W-A-Y West of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

It was a veritable orgy of ideas!

I'm talking, of course, about the first official Sir Gary of Halbert brainstorming session. Remember how I promised that 13 of the world's best minds would work on ideas and promotions sent in by my subscribers? Well, as it turned out, there were 27 world-class minds involved in the event!

It really worked out neat. Paulette and I rented Sheraton Miramar's "conference bungalow" for two days and it turned out to be the absolute perfect place to hold a brainstorming session. For starters, the Sheraton Miramar is a beautiful, stately old hotel by the sea in Santa Monica that has been featured in several movies. And secondly, the conference bungalow itself was utterly charming. We had the whole room wired for sound and, on both days, for lunch, we had a deli buffet on the patio on the ocean side of the hotel.

It sure was good of me to spring for all of this, wasn't it?

Actually, it was my pleasure and it was a genuine honor to interact with all those brilliant men and women. And besides, as you already know, I am truly a Prince Of A Guy.

So anyway, here are some thoughts that have stuck in my mind as a result of that two-day conference:

THE MOST COMMON FLAW of all the ads and DM pieces that were submitted is that many of them were difficult (some were borderline impossible!) to read. You wouldn't believe it: over and over we examined submissions that had the sales message typed or type-written on a slime green background or some other off-the-wall color that created a near terminal case of eyestrain.

Listen Dammit: Use Black
Type On White Or Yellow
Paper And Don't Mess With
Any Other Color

DON'T SEND A LETTER to do a man's job. Hark unto me: It has been said you can sell anything by direct mail. Well, that's sort of true. But really, when you're selling data processing services or some other high-ticket technical item or service, you can use a letter to pave the way but, at some point, you have to sub in a real live sales person.

Look: One organization sent in a direct mail package designed to sell utility companies on becoming part of an advertising network of syndicated statement stuffer ads. It's a good idea, a darned good idea, but how many utilities are there? Probably only a few hundred in all the U.S. And, since the universe is so small and each "sale" represents so much loot, the transaction must be consummated by a human.

You know, it seems to me that some organizations are "hiding behind their mail" because they're uncomfortable about making sales calls.

That shouldn't be so. If you've got something good that will really and truly benefit your prospect, he'll welcome a personal visit!

TYPING IS NOT WRITING: It continues to surprise me how many people think owning a persona computer or a word processor is an important ingredient in the success of anything. One subscriber, in fact, wanted us to brainstorm how he could use his PC to start a desk top publishing empire. You know what that's like? It's like someone saying, "Hey, I just got myself a typewriter. Now, tell me what else I need to become another Hemingway."

How about half a brain?

There's a quote I like. It says, "Thought should be a guide to action, not a substitute for it." So it is with computers. Most people who want to write or publish and then get a PC, they end up spending all their time learning how to make it work instead of perfecting their craft.

Listen up: Of all the ingredients necessary to becoming a good
copywriter, a publisher or to become good at writing anything, a word processor or a personal computer is, by far, the least important ingredient in the entire equation.

I have spoken.

Here's a headline I like:

How To Get All The
Money You Need Even
If Your Bank
Just Turned You Down!

A question: Does anybody know anything about some guy named Duvall and his "Mail Order Matrix"? That was a question that came up during the session and nobody knew anything about it.

Here's another headline I like:

17 Stocks That Are
Going To Die Right
Before Your Eyes!

FAX JUNK MAIL: Someone at the session (I thinks it was my kid, Bond) suggested to one of the supplicants that he should send his ads via FAX. Whoa! There's gonna be some hell raised about this. Just recently, in the L.A. Times, there was a story about a lawyer burning the midnight oil and desperately waiting in the middle of the night for someone to fax him a time-sensitive document. Finally, to his relief, the machine came to life and spewed forth a document. But alas. It wasn't what he was waiting for. No. It was a #@!*@# ad!

Tell you what, friends: we already invade their mailboxes, their phones, their homes and their airwaves but, ads by FAX will not be tolerated. The difference is, when you are receiving a fax ad, your machine is all tied up and can't produce those critical documents you are desperate to receive for which you bought the machine in the first place.

Back off!

IT'S NOT NICE TO FOOL FATHER HALBERT: "I'll show that insufferable egomaniac. I'll send him and his roundtable something that's working like crazy and then reveal what fools he and his "Genius Network" are when they tear my masterpiece apart."

It didn't work, Joe England, Bud Jennings, Don Beaver, Richard Potter, (thanks for coming), Dennis Spake, Russell A. Whitney, Fred Rowe, Tom Liquori, (good having you there), Gary Marguls, Gene Dowdle, Michael Duclos and all you others who tried to pull one over on 'ol Guru Gary.

HOW TO GET A DOCTOR TO read your mail: Nowadays, many doctors sort through their mail before they let their staff touch it. What are they looking for? Letters From Attorneys! They don't want their staff to know about any pending malpractice suits or stuff like that. So, if you are writing to a doctor and you can come up with a legitimate reason to have your sales letter come from an attorney....

Dear Dr. Jones,

As an attorney who has filed suit against 300 of your fellow practitioners, I thought maybe you'd......

....then maybe you will at least get your message read.

BERNARD GETZ MASKS? Gary Waltershied thinks they could be sold to people who ride the subway.

