Please remove the stress control biofeedback
card from the top of this letter and hold your thumb on the
dark rectangle for a count of ten.
Now, remove your thumb and check the color in
the rectangle to find out how stressed you are at this very
How'd you do? Are you calm, normal or tense?
Or, worst of all, did you happen to get a black reading that
suggests your frame of mind is about the same as a long-tailed
cat in a room full of rocking chairs?
No matter. At least it's no matter if any of
your stress is caused because you can't figure out how to make
your direct mail more effective. You see, if you are stressed
out for that reason, I want you to take the test again
after you finish this letter... because... by then, your
stress level should be much lower. Why? The answer is
simple: You see, you are about to learn one of my main secrets
for pushing direct mail response to the outer limits of
profitability by the intelligent use of what I call...
What's a grabber? Hey, I'm glad you asked.
Enquiring minds really do want to know, don't they?
O.K., Buckwheat, a grabber is what I call
something you can attach to the top a letter that grabs your
reader's immediate attention and he can then grab and remove
it from the letter and hold it in his grubby little hands.
In other words, a grabber is something that
grabs a reader's attention and then turns him into a "grabbee"
who grabs the grabber if your copy can weave an intelligent
and compelling reason for doing so as I just did with you.
Oh hell, you know what I mean.
Now, listen up: Providing you've been using
all the other techniques I've been revealing to you (A-Pile,
B-Pile, the "magic" sealed envelope, etc.) there is nothing
I know of that can hype your response as much as a
How much profit can a grabber grab? I'm going
to answer that question in just a moment right after I take
another of my famous little "side trips" to give you
a useful little nugget of information. Hark unto me. Listen: A
short time ago, I ordered something published by...
Buy this book! I forget how much it is but, it's certainly not
overpriced like all my stuff. And, it's great. It truly is a collection
of absolutely superb direct mail letters... plus... it has "Tips
From The Experts," a collection of "Letter Leads" and another
on "Letter Closes." This was all put together by a guy named Richard
S. Hodgson who has done one hell of a good job.
However, after having said all that, I must also say it seems
to me Mr. Hodgson seems to have inexplicably left out from his excellent
compilation, what are, perhaps, the two most successful letters in all of
direct mail history.
The first one was written by yours truly and it is the
one-pager used to sell the family name, coat-of-arms research report sold by
Halbert's Inc. The reason I think Mr. Hodgson should have included this letter
is twofold: (1) It is, I believe, the most-widely mailed (140 million, all
sent first-class) letter in history and it produced a huge front-end profit
With Order Customers!
And the second reason is, that by leaving this letter out, Mr.
Hodgson has inadvertently hurt my feelings... a situation I am sure any
sensitive truly caring person would be
eager to correct.
Oh well, let me wipe the tears from my eyes so I can continue.
O.K., more to the point of this month's subject, the second letter Mr. Hodgson
left out is the most successful grabber of all time. You'll find it on page
394 in the chapter on "SHOWMANSHIP" of the Robert Collier Letter Book. Here is what it says:
|Dear Mr. Jones,
Here's a dollar. -- Yes, it's a REAL dollar
nice and clean and new.
Keep it if you want to, after you've read
letter -- but I don't believe you will, then.
Here's what it's all about:
I've made an
investment -- of a thousand dollars --
in human nature, human kindness. I've mailed a thousand
dollars -- in a thousand letters to a thousand people
picked at random. I have done this because I believe
that everyone is really kind -- that no one is really
heartless -- and that the only reason why folks do not
help where help is needed is just because these needs
are not impressed upon them hard enough.
And that's the
mission of each of my thousand
dollars -- to impress the importance of a need. This
thousand dollars is my subscription to the Blank Hos-
pital -- and I'm investing it in the belief that every
one will bring back several more -- at least another --
with it. So our subscription, which I'm starting in
this way, will be at least two thousand -- maybe five,
for there's going to be a lot of you send a five or a
ten or more when you mail my dollar back.
Remember -- both
my dollar and your dollars go to
help crippled children.
Will EVERY ONE
Are people really
kind -- or REALLY heartless?
And how much loot did this grabber letter grab? Here's the
scoop right from the book:
pulled better than a 90 percent
response. The writer of it told me that from
175,000 letters mailed, he got back about
$270,000, plus more than 90 percent of the
dollar bills he had mailed out.
But this was only the
start. From the list
of more than 150,000 people who gave that
$270,000, further subscriptions were secured
to the amount of some $10,000,000."
And, don't forget, we're talking about ten million dollars
back when it was worth something because this letter was mailed...
50 Years Ago!
And guess what else? This same letter was recently tested
(with modernized wording) and... once again... got 90%+ results.
Hoo! Haa! Maybe we should look into this idea of attaching
grabbers to letters a little closer, you think?
Now, as you probably have already guessed, my favorite type of
grabber to attach to a letter is money. I use dollar bills, $2.00
bills, Japanese yens, Mexican pesos or whatever else makes sense. If it's a
penny, the copy often starts like this:
As you can see, I have attached a bright,
penny to the top of this letter. Why have I done this?
Actually, there are two reasons:
#1 First, since I have something extremely
important to tell
you, I needed some way
to make sure
this letter would catch your
#2 And secondly, since this letter
how you can make (or
save) a lot of money,
I thought using a
penny as a little
eyecatcher" was especially
Here's what it's all about. Etc., etc.
In the case of the Japanese yen (a very light weight little
aluminum coin) the second reason can be something like:
and since what I'm writing about
was discovered in Japan, etc., etc."
Or, in the case of the Mexican peso, you start writing about
how this once proud currency used to be the standard against how other
currencies were measured but now it takes a wheelbarrow full of pesos to buy
just one kruggerrand.
And then, of course, you go on to weave into your letter a
story about the ravages of inflation and how it really
can happen here... and... of
course, why if you buy the financial report or newsletter (or whatever) this
sales letter is touting, you won't have to worry about such a catastrophe.
You know, once I did a letter for my friend, the late Joe
Karbo, that sold a system to beat the horses and I attached a $2.00 bill to
the top of each letter which said in part...
and since I'm so sure this betting system will work for you, I've even decided
to send you the attached two bucks with which to make your first bet..."
And so on. Enough about money. Now, let's see what else we can
use for a grabber that has an almost universal application? Well, if you want
to know about something else which nearly always works, trying sending what
is, or appears to be...
A Genuine Photograph!
Listen: You want to be a marketing hero to yourself, your
company and/or one of your clients? Try this: If your DM sales piece currently
includes a brochure, eliminate it from the next mailing and, instead, send
what appears to be a homemade amateur Polaroid or 35 millimeter photograph.
Perhaps you are sending this photo because this is a brand new product and you
wanted the reader to be among the first to know about it and you didn't want
to delay getting the scoop to him until you had brochures printed up. Maybe
the photo is of you or whomever else is signing the letter because, as you
explain in your letter, you're an old-fashioned guy who believes people ought
to at least be able to know what a person looks like if they are going to do
business with him. Maybe the photo is of a special part of the product you are
selling that helps you explain (and your reader visualize) why your product
works so much better than the products of your competitors.
Whatever. The main thing is by sending a photo (very personal,
very human, very warm) instead of a printed brochure (very impersonal, cold
and technical) your letter will be humanized and that, my friend, is
what catapults direct mail response to levels virtually undreamed of by most
Want another idea? You do? You're trying a greedy, little mind
sucker, aren't you? Well, good for you! Let's see, what could you and I
use for a grabber if we were truly to sell beachfront condos in Maui? Hmn? How
about attaching a little plastic baggie filled with sand and sending out
letters which start like this:
See that little baggie stapled to the top
You want to know what's in it? Well,
let me tell
you, the contents of that baggie is something that's
rapidly becoming one of the rarest and most valuable
substances on earth.
In fact, it is earth. Or rather
sand. Sand from
the most exclusive beachfron property in Maui which is
rapidly disappearing ... blah, blah, blah, blah, etc.,
Zowie! I'm truly on a roll now, ain't I? Let's see, what kind
of grabber could we use if our brain energy is at an extremely low ebb (a
condition very common to advertising people) and we can't think of anything
especially applicable but we want to use a grabber anyway? Hey, I know! How
about sending a real, live...
First-Class Postage Stamp!
No. No. No. Not the reply envelope. I'm talking about
attaching the stamp to the top of the letter so then you can write something
As you can see, I have attached a $.22
stamp to the top of this letter.
Why? The answer is simple.
You see, I've got a proposition for you
and I need
an answer right away. So please, as soon as you finish
this letter, remove the stamp and put it on the enclosed
reply envelope and mail me your answer immediately.
Here's why it's so important. Blah,
Use your imagination. Send a couple of aspirins "because
the first part of this letter is going to give you a headache"... and
then later... your letter will present another solution for the headache,
something more permanent than aspirin. Send a feather... "can you imagine
having to use this instead of a word processor to create your next
business report?" Send a little lump of coal in a baggie... "ever
see a diamond before it was old enough to sparkle?" Send a... oh nuts! If
I haven't got your mind in gear by now, you're hopeless.
But, you're not hopeless, are you? No Sir, you're one
of my subscribers who are (truly) among the smartest people in the
world like, for instance, Don Clifton, a realtor in Spokane, Washington who
sends a letter with a $1.00 check attached that has several survey questions
printed on the back. Questions which help him qualify people as to whether or
not they could use a speaker to inspire and inform people who work as real
estate agents. The way it works is, you tick off your answers on the little
squares next to the questions on the back of the check and then you deposit
the check. And then, when the cancelled check comes back to Don with his bank
statement, he'll know some useful stuff about you... and... when he contacts
You'll Damn Sure Remember
Him, Won't You?
So far, he's got 538 back out of less than 1,500 mailed and
each of his check statements brings more hot leads.
Isn't that a neat idea? Of course, in the next few months or
so, I'll get real "creative" and maybe figure some way I can
take credit for this little gem.
Why not? I've always suspected I might be missing some thrills
by being an original... instead of a thief.
Gary C. Halbert
"Gary the Grabber"
||That little stress control biofeedback card is truly a
humdinger of a grabber... and... considering how much they could pump
up your results... they're pretty cheap. The way you get them is by
calling Steven A. Bair at (714) 841-8989.
really mailing a lot of letters and you need pennies or any other type
of coin attached in huge numbers, call Steve McClenehan for this and
other types of first-class lettershop work at (213) 634-6484.
||So, that's it for this month except for one admonition:
Don't Miss Next Month's
Letter -- When You Get
It Read It Immediately. . .
Because . . . It Will Be, By
Far, The Most Important
One I've Ever Written
Copyright © 2003 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights