W-A-Y West of Jewfish Creek
Dear Friend & Subscriber,
I Was At 15,000
Feet, Both Engines On
Fire And My Parachute
In The Laundry. . . .
You ever feel like that? You've got a
marketing emergency on your hands and you've got to solve it right
Listen: I get calls nearly every day from
people who need instant marketing solutions. They're not
copywriters and they have no advertising experience. They
don't trust ad agencies (and rightly so) and they haven't the
luxury of enough time to become grounded in marketing theory
by reading Robert Collier, Claude Hopkins and so on. In fact,
they have no desire to become marketing experts. No. It's just
that every "expert" they've ever hired has
disappointed them and, since I'm usually too booked up to do
any new jobs on a "right now" basis, they want to
should I do?"
it by numbers," I tell them.
Here's what I mean. Look: If you have a good
product or service, you probably already know exactly how to
sell it when you are talking to someone during a
"one-on-one" situation. Whether you are talking to
someone in person or, perhaps, on the telephone, it probably
doesn't matter; my bet is you know exactly what words to use
and what buttons to push to most impress your prospective
Am I right? Aha, I thought so.
However, here is a curious fact: most people
who are very good in a personal selling situation "freeze
up" when it comes to transferring their sales pitch to
the printed word.
Or else they struggle to "get
Forget that rubbish. Here's a better way. The
first thing you do is you begin to record
(with the other party's permission) all of your conversations
whenever you are talking to one of your prospects on the
phone. Keep doing this until you are able to forget
you are doing it. Why? The reason is simple. You see, at
first, when you are aware
that what you are saying is being recorded, you will stifle
yourself. You'll try to make sure what you are saying is
grammatically correct. Or you'll try to be clever. Or more
dramatic. Or less dramatic.
But if you keep doing it long enough, you'll
eventually forget about the damn tape recorder and you'll
revert to being your own natural wonderful self and you'll
deliver your usual compelling sales presentation.
And hopefully, after awhile, we'll have a
recording of you talking to a prospect when you are at
Goody. But what's next? This: What we do next
is take that recording to a typist and have it transcribed.
Then, after it has been transcribed, we take a copy of that
typed transcription and number each one of the paragraphs. By
the way, for our purposes, a paragraph is one or more
sentences that express a single idea or aspect of a subject.
O.K., now let's say we have the first draft of
our "sales-pitch-in-print" and it contains 47
paragraphs and you have duly numbered them 1 through 47.
Next, we carefully go over each one of these
paragraphs and give each of them another
number that is based on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the
highest. What we are doing here is "ranking" each
paragraph as to how much favorable influence that paragraph
has on our prospect. For example, let's say we are pitching a
31 foot Bertram sportfishing boat (one of the best) and we
know from previous experience that our customers are very
interested in the fact that the boat has a wide beam and a
hull configuration that makes it extremely seaworthy and very
uninterested in the fact that it comes with matching
curtains and towels.
So, let's say the paragraphs about the
seaworthiness of the boat get a rank of 8 and the ones about
matching curtains and towels get a ranking of 2.
Whatever. So, what we've got now is a
"sales-pitch-in-print" that is 47 paragraphs long
and wherein each paragraph has been rated for wonderfulness on
a scale of 1 to 10.
Now, what I want you to do next is to cut out
all those paragraphs with a pair of scissors and divide them
into three groups. The first group will consist of those
paragraphs that describe the benefits of owning a Bertram and the second group will consist of
those paragraphs that tell "interesting
facts" about the boat. The third group will be those
paragraphs that don't say anything
about the Bertram or else paragraphs that do not advance your
sales presentation in any way whatsoever.
Now, throw the third group away and arrange
the other two groups in rank from 10 on down. Next, throw out
all paragraphs with a rating of 5 or less. Next, rewrite the
remaining paragraphs. But BEWARE: don't change them much.
Just more or less "clean them up." Take out the ers
and ums, the redundant words and sentences and sort of tighten
up your sentence structure and grammar.
Let us press on. What I'd like you to do now
is try to forget you are trying to write an ad or a sales
letter. Instead, what I want you to do is to concentrate on
writing a memo.
A long memo.
Write it to someone you can easily visualize
in your mind's eye, someone who is a good prospect for a good,
relatively cheap sportfishing boat. Someone extremely
good-looking and modest.
Someone like me, Sir Gary of Halbert, Ace of
Space, Prince of Print, Count of Cable and all around Bon
Your memo should read something like this:
I hear you are
looking for a good, seaworthy, sportfishing boat.
got a good one for sale. It's really a humdinger. Here
are seven interesting facts about this boat:
(Insert highest ranked interesting fact.)
(Insert second highest ranked fact.)
(Insert third highest ranked fact.)
(You've got the idea, right?)
(and so forth)
Hey, Gary, what
about those apples? Maybe now, you can see why
this particular boat is such a honey. There are many
benefits to owning a boat like this. Here are five of
the main ones:
1. (Insert paragraph on
highest ranked benefits of
owning this boat.)
(Insert second highest ranked paragraph.)
(and so forth)
Gary, those are just a few of the "highlights"
about the wonderfulness of this boat but, actually,
there are many more reasons it makes sense for
you to own a vessel like this and I'd love to explain
them to you in person.
So here's the
deal. I know you're busy, what with all your clients and
writing your newsletter and scuba diving with Paulette
and so forth, so I'm gonna give you a chance to digest
this memo and then, in a few days, I'll give you a call
and see if you are interested.
meantime, if you want more info sooner, you can call me
at (000) 000-0000.
By the way,
I love your newsletter and I really enjoy reading
it every month in spite of your conceited, egomaniacal
An Astute Student
Now listen: I want to know something. It is this: Did you
think that little "lesson" was a bit too simple? If so, you are
doing yourself a great disservice. You see, if you can grasp the essence of
what I've just imparted, you will have learned an enormously
important marketing lesson.
Here is that lesson:
Forget Trying To
Forget Trying To
Stop Worrying About
Those Awards You'd
Like To Win!
Hark unto me: Your job is not to be creative, clever or win
awards. No. Your job is to sell, damn it.
Selling is not yelling. Selling is not tricks. Selling is an
impressive, forceful communication of facts and benefits. What I have just
taught you is a far cry from being the end-all and be-all of how to create
advertising. However, that simple little process of recording your
person-to-person sales presentations and then, transferring them to paper as I
have outlined works far better than trying
to "dream up" some award winning vapidness.
Check this out: There's a
guy named Bruce Horovitz who writes a column on marketing which appears in the
Business Section of the Los Angeles Times every Tuesday. Recently, on June
9th, one of his articles was about a gentleman named Sean Kevin Fitzpatrick
who is executive vice president and creative director of an ad firm named
Cambell-Ewald Co. The article is about Fitzpatrick's "Heartbeat of
America" commercial (which consists mostly of a catchy song) that he
created for the Chevrolet division of General Motors.
The article tells how "successful" this campaign is
and how Chevrolet's current series of car and truck ads have been nominated
for 10 Clio awards.
It's a stupid commercial.
In fact, this campaign is so stupid it would appear to me that
Fitzpatrick doesn't even know what advertising is.
(Or at least what it's supposed to be!)
Advertising is not to remind someone of your existence; it is not songwriting,
dancing bears, and tricky words and catchy music.
No! Good advertising is simply....
I don't know how much money has been wasted on this moronic
campaign. However, I do know that, according to this same article that, during
the first quarter of 1987, Chevrolet sales are down
12.1% compared to what they were last year!
Is it any wonder?
But you know what? People who can't produce results often get very
creative when it comes to creating cop-outs. And, in the ad business, if you
can't produce sales, what you do is you tell your client that you are building
his "image." You can tell him how all this money he's spending will
pay off sometime in "years-to-come."
Listen to this quote from another "advertising
expert" in the same article: "But this campaign can't be measured in
short-term results. It is an image building campaign. Image is the key issue
of the car market.. blah, blah, blah."
What garbage. You know what Fitzpatrick should have done
instead of writing a song? It's simple: he should have found out who the 10
best Chevy salesmen are in the entire U.S. Then, he should have met with these
men and watched them sell cars and he should have recorded
their sales presentations and taken notes.
And then, he should have created an intelligent campaign built
around the best parts of those effective sales presentations!
Maybe this guy deserves to win a Grammy
but he sure as hell shouldn't get any awards based on his ability to create
advertising that sells cars!
Oh, well. I suppose if it wasn't for guys like him, there
wouldn't be so much demand for guys like me.
Onward. Look, I'm coming to the close of this month's letter
and, before I do, I want to tell you about a couple of things that are not
directly related to marketing. I hope you'll bear with me. I'm going to tell
you about one of these items because it is so potentially important and the
other because it is so utterly delightful.
Back in the 70's, someone told me about a doctor who
became wealthy developing some industrial patents that were used in
Europe. Apparently, he used his wealth to set up a clinic in Paris to
treat patients and do research. However, when the Nazis invaded Paris,
he found it necessary to flee to the U.S. When he got here he set up
another clinic and began treating cancer patients and doing more
Anyway, I met this man sometime in 1971 or 1972 and I
was very impressed with him. He showed me a book he had published with
remarkable before and after pictures of patients he had cured of
cancer. In fact, he autographed the book for me and he also showed me
letters from some of the authorities in "establishment
medicine" that said, in effect, that although his ideas may have
some merit, any real cure for cancer will come from the establishment.
What this doctor told me is that most MD's and
hospitals don't want to treat cancer patients the way he does because
it is too expensive and time-consuming.
Now, let's flash forward to a few days ago. I'm
sitting in my office when I get a call from one of my clients (an
international publisher) who says: "Gary I'm thinking about doing a book on this doctor in Manhattan.
He's 91 years old and he's been treating AIDS patients with a 100%
"Listen," I said, "is
this guy's name Revici?"
Well, guess what? It appears it's the same doctor I
Now, hold on. I can't vouch for the truth of what you
have just read. And, it is very cruel to hold out false hope for
people who are seriously ill. However, I've heard enough about this
doctor from enough resources that, if you know someone with AIDS, you
might suggest they check this guy out. He runs the Institute of
Applied Biology in Manhattan and the number is (212)976-9669.
Once again, I'm not saying all this is true. I'm just
saying it seems worthy of investigation.
||I had dinner last Saturday
with an old scuba buddy of mine and he introduced me to an incredible
restaurant that specializes in Southern cooking. This restaurant is
called "AUNT KIZZY'S BACK PORCH" and it is owned by a black
couple named Adolf and Mary Dulan. Let me tell you, Adolf Dulan
absolutely bends over backwards to see that his guests are happy. It
is a real joy to see a man with this much grace and caring.
And the food? It is, quite simply, the best I've ever eaten in any
restaurant anywhere in the world.
By the way, don't look for fancy decor. AUNT KIZZY'S is located at
4371 Glencoe Avenue which is in the Villa Marina shopping center
Gary C. Halbert
"The very most
who ever lived."
said that if all my newspaper ads were being run by
one company (instead of separate clients) that that
company would be the third largest newspaper
advertiser in the U.S. I don't know if that statement
was true back when it was uttered but I sure as hell
have created a lot of newspaper ads that have produced
Want to know some of my secrets? Tune in next
month. I dare say Bruce Horovitz won't have revealed
any of them by then.
Copyright © 2003 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights