WAY West of Jewfish Creek
Dear Friend & Subscriber,
Most of the
issues of my newsletter over the last twelve months have been
a virtual course designed to teach you how to write
You can use
that information in a number of ways: (1) If you don't want to
do copywriting yourself, having that information will help you
make a more intelligent decision when it comes to hiring an
outside copywriter. (2) If you have a business and for some
insane reason, want to do all your advertising yourself, you
can also use that information to help you with your goal. (3)
If you want to work as an in-house or freelance copywriter for
some giant corporation, you should now have all the
information you need to jump start your career.
it is option #3 which interests you, there is something else
very important you need to learn. What I'm talking about is...
Deal With "Nightmare Clients"!
There are a
number of ways you can do a lot of work for a client and not
receive money for your efforts. The first way to do this
is, simply to write an ad or a series of ads which don't
generate a profit. Every copywriter in the world... no matter
how great he is at his work... will always write a few ads
that don't generate a profit.
Back in the
old days, when I used to have the time and inclination to take
on new clients, my standard fee was an up-front payment of
$15,000 plus 5% of all gross revenues I was able to generate
for that client. I could have gotten much more than $15,000
up-front from many of my clients however, I didn't feel right
about it. You see, in my mind, if a guy paid me $30,000 or
$40,000 up-front to write an ad for him... and... if my ad
failed to generate a profit, it would create such a feeling of
guilt and be of such an emotional cost for me, it would be too
much of a burden to carry around.
On the other
hand, charging anything less than $15,000 up-front would have
been foolhardy on my part. Why? Simply because I can always be
guaranteed many times that amount of money by putting my
efforts into writing a good sales letter to my own in-house
proprietary mailing lists.
By the way,
my deal with clients also stipulated, if my original ad failed
to work, I would write a second ad. If that second ad failed
to work, I would write a third. After that, we'd call it quits
and the client would be out $15,000... and... I would be out
an enormous amount of research, time, energy and work I could
have spent elsewhere.
times my ads have failed to work, it was almost always because
the client was trying to sell something the public didn't want
to buy. Honestly though, there were times I just couldn't come
up with a piece of copy which would make everything work. Like
I said earlier, it happens to everybody. If you choose
copywriting as your career... I want you to know... it will
also happen to you.
As far as
whatever fees you decide you want to charge your clients,
that's a personal matter you should put a lot of thought into.
discuss the second way you can do a lot of work for a client
and still not make any money. In this case, let's say your ad
works like gangbusters... yet... your client doesn't have the
balls nor the brains to exploit your creative work to anything
close to its money-making potential. Clients like this are
simply scared people who should be working at McDonald's
instead of trying to be an entrepreneur. They will take a
winner and before they roll it out, they'll want to make
dozens of nonsensical tests. Blue ink versus black ink. A
stamped reply envelope versus one with a postage paid
insignia. Yellow paper versus white. Etc., etc., etc. When
this happens, you are guilty of...
Pearls Before Swine"!
The third way you can do a lot of work for a
client and still not make a lot of money is, you write a
runaway winner for a client, he exploits it fully... but... he
doesn't pay you for your work. This is simple theft.
A slightly more sophisticated version of this
type of theft occurs when the client makes a few cosmetic
changes to your ad, then says he is running "his" ad
instead of yours and thus, he says he owes you no commissions.
If you are seriously considering becoming a
copywriter, you're almost guaranteed to run into at least one
of these three scenarios... if not all three.
I am now going to reveal to you the worst
client I've ever had in my career. This man could be a poster
child for what I like to think of as a "Nightmare
Client." A little later in this newsletter, I'm going to
describe in detail the nefarious, dysfunctional and stupid
ways in which this man conducts his business. However, I want
to start with his name... which is...
As I said, I'll tell you all about
"Mr." Jone a few paragraphs later in this
newsletter. Before I do that, I'd like to give you a few
general tips on how to prepare yourself to deal with a
Nightmare Client like this particular dumb ass.
Tip 1: Make Yourself
100% Judgment Proof.
Exactly how to do this is outside the scope of
this newsletter. If you do a little research, you will find it
is easy-as-pie to make yourself "bullet-proof" from
lawsuits, counter-lawsuits, alimony payments, etc. You know
what I would do if you sued me for a lot of money? I'd
probably not even show up for any of the hearings. That means
an automatic Judgment would be awarded in your favor. At that
point, you would be free to take every action provided by law
for you to collect on the Judgment you had against me.
After you spent a considerable amount of your
time and money trying to collect from me (while I, on the
other hand, spent my time working on my tan and laughing at
your efforts) you would sooner or later discover you had
embarked on an utterly useless endeavor.
Tip 2: Learn To Wear A
99.9% of the time, I do not bother to record
the conversations I have with clients and other people.
However, once I sense a client is less than ethical, I make it
a point to wear a hidden recording device on my body to
capture all of our private, face-to-face conversations. I also
make it a point to record all phone conversations with clients
I suspect are unethical.
Learn The Law.
A little-known fact about me is I attended law
school. Because I had no intention of ever becoming an
attorney, I never graduated with a degree. I just wanted to
know the true ins-and-outs of litigation so I could keep
myself from being financially sodomized by dirt-bag attorneys
and other people.
Now that you know the basics of how to pave
the way of dealing with a Nightmare Client, I'd like to give
you my real-life story about how I am dealing with Alec Jone,
the worst client I've had in my 30-year career.
Let me begin by telling you how I happened to
get involved with him. Shortly before my December 10, 1999
seminar, I received a telephone call from a young woman who
wanted to desperately to attend. She had a problem in that her
boss (Alec Jone) was only willing to pay one-half the tuition
price. I hate discounting fees to attend my seminars or other
services... still... she seemed so genuinely eager to learn, I
made an exception. I allowed her to attend at half the price
the other attendees had to pay. This, by the way, as you shall
soon see, is further evidence of the axiomatic truth...
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished!
Anyway, when I met this young woman at the
seminar in Phoenix, I was enchanted. Neta Friedman was this
very captivating, young, blond woman with a sparkling
personality as well as a very sincere desire to learn the
business of direct marketing. One thing led to another and
eventually, she convinced her boss to hire me. She also
persuaded me to take Alec as a client and accept the
The initial piece of work I did for them was
to write an ad for a diet product which was supposedly
blood-type specific. I had misgivings about the efficacy of
such a diet but, they had their in-house "doctor"
(Alfred Schwingner) speak with me and inform me of all the
reasons this was a valid diet.
I wrote the ad... and... the ad bombed.
For one thing, this particular diet required
the prospects to know their blood type. Many people think they
know their blood type... yet... they are not sure enough about
it to spend money to buy a diet product without first checking
with their doctor. They want their doctor to confirm whether
or not their blood type is, in fact, "O,"
"A," "B," "AB", or whatever.
This obviously created an ordering delay... and... in direct
Delay Usually Translates
To The Death Of A Sale!
In an attempt to overcome this obstacle,
Alec's corporation, Nutcasebizz, Inc., then decided (in their
infinite wisdom) they would sell their customers a plastic
fork-like device. The customers could use this gadget to jab
themselves in the ass or wherever and then, use it with the
test kits they were provided to determine with accuracy their
own blood type. Needless to say, this was one of the most
idiotic ideas ever conceived by a marketer... and... it didn't
Since my guarantee is once a client has paid
the $15,000 up-front fee for my services, I will make at least
three attempts to write a home-run ad for their product...
and... since my first attempt failed, Nutcasebizz wanted me to
write a second ad for this blood-specific diet. I didn't want
to write another ad because I felt (and I still do) there
wasn't any kind of ad that could be written by anybody which
would convince people to buy this type of looney-tunes diet
product. Still, I didn't want to leave my client high and dry.
So, I suggested to Nutcasebizz, rather than
write another ad for this blood-specific diet product, I write
a brand-new ad about a different product. I offered to fly to
New Jersey to do this for them without receiving any extra
payment whatsoever, if they would simply pick up my airfare
plus hotel expenses. Nutcasebizz agreed to this.
I flew up north and walked into their
corporate offices. This was the most insane, dysfunctional
group of people I have ever met. Immediately, I reiterated to
Alec, I found it hard to believe the blood-specific diet was
actually valid. He told me "Doctor"
Schwingner had tested the product and assured him it
was truthful. I asked to speak with the doctor one-on-one and
was put in a room alone with him.
My opening words to him were, "Tell
me about this blood-specific diet."
He replied, "It's
a fraud. It doesn't work. We thought maybe it would at the
beginning. Even though we continue advertising it, we've since
learned it's invalid." (NOTE: It is exactly at times
like this I find it invaluable to be wearing a hidden
microphone on my body.)
Shortly thereafter, I relayed the doctor's
comments to Alec who affected mock surprise and allowed as how
maybe we should work together on a different product.
We began by assembling the staff of
Nutcasebizz in a room with me so I could ask them questions.
These people all had the attention span of a gnat. They
couldn't focus on anything for more than 10-seconds at a time.
We were constantly interrupted by phone calls, people knocking
on the door asking what we wanted for lunch, Alec's wife (Monikah)
scared to death something was happening she didn't know about,
and other endless and aggravating disruptions. This came to a
screeching halt when I lost my patience and started screaming
at everyone in the room. I told them if this didn't stop
immediately, I was going to the airport to head back to
Florida. At that point in time, they began to pay attention to
me and start taking notes.
Upon my arrival at Nutcasebizz, they had
regarded me as some kind of eccentric "Willy Nelson-type
guy." However, before I left, they were taping every word
of advice I was giving them and even raising their hands to
ask permission to go to the bathroom.
Prior to my returning to Florida, I had
created a brand-new ad for a different product. It seemed to
me this was a "clean" ad which would be profitable.
Their in-house legal department questioned a few of the
statements I made in that ad. I simply reminded them I only
used statements which had already been cleared and approved by
them in their own previous ads. That shut them up and they
proceeded to test my ad.
This ad was a run-away winner. I had hit the
ball out of the park for them. For every $1,000 Alec and
Nutcasebizz were spending on advertising, they were getting
$5,000 or $6,000 back on sales. This doesn't even count all
the back-end profits they should have made from these
I went home a tired but happier man.
Soon after, I realized my commission checks
were always late... furthermore... they seemed to be
short-changing me. When I asked Nutcasebizz about this, they
told me they were too busy running my ad and taking the orders
to take care of other matters like their accounting and
sending me my full commission checks. Needless to say, I was a
very unhappy chappy about all this and at that time, I made my
displeasure known. I asked them to send me a commission check
twice a month instead of just once a month, which they agreed
to. For a short period of time, they did send me the
semimonthly checks... however... they were still
I know this to be true because the ad was
pulling 5 or 6 to 1 and their so-called 5% commission checks
didn't even amount to 5% of the money they were spending on
advertising... let alone... the 5% on gross sales I was
entitled to receive.
I'd like to take a side trip which will
illustrate the dysfunctionality of this company...
Alec Jone has his wife, Monikah, working for
the company. Perhaps she has some invisible utilitarian value
to the company. If so, whatever it is, it totally escapes me.
As far as I could tell, Monikah is a very attractive woman who
suffers from what used to be called "Stewardess
Years ago, airline stewardesses had to be
registered nurses with an outgoing, friendly personality with
drop-dead good looks. These stewardesses would socialize and
often party with the pilots. Occasionally, a stewardess would
get one of the pilots to marry her. Afterwards though, she
would sit at home and worry her pilot-husband was doing with
the other stewardesses what she used to do with the other
pilots. She would become jealous, over-protective and
paranoid. In my opinion, that exactly
describes Monikah Jone. I think the only reason she works
for Nutcasebizz is "to protect her turf."
Did I mention Neta is Monikah's sister?
Although both of them are drop-dead good looking, Monikah is
extremely threatened by the fact Neta is 10-years younger.
Monikah is constantly accusing Neta of having sex with Alec.
Situations like this are not only ugly, they
also have a very adverse effect when you are trying to run a
profitable business. For example, we were going to use
"before-and-after" photos of Neta in the second (the
winning) ad I created for Nutcasebizz. Neta had gained an
enormous amount of weight during her pregnancy and she said
she lost that extra weight after the birth of her baby with
the help of Nutcasebizz diet products. Even though those
pictures were perfect for the ad, it turns out we were
"forbidden" to use them.
Why? Because Monikah said she somehow felt
these photos would cast an improper image of the company. When
Monikah was reminded she herself used to enter (and win)
bikini contests on a regular basis... she said that was
different. I didn't get it then, and I don't get it now. How
could using modest photos of her sister in a
"before-and-after" diet ad possibly be negative for
What I think though is, Monikah is one of
those sad people who has relied on her looks all her life to
get what she wants. Now that she's "a little longer in
the tooth," she is very frightened by younger women...
especially... her own sister whom she feels has eclipsed her
in physical beauty. It is indeed a sorry situation when a man
or woman has nothing else in their "tool kit" for
getting through their lives than their physical appearance.
Unfortunately, this obsessiveness about
relying on physical appearances has rubbed off on Neta. This
mindset caused her to have a completely unnecessary surgery to
enhance the size of her breasts. Not to be outdone, you can be
sure if she hasn't already, Monikah too will soon have a boob
job... and... unless I miss my guess, an unnecessary face lift
and other cosmetic surgeries.
It all makes me sad. Monikah and Neta both are
extremely attractive women. Unfortunately, it's men like Alec
who make them feel so insecure, these women believe they have
to resort to any means possible... to be attractive enough...
to deserve these assholes' attention.
Not only does Alec have his wife working for
him, he also has his brother working for the company. His
brother has his girlfriend working for the company. Now try to
follow this: While I was in New Jersey, the brother's
girlfriend registered a complaint about Neta to the effect
Neta was trying to seduce her boyfriend (Alec's brother). This
was based on Neta's supposedly flirting with Alec's brother
during a meeting which I attended.
Even though Neta was dressed very
conservatively at that meeting, supposedly, when she leaned
across the table to pick up some papers or something, it was
possible to see a 1/4 inch of her bra strap where it crossed
one of her shoulders. I can assure you Neta was in no way
flirting with Alec's brother or in any way trying to seduce or
titillate anyone. The fact of the matter is, she's a very
hard-working individual and the most valuable person who works
for Nutcasebizz. Neta's efforts have been Herculean in trying
to make Nutcasebizz a profitable company... despite the
fact... she has to work with a group of people jealous of her
appearance (and ability) who moronically try to thwart her
efforts at every turn.
Unfortunately, by this time, I had introduced
Alec to some of my most important contacts in the direct
response business. I was embarrassed I had done this since
none of my colleagues much liked working with a man who can't
focus on a conversation for more than 20-seconds without
allowing himself to be interrupted. They've told me Alec is
constantly paying his bills late, changing ad schedules,
making unnecessary and foolish revisions to the ad copy,
asking idiotic questions, besides being an all-around
aggravation for everyone who works with him.
Now that you get an idea of how truly
dysfunctional Nutcasebizz is, let's get back to the issue of
Alec said he received a couple of letters
regarding the new diet ad from Attorney Generals in two
different States. Anyone who runs any type of diet ad knows
these types of letters are routine. Since Alec didn't know
what to do, I gave him the name of one of the most competent
and hard-boiled attorneys with which I have ever worked.
This attorney scared the living shit out of
Alec. What he did was analogous to comparing Alec's business
with someone attempting to drive a car from Los Angeles to New
York. Yes, it's
true you could get lost in a bad part of town, or your tires
could explode, or you could get in an accident. All of these
are things which could happen... and thus... a trip like this
should not be undertaken by someone who drives as
incompetently as Alec runs his business.
At that point, Alec panicked and stopped
running the winning ad I had written for him. This is the
outcome I had hoped for. You see, the "alphabet
agencies" don't scrutinize newspapers extremely carefully
looking for ads which are fraudulent. They're too busy for
that. These agencies are like cops and only respond to
complaints. Cops don't go door-to-door asking homeowners if
they've had any problems recently. No, police are too busy to
respond to anything except the "squeals" which come
across the radios in their patrol cars. But the ad Alec was
running was generating a lot of complaints. Mostly
because he didn't have competent people to answer the phones,
answer the customers' questions or, ship the product on a
I simply wanted Alec Jone to completely get
out of the direct response business. I thought it would be a
good thing for all concerned if he remained in the sleazy
occupation he was in before meeting me. He was a
"hypnotist" who ran around the country screaming at
people during his seminars who supposedly hypnotized them into
giving up smoking and losing weight. There may be an exception
but, just for the record, I have never met a hypnotist, with a
shred of ethics. This business of Alec's had generated (even
before I met the man) all kinds of flack from Attorney
Generals in States like Rhode Island, Texas, Pennsylvania and
others too numerous to mention.
Since he couldn't stop all the ads from
running which were already scheduled, I asked Alec what he was
going to do about the residual orders still coming in from
those magazine ads and other publications. His answer was
simple: He was going to keep the money from all those
orders... however... he was not going to pay me my
commissions. Take note boys and girls: In actuality, if the ad
wasn't "clean" (as Alec claimed)... then... he
should have simply returned all the orders he received from
that ad. In that case, I
would have felt fine about him not paying me my commissions.
I told Alec if he was going to keep the money
from these orders and not pay me my commissions, he was going
to have to deal with me in court. He replied, 'fine, go ahead
and sue me. You'll win the lawsuit but, it will delay me from
having to pay you for a considerable length of time.'
Good Sirs and Fair Maidens, this moron kneweth
naught with whom he dealteth.
I'm suing him alright but, not for any
commissions he owes me. No, Step 1 in handling a Nightmare
Suing For Civil Fraud!
The FDA, FTC and Postal Authorities are going
to be watching my civil lawsuit against Alec like hawks. You
know how O.J. won the criminal lawsuit against him but lost
the civil one? That's because the lawyers did it backwards.
Let me explain: A civil lawsuit is far less restrictive in what information you can force
the defendant to give you... than... what you can obtain
in a criminal lawsuit. So,
if you first bring out all the negative shit in a civil case,
it makes winning a criminal case a slam dunk... because... you
have all those nasty, negative facts you obtained in the much
more liberal atmosphere of civil litigation.
If you've read my book, How
To Make Maximum Money In Minimum Time, and have read the
chapter entitled "The Dark Side Of Success" you have
probably figured out the various "alphabet agencies"
would love to have me work with them. I very seldom choose to
do this. I don't like snitching anyone out... even if they
deserve it. Although in some cases, people are so blatantly
evil and dishonest, I will help the authorities put them away.
For example, there's a guy named Frank Sarcone,
who never made $60,000 a year until I started working with
him. When my commission checks reached the level of $126,000
per month, Frank decided to stop paying me. This decision was
based on the advice of his business manager who, at that time,
was his live-in girlfriend. She has since bankrupted him and
Frank has now been forbidden by the powers-that-be to ever
work in the direct response business again. But, you know
what? Frank lives undercover in the Fort Lauderdale area and
is operating a direct response business using some brain-dead
loser as a "front." The authorities are soon going
to learn this and incarcerate him. Any ideas on how they are
going to get all this inside info? You be right... Sir Gary of
Halbert is going to see they have it.
Another guy in Texas (John Polk) hired me to
write an ad for him featuring Ronnie Milsap, the country
singer. I thought John was going to be running the ad in
newspapers and use it in a direct mail campaign. That wasn't
how he used it at all. No, what he wanted was to brag to
people in multi-level marketing meetings they should join him
in his MLM scam because he had secured the services of the
world's best copywriter. This made me livid. Where do you
think John is now? He's serving out a six year term in a
federal prison in Texas. Want to take a stab at who put him
My guess is (because a little bird told me)
Alec Jone is also going to wind up incarcerated. In my
opinion, he's not going to do too well during his
imprisonment. He talks and acts tough... yet... he's nothing
more than a loud-mouth, New Jersey street punk and I would
venture to say by the time he serves his sentence, his asshole
will approximate the size of the Holland Tunnel. Prisons are not
populated by women, relatives and employees who will eat shit
from people like Alec. Prisons are populated by real,
hard-core, tough guys who, I surmise, will have him wearing
lipstick, bras, panties and dresses in record time.
Proceeding with Step 2 in dealing with a
Turn Off The Money Spigot!
To do this, I am sending a certified letter to
newspaper space banks, standby ad placement agencies, print
media sources and the like. My letter will inform each of them
Alec Jone is continuing to run a suspect ad, of the
forthcoming civil and criminal proceedings, along with the
fact if they continue to run ads for him, they will do so at
the risk of having to deal with a conspiracy indictment filed
Because Alec also has his own (incompetent)
in-house advertising agency, I am writing a separate letter to
every newspaper in the SRDS telling them about Alec and why
they should not accept any of his ads.
Is there another step in dealing with
Nightmare Clients? You bet your bippee there is! Step 3 is...
Piercing The Corporate Veil!
Alec probably thinks because of his
"corporate veil" his personal money will be
invulnerable. Little does he know his corporate veil is going
to be pierced in a micro-second... and therefore... he is
going to be drained of not only all his business money... but
also... he'll be drained of all his personal assets.
Does all this sound a little over the top to
you? Do you think maybe I'm overreacting? If so, let me tell
you of a stomach-turning event which occurred to me about
2-1/2 weeks ago.
I'm sitting in the salon of my houseboat,
drinking a cup of coffee and reading the Miami
Herald. I turn the page... and... lo and behold... there
is almost word-for-word the exact ad I had written for
Nutcasebizz! You guessed it, the very same ad Alec said he
wasn't going to be running any more. There were a few cosmetic
changes but, I bet if you put that ad side-by-side with my ad,
you'd be hard put to find those changes.
This Nightmare Client of mine is a thief, a
bully and a simpleton... all rolled up into one.
I intend to pound this man completely out of
the direct marketing business. I don't care if he's selling
hypnosis seminars, diet products or Bibles. I don't care what
company names he uses or how cleverly he attempts to disguise
the fact he is running these businesses. I have two detectives
watching every move he makes. And every time there is an
opportunity to thwart him, I will be there to do it for all
the rest of his days.
Do you think I like doing this? Actually, I
hate it. I would much rather help people than hurt them. But
Alec is a loud-mouth bully who hires doctors who really aren't
doctors, incompetent attorneys... and... wives, relatives and
other family members who he abuses with impunity. If the law
allowed it, I'd simply take him out in an alley to beat the
living shit out of him. Of course, it's not legal so, I'll do
the best I can with other methods.
To prove to you I only take this kind of
action as a last resort, I will tell you what else I did
recently. Since Monikah and Neta are directly involved, I sent
a multi-page fax to each of them. I wanted to give them the
opportunity to see how this situation could be resolved
quickly and peaceably. You know what? Neither of them has even
bothered to acknowledge the terms of that fax. Maybe it's
because Alec or his bullshit "corporate counsel"
didn't want them to see the fax so, they didn't give it to
them. Or maybe it's because Monikah and Neta don't understand
how real and immediate this situation is.
Oh well, I tried.
Gary C. Halbert
and his attorney have tried to make the point they
relied on me to write a clean and honest ad for them
and, if anything goes wrong, I too will be liable.
That's utter bullshit. True, some copywriters get
indicted along with their clients... however... those
copywriters are partners with their client. Me?
I'm not Alec's partner and, in fact, I don't even get
paid for the work I did for him.
a copywriter or an advertising agency responsible for
the claims made in an ad would virtually stop all
advertising in America. How so? Suppose a client came
out with a new car and asked a copywriter to write an
ad about it. This client told the copywriter the car
gets 51 miles per gallon, has 265 horsepower, and will
go from 0-to-60 in 4.5 seconds. Is the copywriter or
the advertising agency supposed to test this car
somehow and figure out if it really does have 265
horsepower or if the other claims about the product
are true? No, of course not.
It is he who publishes an
ad who is responsible for the claims in the ad.
counsel sent me a memo of how he
"reluctantly" approved my ad. That's like
saying he "reluctantly" agreed to drive the
get away car after his comrades robbed the bank. With
that statement, Alec's corporate counsel is now going
to join Alec, Monikah, Neta and the good doctor in
being sued and indicted. These people are truly crazy.
I hope for those of you who decide to become
copywriters, you have gotten some useful ideas from
this newsletter on how to handle "Nightmare
story is true but some of the names have been changed.*
Copyright © 2003 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights