West of Jewfish Creek
Material From None
Than Parris Lampropoulos.
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Dear friend and
My head hurts, my feet stink and I don't love Jimmy Swaggert.
I don't want to be here at my desk writing this letter. I want to be on
my boat. Writing sucks. I hate to
write. Anybody who says they like to write is either a degenerate liar
or a social leper. Let's face it: What kind of nerd wants to sit and
struggle with a blank piece of paper when he could be 60 feet
underwater slaughtering innocent fish... or... romancing his honey...
or... going to a movie... or... playing golf... or... reading what somebody else
has struggled to write...
Anything but writing. But
alas, judging from the calls on my electronic mailbox, the numero uno
subject my subscribers want me to write about is
So I am. Now, the first thing I want you to know about writing (other
than how much it sucks) is the best way to get good at writing is...
I know that sounds like double-talk but, it isn't. The biggest secret
to writing well is simply work. Just
the act of doing it. For the moment, forget about getting it perfect,
forget about grammar, forget about syntax, punctuation, etc.
Just sit down and start writing.
John D. McDonald was one of the best writers of all time. He died in
December of 1986 but, fortunately, he left a legacy of some of the most
memorable fiction ever penned. In fact, I became literally addicted to his
Travis McGee series. (You will too once you read one of them.) Anyway,
when he was first getting started, he read somewhere the average
novelist didn't really hit his stride until he had written about ten
books. And so, what did McDonald do? It's very simple: He wrote the
equivalent of ten novels in one year!
Listen: Writing does get
easier. However, starting to
write does not.
Therefore, if you've got a job of writing to do, just sit down and start.
Don't wait to
get organized. Don't wait
for ideas or inspiration. Don't wait
until you "feel like it." (I never do.)
OK, enough of that. Now, it goes without say, (but let's say it
anyway), the kind of writing we're concerned with here is, the kind
that convinces people to buy
that's the hardest kind of writing of all. It's
also the most profitable! You
know, I routinely get more for writing a single letter than most
authors get for writing an entire book.
Or sometimes, ten entire books.
So, let's get specific. To sell somebody something, you've got to do
four things. (1) You've got to catch their attention. (2)
You've got to capture their interest. (3)
You've got to arouse their desire.
(Sounds dirty, doesn't it?) and, (4) You've got to motivate them to action. This,
as many of you know, is called the AIDA formula.
Today, we're going to concentrate on getting people's attention by
learning how to write what I call "killer" headlines. Hark unto me.
Listen: If you want to capture the attention of someone in a crowd,
what's the best way to do it? It's really quite elementary, My Dear
Watson. What you do is...
Him By Name!
And, if you want someone riveted to your
sales letters, hook up with some outfit that can do Admark or laser
printing (or else use your word processor) and put your reader's name
in a headline printed at the top of the sales letter you send him. Like
Suarez Attempts Suicide
After Realizing He'll Never Be
As Good-Looking As Gary Halbert!
Bill Bonner Fails To Hire The
Prince Of Print And Loses Millions!
Frank Cawood Cashes In Big
By Mailing Unique
"Concept Letter" Developed By
Jimmy Calano Changes His Will
And Leaves All His Millions
To Guru Gary!
Alicia Evans Expresses Astonishment
At Seeing Her Name In Newsletter
Written By Demented Nerd From Ohio!
And so on. What I
have just described is the ultimate way to
get attention in a sales letter. No one, not even someone as blase` as
Feeney Griffith, will fail to perk up at seeing his or her name in
print, especially if it's unexpected.
Of course, we can't always use our prospects' names in our headlines
so, what are some other good ideas? Here are three of the most powerful:
news in your
a benefit in your
both of the
above in the same
Here are some good words to use in
headlines. Announcing... At last...
Now... Now, at last... How to... Here are... 17-Ways to... The art
of... The secret of... A startling fact about... Amazing... New...
And so on. Now, here's a headline that combines both news value and the
promise of a benefit:
At Last! Scientists Discover New
There's much to be learned in the 13 words above. At Last!: Boy,
that sure suggests something we've been waiting for has finally
happened, doesn't it? Goody! Goody! Scientists: Yeah!
Not just anybody; not some know nothing bag lady living in the streets;
not some ad man or copywriter. No. No. We're talking about a select,
objective, hard-headed, analytical, totally honest group of folks who validate our
headline. Discover: Wow!
It seems to connotate research laboratories and maybe a scientific
breakthrough. New Way:
Hussah! Hussah! We're all questing for new ways continually, aren't we?
New ways to grow hair, get thin, make more money, etc. To Look
who is there among us over the age of 30 that wouldn't welcome the
achieving of this almost universally-sought after benefit? In Just
validation because it's so specific. Claude Hopkins said it,
"Generalities fall off your readers like water off a duck's back." Or
something like that. Anyway, the specificity of 17-Days makes
our headline more believable, more easily understood and somehow, more
interesting. And, more real.
How important are headlines? I'm glad you asked. Some pundits say the
headline accounts for 80% of the success of the ad. I, myself, have
re-headlined ads and increased their pull by 475%. I have a client who
pays me $195,000 per year to write headlines. Headlines are where I
spend more creative effort than any other aspect of my work.
Good headlines are crucial.
Let's take a
breather so I can ask you a question. What publication has the highest
paid writers? Answer: the National
it's true. And for good reason. You see, the writers for the Enquirer
among the best anywhere on earth.
I'm not being sarcastic. They really are. If
doubt that, here's something for you to consider...
Way To Look Younger In Just 17-Days!
written. They are clear, concise, crisp and, all in all, the most
easily understood articles of any publication.
And what do Enquirer
excel at above all else? You guessed it -- HEADLINES. Their
headlines are so powerful, they have so much "grabbing power" that,
every week, people who have sworn they'll never again buy such a
publication, are almost
purchase it in spite of themselves.
So anyway, if the best way to get good at writing is by writing, what
is the best way to get good at writing
That's easy... it's by writing
Here's what you do: Every week you get copies of the
National Enquirer, Star, Globe, Weekly World News and so
on. And, on a monthly basis, you get copies of Reader's
Digest, Cosmopolitan and any
other magazine you can find that has lots of good headlines. And you
get yourself a large supply of 3"x5" index cards and you write all
those good headlines on those cards, one to a card.
By the way, a superb
source of good headlines is one of the reference reports included with
my seminar tapes. It's called:
Single Issue Of The
Enquirer Than Have Read
The Bible Since It
Was First Printed!
This is truly a
"masterpiece collection" of headlines and other ammo that should be a
part of every
library. Many of you
(perhaps most) have my seminar tapes and all the related material and
those of you who don't... should!
Call and order right
now (323-851-8275) and
all this invaluable info will
be on its way to you in a
matter of hours!
Forgive me, pitching
is in my bones and I just can't help myself sometimes. Especially, if I
have a strong belief in the product.
Whatever. OK, now
we've got all these hundreds of headlines on hundreds of headline cards
and, in a moment, I'm going to show you how to massage all this good
stuff to produce maximum results.
But first, a true
story. Remember that ad I sent with my newsletter a couple of months
back? The one where I said, when it comes to advertising I was the best
thing since sliced bread and, that to get me you had to shell out
$15,000 up front and offer me a substantial "carrot" (usually 5% of
gross sales) on the back end?
Alright. I get a
call as a result of that ad from a guy in Denver who says he would have
no problem paying me my $15,000 advance but the 5% part wouldn't work
since he's a furniture dealer (3 stores) and furniture is sold at
So I come back to
him by asking what I'd have to do for him to be worth $15,000 per
business by 20%," he says.
"Send me my $15,000
advance and $15,000 more on the first of every month and I'll see to it
you sell every stick of furniture possible to sell in Denver," I say.
He did and I did.
Here's the way we
work: First, you need to know I now have these people on a schedule of
365 full-page (newspaper) ads per year. In a week or so that schedule
will be bumped to about 400 pages per year and soon it will be 730
pages per year and later, when we hit 1,000 pages per year, we're going
to slack off.
By the way, all this
is supplemented with a steady stream of radio advertising and a little
Now listen: There's
no way in the world I'm going to commit to writing hundreds
of ads per year and besides, I'll never now the furniture business as
well as my client.
So the way we work
it is, I "theme" the thrust of the advertising and I write headlines to
go with those themes. Then, my client writes the ads and faxes them to
me and I read them and make any necessary changes.
Does this M.O. work?
Judge for yourself. In the first two weeks after I came on board...
Client Had To
152 Attention Grabber Words
Hire 10 New Full-Time
And now, after the first six weeks, their sales are up 40%. You know,
that's quite a lot when you consider...
Were Already Doing
I'd like to take
full credit for all this but I can't. In the first place, Sam and
Leslie Fishbein know the furniture business inside and out and Sam is
truly a superb copywriter.
By the way, all this
seems to be working out so well I think we're going to "syndicate" our
advertising by making our collective expertise available to one other
furniture dealer in each metro area throughout the U.S.
Back to the salt
mines. OK, so right now I owe Sam and Leslie some "themes" and
headlines and, I'm going to create them right here before your very
eyes. What I'm doing first is, I'm going to loosen up my mind by
reading some gag headlines written by Sam and his staff. I'm not doing
this just for laughs. No. I'm doing it to get my mind in gear and to
Million Per Year!
Here are the
headlines I'm looking at:
Day King Tut Furnishes
Backyard Burial Tomb With
Kacey Fine Furniture -- "I Want Only
The Best," He Explains, "Because
You Can Take It With You!"s
Woman Shops Kacey
And Gets Double Whiplash Looking
Pregnant Woman Has A Cow
She Sees Her Leather
For Less At Kacey's
Scientists Reveal Elvis
Lives -- Close Friends Confirm
King's Plan To Redecorate
Graceland With Kacey Fine Furniture!
Stooped With Back
Ditches Coffin For
Bedding In Latest
Twins Come Unglued"
Cannonball Blown Away By
Kacey's Explosive Price Cuts
And Soaring Selections!
And so on.
Don't Hire Any
Interior Decorator Until
You Hear This:
OK, as promised a
few pages ago, I am now going to reveal the simple way to "massage" all
this data to come up with something new. First, I do what I just did.
Namely, I review what's already been done. Next, I get to my own
personal collection of "headline cards" and pick them up and fondle
them (I'm getting excited!) and look at them and think about them and
flip them out onto the floor like I would a deck of cards and I
cogitate and I remember...
I remember someone
once said (was it Justice Learned Hand?) that freedom of speech does
not give you the right to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. I remember
my headline must not only grab attention, it must also be true and
relevant. I remember Kacey Fine Furniture really
have a problem with the street around their store being torn up. I
remember they really do
Furniture Dealer Will Give Away Over
Million Dollars In Discounts On Her
Inventory (This July 4th Weekend)
Of Bulldozers Tearing Up Her Streets!
Reasons Why You Should
Shop At The Store
Extremely Low Prices From Local
Store May Be Deemed
Wants To Buy A
Least 6 Months?
Willing To Walk Up
Blocks To Save As Much
On All The Furniture
Businessman Swears Under
Did Not Steal Any
Furniture He Is Selling
And so on.
have great furniture
(Paulette and I are buying a whole houseful from them) at extremely low
prices. I remember... Hey, I've got it! Check this out:
Secret Of The Local
See, what Sam and Leslie have is some really neat coffee tables they
got such a deal on they can afford to give them away to all new buyers
and their amazing secret is they've discovered by offering a free
premium to induce you to come in and buy and then giving rock-bottom
prices to keep you happy, you'll be a loyal customer forever and...
Furniture Dealer Who Is Giving
Away All Those Free Samples!
And, as usual, when Sam Fishbein does his usual brilliant job of
"fleshing out" this idea, we'll have, I believe, another winner.
And now that I've finished my newsletter for this month and
developed another "theme" and headline for the Fishbeins, I ask you...
Have A Chance!
That A Nifty
Way To Kill Two Birds
With One Stone?
||I just took on the marketing
job of selling an album that contains the earliest ELVIS Presley
concert ever recorded. Wait till you see that ad!
|| Damn, I'm
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Bonus Material From None
Other Than Parris Lampropoulos.
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1986 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights Reserved