North of Jewfish Creek


Dear Friend & Subscriber,

The vast majority of this newsletter is going to be about "Operation Moneysuck".

Most of you who read this newsletter do so because you are interested in improving your copywriting abilities... or... you are interested in starting or enlarging a direct response business. What I'm going to write in this letter is something you need to think seriously about if you want to make an enormous amount of money in direct response.

If this newsletter turns out to be a bit sloppy, please cut me a little slack as Theresa and I are... once again... working under hurricane conditions courtesy of a bitch named "Rita".

Before I get going on "Operation Moneysuck", I want to thank all of you who responded to my last few newsletters concerning the disastrous circumstances caused by Hurricane Katrina. When I recommended the Jehovah's Witnesses as the best organization to help those victims, I expected to get a lot of flack from my readers. To my surprise, I did not. What I got instead was a lot of people praising my courage to recommend such a controversial, non-mainstream organization.

I believe I got exactly two e-mails bitching about my recommending Jehovah's Witnesses. Both of those e-mails were from individuals who peppered their messages with quotes from the Bible and maintained the Jehovah's Witnesses were nothing more than a cult and didn't believe in mainstream religious dogma.

Just in case any of you are confused, I would like to assure you, I, myself am NOT a Jehovah's Witness. And quite frankly, to be blunt, I don't give a rat's ass about their religious beliefs. In fact, I don't even know what they do believe... and for my money... it makes no difference whatsoever. I'm going to tell you a little story which will illustrate why I feel this way.

Once, a long time ago, I was with my father in a rather un-seaworthy boat attempting to navigate a particularly dangerous part of the ocean. I was very scared. The boat was in serious danger of capsizing. Then I remembered something my father taught me years earlier. He taught me if you are in a boat traveling across dangerous waters, give the controls of that boat to the person onboard who is the most skilled at operating a boat under dangerous conditions. That means you should NOT necessarily give the controls to the owner of the boat... or... to the person who has the highest "rank" on board... or... to the person who has been operating boats for the longest period of time. You should give the controls to the person who is BEST at navigating that boat through dangerous water.

To state the obvious, it shouldn't matter if the person is Black or White, Catholic or Protestant, a midget or 7 feet tall, Republican or Democrat, or what the person believes or thinks about anything. It shouldn't matter if you love or hate the person. And it shouldn't even if the person is in favor of an idea that disgusts you.

All that should matter is, you give the controls of the boat to the person onboard who is the most likely person to get you back to port safely.

So, rather than let my pride go before a fall...

I Gave The Controls Of That Boat

In Those Dangerous Waters

To My Father!

What if you knew of a copywriter who almost always wrote hugely successful direct mail pieces, space ads and/or websites for his clients? Would you care if that copywriter was Black or White, Catholic or Protestant, a midget or 7 feet tall, Republican or Democrat? Or what his or her religious beliefs were?

I think you wouldn't care about any of that. I think you would hire the person who was most likely to write a piece of copy for you which would make you the most money.

I think the same thing is true with about anything else of importance which needs to get done. If you were suffering from a potentially deadly disease, would you care about the skin color or religious beliefs of the doctor who was treating you? I think not. I think if you are sane, you would want the doctor who is most likely to make you well again.

I could go on and on with illustrations such as these but, if you haven't gotten the point already, you are brain dead.

As far as Jehovah's Witnesses are concerned, they have an impeccable record for helping people who've been affected by man made and/or natural disasters superior to any other organization of which I have knowledge. Personally, I think they are obsessed, theologically-misguided individuals who unnecessarily complicate their lives and journey out into the world on Saturday mornings and irritate people who are trying to recover from hangovers.

But, by God, when it comes to stabilizing and repairing after a disaster, THEY are the people who get the job done without stealing any of the money contributed for that purpose.

I think what I'm going to write now will probably surprise you. I think nobody in this country should donate another dime to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Not even to the Jehovah's Witnesses. I'll tell you why.

As of now, the total amount of money already been donated or pledged to help those victims is in the untold billions of dollars. Let me tell you something about hundreds of billions of dollars. That amount of money, at least in my opinion, does not exist anywhere on earth in the control of people who are not outright stealing a lot of it... or... who are spending it stupidly. At the very least, if they are not stealing it or spending it stupidly... if there is a gazillion dollars available... the kindest thing you can say (again this is my opinion) is, much of that money will be spent in a very ineffective manner.

I don't think more money needs to be contributed to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. What I think is really needed, is more people with at least half a brain working on the problems created by the disaster. I believe $100 in the hands of a capable, intelligent person will provide more relief for those victims than $10,000 in the hands of a corrupt or ineffective organization. (Like Halliburton.)

But, there is a lot of goodness in the hearts of the people of the world. A lot of us have a genuine feeling of an overwhelming need to do something to help those who have suffered from such a disaster. And, I have an idea I would like to throw out to all of my readers (if for no other reason) than to give you something to think about.

Very recently, I was flying back from a short trip to Costa Rica on American Airlines Flight 972 and I was sitting in seat 11D. Sitting next to me in seat 10D was a woman named Bernadette Lewis. Her husband died of cancer at a very early age. I learned from talking with her a few interesting things.

First, her father-in-law was Sinclair Lewis (now deceased of course), the first American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize. Bernadette is 77 years old. She had just recently moved from France to New Orleans. After she got herself set up in an apartment, she decided to take a trip to Costa Rica to visit her relatives there.

Her return flight from Costa Rica to New Orleans was scheduled for the day Katrina hit New Orleans. Naturally, Bernadette was stuck in Costa Rica and she had to wait quite some time before she could get another return flight. But when she made those new return flight arrangements, it only included her flying to Miami and then to Tampa. She didn't know how (or if) she could return to New Orleans. And, of course, American Airlines charged her extra because of the change in her travel plans.

Bernadette didn't know if her apartment had survived the hurricane. She was hopeful because it was on the second floor of her building. She had a son in New Orleans who had tried to board up his house but was unable to finish the job and forced to evacuate the area by the New Orleans Police. If I remember correctly, her son's house was close to her apartment.

Bernadette told me she had just auctioned off most of her possessions before she ever left New Orleans. She asked me, "They'll have to pay me won't they? After all, my possessions were auctioned off before the hurricane." Apparently, when you work with an auction house, you don't get paid until 30 days after your items have been  sold. But again, she was asking me, "They'll have to pay me, won't they? I mean, after all, my stuff was auctioned off before the hurricane."

I didn't have the heart to point out to her there was a great possibility the auction company no longer existed. That it may very well have been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

She told me she didn't mind if people looted her apartment. She said there was nothing to take but furniture and paintings. She didn't think the looters were very much interested in furniture. And she was hopeful they didn't understand the value of her paintings.

In any case, here she was, having survived the horrors of World War II and now (at 77 years of age) trying to survive the horrors of Hurricane Katrina. Bernadette was attempting to return to her home (if it still existed) with very little money and no possessions except what she took with her on her  trip to Costa Rica.

I don't know what has happened to Bernadette Lewis but, if anybody can find her and she needs some help, I would be more than welcome to help her personally to the best of my ability.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, my youngest son Bond read in the "Los Angeles Times" some of the evacuees had made it to Los Angeles and were being sheltered there by the Red Cross. So you know what he did? He went directly to the shelter, talked to the people, and found out exactly what they needed. They were most concerned with immediate needs to get them through the next 48 or 72-hours. So Bond made a list and went to store after store buying items like deodorant, diapers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and lots of other stuff people use on a day-to-day basis.

One curious thing the evacuees asked for was decks of playing cards. This puzzled me at first. Then I got to thinking about it. I guess playing poker or other card games for matchsticks is a better way to get through the day during the aftermath of a disaster... than just staring into space hour after hour and worrying about your future.

Anyway, after he bought all these items, he put them in his truck and drove back to the Red Cross shelter. He gave everything directly to the people who needed it.

I'm enormously proud of my son. He has far more wisdom than his father will ever possess.

The message I've tried to illustrate here is...

If You Want To Help The Victims

Of This Disaster, I Think You Should

Give That Help To The Victims Directly!

I've become jaded. I think the worst organization in this country we can donate money to help people is the United States Government. And, I am very suspect of other major organizations such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and all the others. I think each of these charities have many good people... but... I suspect also each of the charities have some bad apples who would embezzle the money entrusted to them without a pang of conscience.

Anyway, I really don't want to receive any more emails about Hurricane Katrina. Most of the emails I did receive were intelligent and well-reasoned and had very good ideas in them. But, I don't even want to read those kinds of emails any more.

On a lighter note, one very misguided reader wrote that since so many people read my newsletter and trust me, I should form "The Gary Halbert Hurricane Relief Fund" and raise money and administer the funds myself.

Is That Insane Or What?

Get it out of your head. I hereby promise if anyone ever contributes money to "The Gary Halbert Hurricane Relief Fund", I will spend that money on booze, drugs, hookers, online gambling and making illogical bets on Mexican cockfights.

Actually Shitweasel, I wouldn't do any of that. But I would screw up the administration of the funds in some uniquely creative way. I am not who many of you seem to think I am. I'm somebody who's trying to make it from one day to the next and whose game plan is "Trudge And Muddle".

One last thing on this subject: Recently, we had a truly "banner" day for news. More bodies were being uncovered in New Orleans. The problems caused all along the Gulf Coast states were being covered in minute detail. Hurricane Ophelia was pounding North Carolina with a vengeance. A very large tropical disturbance was brewing in the Caribbean, and it looked like it was going to morph into a strong hurricane, and head straight for Florida (it's almost here now), and eventually make other landfalls along the coastline of the United States. (Not much mystery about this hurricane. It, like the others, is going to tear the ass out of us once again.) Plus, other headline news that day were there were more casualties in Iraq than any day since the war began. Also, two major airlines filed for bankruptcy. I can guarantee you, there was a whole lot more horrible shit happened of which I am blissfully unaware.

It doesn't seem to be getting better. So, you know what? I'm going to do my best to put these tragedies out of my mind (at least until "Rita" blows me off my balcony) and get back to doing what I do best... which is...  teaching people how to be more effective at...

Operation Moneysuck!

Let's say you are a copywriter and you want to make a lot of money from the words you write. One way to do this is to simply be a freelance copywriter and sell your work to one or more clients. You can write for a set fee... or... you can write and get paid a percentage of gross or net sales... or... you can do a combination and charge a certain amount up front plus X percentage of gross or net sales.

There are a lot of good clients out there who will pay you a good amount of money in return for you creating good advertising copy for them.

But, there are also a lot of bad clients who will screw you one way or another out of the financial rewards of your hard-earned work. How shalt thy be screwed?

There are two main ways:

#1: "Simple Theft"

You do the work, give it to the client and he simply doesn't pay you. Or maybe he will pay you your up-front fee but not the percentage from the sales you are supposed to get (which can amount to an awful lot of money). Almost every copywriter I know has been screwed in this fashion. But the truth is, "Simple Theft" is the least significant way you get screwed.

The preponderance of how you get screwed out of money from clients is...

#2: "Under-Exploitation Of Your Work"

What I mean by this is, you write something with a high ROI (Return On Investment) but your client proceeds with almost criminal caution. If it's a direct mail piece, maybe he'll mail 5,000 letters and get $5 for every dollar he spends. But then he won't want to mail any other letters until he tests a blue reply envelope against the white reply envelope used in the test.

Or, maybe he will fear getting an abnormal amount of refunds and he'll wait forever to make a second mailing until he feels safe he's not going to get a 70 or 80% refund rate.

Or, maybe he has a merchant account with an absurd limit of only $10,000... and... you have given him a mailing piece, newspaper ad or website that will gross much more in half a day.

Or, maybe he will be stupid about customer service and making refunds and get closed down by an alphabet agency before he really gets the project going.

Most likely, however, your client will suffer from a built-in mental barrier which makes him very uncomfortable if he happens to be taking in large amounts of money.

Of all the times you get screwed by clients from simple theft... you will get screwed 50 times as often... by people who don't have the brains, the balls or the skills to properly exploit the money-making possibilities of the advertising you have given them.

Think about this: Years ago, Ray Kroc walked into a restaurant called "McDonald's" in a small city in California. He was impressed with the cleanliness of the restaurant and the efficiency of how it was run. The guys who owned it (I think they were two brothers named McDonald) were happy to sell him the rights to franchise their restaurant operation. Of course, the rest is history. There are now McDonald's restaurants in every civilized corner of the world and they sell billions of burgers every day.

Get this: Often the client to whom you are giving your precious advertising copy is going to be more like one of those McDonald brothers... than... he or she is going to be more like Ray Kroc.

Let's say you decide not to write for clients and only write for yourself. There are a few people like Joe Sugarman, Ben Suarez, Ted Thomas and a handful of others who have done this very successfully. But, they are very much the exception. Here's the way it most often (99.999% of the time) it happens: You write a killer piece which is very profitable and has a very high ROI. You want to keep all the money generated by this piece for yourself. So, you decide to start and operate your own business to exploit your own copywriting ability. My friend, you have no idea what lies in store for you. If you haven't tried to do this already...

You Don't Have A Clue

Of The Obstacles You Are

Going To Have To Overcome!

First of all, you're not going to have time to write any more copy for any more projects. Nope. Someone's going to have to man the phones to take the orders. Your time will be spent either taking those orders yourself or supervising your employees or keeping a close on the telephone answering service you might hire.

And the same thing will happen with the mail orders. Either you have to pick up the mail yourself or have an employee do it and someone has to deposit all those checks.

And someone has to fill all those orders. Again, it's either you, your employees you're having to supervise, or some fulfillment agency you're watching.

Of course, you'll also have to have a merchant account to process your credit card orders. And that, my friend, is when you will find how delicate that particular link in your chain of success is. There's a very good possibility your merchant account (even if you've had it for 20-years) will be canceled... without any warning whatsoever. This might result simply because you did something that caused a legitimate but abrupt increase in your income flow. Or it might be canceled because a few nut cases have called the bank operating your merchant account with irrational complaints about your company.

Or, your merchant account might be canceled, believe it or not, for no rational reason whatsoever. Maybe some underpaid clerk at the bank was having a bad hair day and resented the idea you were taking in a lot of money.

Most of you think if you run your business in an ethical and upright manner you'll never have to worry about customer complaints. You couldn't be more wrong. Customers (and even non-customers) will complain about anything imaginable. Once, I mailed one of my semi-famous dollar bill letters to a lot of people and the first line of the letter read:

As you can see, I've attached a nice, crisp $1 bill to the top of this letter.

And you know what? One guy sent me a very hostile complaint letter because the $1 bill I sent him was a little wrinkled and not crisp and neat. This is a true story. Can you imagine that? Here's a guy who receives absolutely free money in the mail and bitches about the fact the dollar he received was not in 100% mint condition.

Most likely, if you decide to run a business for yourself, what you really will have done is... have created a JOB for yourself. And, not only that, you will be driven crazy and end up...

Having A Madman For A Boss!

Well, what should you do?

I've given this an enormous amount of thought.

I was blessed when I had my first direct marketing success by hooking up with a partner, Dennis Haslinger (now deceased), who ran the business with the precision of a Swiss watch... and... cheerfully paid me my half of the profits. It was a dream situation come true. All I had to do (basically) was write the sales letters, give them to Dennis, and then sit back and cash checks written to me every month.

Dennis died in the 1990's and I have been looking for someone I could hook up with like him ever since. But a guy like Dennis is borderline impossible to find. Let me tell you some of the characteristics that type of person needs to possess:

First, he or she needs to be honest and ethical. The most important aspect of that honesty and ethicalness is the person will pay YOU the share of the money you personally deserve.

Second, the person must possess the ability to intelligently run very rapidly with a good idea. He or she needs to be a person that, when presented with a winning idea, will proceed with it like a Ray Kroc and not like one of the McDonald brothers.

Third, the person needs to be savvy. He or she needs to know the things you must avoid doing to incur the wrath of alphabet agencies, an unnecessarily high refund rate, and the toxic venom of people in general towards financially successful people.

Fourth, the person must have one or more extremely solid merchant accounts to process credit card orders. It's been my experience most people who have an existing merchant account have no idea whatsoever how fast it is likely to disappear once they become involved in a direct marketing endeavor.

Fifth, the person must have a lot of money. If you really want to go balls-to-the-wall as far as making money is concerned, you must hook up with somebody who is financially solid enough to exploit your marketing endeavors with the speed of light... and... do so without financial fear.

Sixth, the last characteristic I'm going to talk about is, the person has to be likable. And, by "likable" I mean compatible with you. What does it matter how much money you make if you have to interact every day with some anal uptight shitweasel you can barely tolerate?

There's more, but that's all I can think of off the cuff right now. And, believe me, those characteristics are enough to eliminate 99.999% of all people you might want to team up with.

Okay, now let's get down to business: Over the last few years (since I first began putting my newsletters online) my readership has expanded in an almost scary fashion. I'm not sure of the exact number but, I think my newsletters are now read by English speaking people in approximately 90 countries besides the United States. I think it's fair to say almost every copywriter and everybody else of significance in the direct marketing world is reading my newsletters with insanely rapt attention. They not only read them, they print all of them out. They bind them in books. They send me thousands of emails of praise. And, many of them, it seems, are hesitant to make a marketing decision without first finding out...

"What Would Gary Think?"

This is all great for the ego, but it's also insanity. Mostly, when people are wondering "What would Gary think?"... all I am really thinking about is the overwhelming difficult problems (at least difficult for me) of how to get my laundry done and one of my shirts ironed.

But, the larger point is, somehow I have become possibly the most "connected" person in the direct marketing universe. And, more importantly, I have found a very tiny handful of people who have all (and sometimes more) of the characteristics I described earlier above.

Let's talk about a vision: Let's envision you have written a great sales letter, newspaper ad or some other type of advertising copy, and you send it to me.

And, let's suppose I read it and make a judgment that, if tested, there's a good chance what you have written will become a success.

Then, let's suppose I deliver your precious piece of work to one of the tiny handful of people I believe to be the Dennis Haslingers of the New Millennium. Your piece will then be tested and tested rapidly. If the test works (meaning it makes a profit), the person who conducted the test will put up all the money needed to run with your promotion faster than Lance Armstrong can pedal a bike on a downhill slope.

And let's suppose that person will also take care of all product fulfillment, process credit card orders, accept all the mail orders, handle all the complaints, deal with any alphabet agency problems, provide both you and me with an accurate accounting of everything that's transpired... and... pay us a more than fair share of the profits generated from the exploitation of your genius copywriting ability.

I say pay "us" because I'm not going to do this for you or for our modern day "Ray Kroc" just out of the goodness of my heart. I will do it ONLY because, acting as the middleman, I get a slice of the pie.

Think a moment about the advantages of an arrangement such as this: First of all, it reduces the things you have to do to make money down to the bare minimum. In fact, if my vision works as I expect it will, the only thing you will have to do to make more money is write another successful piece of advertising copy. Then after that, write another and another and another.

Otherwise, if you decide to run a business on your own, what's probably going to happen is, you are going to find the time to do the most profitable thing (writing copy) will diminish down to approximately 20-minutes out of an 80-hour work week. You see, what's happened to the rest of your time will be filled up with the demands imposed on you by LMS (Lesser Mortal Shit). You'll be so busy getting mailings out, finding the money to finance those mailings, shipping orders, handling refunds, processing credit card orders, talking with alphabet agencies, replying to Better Business Bureau complaints, and smoothing the feathers of irate customers (and non-customers), your time for creating world-class copy will be diminished to less than the time you spend brushing your teeth every day.

Think I'm exaggerating? Trust me, I'm not. I know whereof I speak. And, it's only getting worse. The problems of owning and operating a business in the United States are exponentially increasing on a daily basis.

Here's what I think you should do (or at least, here's something I think you should consider): I think you should send your next or current marketing promotion to me along with your contact details. If I think it's something worth testing, I will contact you and we'll discuss it. If you and I can come to an arrangement, then I will give your piece to one of my tiny handfuls of "Ray Krocs" to exploit and run with.

Here's something else you should think about: I think if you have already written a successful piece which is making you money, you might consider letting me have a look at that promotion also. Because, the chances are excellent that successful piece could be much more profitable if it were being handled by someone the likes of which I have just described. Also, there's a VERY good chance I can "tweak" your already profitable promotion in such a way, it will become exponentially more profitable.

I'm just putting all this out for your consideration. You can do with your business and your life whatever you choose. All I'm doing here is offering you an alternative. (Actually that's a great understatement. What I'm really offering you is...

A Vast Improvement

In The Quality

Of Your Life!

If you're interested, please email me your sales copy with all of your contact details. Needless to say, don't send me anything that involves multi-level marketing or anything dishonest or unethical or scammy in any way. I prefer to deal only with marketing promotions that under-promise and over-deliver.


Gary C. Halbert


PS I've reconsidered creating "The Gary Halbert Hurricane Relief Fund." I've decided after all I want to do it. I want everybody reading this letter to make a contribution to this fund. I want all of the contributions to be made in the form of small, unmarked bills of $20 denomination or less. And, in the spirit of good Samaritans, I want you to send me your envelope full of cash, without revealing to me your name or return address. I want all of the contributions to be completely anonymous so you can have the satisfaction of having done a good deed for reasons so unselfish, you didn't even want anybody else to know it was you that did the good deed. Send the cash to the address at the top of this newsletter and write on the outside of the envelope:

"Theresa, do not open this envelope.

For Gary's eyes only."

I promise you, once I receive enough cash, I will go personally to the disaster areas of the Gulf States and make sure as many young women as possible have such a glorious "good time" they will be able to stop thinking of the nightmare their lives have become. (At least for a night or two.)

Not only that, if I receive enough money to straighten out the Hurricane Katrina mess, any money I have left over, I will scurry to the Middle East and straighten out the problems over there.

In addition to that, I will begin devoting all my leftover energies to curing cancer, heart disease, AIDS and every other deadly affliction known to man.

So, contribute now. Contribute generously. Contribute anonymously. And, trust in me.

I wouldn't lie to you, would I?

I just turned on my TV and our local weather man (Brian Norcross) says the effects of Hurricane Rita is only minutes away from knocking on my door.  Adios Shitweasel. I'm outta here.



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Copyright 2005 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.