W-A-Y West Of Jewfish Creek.

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

Please remove the stress control biofeedback card from the top of this letter and hold your thumb on the dark rectangle for a count of ten.

Now, remove your thumb and check the color in the rectangle to find out how stressed you are at this very moment.

How'd you do? Are you calm, normal or tense? Or, worst of all, did you happen to get a black reading that suggests your frame of mind is about the same as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs?

No matter. At least it's no matter if any of your stress is caused because you can't figure out how to make your direct mail more effective. You see, if you are stressed out for that reason, I want you to take the test again after you finish this letter... because... by then, your stress level should be much lower. Why? The answer is simple: You see, you are about to learn one of my main secrets for pushing direct mail response to the outer limits of profitability by the intelligent use of what I call...


What's a grabber? Hey, I'm glad you asked. Enquiring minds really do want to know, don't they?

O.K., Buckwheat, a grabber is what I call something you can attach to the top a letter that grabs your reader's immediate attention and he can then grab and remove it from the letter and hold it in his grubby little hands.

In other words, a grabber is something that grabs a reader's attention and then turns him into a "grabbee" who grabs the grabber if your copy can weave an intelligent and compelling reason for doing so as I just did with you.

Oh hell, you know what I mean.

Now, listen up: Providing you've been using all the other techniques I've been revealing to you (A-Pile, B-Pile, the "magic" sealed envelope, etc.) there is nothing I know of that can hype your response as much as a grabber.

How much profit can a grabber grab? I'm going to answer that question in just a moment right after I take another of my famous little "side trips" to give you a useful little nugget of information. Hark unto me. Listen: A short time ago, I ordered something published by...

The Dartnell Corporation
4660 Ravenswood Avenue
Chicago, Illinois  60640


"The Greatest Direct Mail
Sales Letters OF ALL TIME"

- How They Were Created
- Why They Succeeded
- How You Can Create
  Great Sales Letters, Too!

Buy this book! I forget how much it is but, it's certainly not overpriced like all my stuff. And, it's great. It truly is a collection of absolutely superb direct mail letters... plus... it has "Tips From The Experts," a collection of "Letter Leads" and another on "Letter Closes." This was all put together by a guy named Richard S. Hodgson who has done one hell of a good job.

My kudos.

However, after having said all that, I must also say it seems to me Mr. Hodgson seems to have inexplicably left out from his excellent compilation, what are, perhaps, the two most successful letters in all of direct mail history.

The first one was written by yours truly and it is the one-pager used to sell the family name, coat-of-arms research report sold by Halbert's Inc. The reason I think Mr. Hodgson should have included this letter is twofold: (1) It is, I believe, the most-widely mailed (140 million, all sent first-class) letter in history and it produced a huge front-end profit and generated...

7,300,000 Cash
With Order Customers!

And the second reason is, that by leaving this letter out, Mr. Hodgson has inadvertently hurt my feelings... a situation I am sure any sensitive truly caring person would be eager to correct.

Oh well, let me wipe the tears from my eyes so I can continue. O.K., more to the point of this month's subject, the second letter Mr. Hodgson left out is the most successful grabber of all time. You'll find it on page 394 in the chapter on "SHOWMANSHIP" of the Robert Collier Letter Book. Here is what it says:

Dear Mr. Jones,

   Here's a dollar. -- Yes, it's a REAL dollar --
nice and clean and new.

   Keep it if you want to, after you've read this
letter -- but I don't believe you will, then.

   Here's what it's all about:

   I've made an investment -- of a thousand dollars --
in human nature, human kindness.  I've mailed a thousand
dollars -- in a thousand letters to a thousand people 
picked at random.  I have done this because I believe
that everyone is really kind -- that no one is really
heartless -- and that the only reason why folks do not
help where help is needed is just because these needs
are not impressed upon them hard enough.

   And that's the mission of each of my thousand
dollars -- to impress the importance of a need.  This 
thousand dollars is my subscription to the Blank Hos-
pital -- and I'm investing it in the belief that every 
one will bring back several more -- at least another --
with it.  So our subscription, which I'm starting in
this way, will be at least two thousand -- maybe five,
for there's going to be a lot of you send a five or a 
ten or more when you mail my dollar back.

   Remember -- both my dollar and your dollars go to
help crippled children.

   Will EVERY ONE come back?

   Are people really kind -- or REALLY heartless?



And how much loot did this grabber letter grab? Here's the scoop right from the book:

"That letter pulled better than a 90 percent
response.  The writer of it told me that from
175,000 letters mailed, he got back about
$270,000, plus more than 90 percent of the
dollar bills he had mailed out.

But this was only the start.  From the list
of more than 150,000 people who gave that
$270,000, further subscriptions were secured
to the amount of some $10,000,000."

And, don't forget, we're talking about ten million dollars back when it was worth something because this letter was mailed...

More Than
50 Years Ago!

And guess what else? This same letter was recently tested (with modernized wording) and... once again... got 90%+ results.

Hoo! Haa! Maybe we should look into this idea of attaching grabbers to letters a little closer, you think?

Now, as you probably have already guessed, my favorite type of grabber to attach to a letter is money. I use dollar bills, $2.00 bills, Japanese yens, Mexican pesos or whatever else makes sense. If it's a penny, the copy often starts like this:

Dear Friend,

     As you can see, I have attached a bright, shiny
penny to the top of this letter.  Why have I done this?
Actually, there are two reasons:

     #1  First, since I have something extremely
         important to tell you, I needed some way
         to make sure this letter would catch your

     #2  And secondly, since this letter concerns
         how you can make (or save) a lot of money,
         I thought using a penny as a little
         "financial eyecatcher" was especially

   Here's what it's all about. Etc., etc.

In the case of the Japanese yen (a very light weight little aluminum coin) the second reason can be something like:

"... and since what I'm writing about 
      was discovered in Japan, etc., etc."

Or, in the case of the Mexican peso, you start writing about how this once proud currency used to be the standard against how other currencies were measured but now it takes a wheelbarrow full of pesos to buy just one kruggerrand.

And then, of course, you go on to weave into your letter a story about the ravages of inflation and how it really can happen here... and... of course, why if you buy the financial report or newsletter (or whatever) this sales letter is touting, you won't have to worry about such a catastrophe.

You know, once I did a letter for my friend, the late Joe Karbo, that sold a system to beat the horses and I attached a $2.00 bill to the top of each letter which said in part...

"... and since I'm so sure this betting system will work for you, I've even decided to send you the attached two bucks with which to make your first bet..."

And so on. Enough about money. Now, let's see what else we can use for a grabber that has an almost universal application? Well, if you want to know about something else which nearly always works, trying sending what is, or appears to be...

A Genuine Photograph!

Listen: You want to be a marketing hero to yourself, your company and/or one of your clients? Try this: If your DM sales piece currently includes a brochure, eliminate it from the next mailing and, instead, send what appears to be a homemade amateur Polaroid or 35 millimeter photograph. Perhaps you are sending this photo because this is a brand new product and you wanted the reader to be among the first to know about it and you didn't want to delay getting the scoop to him until you had brochures printed up. Maybe the photo is of you or whomever else is signing the letter because, as you explain in your letter, you're an old-fashioned guy who believes people ought to at least be able to know what a person looks like if they are going to do business with him. Maybe the photo is of a special part of the product you are selling that helps you explain (and your reader visualize) why your product works so much better than the products of your competitors.

Whatever. The main thing is by sending a photo (very personal, very human, very warm) instead of a printed brochure (very impersonal, cold and technical) your letter will be humanized and that, my friend, is what catapults direct mail response to levels virtually undreamed of by most "experts."

Want another idea? You do? You're trying a greedy, little mind sucker, aren't you? Well, good for you! Let's see, what could you and I use for a grabber if we were truly to sell beachfront condos in Maui? Hmn? How about attaching a little plastic baggie filled with sand and sending out letters which start like this:

Dear Friend,

     See that little baggie stapled to the top of this

     You want to know what's in it?  Well, let me tell
you, the contents of that baggie is something that's
rapidly becoming one of the rarest and most valuable
substances on earth.

     In fact, it is earth.  Or rather sand.  Sand from
the most exclusive beachfron property in Maui which is
rapidly disappearing ... blah, blah, blah, blah, etc.,

Zowie! I'm truly on a roll now, ain't I? Let's see, what kind of grabber could we use if our brain energy is at an extremely low ebb (a condition very common to advertising people) and we can't think of anything especially applicable but we want to use a grabber anyway? Hey, I know! How about sending a real, live...

First-Class Postage Stamp!

No. No. No. Not the reply envelope. I'm talking about attaching the stamp to the top of the letter so then you can write something like...

Dear Friend,

     As you can see, I have attached a $.22 first-class
stamp to the top of this letter.

     Why?  The answer is simple.

     You see, I've got a proposition for you and I need
an answer right away.  So please, as soon as you finish
this letter, remove the stamp and put it on the enclosed
reply envelope and mail me your answer immediately.

     Here's why it's so important.  Blah, blah, blah,
etc., etc.

Use your imagination. Send a couple of aspirins "because the first part of this letter is going to give you a headache"... and then later... your letter will present another solution for the headache, something more permanent than aspirin. Send a feather... "can you imagine having to use this instead of a word processor to create your next business report?" Send a little lump of coal in a baggie... "ever see a diamond before it was old enough to sparkle?" Send a... oh nuts! If I haven't got your mind in gear by now, you're hopeless.

But, you're not hopeless, are you? No Sir, you're one of my subscribers who are (truly) among the smartest people in the world like, for instance, Don Clifton, a realtor in Spokane, Washington who sends a letter with a $1.00 check attached that has several survey questions printed on the back. Questions which help him qualify people as to whether or not they could use a speaker to inspire and inform people who work as real estate agents. The way it works is, you tick off your answers on the little squares next to the questions on the back of the check and then you deposit the check. And then, when the cancelled check comes back to Don with his bank statement, he'll know some useful stuff about you... and... when he contacts you again...

You'll Damn Sure Remember
Him, Won't You?

So far, he's got 538 back out of less than 1,500 mailed and each of his check statements brings more hot leads.

Isn't that a neat idea? Of course, in the next few months or so, I'll get real "creative" and maybe figure some way I can take credit for this little gem.

Why not? I've always suspected I might be missing some thrills by being an original... instead of a thief.

   Gary C. Halbert
"Gary the Grabber"

P.S.  That little stress control biofeedback card is truly a humdinger of a grabber... and... considering how much they could pump up your results... they're pretty cheap. The way you get them is by calling Steven A. Bair at (714) 841-8989.


P.P.S. If you're really mailing a lot of letters and you need pennies or any other type of coin attached in huge numbers, call Steve McClenehan for this and other types of first-class lettershop work at (213) 634-6484.


  So, that's it for this month except for one admonition:

Don't Miss Next Month's
Letter -- When You Get
It Read It Immediately. . .
Because . . . It Will Be, By
Far, The Most Important
One I've Ever Written


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Copyright 2003 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.