From: North of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

We've got a terrible recession on our hands.

The politicians are lying about it and the media is too blind to see it. However, consumers know. They know it in their guts and they're running scared. They're tightening up the purse strings like a pit bull with lockjaw. Almost every person I know says business is down. Way down. In my case, I've got direct mail promos and space ads that, a short time ago were working like crazy. But now, they're just limping along and sometimes, even losing money.

Most of the time, this is a very positive "pump up" kind of newsletter bubbling over with enthusiasm and "you can do it" attitude. I don't intend to change that. Also, this letter usually gives very specific instructions on how to create tricky and profitable "marketing miracles." I don't intend to change that either. But, in this issue, because of the economic situation in the U.S., I simply want to give you a guide to some things to think about. Things that can give you an "edge" during today's tough times. So, get yourself a cold drink, settle down in a comfy chair and tell the folks around you not to disturb you so you can peruse...

GURU GARY'S GUIDE TO THINGS TO
THINK ABOUT WHEN TIMES GET TOUGH!

Thing #1: Think About Quitting!

I was teaching at a Jay Abraham seminar when a certain man and his partners came to the stage for their "hot seat." They were in the business of building and selling single-family homes in a suburban town    on the outskirts of Chicago. Unfortunately, Sears was the biggest employer in the town and Sears was pulling out. Therefore, 70% of all homes in that town were up for sale and there were no buyers. I told these people... their game was over. They had to go into another business or move their existing business to another city.

They left the seminar. They said they didn't travel 2,000 miles and pay thousands of dollars to hear some dork tell them it was time to fold their tents.

They were stupid. Look, part of the wisdom you get from experience is knowing when to quit, knowing when something has run its course and is finished. Failure to recognize this can be very costly. Think about the so-called "farm problem" in the U.S. You know what the "farm problem" really is? It's simply we don't need so many farmers anymore. The big farms are so productive and so efficient the little farms aren't needed. "But we want to preserve our way of life," cry the small farm owners. "We've got our pride," they say.

Pride? What kind of human being takes pride in insisting we pay him for not producing?

Preserve a way of life? One that's not viable anymore? Well hey, what about all those buggy whip manufacturers driven out of business by the automobile? Should we have subsidized them? What about all those typewriter repairmen who, because of PC's and word processors, don't have any typewriters to repair anymore? Should we subsidize them too? So they can preserve "their way of life"? To put a twist on what philosopher Yogi Berra used to say, Guru Gary says...

When It's Over, It's Over!

Sure it's hard. I know that. But when a love affair has gone irretrievably bad, when a business is no longer viable, when your space ads and direct mail letters stop working then... think about quitting, cutting your losses and getting into another game.

Imagine an albino dwarf who desires to play pro basketball. Imagine Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peale and every other preacher of positive thinking giving him encouragement. "Think positive!" they shout. "Never give up!" "You can do it!" "Handicaps are nothing but opportunities in disguise!" Etc.

And so, for 20 years, this poor little guy shoots baskets for 10 hours per day and then... he goes to try out for an NBA team. And guess what? He makes it! Because...

They Use Him For The Ball!

Forgive me. I mean no disrespect but, if you're only 2-1/2 feet tall, you're never going to play pro basketball. So... why not channel all that energy into something viable? Like going to Hollywood, starring in Disney movies and sleeping with beautiful starlets.

By the way, did you know lots of women are utterly fascinated by dwarfs and midgets and sleep with them just out of curiosity? I'm not making this up. It's true.

Look, in spite of this bizarre example, I'm trying to make a serious point here. Has your business failed to make a profit for a long time? If so, maybe it's not viable anymore. Maybe it never was. Maybe it's time to close up shop and go on to something else. Think about it. That's all I'm saying...

Think about it.

Thing #2: Think About Hiring A Good Private Detective Before You Make Your Next Serious Move!

I use private detectives quite a lot. You should too. Often, they can save you years of grief. Are you about to do a business deal with a guy with a great image who is really a bum? Is that key employee you're about to hire a flat-out criminal on parole for embezzling millions from his last ten employers? Is your most critical supplier about to go bankrupt and leave you no way of filling thousands of orders? Is that "Prince of a Guy"  or "Peach of a Gal" you're about to marry a con artist or golddigger with a past shadier than Karen   Redpath's? Are you thinking of flying 3,000 miles, spending several thousand fungolas and wasting a week of your time to have a business meeting with people who are nothing but a bunch of flakes?

Slow down a minute. Sometimes a P.I. can do a simple routine check that only takes a day or so and uncover some odious, unpleasant facts you'd never know about without his help. And sometimes (often) he'll simply discover the person or company being checked out is totally "OK" and then... won't it be nice to have one less big thing to worry about?

By the way, the first person I always call when I want to find out something is Laura Charles. Her phone number is (216) 229-1014. Even though she is not a private detective, she has an amazing capacity to find out almost anything. And, if it turns out you do still need the services of a licensed private detective, Laura can recommend the best ones available.

Think about it.

Thing #3: Think About Starting Your Own Research And Development Department!

Nearly all big companies have an R&D department. IBM has one. So does Firestone Rubber Company (I used to work in Firestone's R&D dept.), Dow Chemical, DuPont and hundreds of others. You should have one too... even if you're a one man operation!

Listen up: I bet you have plenty of problems vexing you right now that... other people have already figured out how to solve! Why should you be trying to blaze a new trail when the road has already been paved?

How much time and money will it cost you to start your own R&D department? I hope you're not put off by this but... how about one day per month and $10.00 or $20.00? Let's say you own a flower shop and you want to sell more flowers. If you'll give up just one lousy day per month, you could use that time to get about 100 out-of-town newspapers and go through them looking for ads placed by other people selling flowers. You could also go to a large public library and finger walk your way through the Yellow Pages of maybe 100 out-of-town phone books and read all the ads appearing under "florists."

What you are looking for are ideas, marketing strategies, headlines, concepts, etc. which can be transplanted to your business in your home town.

Think about it. Just one idea per year from this kind of low-tech R&D could have a truly profound impact on your bottom-line.

Also, if you're looking for a new business idea, this is a good way to find one. A few days ago, in the "Key West Citizen," I found a doozy. Check out this ad:

we Deliver

 CUBAN
ORIENTAL        MEXICAN
AMERICAN       ITALIAN

WHATEVER FOOD
YOU WANT

We Deliver
has over 50 menus.
DELIVERY CHARGE: 15%
(minimum charge: $1.00)
10:30 a.m. - Midnight
 

293-0078

What a great idea! Here's a way Paulette and I can sit home and have supper delivered and not have to settle for pizza. We can get anything we want. I don't know who came up with this idea but I love it. And think about how slick it is. All you really need is a telephone and some part-time minimum wage employees. To get going, you simply make deals with all the good restaurants in your town by offering to give them a lot of business providing you can buy their food at a substantial discount. Then, when someone calls in an order to you, you make money on the food plus you make even more bucks by tacking on a delivery charge.

This deal gives you all the benefits of owning a restaurant (actually of owning 50 restaurants) without any of the overhead.

By the way, do you remember the name, Rick Neiswonger? He's the guy who stole the show at my "Seminar Of The Century." Rick is one of the most astute and energetic businessmen I've ever met and he's looking for something new to promote. Not a product necessarily, but some sort of money-making system. Say, for example, you've found an automatic way to make X number of dollars every time someone has a baby in your town. OK, what Rick can do is, take your system, refine it... and then, market that system to other people in other cities who have money and energy but no place to channel those assets. Do you have such a deal? Some sort of proven system that almost can't fail if only someone will follow your recipe? If so, call Rick and perhaps you'll both make a bundle. His number is (800) 971-1088.

Anyhow, getting back to R&D, I believe if you are not using at least 5% of your time and money to "treasure hunt" for new ideas, you are truly missing the boat. Do your R&D systematically and religiously. Give it some priority. Read newsletters, books, newspapers and magazines. Buy or rent appropriate audio and video tapes and audit them every month. Systematically acquire and peruse other people's space ads and direct mail promos.

Have some fun with this. Don't do it in a competitive, goal-oriented way. But do it. And remember, if this kind of low-tech R&D only uncovers one killer idea, it might make a life or death difference to your business.

Think about it.

Thing #4: Think About Looking For "Set-Ups" Instead Of Challenges!

I always know I'm talking to a lightweight when someone tells me they get off on the "challenge" of trying to achieve something. Are you kidding? In business today, it's an incredible challenge just to survive! You know, every so often, I get a call from someone who doesn't know me and they say something like this: "Gary, we hear you've got one of the best marketing minds on the planet and we've got something you can really sink your teeth into. Something that's a great challenge. See, we manufacture little, portable refrigerators and we want you to market them to Eskimos. The way we figure, when we can say we've got a 'fridge so different even Eskimos buy it, then everybody else will stand in line to get one. Doesn't that sound exciting?"

"Oh boy!" I say while jumping up and down. "That's just what I need... another challenge! Hey, you've really come to the right guy. By golly, I was just thinking: Here I am responding to the challenges of trying to put my kids through college, supporting my mother, sending money to my ex-wife, meeting a hefty payroll, paying all my rents, scraping up enough to pay taxes, dealing with petty bureaucrats, trying to write a state-of-the-art newsletter every month, keeping fit so I don't have more health problems, trying to figure out new ways to promote my own products, trying to figure out why my last promo didn't work, meeting 16 deadlines every day and... and... and...

"Oh God Am I Happy You've
Brought Me Another 'Challenge'!
Yahoo!"

BULL... SHIT! American business owners need another "challenge" about as much as Warren Beatty needs help getting dates. What we need are "set-ups," lay-down hands, deals that can't hardly miss even if everything goes wrong. (As it always does.)

I wanna sell heroin to junkies. Fudge bars that make you skinny to porkers. Porno videos to Pee Wee Herman. Travel luggage to President Bush. Memory pills to Ronald Reagan. Kitty Kelley dart boards to Nancy Reagan. Condoms to Geraldo Rivera. (Did you read his new book? Whew!) Booze to Ted Kennedy. I.Q. pills to Dan Quayle, etc... etc... etc.

Are you getting the idea? I don't want (and certainly don't need) another "challenge." No... I WANT IT TO BE EASY!

Here's my idea of an acceptable marketing "challenge": Someone comes to me and says he's got this new diet pill that burns off 1-1/2 pounds of fat per day no matter what or how much you eat. Not only that, he's got proof in the form of double-blind studies. Plus, he's got FDA approval stating his pill really does live up to all his claims. Plus, he's got hundreds of testimonials from satisfied users who've given him permission to use them along with their extremely dramatic before and after photos. Plus, he's got ten M.D.'s who rave about his product. Plus, he's got Liz Taylor to endorse his product and she's agreed to sign any ad I write. Plus, Eric Weinstein has uncovered a list of 10,000,000 virgin porkers who've never been sent a diet product direct mail piece.

Now, that's Gary C. Halbert's idea of a desirable marketing "challenge"!

What I'm saying here is, it's hard enough to make something work even when you've got everything going for it... let alone trying to make some "challenge" work that's got two strikes against it before you even get started.

Don't look for marketing challenges. Instead, look for marketing "set-ups." Ditto when you're looking for a business to buy. You don't want something with "potential," you want something that's proven. The best kind of business to buy is one that's limping along but making a small profit despite the owners doing vapid marketing or... better yet... no marketing at all.

"Set-ups," "set-ups," "set-ups." Look for them and forget about "challenges."

Think about it.

Thing #5: Think About Downsizing Your Life!

Grandiosity bankrupts. It creates enormous stress. Do you really need to be the biggest? Or the best? Do you really need that drop-dead office? Do you honestly believe anyone cares you've got the highest grossing widget company in America? Listen to me: TIME is the irretrievable, irreplaceable element and... YOU ARE RUNNING OUT! Face it: You had a short time left on this earth the very moment you were born. The truth is, from a cosmic point of view, all of us are going to be gone in the blink of an eye. Are you going to waste 25% of your most precious commodity staring into a computer screen? Trying to beat last year's sales record? (Who cares?) Struggling to make the mortgage on that condo in Aspen you only visit twice a year? Sweating bullets so you can wear a Rolex?

Check this out: I've got both a solid gold $12,000 Rolex President and a $99.00 el cheapo Soviet "KGB" type watch made by Gruen. I love my Soviet "KGB" watch. First, it's easy to read. It's got a plain white face with big black numbers and black hands. It's got a comfy leather band and... you can unscrew the cap over the knob you use to set the time and there's a little secret recessed place wherein you can hide a suicide pill. Since I tend to lose things, so far, I've bought three of these dudes (the watches not the suicide pills) and, if I lose the one I'm wearing, shelling out another $99.00 smackers won't be particularly painful.

Oh, I almost forgot... this watch comes in a tin box like they sell caviar in and this box is just right to put on your dresser to hold spare change and stuff.

Now, let's talk about that $12,000 Rolex. The face of the watch has Roman numerals instead of good old American numbers. Actually, all these little marks are so small, the window you look in to find out the date has a magnifying glass over it! (I can't set the date anyway.) Now, since the hands and face of the watch are both gold and the numerals are so small... you need the eyesight of an eagle to read this sucker.

What makes all this so ironic is, except for dope dealers and corrupt presidents of S&L's, hardly anyone can afford one of these "quality" timepieces until they're over 50 and their eyesight is shot to hell.

And, since this thing is a self-winding mechanical jobbie, it punishes you if you don't wear it for a day by ceasing to function. Plus, it costs a fortune to repair. I was with Ted Thomas at a TV shoot last year and he told me it cost him $1,600 just to have the clasp repaired on his. A couple weeks ago, my wind-up knob fell off (it just fell off!) in a motel room in Ohio and, if the maids hadn't found it, I might've had to skip a few meals to get it replaced. Best of all...

This Watch Can Get
You Murdered!

We now have specialist crooks here in Florida called "Rolex Bandits" who are likely, if they catch you wearing this extravagance... to cut your hand off to get it!

But it really is a great watch. It has dramatically increased my quality of life. No doubt about it. By spending 120 times more than I paid for my "KGB" special, I've got a timepiece that's impossible to read, stops when you don't wear it, costs a fortune when pieces fall off and, is a magnet for vicious criminals.

The moral? Simply this:

Maybe Downsizing Your Life
Will Upsize The Quality Of Same!

Maybe... just maybe... this "downsizing" will have as little genuine relevance as my solid gold Rolex has in comparison to my ticky-tacky $99.00 "KGB" mail order special.

Think about it.

Thing #6: Think About Kimberly Bergalis!

Kimberly Bergalis has become the benchmark against which I measure my "tough" life. I think about her whenever my row seems too hard to hoe or life seems unfair or too difficult. Kimberly is a beautiful young Florida girl (in her early 20's) who is dying of AIDS contracted from her dentist. The powers that be tried to smear her but, guess what? Not only is she not a drug user, she's never even had sex. She's a virgin. A beautiful, young, clean-living virgin who is going to die without ever getting her shot at life. Compared to Kimberly Bergalis, my troubles and, I suspect yours...

Don't Amount To A Hill Of Beans!

Think about it!

  Sincerely,
 
   Gary C. Halbert
President, KGB PR Dept.

 

P.S. I know... I know. Not everyone appreciates these "think pieces" but, damn it, sometimes we all need to back off a bit and reflect a little on just what the hell it is we're trying to achieve.
P.S.#2

I played a "trick" on you with this issue. Did you catch it? If not, I'll explain.

A friend of mine, Carlos "Globular" Duran has been reading all the back issues of my newsletter and he recently started pestering me to re-read a particular issue I wrote nearly a decade ago. His pestering was so irritating to me that, I finally did re-read that issue just to get him off my back.

The newsletter you just read is almost word-for-word the same as my September 30, 1991 newsletter. It seems that what I wrote almost ten years ago is as accurate and important today... as... it was back then.

I'm now glad Carlos insisted I re-read it... and... I've shared it with you. That's because... I can't think of anything more relevant to write about today in the year 2001... than... what I wrote way back in September, 1991. I hope you'll agree with me that sometimes (often)...

It Is More Important To Be Reminded Of
"Core Fundamentals" Than To Be Dazzled With
Some New Piece Of Contemporary Creativity!

Peace.

 

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