W-A-Y West of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

Hey, you remember last month how I revealed to you how I was offering five free reports as a "bribe" to get people to subscribe to this newsletter?

What's that? You say you do remember? Good! Since that's the case, you may also remember that those free reports reveal the following five powerful secrets:





What to write on a simple postcard mailing that will make people flood into your business.

How to mail up to 100,000 letters per week at no cost  whatsoever. Not even postage!

How to get the name and address of every man, woman and  child who is ever likely to become one of your customers!

How to get yourself and/or your business featured on cable TV without spending a penny!

How to make your ad in the yellow pages 400% more       effective without making it bigger!

Well anyway, the reason I'm reminding you of all this is because so many of my current subscribers have been phoning the office here and wondering what they would have to do to get those five free reports.

It's very simple. All you have to do is ask. Just send me a letter telling me you want the reports and I'll send them out to you immediately at my expense. And, although it's not necessary, if you happen to have anything nice to say in your letter that I could use as a testimonial, it would be greatly appreciated.

Why am I doing this? Actually, there are two reasons. The first reason is (as I've been telling you over and over), because I am truly a...

Prince Of A Guy!

And the second reason is that I'm "hoping" to get a testimonial from you because repeated testing over many years has proven that good testimonials almost always improve results.

Now, don't you think about all the foregoing was a pleasant (but rather adroit) set-up for the subject of this month's letter which is...

Testing     Testing     Testing     Testing     Testing

"To be the best
you've got to test.
It ends all debates
and gives your mind a rest."

Let's say you've got what you think is a great new idea that might make you lots of money. Let's say you've invented a new kind of "unlosable" golf ball that has a built-in electronic beeper that you can activate with a tiny transmitter you wear around your wrist like a Dick Tracy Radio Watch.

Sounds neat, doesn't it? You slice your ball off into the woods and then, instead of poking around blindly trying to find it, you simply activate the beeper and the little cricket-like signal leads you to the ball.

Your ad agency howls with enthusiasm. You're gonna make millions. But first, they say, you've got to do some market testing. You've got to test media, markets, price, and package design; whether to offer the balls in packages of three or packages of eight; a two-page letter, a 4-page letter, or a 6-page letter; you've got to test whether the balls should be conventional white in color or perhaps orange or yellow or some other color.

And so on.

Let me tell you something. All this advice is...

Stupid!     Stupid!     Stupid!     Stupid!

Firstly, all this testing will cost a fortune and secondly, at this stage, you only need to test to find the answer to one single question which is...

Does This Idea
Have Any Merit Whatsoever?

You'd be surprised how many "great" ideas have no market viability whatsoever. Recently, for example, I mailed a "can't fail" direct mail promotion to 2,600 California used car dealers. Here is the first page of the letter I used.

A world-famous advertising expert reveals...

How To Double The Size
Of Your Used Car Business
In Just 7 Weeks!

Thursday, 12:35 P.M.

Gary C. Halbert                        (213) 273-7053
8033 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, California

Dear Friend,

   Can your used car business handle hundreds and perhaps even thousands of new customers?

   If so, this may very well be the most exciting letter you will ever read. Why? The answer is simple. You see, I am writing to tell you about a rather amazing way to increase the size of your used car business and, quite possibly, triple your before-tax profits!

   Keep reading. I think you're going to love this letter.

   Anyway, here is what it's all about. Listen: In the next few days, I am (with your permission) going to send you a free copy of an exciting report called:

What To Write
On A Simple Postcard Mailing
That Will Make People
Flood Onto Your Car Lot!

Advertising campaigns do not have to be expensive. No. Believe it or not, you can get more customers with a cheap, simple postcard mailing than other people (your competitors) get with an expensive, full-color, full-page newspaper ad.

   But you've got to know exactly how  to do it. You know, it took me 15-years to discover this neat little trick. But now, by reading my free report, you can learn how to use this dirt-cheap little money-maker in just 15-minutes.

   But, believe me, you better be ready because this is the promotion that will make people flood into your business!

   Why am I going to send you this report and why am I sending it FREE? The answer is simple: It's a bribe! It's a shameless

(go to page 2)


* Great



* Great 



* Smooth,



* Tells It
    Like It Is!



* Shucks
    Right Down
    To The Core!



* Makes It
    Seem Easy!





And guess what happened? Yep. They stayed away in droves! In fact, so far, just one used car dealer has been smart enough and had enough "hustle" to respond to my pitch. Now, that particular car dealer is one smart cookie and he's probably going to make a lot of money because of reading my material but, the point is this...

What I Thought Was A Sure thing
Was, In Fact, A Total Bust!

But I found out cheaply. It ran about $1,300.00 to mail those 2,600 letters to those used car dealers and now I can go on to something else.

Hear this: Most new marketing ideas fail. That's OK. You just keep swinging the bat till you hit a home run and then, once you've got your winner, you simply milk it for all it's worth. But, what's important, really important, is to find out if your idea has any merit as fast as possible! And, the way to do that is by...

Giving It Your Best Shot
On Your Very First Test!

Let's go back to our "homing pigeon" golf balls. Here's how we'll give our first test our best shot. The first thing we've got to think about is what mailing lists we are going to test. There are many options. You could test the 434,000 names of prospective members of country clubs available from American Golf Lists. You could try a test to the subscription lists of the various golf magazines. Maybe there's a warranty card list of people who've just purchased golf equipment. There's also a list available from the Austad Company totaling several hundred thousand that has several interesting "selects." The description of the list in the SRDS Book says:

"Mail order buyers of golf clubs 
and golf accessories, tennis, handball and racquetball  equipment  and other recreational items. 83% men."

Well, I'd call my list broker and see if he could get me the very best parts of that list. I'd tell him I want only the recent, direct-mail generated names of multi-buyers of golf equipment. And, if there are "hotline" names available (like people who bought golf equipment in the last 30-days), I'd tell him those are the names I want.

And, after all this, I'd tell my broker that these are the names I want unless he happens to know of an even hotter list of names who've bought golf equipment by mail.

The point is this: I'd do everything possible to get the very best, very hottest names available for my first test.

Onward. O.K., now that we've identified our very hottest prospects, the next step is to determine the elements of our offer. I'm talking about price, terms and so forth.

Let's begin with price. For your first test, you should offer the lowest price possible with which you could conceivably make a profit. I don't know much about the wholesale price of golf balls, but let's say our cost of our new "radio" balls is $3.00 apiece and we're going to sell them in packages of six. That means our product cost is going to be about $18.00 and that we're probably going to have to pay another $3.00 or so for packaging, postage and handling.

The net result, of course, is that we've got to shell out $21.00 for every order we fulfill.

Now look, whenever I'm thinking about direct mail, I always mentally budget $.50 apiece for each letter I send out. Some of my mailings cost much more, some of them (created for my clients) are considerably cheaper but, just as a "ballpark" number to give us an idea of our total mailout cost, $500.00 per thousand letters mailed is not usually too out of line.

So, let's see what happens if we charge $69.95 plus $3.00 shipping and handling (total $72.95) for a six-pack of our golf balls. Since it costs us $21.00 to fill an order, that means on every sale we are generating a $51.95

To Overhead"

Now, let's divide this $51.95 "CTO" into $500.00 which as you remember, is our cost of mailing 1,000 letters. Hmn? According to my calculator, that means we've got to get 9.6 orders (let's round it off to 10) to break even on mailing 1,000 letters.

Well, that sounds "maybe doable" but, since we want to charge the lowest price possible, let's see how it works out when we charge only $39.95 plus $3.00 (total $42.95). O.K., subtracting our fulfillment cost of $21.00, that price leaves a $21.95 CTO on every order. And, by dividing $21.95 into $500.00 (our cost of mailing 1,000 letters) we find we've got to get 23 orders for every thousand letters we mail to make our nut.

Doable? Yeah, maybe. But I sure wouldn't be comfortable charging any less so, at this point, I think we've discovered the lowest price that even gives us a chance of making a profit.

Now, what about terms? We can insist on cash-with-order, we can offer terms (half now and later), we can ship COD, we can let them charge it to their credit cards or, we can do what we ought to do for this first test and tell them to...

Send No Money
We'll Bill You Later!

What else? Well, for one thing, send the strongest piece of copy you can create, attach some kind of "grabber" (reread the issue January 6, 1988 of this letter) and always, always, test your letters...

By First Class Mail!

Back to our golf balls. What's likely to happen here? Gosh, we're mailing to...

Our Hottest Prospects
The Lowest Price Possible
and allowing them
To Send No Money
and sending
Very Strong Copy With A Grabber
First-Class Mail!

Again, what's likely to happen? It's this: We'll probably fail. Yep, even after all of this, most likely we're going to strike out. You see, probably 9 out of 10 "brand new" marketing ideas don't cut the mustard and, if your idea is in that category...

You Want To Know
As Soon As Possible!

In life, time is the irretrievable element. Unfortunately, most of us live our lives as though it were some sort of dress rehearsal. It's not. This is it. Therefore, if you are in a business deal or personal relationship that doesn't seem like it will ever work, what you want to do in the interest of "salvage" is to get out as soon as you possibly can. And, until you've given the situation your "best shot," you'll never know whether you should keep struggling or not.

As far as direct mail is concerned, it is really frustrating to have initial results that are "marginal" and then to drive yourself crazy by testing the "maybes."

"Maybe if we had charged a lower price...?"

"Maybe if we had mailed only the recent hotline, multi-buyers...?"

"Maybe if we had offered credit...?"

"Maybe if we had offered a premium...?"

"Maybe if we had hired Halbert to do the copy...?"

Etc., etc., etc.

And, you know what? Maybe if you had done all that...

Maybe The Damn Deal
Still Won't Fly!!!

Please. Don't let all this discourage you. You should take the content of this issue as good news! You see, by using this "best shot" method, you'll be able to test more ideas, test them faster than ever before and...

Test Them Cheaper!

Which puts the odds on your side. Which means that, after a period of six months, while your competition is still wondering if "maybe we should lower the price on our homing pigeon golf balls," you'll have known half a year ago that the idea sucks, you'll have tested 16 other ideas and found three that work and you'll be well on your way to a roll-out of millions of letters on these three "winners" and you'll have the luxury of testing the fine points...

While You Are
Making Money.

How sweet it is!

  Gary "Best Shot" Halbert



I recently had a long lunch with Steve Brown, the creative genius behind Abernathy & Closther. Steve is one of the very sharpest guys in our business and he said something that was almost eerily appropriate to the subject of this month's letter. He said that, "When some people are digging for water, they'll dig a single hole and just keep digging deeper and deeper till they find it." On the other hand, as he also explained, there are other people (like him) (like me) who will not dig so deep but rather, will dig a lot of different holes till they find the H2O.

Which works better? Well, unless you've got really deep pockets or a profound emotional commitment to a certain project, you should opt for method #2.

Actually, what I like to do is "test dig" a lot of holes till one bears fruit and then, turn that well over to a guy with a different personality from  mine who will exploit that well for all it's worth.

Works for me.


If you're interested, don't forget to write for those free reports!


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Copyright 2003 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.