North of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

I have a confession to make.

But, don't get too excited. It's not much of a "juicy" confession. Nothing about drugs, sex, rock 'n' roll or felonious misconduct.

Here it is: I've gotten into the habit of writing my December newsletter on December 31 and, I start writing it a short time before midnight. I did that again this year but, after only a few minutes, I stopped writing.

You see, earlier in the evening, I had visited with the father of my son's wife. His name is David Proval and he played the vicious "Richie" character on the hit T.V. series "The Sopranos." On the show, he was a very believable 'scary mob guy.' In person, he's quiet, soft-spoken and totally non-threatening. Obviously, he's a very, very good actor. After visiting with him, I went with my son and his wife to a party in Palos Verdes hosted by my friend, Dave Kekich. Dave has a new woman in his life and, I think they are going to get married.

Anyway, I left the party early so I could compose my December newsletter before midnight. I went back to La Reve (a great little, almost "secret" hotel in Los Angeles) and started on it when I realized I couldn't think of anything significant to write about. My thoughts flickered back over the events of the past year. I had "mind flashes" on stuff like the unbelievable and mostly insane presidential election... all the people I had known who were suffering mightily at the unmerciful hands of fate... the immense joy I had playing with my new granddaughter (Emma Rose) who is the most beautiful and happy baby I've ever seen. There were a lot of incidents of note in the year 2000 starting, of course, with the "non-event" of the Y2K crisis, the demise and bankruptcies of enumerable companies, etc. I found it astonishing that Time magazine selected George Bush as their "Person of the Year" since his singularly outstanding achievement was the successful theft of a presidential election.

Can you imagine such a man being elected "Person of the Year"... and... the scientific team who broke the genetic code (the most important achievement of the 20th century) was not even mentioned?

Thinking of all this made me feel more like sleeping than writing. So, that's what I did. That's why there was not, nor will ever be, a December 2000 issue of The Gary Halbert Letter.

But now, here it is January of a sparkling new year with all of the promise of pleasure, profits and pain of the coming twelve months that is laid out before us. Since it's my job to help you with the profit part of that equation, I thought I'd begin by giving you another lesson in copywriting. This lesson is designed to jump start your sluggish mind and multiply your income. Why didn't I write about this particular topic before? It's very simple, I forgot. Without further adieu, let us begin this lesson.

Here are 35 facts I bet you would have never known, if you weren't reading this issue of my newsletter.

Interesting Facts

1.      Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

2.      Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

3.      There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

4.      The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.

5.      A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

6.      There are more chickens than people in the world.

7.      Two-thirds of the world's eggplant is grown in New Jersey.

8.      The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."

9.      On a Canadian two dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament building is an American flag.

10.      All of the clocks in the movie "Pulp Fiction" are stuck on 4:20.

11.      No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

12.      "Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".

13.      All 50 States are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.

14.      Almonds are a member of the peach family.

15.      Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

16.      Maine is the only State whose name is just one syllable.

17.      There are only four words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

18.      The characters "Bert" and "Ernie" on Sesame Street were named after "Bert the cop" and       "Ernie the taxi driver" in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life."

19.      A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

20.      An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

21.      Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

22.      In most advertisements, the time displayed on a watch is 10:10.

23.      Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

24.      Los Angeles' full name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula."

25.      A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.

26.      A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

27.      A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.

28.      It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

29.      The giant squid has the largest eyes in the world.

30.      In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.

31.      The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

32.      Mr. Rogers is an ordained minister.

33.      The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.

34.      There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.

35.      "Stewardesses" is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand.


Well, all that was interesting, wasn't it? But so what? How can that help you make any money?

Let's take Interesting Fact #31, the one about the guy inventing the microwave oven after his candy bar melted when he walked by a radar tube. Obviously, that caused him to have an "aha" experience which led to the invention and sales of tens of millions of microwave ovens. Today, I read something in the news and it gave me an "aha" experience: A recent survey shows the number one reason people purchase a camcorder is the birth of a new child. It seems to me that nugget of information would open all sorts of possibilities for people who sell camcorders. First, they could get a mailing list of mothers-to-be or brand-new mothers who recently gave birth to their babies. They could solicit these specific mothers by direct mail with an enticing reason to buy a camcorder from them. 

Another possibility, is running headlines of this nature: "K-Mart Offers 50% Discount On Sony Camcorders To All Women Who Are More Than Seven Months Pregnant."

Or, perhaps, a certain camcorder could be "positioned" as a "baby cam" specifically designed to record the adventures and events which occur as your new child's life unfolds.

One thing I failed to emphasize when I wrote so many copywriting "lessons" recently is... how important it is to make your sales message interesting and thought-provoking.

Let's take another look at those 35 Interesting Facts and see if there is any way we can use them to start a sales letter or an ad that would capture a reader's interest... and... allow us to smoothly segue into our main selling message.

By the way, if you are not familiar with the word "segue" here is the dictionary definition, "to move smoothly and unhesitatingly from one state, condition, situation or element to another." For our purposes, a segue is simply a slick way of capturing someone's attention which makes it possible for us to make a logical and seamless transition to the really important message (why they should buy something from us).

Shall we begin with Interesting Fact #3? That's the one that says, "There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar." We could put up a big sign in a retail store and have a contest to see who would be the first of our prospects or customers to come up with all 293 ways listed on a piece of paper. The winner would get something valuable, like a big screen, high-definition television set. Then, the "losers" would all get a letter telling them they didn't win the contest (but telling them who did) and also informing them they have won a valuable second place prize. Perhaps that valuable second place prize could be a drastic reduction in the price of the television they were competing for, justified by all the time and effort they put into the contest. Perhaps the prize could be a waiver of any down payment necessary for them to purchase the T.V. Whatever.

Now let's talk about Interesting Fact #34, which is, "There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball." Suppose we started a sales letter like this:


Dear Friend,

Did you know there are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball? And guess what? It is the material directly beneath each of those dimples that determines how far that golf ball will go when you hit it with a golf club. Even though all regulation golf balls have 336 dimples, the material immediately beneath of those dimples varies greatly from brand to brand.

Now, there is a brand new golf ball that has a tiny circle of material called "Zoomonian" beneath each dimple. Zoomonian has qualities found in no other material. The main quality that makes it so unique is... it retracts under pressure (like when it's hit by a golf club)... but then... it "unretracts" (snaps back to its regular size) faster than anything else known to man.

What does this mean to you as a golfer? Simply put, as soon as you hit one of these new golf balls... before it has even gone three inches... the Zoomonian will have already expanded back to its natural size. That instantaneous action will send that golf ball rocketing down the fairway as though it were propelled by 336 tiny jet engines. Of course this means you will have a significantly lower golf score the first time you use this "miracle" golf ball.

Etc., etc., etc.



Our next example, using Interesting Fact #21 ("Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur") could begin  with a message like this:


Dear Friend,

Did you know tigers have striped skin and not just striped fur?

Isn't it unfortunate the same is not true of human beings?

What I mean is, wouldn't it be great if all crooks, thieves and scam artists had some type of tattoo on their foreheads which identified their true nature?

Unfortunately, the reality is, many of the most immoral and unethical people on this planet have gleaming-white, engaging smiles and honest-looking, open and charming faces. They are also dressed in expensive shirts, suits and shoes which disguise their street-thug nature. All of this outside appearance is to gain your confidence and to camouflage their true objective... which is... to pounce on you and bilk you out of your life savings.

There is a man just like that lurking in your life and, if I weren't writing this letter to you to tell you the truth about him, you would probably be bankrupt by this time next year.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.




Continuing on with Interesting Fact #20  which states, "An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain," we might start our sales pitch with wording similar to that on the following page:


Dear Friend,

Did you know ostriches have eyes bigger than their brains?

Guess what else? So do 99% of people who invest in the stock market.

These people watch CNBC, read the "Wall Street Journal" and participate in computer chat rooms... and... every time their eyes process some type of    "too-good-to-be-true" information into their brains... they make incredibly bad decisions and lose a healthy chunk of their hard-earned money.

And they never learn.

Did you also know a goldfish only has an attention span of three seconds? [Sidepoint: This is Interesting Fact #26.] This also seems to be true of many stock market investors. What I mean is, they seem to have an inability to remember how often they have already been bilked by MLM scams, new IPO scams, 900# scams, and over-the-counter bulletin board companies that have no reporting requirements which can blithely make claims about the new technology they have developed which will give your Cadillac 100 miles to the gallon.

A goldfish is a very poor learner. After all, if he forgets everything he's been taught in just three seconds, how could he be expected to master a simple fact that every time he eats one of those green and purple-striped worms, he will get sick to his stomach? He'll just eat the worm, get sick, forget about it in three seconds, eat another of the worms, get sick again, forget about it again, and continue the process adinfinitum. So what? How does any of this apply to you?

Well, if you're active in the stock market, you are surely aware that 85% of all companies have lost 70 to 95% of their value in the last nine months. You know what the people who lost their money in those companies are going to do? They are going to forget (just like a goldfish) the consequences of an under-analyzed opportunity... and... they are again going to jump on another looney-tunes bandwagon... and... again lose a healthy chunk of their hard-earned money.

Here are seven ways to make sure that doesn't happen to you:

1.  Blah, blah, blah.




Finally, how about Interesting Fact #27? You know, the one about a dime having 118 ridges on its outside. We could open with something like the example on page 7:


Dear Friend,

As you can see, I have scotch-taped a dime to the top of this letter.

I want you to remove that dime from this letter and run your fingers around the edge of it. Can you feel all those tiny, little indentations? Not many people know it but, every dime manufactured by the U.S. Mint has exactly 118 of these ridges.

Well, I bet right now you're thinking, "So what? That's kind of interesting but, what's it got to do with me?"

My friend, the fact that every dime manufactured in America has exactly 118 ridges... and... so few people know about it, has led to a fascinating situation from which you can profit to the tune of more than $15,000 per month!

Here's why: Yackety, yackety, yackety.


Okay, let's stop and take a breather. That last example may seem a bit far fetched but, it is by taking the handcuffs off your creativity that allows you to come up with far fetched, insane, "crazy" ideas. And, many of these ideas will spark other ideas that are actually practical and doable in the real world. Can you write a stimulating sales message built around the fact that two-thirds of all the world's eggplant is grown in New Jersey? [Interesting Fact #7.]

Or a captivating ad about a dragonfly who only has a life span of 24 hours? [Interesting Fact #25.] Or that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear? [Interesting Fact #19.] Or that Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance? [Interesting Fact #15.] Or that a giant squid has the largest eyes in the world? [Interesting  Fact #29.]

Remember how I told you earlier in this newsletter a survey revealed the birth of a child is the number one reason for camcorder purchases? That's an interesting fact, isn't it? And the way to incorporate that particular "interesting fact" in a sales message is a little more obvious than using the other "interesting fact" instances I've given you in this newsletter. Just beware... even if you are a skillful writer and are using the more obvious "interesting facts" that does not mean... your sales message will be more effective than... using those less-than-obvious "interesting facts" to seduce people to read your sales message.

Here's three more interesting facts I just learned this morning:

(1)   Did you know online sales increased by 54% this holiday season... despite the failure of 85% of companies? It's true. Last year during the holiday season, U.S. consumers spent 7 billion dollars purchasing goods and gifts online. This year, holiday online purchases were 10.8 billion dollars.

         By the way, the average purchase of those online consumers was $304 worth of merchandise.

         And, all of the online retailers who enjoyed profitable holiday sales had the same thing in common. I could tell you what it was but, I'm not going to. If this information would be of interest to you, it would be a useful and instructional exercise for you to do the research and find out the answer for yourself.

(2)   Did you know cops have a database for laundry tags? That's because sometimes, when they discover a dead person with no identification, the laundry mark will help them identify the body.

(3)   Did you know a product called "Dermaplec" is an over-the-counter cosmetic that is the best product available for hiding bruises? Therefore, every patrolman called out to investigate a case of domestic abuse quickly learns to check the couple's medicine cabinet for Dermaplec. If this product is in the medicine cabinet, it's almost as good as a confession by the husband that he beats his wife on a regular basis.

That's it for this month. You know, I believe the most important job a teacher has is to electrify the minds of his students. Sure, you've got to give them facts, methodologies and techniques... but... if you can raise the level of their own curiosity and show them "tricks" to jump start their thinking processes, I believe you are doing something extremely priceless. That is what I have tried to do here... to stimulate your minds to elevate your own creativeness.

Unfortunately, many of my readers are so dim-witted and mentally-retarded, I don't really have a chance of getting through to them.

So why do I bother? I'm not sure. Maybe it's because I'm pretty much a dumb ass myself.

   Gary C. Halbert

P.S.   My friend Dan Kennedy has a killer seminar coming up in the near future. If you are lucky enough to get an invitation to attend, I have one single piece of advice for you:

Do It!


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Copyright 2003 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.