AN IMPORTANT SUGGESTION for catalog mailers: your front cover (and probably your back one too) should contain teaser copy instead of graphics. For example:



L.A. Doctor Discovers 
New Way to Lose Weight
(see page 17)

Amazing New Sunglasses 
Improve Your Mood
(see page 4)

Weird Device From NASA 
Research Makes Your Car Get 200 MPG
(see page 22)

etc., etc.

How about this: how about getting one of the big compilers like Donnelley or Polk to give you a kick-out of people who own a specific make and model of car and then send those people a letter with a headline that says:

How To Get The Most
Out Of Your '57 Chevy!

Or your 1983 Buick?

Or whatever?

And then, of course, you sell them a book or a mechanical device that fulfills the promise in your letter.

You like that one? I do.

GETTING YOUR PRODUCT featured in the movies: It may be easier than you think, Call Don Camp, mention my name, and see if he can help you.

(213) 281-6970

How about this for a headline for a real estate course?

How To Beat The Other
Vultures To The
Widow's Doorstep!

SELL THE DESTINATION NOT the trip: Much of the advertising sent to me for brainstorming had the serious (and perennial) flaw of extolling features to the exclusion of benefits. Listen: if you and your honey are taking a vacation to Hawaii, it's the part about the good restaurants and nightclubs and lying on those warm beaches that you fantasize about, not the plane flight, right?

 So, sell the rewards, not the tools.

SPEAKING OF HAWAII, Joe Sugarman's seminar has been postponed, probably until January. Joe called me a few days ago from a hospital. It seems he and his wife were hit head-on by a speeding drunk driver. Punctured lung, broken leg and other assorted injuries.

Damn it to hell, anyway.

WANT TO KNOW how to write successful bullets? Get the advertising from Boardroom Books for "The Book of Inside Information."

SAY, DID YOU KNOW you can now buy disposable videos for about $5.00? If your prospect has a VCR and you have a complicated story about a high-tech product, you might consider this option.

HEY, HERE'S ANOTHER TV related idea that is new to me. You know how, when you stay at a hotel, you can pay to see certain movies instead of the free regular programming? Well, according to Ken Kerr, some localities have "Pay for View" TV where people can pay to get your 30-minute program (commercial) on how to lose weight or play better golf or what have you.


THE READER'S DIGEST PENNY MAILING: Here's a story I told the group that was told to me by the late, great Ed Mayer. Many years ago, the Reader's Digest was selling for a price that ended in 98 cents. I don't know if it was $1.98, $2.98, or what. No matter. Anyway, somebody came up with the idea of sending a letter with 2 pennies taped to the top and the message, "We're so sure you'll want to subscribe, we are taking the liberty of sending your change in advance."

How did it do? The results were breathtaking! This campaign worked so well the Digest had to get the Denver Mint to create a boxcar full of new pennies. The mailing eventually became so massive that the nixies (each containing 2 cents) were worth 10's of thousands of dollars.

But there was a problem. The Digest discovered it cost more than 2 cents to open, remove and account for the pennies inside each returned letter.

And, since it's against the law to destroy money, they couldn't just throw the nixies away.

So what they did is this: they hired the local Boy Scout troop to open the letters and remove the pennies. And the scouts got one penny and the Digest got the other.

And that's how the Boy Scouts of Pleasantville, New York paid for their new brick clubhouse.

I wonder? Could this be done once again by another publisher?

You Bet It Could!

And, I also wonder, what if somebody got real daring and sent a $5.00 bill to 1,000 of the best prospects for his high-ticket product or service and weaved a story along those same lines? Hmn?

There's a lot more that came out in that two-day brainstorming session. You know, I sure wish all of you had been able to come. But, fear not. I'm going to do it again. Now listen: do you want to be at the next one? If so, raise your hand and let me know.

Wow! All in all, we brainstormed 99 different ads, direct mail packages and marketing ideas. All the way from stuff from the AAA and TIME-LIFE down to selling a key chain with a postage-paid return address.

The Tapes Of Those
Sessions Contain Gold!

There are about 10-12 hours worth of master recordings and I'm having them made up into a set called:

Brainstorm '87

Or something like that.

There will probably be about 12 tapes in the set and all of the contributors (supplicants?), (victims?), will receive, free of charge, the individual tape wherein I and my "Genius Network" discuss his or her pitiful submission.

I'm a sweet guy, ain't I?

However, if anybody wants the full set of tapes, they're going to have to cross my palm with silver.

Fair's fair.

Here is where you can get it(The Brainstorming Sessions)!

   Gary C. Halbert
"The Goyem Guru
of Galloping Greatness"

P.S. I did a TV shoot with Elke Sommer a couple of weeks ago and, I have to say, she's a real Princess when compared to some of the other Hollywood types I've worked with.
Here's a little something from my "I told you so" department. According to a recent (11-2-87) article in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, a study by the Newspaper Advertising Bureau revealed that, in 1982, Americans threw away 57% of all direct-mail advertising they received.

Sounds horrible, doesn't it? But wait. That's the good news. An update of that same study shows that nowadays....

Americans Throw Away
75% Of The Direct Mail
They Receive!

Are you still mailing bulk without even testing first-class? If so, you've really got your head in the sand because the study mentioned above doesn't even take into account all the mail that the post office throws away!


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Copyright 2003 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.