Way West of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

Let's talk about sex.

A few years ago I was browsing in a Studio City bookstore when the devil made me pick up a girlie magazine called High Society. The devil then further directed my attention to the middle of the magazine whereupon he forced me to examine the centerfold of the month in minute detail.

Thank God for the devil.

Anyway, there she was, all spread out in her nude, nubile glory, beckoning me to feast my eyes on every square inch of her lush, wanton, young body. But that's not all she was beckoning me to do. No, Sir! She was also beckoning me to call her at a special number so I could hear her passionately profess how much she wanted my body.

And so I did.

And so did a few other people. In fact, if my info is correct, some of those centerfold ladies receive...

500,000 Calls Per Day!

Whooee! That's a lot of heavy breathing, ain't it? But, so what? What ramifications, if any, does this have to do with our marketing efforts?

Plenty. Just wait. Now listen, do you know how this business of 976 numbers works? It's sort of like this: What you do is you go to Ma Bell and tell her you want to have some 976 numbers. Then you arrange to buy or lease some phone answering equipment. All this will cost you a few thou. O.K., after you've got all this in place, what you do is you run ads or mail letters or somehow entice people to call your 976 number to hear a recorded message.

The numbers go something like this: First, the customer (he who does the dialing) must pay his normal phone charges. What this means is that if your 976 number is located in the 212 area code and he is calling from area code 213, then he must pay a long distance toll charge. However, if he is calling from the same area code, there is, of course, no long distance charge.

Furthermore, he must also pay a fee (usually about $2.00) for the privilege of listening to the info on the 976 recorded message.

And what happens to this $2.00 fee? Aha, I thought you'd never ask. Hear this: The fee is collected by Ma Bell (it is added to the caller's phone bill) and Ma keeps about $.50 of it and sends the rest (about $1.50) to you!

Getting interesting, isn't it?

Let us press on. Remember that centerfold girl who invited me to call her so she could tell me how hot she was for my bod? Do you know that what she told me after her recorded message got me all hot and bothered? Well, listen to this! What she told me at the end of her recording is that, if I wanted to talk to her live and, if I had a credit card, I could call another number and would have the hottest conversation of my life!

Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!

Hold on, all ye who would think ill of me. I'm not getting excited about all that heavy breathing; I'm getting excited about those numbers!

Let's see now, if some of those centerfold girls get 500,000 calls per day, that's uh, about 750,000.00 to he who owns the 976 numbers. And I wonder how many of those people with credit cards get excited enough to call and talk to a live girl? What do you think? 20%? 10%? 5%? Naw. That seems too high to me. Let's base our numbers on a 1% "conversion".

So, 1% of 500,000 is 5,000. Right? And what does it cost a credit card holder to listen to a real life girl talk dirty? Well, according to my informants, it's about $35.00 for 15 minutes. And how much is $35.00 times 5,000 callers? Check it out. It seems to me it's another....


By now, I bet you want to know more about this 976 business, don't you? But you're probably just like me. In other words, even though you'd like to know how to apply all this to your own efforts, you don't want to call one of those "dial-a-porn" numbers by mistake, now do you? And so, as a public service, I, Sir Gary of Halbert, am hereby providing a list of numbers in the 213 area code you must avoid dialing at all cost. Therefore, no matter what, I implore you....

Do Not Call These Numbers!

Live Sex Talk 976-1133
Gabrielle's Candy Store 976-5477
Sex Soap Opera 976/4277
Live Domination/S&M 976-9447
Love Line 976-9944
  Live Oral Excitement 976-6400
Hi Baby 976-5683
Pick Your Pleasure (1-6) 976-8800
Let Me Please You 976-0200
Adult Fantasy 976-8887

 Or These Either!

Love Story Serial 976-6622
Love Story Serial #2 976-GLOW
A Beautiful Lady 976-7729
Adult Connection 976-1122
Live Fantasy 976-5551
  Adult Fantasies 976-5511
Fantasies Come True 976-7399
The Ultimate Male Fantasy976-8665
Leave Your Own Sex Ad 976-LUVV
Adult Film Stars Live 976-9111

And Especially Not These!

Adult Bulletin Board 976-6600
The Beach Girls 976-0404
Talk with Young Actors 976-4323
Live Phone Sex 976-DOIT
  Real Live Phone Sex 976-6644
Self-Explanatory 976-SLUT
Gay Talk Line 976-BARS
Talk with Young Hunks 976-7742

Remember.... You Have Been Warned!

Whew! I'm glad that's out of the way! Anyway, now that we know what not to do, how can we cash in on this 976 business for our own, more respectable business endeavors?

Hmn? How about this? How about if we are selling real estate in the L.A. area and we run a little ad in the Los Angeles Times that says...

How to Buy L.A. Real Estate At Dirt-Cheap Prices! Call (213) 976-0000 For Amazing Recorded Message. $2.00 Plus Toll, If Any.

Then, when the caller calls, we give him some accurate and valid tips on how to buy L.A. real estate and, at the end of the recording, we give him our regular office number to call if he wants more info.

Did you like that one? I thought you would. By the way, (213) 976-HOME is a number that is safe to call in the L.A. area. You'll get a recorded message that will give you up-to-date info on L.A. area properties that have recently gone into foreclosure.

What else? Let's see. How about this? How about if Sir Gary, the Ravin' Maven of Marketing, runs an ad in the business section of various publications that says something like this....

How To Promote Your Business For Less Than $1,000.00! Exciting Recorded Message By World's Best Copywriter Reveals Amazing Secret! It's Only $2 + Toll, If Any. Call (213) 9 7 6 - G A R Y.

Whad'ya think? Will that one fly? Maybe I could change the message every week and many folks would call week after week and some of them would become profitable clients and associates.

Hey! Come to think of it, maybe we could mail out the same copy on a postcard to lists of our best prospects!

Want more? I knew you did. Remember how I told you in an earlier letter that all of us are greedy, greedy, greedy?

Don't forget that. That concept can lead you down many profitable paths. Like this one. Suppose you are a car dealer and you run an ad like this:

R e d H o t C a r s At Dirt-Cheap Prices! Incredible Recorded Message Reveals How To Get Amazing Bargains. Call (213) 976-C A R S. $2 Plus Toll, If Any.

Or you're a cosmetic surgeon and you run one like this:

New Plastic Surgery Technique Can Make You Look Years Younger! Amazing Recorded Message Gives E x c i t i n g D e t a i l s. Only $2.00 Plus Toll, If Any. Call 9 7 6 - F A C E.

Or you sell stocks and you run an ad like this:

How To Pick Low-Priced Stocks That Are Likely To Double In The N E X T 90 - Days! Expert Reveals Amazing Secret. Call (2 1 2) 9 7 6 - C A S H For Amazing Details. $2.00 Plus Toll, If Any.

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Whatever. The point of all this is that there is now a relatively new and exciting way to get people to actually pay to hear your sales pitch!

But, let me offer a word of caution: When you promise an inside secret, you must deliver. Don't ask them to call you at another number to get what they have already paid for. That's sleazy. And besides, it will turn people off. It will make them less receptive to dealing with you. Instead, if you are a real estate broker, give a really valuable tip on your recorded message. Maybe you could tell the caller where and how to get a daily list of new foreclosures. Tell him what to do, where to go, what to say, what forms he needs and whatever else would be helpful. Then, after you have delivered, you can tell him to call your personal number if he needs more info.

Listen: Advertising can work two ways. If you really are not a real estate or marketing expert, don't promote yourself. Hell, all you're going to do is spend thousands of dollars to let people in on the fact that you're an idiot. (There's a couple of marketing newsletters out there that I'm sure glad I don't have to sign my name to.)

But look, if you got some really good valid info you can deliver in a recorded message, you'll position yourself as a person who delivers and you'll whet their appetite for more of the same.

Onward. I started this month's issue on the subject of sex and, now that you've got me going, I think I'll rave on a little more. You know, I very seldom use sex in the advertising I create. I don't know why exactly, I just never have. But darn it, it sure seems to work. It sure seems to be the number one subject that occupies all of our "Enquiring Minds." Remember, in my issue on Haldeman-Julius' Little Blue Books how, back in the 1920s, the number one subject people wanted to read about was sex?

Well, it's the same today. Go to any big city magazine stand. Look at all those hundreds of magazines and you'll soon discover you can divide them into two, approximately equal categories:

SEX And Then.... Everything Else

And just look at this 976 number situation. I bet that 99.9% of all 976 calls are sex-related. You know, that's sort of a shame. Here's a great new way to generate leads and a positive cash flow at the exact same time and hardly anybody is using it except people selling titillation.

Another "sex story". Once upon a time, I was introduced to a guy who claimed he was the greatest living income tax expert in the world. I don't know if he was or not, but I do know he went bankrupt not too long after I met him. Anyway, this guy spent some really serious money in advertising in the Wall Street Journal and his ads usually developed the theme of:

How To Pay
Zero Taxes!

Well, his ads were, I understand, fairly successful. And then one day, he got a picture of a beautiful, bosomy blond from a local photographer and he used that picture in one of his ads. Her picture did not belong in that ad. There was no connection between a sexy blond and a study course on how to reduce taxes. But guess what?

That Ad Was
The Highest-Puller
He Ever Ran!

You figure it out. By the way, this guy was a PhD (I hear that means "piled higher and deeper") and he even announced that fact on his vanity license plate. And, being a PhD, he never ran that ad again because he didn't feel it was consistent with his "image."

Isn't that a hoot?

Enough rambling. Let's get back to this 976 business. You know, I believe this may be one of the hottest new marketing phenomenons to come down the pike in recent years. So far, it's mostly being used on the heavy breathing crowd but, in my opinion, that's going to change a bit. Today I was reading the classifieds in the L.A. Times and I saw an ad that said this:

9 7 6 - B I G M O N E Y M A K E R Winning Programs That Attract Millions. Advertisements That Pull Thousands Of Dollars Daily. Sure Success. 213/637-3781

I called the number and talked to a woman who said she was Martha Tucker. She said her company helps people get going in the 976 area and they are giving a seminar (admission price $10.00) at the L.A. Hilton near the airport on June 20th. She also said her company offers a set of three tapes that reveal everything you need to know to get in on the 976 bonanza. The tapes are $39.99 and they don't take credit cards and, if you send a check, they wait for it to clear before they ship. So, I'm mailing them $40.00 cash today and I've asked them to messenger the tapes to me ASAP. If the tapes contain valuable info, I'll let you know in a future letter. In the meantime, if you want more info in a hurry, you can contact them direct. Ask for Martha Tucker and you might mention that I suggested you call.

The name and address of the company is:

International Small Business Expo
Post Office Box 1006
Paramount, CA 90723
(213) 637-3781

Want more ideas? Lordy, you sure are a glutton for idea stimulators, aren't you? Well, lucky for you, my youngest son, Bond, has compiled a list of 976 numbers that are safe (relatively) for you to call that may give you some ideas. You'll find them listed where I normally write some inane P.S.

                                             Gary C. Halbert

A man so dedicated to his subscribers he gave up his 'virgin ears' in their behalf."


P.S. California Treasure Hunt   976-CLUE
  Lotto Line   976-LOTO
  Music Trivia   976-TUNE
  Want A Scream   976-4437
  Dial Your Date   976-LIFE
  Horoscope Hotline - Scorpio 976-1900
    Cancer 976-1500
    Taurus 976-1300
    Capricorn 976-2600
    Libra 976-1800
    Sagittarius 976-2400
  Joke Line   976-LAFF
  Soap Opera Hotline   976-SOAP
  Horseracing Hotline   976-RACE
  Woody Woodpecker Tells Dinosaur Stories 976-2233

P.S. And here's my usual inane P.S.:

On June 12 (my birthday), Paulette and I have decided to "skyout" for parts unknown. But don't panic. We're coming back. Just give us 10-days or so.

Copyright 2002 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.