W-A-Y West of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

And so it came to pass that I, Sir Gary of Halbert, the amazing Prince of Print, began to wonder, "How best can I help my subscribers this month? What could I do that would help them fill their greedy coffers with huge wads of money which they all seem to be so uncommonly fond?"

Hmn? I've already been teaching them how to make it, fake it, steal it, and wheel and deal it.... what's left? I know! I know! Maybe this month I can help them to....

Win A Fortune!

And, to that end, I am sending you with this letter a brand new genuine (and, as yet, unused) California lottery ticket. Now, what you've got to do is this: You've got to pick up the ticket and place it on your desk, and then rub off the carbon with a coin or perhaps one of your car keys and see if you have won.

But wait! Don't do it till you've finished reading this letter!

You see, this truly should be the second most exciting event of your day because, when you rub off the carbon, you may find you have already won an instant $5,000 plus you may go on to win the "Big Spin" and literally rake in millions.

Zowie! This is pulse-pounding stuff, ain't it? But wait a minute; why did I say this would be the second most exciting event of your day? Why not the first?

The answer, as copywriters like to say, is simple. You see, whether or not you win the California Lottery, you are definitely going to win with this newsletter because you are about to learn....

How To Cash In Big
By Using Contests and Sweepstakes
To Hype Your Promotions!

If you are especially alert, you may have already gleaned a big secret on how to make contest more powerful. Did you catch it? Fear not, I'll reveal what I've already revealed in a more obvious way in just a few minutes. But first, a story. Once upon a time, there was a man named Thomas Hall who was the head of a crew of guys who were selling vacuum cleaners somewhere in Texas. Anyhow, somewhere along the line he got the idea of renting a booth at a county fair and holding a drawing for folks who wanted to win a free vacuum cleaner.

And so he did. And, after he had collected all the entries, he went ahead with the drawing and gave away the free vacuum cleaner to the winner.

But he didn't stop there. No, Sir. What he did next was he wrote a personal letter to all the other people (who didn't win the vacuum cleaner) and told them they had won a very valuable second prize. And what was this valuable second prize? Simply this: It was the prize of being able to come to his place of business and buy a vacuum cleaner minus the rather substantial commission that was normally paid to his door-to-door salesmen.

It worked like crazy. People were lined up around the block outside his little store just waiting to come in and snag one of those vacuum cleaners at an honest and sizable discount.

Why did this work so well? Actually, there are a couple of reasons. First of all....

People Do Not Enter
A Contest To Win Something
They Do Not Want!

Therefore, as a general rule, a construction worker will not enter a contest to win a knitting machine nor, by the same token, will a housewife enter a contest to win a steam shovel. This is a very important item of information. What it tells you is that everybody who enters a contest to win a certain item is an excellent candidate to buy that item. In other words, sponsoring a contest is a super duper way to build a responsive mailing list.

   O.K., now what is that big secret that has already been "partially exposed" at the beginning of this letter? It is this: It is the idea of writing to a person and telling him...

You May Have Already Won!

Here's a quirk of human nature, the understanding of which can immeasurably improve the pull of your ads and letters:

People Will Work Harder
To Keep What They've Already Got
Than They Will To Get Something
They Don't Already Have!

Take a guy who works at a ho-hum job for seven bucks an hour. Hold out a carrot to this guy in the form of a seminar or correspondence course that will teach him how to double his income and you will find you have a very hard time trying to convince him. On the other hand, that same guy will scurry around like a pit bull after a cocker spaniel to prevent having his pay docked as much as 50 cents per hour!

Now, you wanna know something you can say that's even stronger than "You may have already won"? It's this:

"You Have Already Won!"

But don't say it if it ain't so. However, if you can figure a legit way to send that message, you can make a fortune. Like so: Let's say you've got a mailing list of 1,000,000 names and you instruct your computer to randomly select 5,000 of those names who will, by virtue of having been selected, have "won" whatever prize it is you are giving away.

Next, what you do is write these people and tell them  about how they have already won and what they must do to claim their prize. Note: Do not, under any guise, tell them that what they have to do to claim their prize is send you money or buy something.

No. No. No. No. You mustn't do this. Uncle will be watching and he'll get very mad at you if you try to pull this kind of shenanigan. However, it shouldn't hurt if you give your prize winner the option of buying something from you, now should it?

But what if you've got a local operation and you don't do business on a national scale? How then, can you use this "You have won" idea? Not to worry. All you need to do is write your "winning customers" (those whose name you drew out of a hat) and tell them about their prize and that all they have to do to claim their prize is come in and pick it up!

Are you paying attention? I hope so because we are now homing in on a concept that is so obvious that it may have plumb evaded you. And, it's simply this:

Every Person
Who Walks Through Your Door
Is Worth X Amount Of Dollars To You!

