W-A-Y West of Jewfish Creek
Dear Friend & Subscriber,
Before I get cranked up on this month's main
subject, I want to discuss a few items of interest. First of
all, when I sent a copy of my seminar ad with last month's
newsletter, I did so because I wanted to illustrate how a
copywriter ought to be able to write an ad to promote his
Well, as it turns out, a number of my
subscribers were a little miffed at me because they wanted to go
to the seminar and I didn't give them enough warning. I'm
sorry about that; I guess I just wasn't thinking. However,
this month (on the 23rd) I'm giving another seminar and this
time it's at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. I'd love
to see you there. If you are interested, you can read my new
ad (enclosed) which is appearing in the Los Angeles Times.
But, if you want to register, please don't
delay. The room only seats 130 and it's going to fill up in a
Next, I want to talk a moment about how you
can profit (maybe) from cable TV at no risk whatsoever. I'm
doing a lot of cable work now (two shows on the air, two in
the can, and one more scheduled for shooting) and I'm looking
for new ideas. Many of you, I suspect have direct mail or
space promotions that could be easily adapted to TV. If so,
I'd like to talk to YOU. Do your marketing efforts have what
Sir Gary calls the "Three S's" needed for cable success?"
Star: someone who is an authority on what you are
Story: something we can talk about in a TV
Solution: This is the most important "S" of
all. Does your product or service solve a
problem such as poverty, hemorrhoids, obesity,
boredom, hunger or the need to be rich and famous?
Are you marketing something that has all these
elements? If so, give me a call because I might be able to
line you up with a cable show with NO investment on your part.
That'd be nice, wouldn't it?
Thirdly, do any of you happen to know how
someone with a new mail order business can get a merchant
account for MasterCard, Visa and American Express? If you do
know, I'd really appreciate if you would share that info with
Fourthly and finally, I have never, in all my
years of of writing, received such an enthusiastic response as
I have from those of you who've read the BORON
Thank you very much.
So, now that I've got all that out of the way,
let's get cooking. This month's issue is going to be special.
Here is why. More than 60 years ago, a man named E. Haldeman-Julius
conducted the most fascinating and large-scale market research
program I've ever heard about. Are you familiar with Haldeman-Julius?
He's the guy who published the world famous Little
What's that? You've never heard of the Little Blue Books? What are you anyway, just a young kid? You say
you're wondering what a publishing venture you've never even
heard about can teach you about marketing?
Plenty. The story of the Little
Blue Books offers up a treasure trove of marketing
insights that is pure gold. Here are the details: Once upon a
time, way back in the 1920's, the Little
Blue Books were born. They were, all in all, a collection
of some 2,000 titles. All the books had a blue cover and
measured 3-1/2 by 5 inches. Most often they contained 64
pages, although sometimes they went up to 128 pages. The
content of the Little Blue Books was wide and varied. They covered everything from
Shakespeare to the Debate
on Birth Control. Many of them were self-help books of the
"How To" genre. They were sold in large ads that
appeared in many of the major newspapers and other
publications such as Colliers
and the Saturday
Evening Post. They sold for a nickel (5 cents) and you had
to buy at least 20 of them with every order.
Now listen: Do you remember when Playboy magazine first hit the newsstands? Remember the technique of
how to buy it? Remember how you'd go to a newsstand and grab
copies of Life and Look and maybe the National
Geographic and a couple of others and then
you'd pick up a Playboy
and hide it in the middle of all those others when you went up
to the cash register?
You do remember all that? Geez, time sure
passes, doesn't it? Well, since a person had
to buy 20 Little Blue
Books at a time, that meant he could anonymously sandwich
in an order for what he really wanted to read or learn about with all that stuff society was
telling him he was supposed
to be interested in.
To say that the Little
Blue Books sold well would be somewhat of an
understatement. How many of them were sold? I'm glad you asked
because the answer is.....
More Than 100 Million!
And listen to this: After Haldeman-Julius had
sold over 100 million of these little books, then he wrote a
book titled The First Hundred Million to tell what he had
learned from this publishing venture. His statistics are
amazing. They reveal exactly what interested the American
public in the 1920s and in exactly what relative proportions.
And you know what? Those statistics are dead on target today!
What subject was the American public most
willing to pay and read about in the 1920's? The same one
they're most willing to pay to read about today.
First Hundred Million is a book that contains a precise
and valid statistical measurement of America's inner most
needs and greeds. So why didn't I mention it in last month's
newsletter when I listed the greatest marketing books of all
time? Simply because I didn't have a copy of it and I wasn't
sure it was obtainable. Those others that are out-of-print are
hard to find but, with a little effort, they are at least
gettable. So anyway, what happens is a good friend and
long-time client of mine, Brian Smith and his trusty helper
Amy, found a copy of Haldeman-Julius' book and Xeroxed it for
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
And now, without further adieu, I am simply
going to extract for you some data from this wonderful book.
Haldeman-Julius sold 20,700,000 Little Blue Books in 1927.
Many of then were about sex. Let's see what we can learn from
his annual sales figures for that year. Hmn? A book titled The
Art of Kissing sold 60,500 copies, yet one titled The
Art Of Courtship sold only 17,500 copies. What
Married Women Should Know (a euphemistic titled that
Haldeman-Julius really wanted to call Sex
Facts For Married Women) sold 112,000 copies while What
Married Men Should Know sold 97,500 copies. Women's
Sexual Life sold 97,500 copies, Man's
Sexual Life sold 54,000 copies. Confidential
Chats With Wives sold 52,000 copies, while Confidential Chats With Husbands sold only 29,500 copies.
Hmn? I guess a woman's sexual revelations have
much more commercial appeal than a man's, don't they?
Hah! Here's something. It seems that Modern Aspect of Birth Control appealed to 73,000 readers,
while Debate on Birth
Control appealed only to 27,000.
I guess they didn't want to hear all the
arguments, they just wanted to know how to do it.
Ah, but let's go for what they really
wanted to read. Check out this
in the Modern World - 129,500 copies!
As opposed to The
Evolution of Marriage which sold only 20,000 copies.
Here's a strange one. Love
Letters of a Portuguese Nun sold 46,000 copies, while How to Write Love Letters sold only 23,000 copies.
About Venereal Disease sold 41,500 copies as opposed
to the more specific Facts
About Syphilis which sold only 36,000.
O.K. that's enough sex for this month. Let's
move on to the area of self-education. Just look at this
difference: How to
Improve Your Conversation sold 77,000 copies yet The
Romance of Words only 10,500. Hmn? Hints
in Public Speaking sold 46,500 copies, How
to Write Advertising 20,000 copies, How
to Write Book Reviews only 8,000 copies. How to Psycho-Analyze Yourself sold 43,000 while another
titled How I
Psycho-Analyzed Myself only 13,500. More numbers: How
to Fight Nervous Troubles 39,000, Facts
About Will Power 38,500, Your
Memory and How to Improve It 37,000 copies, Your
Talent and How to Develop It 35,500, Psychology
of Leadership 32,000, How
to Think Logically 30,500, Psychology
of Character Building 29,000, The
Conquest of Fear 27,500 and Psychology
of Laughter 14,000.
Here's an illuminating statistic: How to Break Bad Habits sold 29,000 copies as opposed to How
to Form Good Habits which sold only 20,000.
And another: Care
of Skin and Hair sold 52,000, yet How
to Take Care of Your Mouth and Teeth
What foreign languages do Americans want to
learn most? Here they are in rank order:
What do we like to eat? Or, more precisely,
what do we like to cook? How
to Make All Kinds of Candy sold 45,000 copies, How
to Make Pies and Pastries 29,000, How
to Cook Fish and Meats 21,500 and, dead last, was French
Cooking for Amateurs at 9,500.
The demand for info on proper manners always
astonishes me. Back in 1927, the Little
Blue Book titled Hints
on Etiquette sold 72,000 copies! Less surprising, at
least to me, is that Party Games for Grown-Ups sold 46,500.
What ethnic groups do we like to make fun of?
Here in rank order are the stats:
and, dead last,
Yankee Jokes with sales of 16,000 copies.
What of the
professions? These figures tell a story:
Listen: I'm not going to give you the figures on poetry and
the classics because my space is limited here and I doubt those marketing
stats will have much practical value to many of you. The same is true of books
of proverbs, fiction, plays, the classics, etc.
What is super instructive, however, is the chapter called THE
HOSPITAL which is subtitled How Little Blue Books Are Given New Zest by
Consider: When Gautier's
Fleece of Gold was changed to The
Quest for a Blonde Mistress, sales jumped from 6,000 to 50,000! When
the title of Oscar Wilde's Pen,
Pencil and Poison was changed to The
Story of a Notorious Criminal, sales more than tripled! The book Patent Medicine did poorly. Yet, when changed to The
Truth About Patent Medicine, sales more
than tripled! Arthur Schopenhauer's Art
of Controversy didn't do squat until retitled as How
to Argue Logically when, thereupon, it enjoyed sales of 30,000 per
You already know what happened when Thomas De Quincey's Essay
on Conversation was changed to How
to Improve Your Conversation - but do you know why?
Of course you do. And I bet you can also guess where Sir Gary
of Halbert, the Ace of Space, Prince of Print, and all round bon vivant got
many of his "killer" headline ideas!
Here's a suggestion only the most dedicated (driven) among you
will take to heart. Go read a copy of THE
FIRST HUNDRED MILLION! You can find it in the Library of Congress and, I
think, the Metropolitan Library in Manhattan. It contains much more value than I can extract for you here in these eight pages.
Nothing like it has ever been written. It
is where I learned my magic words. The
ones that make my copy sizzle and my headlines impossible to ignore. Magic
words like these:
The Art Of
A Little Secret That
The Truth About
The Facts About
The History Of
The Story Of
The Key To
and many, many more.
I love this book! It
contains actual costs and result figures from the N.Y. Times Book Review, N.Y.
Daily News, Life, Chicago Tribune, The Saturday Review and others with dates
run, size of ads and everything.
Wouldn't it be fun to get the 9/26/23 issue of Life
and see Haldeman-Julius' full page ad which cost $650 and pulled in $1215.23?
Hot damn! I think I know where I can get it!
Gary C. Halbert
AKA "He who
to submit material
the Golden Mailbox Awards"
would be more than happy to give a full lifetime
subscription to the Gary
Halbert Letter to anyone who can get for me (or
even tell me where to buy) my very own copy of THE
FIRST HUNDRED MILLION!
always interested in numbers from headline tests,
price test, etc. If you have any test results you'd be willing to share with my other
subscribers, please give me a call. Thanks.
Copyright © 2003 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights