The Boron Letters - Chapter 18
Friday, 7:09 AM
June 29, 1984
Well, here I am trying to get started again. Once more, I
haven't the faintest idea of what I'm going to write about.
Let's see now. Oh yeah. When I left off last night one of
the last things I mentioned was how the judicious use of
parenthesis (like this) can provide "eye relief" for your
Alright. Now, let's talk a bit more about eye relief. Have
you ever looked at a piece of writing and decided not to
read it because it looked so forbidding? I'll bet you have.
Usually, this kind of writing will have long sentences, long
paragraphs, narrow side margins, small type and very little
white space anywhere on the page.
Now, we certainly don't want people to avoid reading
our copy for stupid reasons like this, do we? You say you
agree? Good. In that case, I'll press on.
Now, listen up. When a person first looks at something you
have written it should be something that looks inviting to
read. Easy-to-read. When he looks at your page of copy he
should be drawn to your copy like a convict is to a
Your page of copy (be it letter or space ad) should be laid
out in such a manner as to be an attractive "eye treat" for
This means wide margins, a certain amount of white space,
double spacing between paragraphs, short words, short
sentences, short paragraphs and an attractive, inviting
And now, my dear son, you are about to learn one of my very
most important secrets. What I am about to tell you is so
important that you can get as much as 500% more readership.
Yet, at the same time, this important consideration remains
almost virtually unknown by almost every agency and
advertising person I have ever encountered.
Listen up. Listen good and never forget what you are about
to learn. Here it is:
The Layout Of Your
Catch The Attention Of
Your Reader... But...
Not In A Way That Causes
Him To "Notice" The Layout!
Actually, that's not as clear as it could be, is it? Perhaps
I can do better. O.K., know this: In most publications, the
editorial content gets 5 times as much readership as the
Now, what does this mean on a practical basis? Simply this:
It means that your ads should, as much as possible, have an
"editorial look" about them.
(Better stop here and go call Blade and then go to "work".
Maybe I'll get to rake the sand again today!)
Let's talk a bit more about the "look" of your ads and DM
pieces. As I said, they should look (the ads) "editorial".
However, they should not look like just any old editorial
piece of writing. No. Your ads should look like an
exciting piece of editorial material.
Here is a way to think about it: Imagine that you have
written a book that you want to become a best seller. What's
the best thing that could happen? Well, how about this?
Suppose a guy who works as a reporter for the L.A. Times
gets a copy of your book and reads it and falls in love with
Now, let us further imagine that this reporter likes your
book so much that he writes a full page article about our
book and tells all his readers how wonderful this book is
and why they should buy a copy. Wouldn't that be great? You
And, just to sweeten things up even more, let us suppose
that at the end of this "Rave Review" he tells his readers
how to get a copy by mail. He tells them how much it costs,
where to send the check or money order and who the payment
should made out to!
Wow! How about that! A full page rave review that makes the
reader desire the book and then tells him where and how to
Now my son, listen and listen closely. Whenever you write an
ad it should look, in so far as possible, exactly like a
rave review written by a reporter.
It should have the look of an exciting news flash.
Here's something else. You know, whenever I want to study ad
layouts, I often study editorial layouts instead.
How do we apply all this to direct mail? O.K., what would
that reporter do if he wanted one of his friends in Hawaii
to buy your book? The answer? Well, perhaps he would write
his friend a letter and tell him the same things he told his
And, perhaps he would even include a snapshot of the book so
his friend would know what to look for in case he wanted to
go to a bookstore to get the book. This would be one hell of
a sales pitch, wouldn't it? You bet it would and that's how
your DM letters should look.
Here is a true story. Once upon a time I wrote a letter to
sell a product I dreamed up which was a family name research
report. This little report would give you a short history of
your family name and it contained a black and white drawing
of the earliest known coat-of-arms (family crest) ever to be
associated with your name.
As you are aware, this became one of the most successful
sales letters in history. In fact, this simple one page
361-word letter generated more than seven million (actually
7,156,000) cash with order customers.
Not bad, eh? But listen to what happened next! Obviously, we
wanted to sell these research report buyers other products
and the logical course of action was to send them a catalog
showing a bunch of products they could get that would
display (in full heraldic colors!) their family crest.
Sound good to you? It sounded great to me. So, what I
did is I went off on a camping trip by myself and there, all
alone in the woods, I created a 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 four color
catalog which featured about 70 attractive items that could
be ordered personalized with my customer's family crest.
It didn't even return our mailing costs! So, what next?
Well, at that point, what I did is I took the 3 best selling
items in the catalog and I put together an 8-1/2 x 11
brochure that featured only 3 items.
It did only slightly better than break even.
Groan. What to do, what to do?
Here's what I did then: I wrote a very personal sales letter
and I enclosed a snapshot of the best selling of the three
items in the brochure. The opening of the letter went like
Dear Mr. Noble,
thought you might like to see what the Noble
coat-of-arms looks like in full color so I am
sending you the enclosed snapshot.
Etc., blah, blah, blah, etc.
40 Million Dollars!
That's right kiddo. That letter brought in 40 mil while my
other "more professional" attempts fell flat on their rears.
What's the moral here? The moral is YOU CAN DO A BETTER
SELLING JOB WHEN AT FIRST IT DOES NOT APPEAR YOU ARE
ATTEMPTING TO DO A SALES JOB.
And, when I come back, the subject of my next teaching will
be the importance of the fact that "YOU NEVER GET A
SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION!"
I Love You And Good Luck
Copyright © 2005 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights