you were on the surface.
You hold in your breath instead of breathing and as you go up, the pressure lessens and your lungs expand and expand and expand, the air expands, until your lungs can’t expand any more and then the air goes through your lungs into your bloodstream and into your brain and other places and either cripples or kills you.
So, you’ll notice that when I make a point, I’m not really shy about it. I try and hammer it home. But here’s the point. I look at teaching people copy like I’m trying to save their financial life. Because if you guys don’t learn to write copy, you know what you’re going to have to do? You’re going to have to work for a living and if you have to work for a living, it’s going to kill you.
But the same with scuba diving. So if I am teaching someone to scuba dive, I make damn sure — I don’t just say, “By the way, don’t ever hold your breath when you’re under water. Got that? Fine. Okay.” And go on to the next thing. No, no, no, no, no. I make sure they understand that. Because in marketing, there’s only a dozen or so things you got to get right but you really, really have to get them right. You can’t paddle up or down the Mississippi River and get to Marietta, Ohio.
Michel: That’s an important point because one of the things that Peter Stone, the guy that actually is the foundation of this call, the guy that actually put this together –
Gary: Yeah, he did.
Michel: He — he said something that was phenomenal and a lot of people have heard this before. You’ve probably heard the saying that good copy is the temporary suspension of disbelief. Well, Peter Stone says good copy is the temporary suspension of critical thinking and the reason why he said that is because a lot of people were asking questions like — on the board that he’s the moderator of.
He’s one of my moderators — the question people ask is why do you have to explain so much in great detail and I think the best thing that I can say whenever I try to explain that, I use Peter’s quote but at the same time I say if you have to write copy and you leave out stuff where people have to think by themselves, they’re going to naturally be inclined to think about all the negative stuff as well and all the things that could easily get them to confuse what you’re going to say.
Gary: Well, that’s true — that’s true. But that’s part of the story. Now, you’ve got one part of it exactly right. Confused prospects never buy.
Gary: But you must convince people. And let’s talk about credibility. That was one of the –
Gary: Questions on the site, the credibility and believability. If you have a retail location, you tell them we’re located at 123 Main Street right across from the police station next to the public library and you tell them — you tell them you’re telephone number with the area code. It’s 216-834-9067. We’re open from, you know, 9:00 in the morning to 5:30 p.m. Pacific Coast Time, but we’re never open on Saturdays and Sundays.
You tell them. Specifics build believability and you’re got to understand something.
All of us, you know, like, I know a great deal about marketing. I can hardly function otherwise. You know, God, most of the time, he apportioned skills, you get so much skill to balance your checkbook, so much skill to get your laundry done, so much skill — he gave 99 percent of it all to me for marketing and I — I just stumble through life, you know? I mean, I’m as dysfunctional as any human being on earth except Jay Abraham who’s totally dysfunctional. Okay?
But, you know, I bought a really neat little thing from Sharper Image. It was the size of a stick of gum. It’s — it’s a tape recorder and as soon as I opened the instruction book, I went into a rage. You know what it said? How to set the clock and calendar. I don’t want a tape recorder that you — you know, I want a catalog of stuff that I want — I would like to see catalog — the title of “stuff that only does one thing,” you know, because that’s all I can handle.
I can’t play my VCR. I have a 72″ direct view screen, not projection, and it’s got a VCR and a CD or DVD player and I don’t know how to play it. So you know what I did? You know what my solution was? I went out and bought another like 19″ screen that has these two little slots you stick the DVD in one and the VHS in the other.
Now I work with a guy who is literally a rocket scientist. He’s worked 20 years at Nassau and he laughs at me and makes these things work. But I can’t make nothing work, you know, and now they want — by the way, I have a challenge.
If there’s anybody out there, anybody on this call, that wants to endear themselves to me, I want somebody to find me something and here’s what it is. I never answer my messages that I get on my cell phone. I never answer messages that I get on my home phone. I do not know how to answer messages on those phones. I don’t want to come home and know them and I don’t even want to know that people called. I want a cell phone that has no features whatsoever. It won’t take a picture. It won’t do caller I.D. It won’t store numbers. It won’t let me put my to do list in there. It won’t function as a PDA. It won’t let me put a calendar. Nothing.
If you call me on my cell phone and I’m there and I can answer it, we’ll talk. But if I don’t answer it, I want to never know you called. Do you understand? And I want to be able to call out and take calls in. That’s all I want. A featureless cell phone.
I got on a plane to Los Angeles where my children are from Miami. It’s five hours. I decided to read the — this is really off the subject, but I decided to read all of the features. I said I’m going to read this book. I’m going to read it.
Well, I learned there’s certain laws about electronic things when you explain them. First of all, they have to be written in 17 different languages. Secondly, they have to be written in half point type. Thirdly, they have to — all these obscure government regulations have to be explained before you can get to the meat of it.
And with my phone, you could do all these amazing things. You could find out the humidity in Paris, you know. How deep you are under water. How high you are if you’re climbing a mountain, etc. etc. etc., but, and some of you already know about this, it has three video games on it and one of them is Snake and the way it works is you feed the snake and his tail gets bigger or something like that.
And I was bitching about this at a coffee shop the next day in L.A. and a pretty young girl said to me, “Oh, you’ve got Snake? Oh, me and all my friends have it, too.” I was a member of an “in club” because I had a cell phone that you could play Snake on.
That is not the way I want the world to work. I want the world to be a Zippo lighter. Not a Zippo lighter that’s a compass that you can access your email with and I’m done with that. Forget it.
Michel: But you drove the point home very well, Gary, because I think that the idea is is that whenever you write copy, some people tend to — whenever they try to get all those details, the point is, you want to be, not only as specific as possible, but you literally want to take a person by the hand and take them through the copy. In fact, one of the questions was, “How do you keep going from one paragraph to the other?” What happens for example if you have writer’s block?
Gary: I never have writer’s block and I can teach all of you how to never have writer’s block. Never. I can do it in 30 seconds. Do you believe that? Here’s what you do. You write something that you know to write. I want to tell you about a new blender that… And you’re stuck right there.
What you do is you write “blah.” “Blah, blah, blah.” And you never stop writing “blah” until it occurs to you that I — I want to tell you about a blender that, uh, blends not only vegetables and fruits but also walnuts and casserole and blah, blah, blah. And you keep writing — the thing is what stops writer’s block is movement. You just keep writing “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah” and that writer’s block will go away every single time. The movement of your hand across that piece of paper or the typewriter keyboard will “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
Michel: Well, that’s interesting, because I think that’s a good point to make because a lot of people tend to use, to confuse between copywriter and copy editor. You know, they put on their editing hat rather than the copywriting hat.
Gary: They put it on too soon. You need both but you don’t — when you’re writing . let me tell you something that John Carlton and I don’t have that everybody else has. I don’t think Bencivenga has it. But there is nothing, no impediment between our brain and our hand. There are no clots whatsoever and you shouldn’t be thinking about whether this is true, whether this will offend the regulatory agency, you should just write your first draft as blazingly fast as you can write it.
The faster you write it, the better it will be. And write it as though God gave you permission to write anything.
Then, of course, just because you write it, remember this, all of you, get this in your head. Just because you’ve written something doesn’t mean you’re going to mail it or publish it. It’s a draft. And don’t take the enthusiasm out of the draft. Don’t kill the baby aborning. And I’ll give you another rule for your relationships with your friends, your creative friends.
When you first start talking about an idea and another guy says, “Well, let me be the devil’s advocate for a minute.” Hit him in the teeth as hard as you can. Right there. Just hit him as hard as you can and kick him out of the room because he doesn’t deserve to live and certainly not be in a room with real creative people. There is a place for devil’s advocate but not while the baby is aborning. The ideas are hard enough to come up with anyway.
Michel: Good point. That’s an excellent answer, Gary. Thank you so much for sharing that. I think also another question that’s sort of part of that was what kind of exercises should they do, should people do, to get into the flow and to get into the mind of a good, great copywriter that writes –
Gary: They should write his letters out in longhand. Every one of you should write a letter out in longhand every day. Hey, but before I forget, I want to make an offer to everybody on this call. It’s a free offer. Is that okay for me to do that?
Michel: Oh, yeah. Go ahead, Gary.
Gary: I can teach each one of you how to make — how to at least triple your Internet profits and you can do it with a metal object. I cannot send you this metal object through the net. I have to mail it to you. So here’s what you do. Write to Roxanne at the garyhalbertletter.com. Roxanne at the garyhalbertletter.com. And put your snail mail address there and I will send you this metal object which — and explain to you how to use it and I guarantee it will triple your profits.
Now, this is not necessary but if you trust me, I would also like you to put your telephone number and fax number there and I don’t abuse anybody’s information. You know me, I don’t even abuse — I don’t send emails everyday or anything but if we have to check, if the package got to you, or fax you, you don’t have to do that but I do have to have your snail mail address and I will mail this metal object out to you right away and teach you how to use it and I guarantee you will triple the profits of your website. How’s that for a guarantee?
Michel: That’s — that’s awesome. Actually, it’s leading into the next question is — and I know you’ve talked a little bit about this in the past, Gary, about how to structure a really good guarantee and I think there was a double your money back guarantee process that you’ve talked about a while back. I can’t remember the seminars I was at that you spoke about.
Gary: I do a lot of double your money back guarantees.
Michel: And what is your technique for writing a good guarantee?
Gary: Well, but don’t –
Michel: What’s your best guarantee?
Gary: I did that, I first did that when I was working as an outside consultant for Entrepreneur Magazine for Chase Revell and they were publishing these reports that sold for about $60.00 or $70.00 on how, you know, how to make money in the florist business or how to start a balloon vending business and the first half of the report was generic talking about getting your business card, getting your business license, etc., etc., and then the second half of the report told you how to do things that were specific to that particular business and their — they were getting clobbered by their refund rate.
And I said, “Well, I’ll fix it for you.” And they said, “How are you going to do it?” And I said, “I’m going to make it a double your money back refund. But I’m going to make it conditional.” And here was the conditions.
You send this — you say as long as you do it exactly as we tell you to do, we guarantee you will make a profit at this business and when you send the book out that says okay, the first thing you have to do is you have to get a business license.
The second thing you have to do is get stationary and envelopes and business cards printed up and blah, blah, blah. And said okay, if you give this a fair trial for 60 days and it doesn’t make any money, send us back a short written note telling us you followed all the instructions and write that note on your stationary, include a photocopy of your business license and your business card and that stopped refunds.
It increased sales by 50 percent and almost eliminated refunds because you know when people want a refund? They — I’ll tell you when they decide to get a refund. The moment they’re ordering. There are some cases when you send the garbage, they want their money back. But for the most part, the person who wants a refund knows that when he is ordering.
Now, here’s the way I do it on diets. A lot of times I’ll say we can’t make a lot of claims for this diet because it has not been inspected by the FDC. All the information is what’s called anecdotal. But we believe in this product very strongly. So we’re going to send you this diet pill.
You use it twice a day and follow the simple instructions. Use it for 60 days and if it doesn’t take off weight more than anything before, send it back. Send the empty container back and with a note telling us you followed the instruction and with a note, we send this with the product, telling us that you took the pills twice a day and walking for half a day as instructed and give us the name and the address of your doctor and the approximate date you went to him to get his approval to start this diet program.
Now that might seem tricky but what’s the alphabet agency going to say to you? Well, you told her to go to a doctor before she starts the diet program. Well, it’s kind of irresponsible not to, isn’t it? But nobody does it.
And I’ll tell you another thing about refunds. The longer the refund period is, the fewer the refunds you will have. You know, the worst thing you could do is you see ads with a ten-day money back guarantee? That puts a deadline right in their head. “I’ve only got four more days to return this.”
Put a six-month or a year guarantee in there. Do you think anybody gets a six-month guarantee and looks at their calendar and flips six months ahead and says last month — last day to return widget ABC? To Michel Fortin for refund? No, they don’t. The longer the guarantee period, the fewer the refunds. The double your money back guarantee should always be a conditional thing but I’ve seen guys try to copy what I’m teaching you now and they would make ridiculous demands.
Show me the insertion orders that you used to send the ad in, blah, blah, blah. I don’t ask them to do anything outrageous. It’s not outrageous to ask somebody to tell them before you start this diet program, visit your doctor and make sure there are no underlying health conditions why you shouldn’t be on this or any other diet program. That’s pretty reasonable. Isn’t it?
And if, you know, and it’s pretty reasonable to tell somebody don’t go into business without getting a business license and stationary. But they don’t do it. So the refunds go way down.
Now, let me tell you what to do, though, from a practical nature. Somebody wants a double your money back refund. First, you refund them every cent they paid. You do that without question. And then you tell them but if they want the double your money back refund, you are going to stand behind the guarantee but to furnish you with that information.
Michel: Awesome. That was great. Thanks, Gary. A question, also, that a lot of people have asked was I have, for example, a high ticket product, $2,000.00, $3,000.00, $4,000.00 product, and some people said well, I have also a free e-book that I’m giving away. How — how much copy or what kind of copy should I use for selling a high ticket product versus a free product or a free giveaway?
Gary: Well, first of all, um, that — that’s really a good question. That’s a very, very good question and I’m going to give you a really great answer to it and this is right out of recent experience.
I was selling something recently that costs $5,000.00 and we — I wrote a full page newspaper ad, full page newspaper ad, like 2,000 words of copy, all I wanted them to do is to call an 800 number, give their name and address to receive a free book. And the free book was filled with really valuable information and the last half of the book told you — or the last probably 25 percent of the book, 10 percent of the book probably, last 10 percent, told you how you could order if you were interested, you could order the multi-thousand dollar product.
Now, I’m going to tell you the exact figures on that when we did it direct mail. When we did it direct mail, it costs us about a buck a piece to mail the letters. So a thousand letters costs us a thousand dollars, right? We would get an average of a 7 percent response.
We mailed a thousand letters, we’d get 70 replies. For each one of those replies, to send them, we spent $10.00 working them, and we sent it Federal Express with a dollar bill letter attached, you know, a dollar attached to it because it costs us $10.00. In other words, the 70 replies cost us $10.00 a piece. So we’ve got $1,700.00 in the promotion. Am I making that clear enough?
Gary: Okay. And you know what we got from that? Exactly a 7 percent response. Seven percent of the 70 percent — in other words, we got five orders from the initial thousand at $5,000.00 a piece. $25,000.00 for spending $1,700.00.
Gary: So, and here’s something that people forget and you never want to forget this. When you’re going for leads, write long copy just — just as hard and as long as . as strong as if you were going for a $10,000.00 sale. No lead, no sale. Right?
Gary: Sell the hell out of getting them to give you that name and — their name and address that you can mail them something to.
Michel: Well, I think it comes back to what you were saying at the beginning, Gary, that people –
Gary: Oh, by the way, and it is better to be redundant than it is to be remiss.
Michel: Good point.
Gary: And in light of that factor, I’m going to say it once again. You want to triple your website profits? I will send you something free and tell you how to use it to triple, triple, your website profits and I don’t make empty claims.
All you have to do is send your snail mail address to Roxanne at the garyhalbertletter, I guess at aol.com. Roxanne at the garyhalbertletter.com and just write John Jones, 123 Elm Street, Madison, Ohio 44646 and we’ll put it in the mail to you right away.
It’s a piece of — it’s a metal object and — and I would appreciate it if you would send your fax and telephone number but if you’re skeptical, you don’t have to.
Michel: If you’re ever stuck or if the email comes back for whatever reason, they can send it to [email protected] and I’ll forward it to the proper people. Um, is that okay, Gary?
Michel: Okay. One question I also had asked a lot is the fact that telling a good compelling story — and this is something that I’ve been preaching for gosh knows how long — because a lot of people ask me, you know, how — how to write good copy and I usually say it’s because you have to be a good salesperson. Writing copy is just the writing extension of being a good salesperson. But every good salesperson and every good copywriter is a good storyteller and I want –
Gary: You know what happened to me recently? About six months ago?
Gary: I was really sick and I was in the hospital and, uh, there was a woman there that was, you know, helping me and I was only in the hospital for a short period of time and she was a Haitian woman. She said she wanted to talk to me because she knew I was being discharged and would I talk to her for a few minutes and I got out and she said, “I want to give you something.”
And she gave me five of these little pills and she says, “I guarantee you they’re perfectly safe. They won’t do anything but good for you.” And she said, “They come from my country and we have an evil saint over there.” And they do, it’s called Baron Simidi and “I know this sounds like superstitious stuff to you but if you’ll take one of these pills every day for the next five days, you’re going to feel immensely better.”
And so I figured, what the hell, this woman isn’t going to poison me and I took one of those pills every one for the next five days. Now, you know these machines in the gyms, that’s a tri-step fold down and there’s a bunch of plates, then there’s a pulley that goes up and comes around a metal, you know, what do you call it?
I can’t think of the name but it goes around, comes down, the cable comes up around the pulley and there’s a couple of bars on it and how much weight you want to lift, if you want to lift just one plate, there’s a pin. You put it right underneath the first pin and you push this weight down to your — to you waist, you know, with both hands, your arms are straight out from your waist?
Gary: And then to work your triceps you push it down to your waist, bring it — or down to your thigh. Then you bring it back up to your waist and you push it back down. Then you bring it right up and you push it back down. And my goal for a long time was to be able to do half of the weight on that rack — half of all the weight on there. And I used those pills and I felt so much better after the five days, I went back and asked her if I could get some more. And she wasn’t trying to screw me out of money and I had to pay a little bit to get the pills and you know what I did three days ago?
Gary: I went to the gym. I put the pin under the last weight so it was all the weight on there and I brought it down, all the weight on there, and I repped it 30 times.
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.