For example, let's say your retail business did half a mil in business last year. And, let us say further that that little bing-bong device that goes off every time your door is opened went off 5,000 times last year (about 16 times per day). Well, what that means, my friend, is that it's worth $100.00....

Every Time Your Door Opens!

Which means, of course, you want that little bing-bong device to be going off constantly. Yea verily, let us now strive to make that door open 100 times per day instead of just 16 times.

O.K.? O.K. And the way we're going to start is by writing all of your customers and telling them they've just won something and that they should come in and get it. And, after so informing all our customers, we are next going to send a similar message to all of our prospects.

Here are two important considerations:


Give away something that relates to what you are selling.

Tell your winner he's got to claim his prize by a certain deadline....

Or Else His Prize Will Be Given To Someone Else!

Zowie. Our winner sure won't want that, now will he? And especially not if you write a letter like this:

Dear Friend,

I am writing to tell you that your name was entered into a drawing here at my store and you have won a valuable prize.

As you may know, my store, ABC Jewelry, specializes in low-cost, top-quality diamond rings and diamond earrings. Well, guess what? The other day we got in a small shipment of fake diamonds that are made with a new process that makes them look so real they almost fooled me!

Anyway, I don't want to sell these fakes because they could cause a lot of trouble for the pawnbrokers around town. So, I've decided to give them away to some of my old customers whose names were selected at random by having my wife, Janet, put all the names in a jar and pull out the winners.

So, you're one of the winners and all you've got to do is drop in sometime before 5:00 p.m. Friday and you'll have a 1-karat "diamond" that looks so good it'll knock your eyes out!



                            John Jones

P.S. After 5:00 p.m. Friday, I reserve the 
right to give your prize to someone 
else. Thank you.

Well now, it didn't take much genius to write that, did it? And I bet you can do even better. And, if you do and you do it right, your door will be opening constantly.

More. Did you ever see one of those monster mailings from American Family Publishers written over the signature of Ed McMahon? The latest one I've received comes in a huge envelope that measure 7-1/4" x 11-1/2" inches! On the outside of the envelope, in huge red letters, it says "TELE-DISPATCH" and "EXTREMELY URGENT!" It also says (in white letters) that this message comes "From TV's Ed McMahon." And what does it say inside? Check it out. I'm reproducing it below:


Gee, they did it just like I said, didn't they? Nope. I did not teach them how to do it; they seem to have figured it out all by themselves. However, and I swear this is true, I did not read their copy until after I wrote the first part of this letter. But, let's face it:

Great Minds Think Alike!

Now, as most of you know, this is not my kind of mailing package. Nonetheless, in spite of some rather major mistakes, this is a brilliant example of the best of what I call B-pile mail. One of the things they do right (at least, righter than most B-pilers) is the way they personalize the mailing by smearing the recipient's name "Garry Halbert" (sic) across the top of one of their inserts in a headline that says....

Garry Halbert
To Be Awarded
Ten Million Dollars!

They also use personalization effectively in the body copy of their message by personalizing the subheads like this:

Garry Halbert
Could Lose The Ten Million Dollars
By Failing To Act
Before March 18, 1988!

Which brings me to another important point about those contest promotions which is... they should be personal. It's not nearly so effective to say "Dear Friend... You have won..." as it is to say "You, Sir Gary of Halbert, have won..."

So put on your thinking cap. A little mental effort on your part should yield a plethora of ways you can use contests to hype your sales -- no matter what business you are in. And don't forget Ole Guru Gary's ABC's of contesting:



Say "You may have already won" or "You have won!"

Give away a prize that is related to what you are selling.

Personalize your contest-type mailings.

And now, the big moment draws near. Get out your coin or key and scrape the carbon from that ticket. And remember, no matter what's underneath, the fact that you've just finished reading this letter means...

You Have Already Won!



Gary C. Halbert
"The Most Generous Guru
In God's Good Graces!"



I get a lot of good ideas from my subscribers and one of those ideas came from Richard Potter (818) 883-1046 who is one of the few copywriters I can recommend without reservation. So anyway, his idea is that the perfect premium for my next renewal effort would be to put together a "greatest hits" collection of my ads and direct mail letters.

Well, I like that idea so much I've decided to do it and not only am I going to include my stuff, but also the great stuff created by other people and I'm going to call it....

               The Masterpiece Collection!

And the first promotion in that collection will be the world-famous coat-of-arms letter which is, I believe, the most widely mailed letter in history.

Now, I'm going to do you a favor and I'm going to ask you for one in return. The favor from me is I'm including with this issue, a copy of the aforementioned letter so you'll have a head start in assembling your own masterpiece collection.

And the favor I'd like from you is your suggestions as to what other ads and letters should be included in the collection.

So, if you've got any ideas, please let me hear from you.


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Copyright 2003 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.