The Boron Letters - Chapter 24
Thursday, 7:15 AM
July 5, 1984
Well, I'm feeling better today. I think these short,
frequent days of fasting are really cleaning me out. I
really feel a need now, more than ever, to shed my excess
weight because it is starting to get really hot here. In
fact, I'll be it's 80 degrees or so already this morning.
Anyhow. What I want to tell you this morning is that after
tomorrow I am going to stop writing these letters for a
while. There are several reasons: For example, I need to
review some reference material and take notes and then, more
or less outline, the future letters as my babblings seem to
me to be getting too random. Another thing is that I
want you to get this first batch of 25 letters typed up so I
can easily review them and take notes from them also. And,
also, I need to catch up on some of my other work like
filing my rule 35 motion (a request for a modification of
sentence) so I'll have a chance of getting out of here
And, finally, I have a couple of "bankers" who are eager for
me to develop some promotions which they will finance and
then we will split any profits 50/50.
And you know what? I think an excellent way for you to learn
how to make money in this business is to watch over my
shoulder as I begin to create one profitable promotion after
Here's how I'm going to start: First of all, I am going to
go through the SRDS book and make a note of all the lists
that look like hot markets. Then, I'm going to show Eric
this list of lists and ask for his comments. I'm sure he
will be able to add to my lists and maybe he will also be
able to tell me that some of the lists are really not so
In any case, after all that, I will have a page full of list
selections and I will write you a letter telling you what
lists I have selected. After that, I will put on my thinking
cap and develop some product ideas to try and sell to the
various lists. By the way, I would very much appreciate any
ideas that pop into your head after you see my list of
lists. Well, in any case, after all this, I will sleep on it
and then, pretty soon, I will codify (isn't that a neat
word) and isolate the projects I want to work on.
Then I'll talk to my bankers.
Here's the way it works with my bankers. If they see a
project they would like to be involved with, they will have
to come up with a development fee of $5,000.00. (Believe me,
that's peanuts to these guys.) This $5,000.00 will be used
to create a DM piece and to make a test mailing of that
piece to 2-5M names. We will also use some of the money for
O.K. after that, if the response is no good, the banker will
eat his $5,000.00 loss and we will go on to the next
If, however, the results look good, we will then proceed to
a larger mailing of perhaps 50,000 pieces. And then, after
we get our results from the 50,000 pieces, if everything
still looks good, we will start rolling out and taking care
It's a good outline, I think. I intend to keep you informed
every step of the way and I'll let you "live" the
development of these projects with me. And, as a matter of
fact, I think I will let you help me with some of these
projects and give you a small cut of the action.
So, sharpen your driving skills. Do your roadwork and get
cracking on all those other things I told you were good
things to do. I'll join you again on my lunch hour.
Well, kiddo, it's past the lunch hour but better late than
never, eh? Whatever. I'm stuck for a theme again. What do
you suggest? O.K. How about the subject of IMPACT? Good, I'm
glad you agree.
Impact is the impression you or your promotion makes on its
intended target. Someone once said that the average American
is subjected to about 1,500 commercial messages every day.
Probably so. Especially when you count billboards, ads on
TV, ads on radio, ads on the backs of buses, on taxicabs, on
match covers, in newspapers, magazines, direct mail pieces,
However, out of all those ads very very few have any
appreciable impact. And impact is one of the things I strive
And, what I want to talk about right now is my favorite way
in all the world to achieve impact with my DM promotions.
What I'm talking about is attaching things to the top of my
letters. I've mentioned this before but now I want to go
into it in considerably more detail.
The best letter ever to use this technique was the
classic "dollar bill" letter featured in "The Robert Collier
Letter Book." (must reread)
This was a first class letter that was designed to raise
funds for a children's hospital. When the recipient opened
the envelope he discovered a personal typed letter with a
real honest-to-goodness dollar bill attached to it. The copy
explained that the writer wanted to donate a thousand
dollars to a certain children's hospital but that he
realized that a thousand dollars wouldn't go very far. So,
what he (the writer) had decided to do was divide his
$1,000.00 contribution into 1,000 - one dollar bills and
then mail these bills to 1,000 different people. Now, he
went on to say, what he hoped is that everybody who received
one of these dollar bills would decide not to keep it and,
instead, send it straight to the hospital with one or more
dollars of their own.
Did it work? Oh my! It was probably the most effective
direct mail promotion ever mailed. It got better than a 90%
response and the people to whom it was mailed eventually
contributed tens of millions of dollars!
Today, in the mail, I received a copy of my Japanese "Penny"
promotion. This promotion, as you know, has a Japanese
"Penny" attached to the top of the letter and the copy says
that the writer is attaching the penny to the letter for two
The first reason is to get attention. And, secondly, because
what the letter has to talk about was discovered in Japan,
the writer felt that some sort of "Japanese" eyecatcher was
This letter is working like crazy. It has impact.
But, be careful. Whatever you attach to the top of your
letters should tie in with the rest of your letter and what
you are selling. It should make sense and fit into the
promotion in a natural way.
Here is an example of how not to use impact: Some companies
print up advertising that, at first glance, looks like a
traffic ticket. Then, they hire kids to put these traffic
ticket type ads on the windshields of parked cars.
What happens is, that the owner of the car comes back to
discover what seems to be a traffic ticket on his windshield
and he, naturally, grabs it forthwith and starts to read it.
It sure gets his attention. It sure achieves impact. The guy
will sure remember that company.
But He Will Remember The
Company With Distaste!
He Will Remember That This
Is A Company That Scared
Him And Made Him Angry!
You know what all that adds up to?
The message is clear: You must not use "cheap tricks". Make
what you attach to the letter "fit in". All it takes is a
little imagination. Let's see if I can come up with a couple
of original examples:
How about attaching an eagle feather to a letter that tells
how these birds are in danger of becoming extinct?
How about attaching a Mexican Peso to a letter that talks
about inflation? I did it and it was a great puller.
How about a computer microchip attached to a letter that
explains why a certain new electronic product is superior to
How about my son attaching a picture of himself to a letter
to his old man that tells him how he is getting into good
How about you send me some ideas along these lines?
I Love You and Good Luck
Copyright © 2005 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights