W-A-Y West of Jewfish Creek
Friend & Subscriber,
asks me who the best copywriter in the world is anymore.
My answer is
a foregone conclusion.
am now often asked, "Who is the world's second-best copywriter?" And, although
there are a handful of world-class contenders, on an all-round
basis, I'd have to give the nod to my friend, John Carlton
because he is at the top of the heap when it comes to being...
A Hard-Boiled, Go-Get-The-Job-Done,
makes a fetish out of being low profile. Even though he's a
world-class copywriter... and... someone who makes millions of
dollars for his clients... he is NOT someone who chooses to be
on the book market or seminar circuit. He's not somebody who
goes out and tries to become famous. He's like a "quiet
trade secret" for those few of us insiders who are
privileged to know him... and... he's one of those people
you'll rarely ever get the opportunity to hear his advice.
Like most of
the best writers, John is a complex man. He loathes publicity
and limelight yet, he performs on stage as a scorching lead
guitarist for local bar bands as a hobby.
scrambled from a loving, working-class home in tiny Cucamonga,
California. He was the first of his tribe to attend college
and he has lived all over the country working as a cartoonist,
fisherman, dishwasher, novelist and executive. He's proud of
his white-trash, blue-collar roots. "We
were the people you cherished as your friends and
neighbors," John says.
He tried many different lifestyles as he was
growing up. John was lucky enough to catch the heyday of
Beatlemania, the emerging pop-culture of television, hippydom,
the sexual revolution, Watergate, the rise of importance of
Silicon Valley, Los Angeles decadence during the '80s...
and... most importantly... the radical changes in advertising
that came with computers, cable television, video, and the
absorption of junk mail into everyday life. John's involvement
with these events is critical to you being able to understand
the depth of his experience and knowledge as it relates to
advertising and marketing.
John has combined his degree in Psychology
from UC Davis, his passion for history, his wicked sense of
humor and his youth spent on the edge of Bohemia into a
powerful writing talent and a "feel" for what makes
On today's mean streets of marketing, he is
truly the "best-of-the-best."
His assault on the advertising world started
with an old school education in direct mail. Typing on an
ancient IBM Selectric, crafting camera-ready production work
with hot wax and an x-acto knife.
Everything he knew became obsolete as technology exploded.
However, like every world-class craftsman, John stayed
immersed in educating himself. He's read hundreds of books
about writing and advertising. He personally sought out and
learned from the great men of the industry: He went from being
the high-paid, hot-shot freelancer Los Angeles agencies snuck
in the back door (to write the pieces they couldn't get their
staff to pull off) to writing on the inside with marketing
wizards like Jay Abraham and established copywriters like Jim
Circa 1988, I invited John to handle the big
desk chores at my Hollywood office on Sunset Boulevard. During
our long friendship, John has accompanied me on marketing
adventures that have changed the very nature of advertising
His education with me included convincing
famous celebrities to humiliate themselves on camera for
obscure ads... telling rooms full of millionaire executives
their ideas sucked (and making them like it)... saving
corporations from bankruptcy with campaigns we had to whip up
overnight (and then "con" the clients into running
the ads even though it ran against every fiber of their
being). We put on lavish seminars where people happily paid
$10,000+ just to glean a few nuggets of advice while John and
I ranted and babbled and goofed off without a plan. Being
enslaved to insane deadlines. Re-inventing modern advertising
for cable and the Internet. We were among the very first to do
infomercials, to advertise on the 'Net and make videos a
John's had fun, brushes with death, helped
small men accumulate fortunes and watched helplessly as rich
corporations came tumbling down from their own idiocy. There's
no better way to learn how the world works than to roll up
your sleeves and get filthy with experience like this. He's
been stupid, smart, cursed, lucky, broke, well off, mocked,
worshiped, hated and loved.
And, he's learned something from every damned
minute of it.
John is a master of what I call "muscle
writing." He can write a brilliant ad on any subject no
matter how complex, technical or difficult. Yet, he makes each
ad easy to understand. Also, he writes it in such a way, it's
as impossible to stop reading as an Ian Fleming or a John D.
He can identify and relate to every type of
customer... and... he can sell
to them. In 21 years as a prolific writer, John has had a
hand in selling nearly every product or service used by human
beings. His accomplishments include promoting an unlikely sex
manual for the conservative Rodale Press... and... John's
sales letter for that manual has been unbeatable for three
years... despite... constant attempts by other copywriters to write a different sales
letter that will pull in a higher percentage of orders.
John's achievements is his excellent promotion of a right wing
financial doomsday letter. John's "Package of
Paranoia" mailed successfully for seven years. (By the
way, had he been hired by a liberal
publisher, he would have written a sales letter from their
point of view which would have worked just as well.)
Then, there's the dozens of how-to-fight
videos from real-life street fighters and Navy SEALS...
which... has earned millions from a tiny, miniscule niche
reams of other ads and letters written for shrinks, people
looking for mates, new computer products, chiropractors, diet
programs, precious metal investing, fund raisers and personal
letters which have motivated people to change their lives.
John's ads run in magazines (which often fill three pages of
copy) the entire look of the publication quickly changes as
other advertisers catch on... and... begin to imitate... his
hard-hitting writing style that is so effective at raking in
direct mail sales letters have long been used all over the
world as study guides for other writers. In fact, many
copywriters (including me) secretly come to John for marketing
help with their projects. You see, John has a soft spot for
helping people... because... no one helped him when he was
struggling in the early years. Once I heard this remark from
"It's amazing how people can so readily crush someone's
true and to the point.
as John also remarked, "The
lesson is, don't look for anyone to cheer your success until
after you've arrived. Trust only those who believed in you
when things were tough. They are the gems who will brighten
street-trained, honed by years of intense work in the
trenches, John Carlton has quietly earned his place as one of
the best copywriters on the planet. While his demand for
privacy keeps him out of the limelight, in 1998 alone, he
turned down over $300,000 worth of jobs from well-known
marketers. He prefers to work with a handful of private
clients, though on occasion, he will take on new work.
He Is Truly A Man
Who Cherishes His
His fees have caused un-initiated clients to
choke... but... the results of his ads and mailing packages
often rake in multi-millions in profits for his clients.
what? Why should you care about all this? How does all this
fit into a newsletter you read because you want to suck more
fungolas out of the world for your own evil purposes?
soon find out. But, first, I have to tell you a little about
another of my friends, Joe Polish.
is 30 years old. He had a difficult childhood surrounded by
dysfunctional, drug-addicted, impoverished people. By sheer
force of will, he overcame all that and enrolled in New Mexico
State College in 1986. He worked various odd jobs until he
finished college in 1989. Then, he returned to Phoenix and
opened a carpet cleaning business. For two years he
floundered, barely keeping the business alive. Then, in 1992,
he read one of my newsletters. It was, I think, the one about
the "Halbert Index." He started using some of my
marketing techniques and turned his business around.
he began to study other marketing gurus like Dan Kennedy and
Jay Abraham and his business grew even more.
1994, Joe formed Polish & Burke which rapidly morphed into
Piranha Marketing with a mission to teach other carpet
cleaners the marketing secrets he had learned.
Marketing did 1/4 million the first year, 1/2 million the
second and is now pulling in over a million per year... and...
of the deals he offers his subscribers is membership in his
"Tape-Of-The-Month Club." This is where he
interviews a different expert every month on some aspect of
business or marketing.
It quickly became apparent these tapes were
not only valuable to carpet cleaners but... to
anyone... interested in increasing their bottom-line.
Joe's interviewed me, Dan Kennedy, Michael
Gerber and a couple dozen other people and the wisdom on these
tapes is invaluable. It costs $18.53 per month to be a member
of Joe's Tape-Of-The-Month Club... for which... you get the
tape of his current interview... as well as... the written
Well, recently, Joe interviewed my friend John
Carlton... and... it is the most electric and revealing
interview (even better than his interview with me) Joe
has ever done. In fact, John was pouring forth so much
valuable info... that... for the first time... Joe's tape of
the month consisted of two tapes... and... you ought to
listen to those tapes.
listened to them, I was reminded of our exciting times
together when John and I were working feverishly on "Operation
Moneysuck" which is a concept John explains
brilliantly on the tapes.
John also gets into...
you should think of yourself as a "sales
detective" instead of just a copywriter...
to identify the real
hot buttons which make people buy...
work strategies that let him turn out killer sales
letters and ads time-after-time...
you start writing copy by "circling the
he created a sensational "sex book ad" for
the conservative Rodale Press...
he created the "amazing, one-legged golfer"
"human computer" stock wizard package...
to use the "shortcut" of endorsed
to create headlines that go straight for the
power of the blow-up photo of the microscopic dust
to create sales by pissing off your customers...
mega-power guarantees pump up sales...
kind of free presents you should be giving your
his headlines are so long...
having a "swipe file" is essential...
you need to reach for the outrageous limits of every
emotion including guilt, outrage, fear, greed and
I'm gonna stop now. There's so
much on these tapes, I could spend another couple of hours
trying to describe them all to you. You need to listen
to these and...
I've Arranged For You To
Have A "Free Listen" To Them!
What you do is, you call Joe Polish's office
(1-800-275-2643) and sign up for his Tape-Of-The-Month Club.
Tell the office you're one of my subscribers and they will
immediately send you the two tapes of Joe's interview with
John Carlton. These are yours to keep... no matter what.
After you listen to this interview, if you
don't want any more of the tapes of Joe's monthly interviews,
simply call his office and tell them you want to un-sign-up.
(I just made up that word.) If you do that, they won't send
you any more tapes... but... you still get to keep the tapes
of John's interview... and... you won't be out a single dime.
Another thing: If I were you... and... I had a
need for a serious, world-class
copywriter, I'd try
to get John Carlton. You can e-mail him at...
Now listen: Neither John nor Joe have any idea
I'm writing this. I don't get a penny in commissions if you
join Joe's Tape-Of-The-Month Club. I am making a strong
recommendation here with no financial motive whatsoever. I
want you to have the tapes of Joe's interview with John simply
They Are So Damn Good!
By the way, in case you're out of the country
and can't call Piranha Marketing's 800 number, the direct line
Back in the late '60s, I read a novel. I can't
remember the title but, I'll never forget though the story. It
was about one college professor who was jealous of another
professor who had become rich and famous by writing a series
of "how-to-become-a-success" type books.
The first professor decided he would discredit
the second guy. His plan was, he would read one of the
self-help books, follow its instructions to the letter... and
then... since he knew none of these instructions would
actually work... he would write a book exposing the
"how-to" book author as a fraud.
So, he read one of the books, followed all the
instructions... and... unfortunately for him...
His Life Started
t Setting goals did work.
t Keeping a positive mental attitude did work.
t Visualizing himself as the improved self he desired to be did
t Planning his work and working his plan did work.
Etc., etc., etc.
Ain't that a bitch? What's the world coming
to? You set out to discredit a man and then discover his
advice is actually helping you!
Anyway, I've got
another book in front of me now titled, If
I Knew Then What I Know Now. In this book, CEO's and other
smart executives share wisdom they wish they'd been told 25
years ago. It's pretty good. Here's one very short observation
from page 144 by a columnist named Whit Hobbs:
is waking up in the morning, whoever you are, however
old or young, and bounding out of bed because there's
something out there that you love to do, that you
believe in, that you're good at -- something that's
bigger than you are, and you can't hardly wait to get
at it again today."
What a great observation.
Listen: I'll tell you something: I teach
people all about how to do a mathematical, marketing
regression analysis, how to access Nasdaq Level II quotes, how
to massage complex statistics, how to create engineered
reciprocity, how to profitably navigate the Internet with
their PC's, and an endless variety of other complex,
But you know what? The really important
wisdom... the stuff which will really
change your life... is simple. In fact, it's so
simple, it could rightly be considered downright corny.
I've been thinking: What if I were on my death
bed? What if I had only a few minutes left? What if God told
me to use those last few minutes to tell someone the single
most important thing I knew? What if it had to be the one
thing... that... in my opinion... would enhance their life
more than anything else I could ever tell them?
What would it be? Something about love?
Loyalty? Marketing or perhaps spirituality? Exercise, study
habits, nutrition, fitness, relationships? WHAT?
Nope. It wouldn't be any of that stuff. If it
could only be one thing, here is what I would teach you:
How You Should
Start Every Day For
The Rest Of Your Life!
your alarm clock to go off 10 minutes earlier
first thing, after you get up, is to
immediately remake your bed.
the kitchen, pour yourself a glass of water
and drink it all.
the bathroom, take care of
"business," brush your teeth, wash
the sleep out of your face and eyes and
brush and comb your hair.
put on some exercise clothes like sweatpants,
a sweatshirt and sneakers.
the house immediately and take a 20-minute
as you get back, woof down a nutritionally-dense
protein drink made by mixing the contents of a
packet of Myoplex, Met-RX or Lean Body with eight
ounces of fat-free milk and a banana.
down a packet of vitamins and minerals like
Dr. Julian Whitaker's "FORWARD
in fresh, crisp clothes and go about your day.
Pretty simple stuff, isn't it? But, I'll tell
you this: If you will do this every day in 1999, it will
create a more positive change in your life than anything else
you can do.
This regiment, although simple on the surface,
has profound and somewhat complex and far-reaching
May I explain?
Set your alarm to go off 10 minutes earlier than usual.
By getting a 10-minute earlier start, you tend to remove the
"urgency" many of us experience as soon as we wake
up. You'll feel less harried, less hurried and a bit more
The first thing, after you get up, is to immediately
remake your bed. If you don't do this, you will be
starting your day... instantly... creating an "undone
chore" which will nag at the back of your mind for the
rest of the day. If you do do this, you will start the
day without having added a single, niggling little thing to
your "to do" list.
Go to the kitchen, pour yourself a glass of water and
drink it all. You do NOT drink enough water. Nobody in
America does. Water is the elixir of elixirs. It flushes
toxins out of your body, provides an environment which lets
your electrolytes and all other aspects of your biochemistry
function at maximum efficiency.
Go to the bathroom, take care of "business,"
brush your teeth, wash the sleep out of your face and eyes and
brush and comb your hair. You're getting ready for battle:
The battle to have a good day. Doing all the above will wake
you up a little, freshen you up a bit and
"set-you-up" to get going.
Next, put on some exercise clothes like sweatpants, a
sweatshirt and sneakers. Make this a ritual. You are
dressing for battle: An assault on the forces of negativism.
Leave the house immediately and take a 20-minute walk.
You're outside, you're breathing fresh air, you're getting
your circulation going, you're becoming more mentally alert.
Some of the fog begins to lift from your mind. You begin to
notice your environment, see the colors of the fall foliage,
the bloom of a spring flower, the dew on the grass on a summer
morning, the untrodden snow in mid-winter. NOTE: This is NOT
exercise. This is a loosening up; a "defogging" of
your mind and allowing your body to gently warm up for
its daily tasks.
As soon as you get back, woof down a
nutritionally-dense protein drink made by mixing the contents
of a packet of Myoplex, Met-RX or Lean Body with eight ounces
of fat-free milk and a banana. This will infuse your body
with nearly all the vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and
other good stuff to help your body and mind function at peak
throughout the day.
Scarf down a packet of vitamins and minerals like
Dr. Julian Whitaker's "FORWARD PLUS." More
insurance you're getting the minimum (at least) ingredients
your body needs to run efficiently.
Take a shower. Part of the ritual of getting ready
to battle the day.
Dress in fresh, crisp clothes and go about your day.
Ritual completed. You're loosened up, oxygenated, clean,
crisp, nourished, starting your day with no added baggage.
Is this the perfect way to start a day? No,
but it's a very good way. Maybe someday, after your 20-minute
walk, you'll extend it to some power-walking, a jog or a run.
After your roadwork, maybe you'll pump a little iron.
But, that's for the future. Maybe. Don't think
about it now. Just give the above routine a shot for seven
weeks and I guarantee your life will be better. Much better.
It may sound funny and incredibly simplistic but, that's the
advice I'd give you if I could only give you one piece of
advice. It's based on years of exhaustive personal research on
my part... that proves... the best way to get a good day
started is to...
Get Up And
Here's a few odds and ends: My Viagra research
in Brazil went very well. There's only a handful of Americans
in Rio and they are not particularly eager to encourage other
Americans to go there. Neither am I.
There's a website I think some of you
(certainly not all of you) should visit. It's www.realdoll.com.
These people make synthetic women. Not blow-up dolls, but
rather, these things are extremely realistic, "real"
fake women. Howard Stern had one on his show. They sell for
$6,000+ and the shipping cost alone is $700.00. These
dealybops are so realistic, they've got me thinking: If this
is available now...
Just Think What You'll
Be Able To Buy Five
Years From Now!
Still pining for your ex-wife? Send in a photo
of her and an audio tape of her voice and they'll make a new
and improved, more "user friendly" version of her
Fantasizing about Claudia Schiffer, Pamela Lee
or the current Playmate of the month? Custom-order her from
someplace like www.realdoll.com
five years from now and I bet they'll replicate her for you
complete with programming so she will respond only to your
voice with the type of moaning and groaning you want to hear: "Oh
baby, you're so big!"
Or, "Oh, my God! It's never been like this for me before!"
Real relationships are rapidly reaching
redundancy. Why put up with a whining bitching mate when you
can have all the good stuff with none of the bad?
WARNING: This is an X-rated website. So
don't go there if you will be offended. On the other
hand, if you do visit the site, be sure to check out the FAQ's
(Frequently Asked Questions).
You know, the truth is, pornography is often
at the forefront of technology. The real reason I want you to
visit this site is not to get some libidinous thrill.
The real reason is, of all the sites I've seen on the 'Net,
this is the one that has most amazed me.
Gary C. Halbert
bless you and MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HANUKKAH! Take
care of yourself. Be safe during the holidays and have
a joyous New Year.
As ever, Peace.
Copyright © 2003 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights