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W-A-Y West of Jewfish Creek.

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

  Over the course of my career, I've written a veritable bushel of full-page newspaper ads. In fact, as mentioned in last month's letter, someone once calculated that if all my ads were being run by just one company (instead of separate clients) that company would be the third largest newspaper advertiser in the United States.

  Just behind Delta Airlines, they told me.

  Could that be true? I really don't know. It sounds a little far-fetched to me. However, one thing is sure: There is an excellent chance you can use what I've learned about how to make newspaper ads pay off to make yourself (or your company) a real bundle of money. Do you have a direct mail promotion that's working? If so, and especially if that direct mail package has wide consumer appeal, you should definitely consider giving daily newspapers a test.

  It's easy. First of all, your copy is already written. All you've got to do is "reformat" your direct mail package so it is suitable to run in a paper.

  Not only is it easy, it's also cheap. If you know what you're doing, you can run a full-page ad in a good test paper like the "Los Angeles Herald Examiner" or the "Fort Lauderdale News Sun Sentinel" for less than $3,000.00.

  And, not only is it cheap and easy, it's fast! If I'm really motivated, I can often take a direct mail package I receive from a client on a Monday, and have that package reappear as a full-page ad on the following Monday, just six days later.

  And you can read your results fast too. If you accept phone orders, you can often tell whether or not you have a winner the very same day the ad runs! And, even if your customer can only respond by mail, it will still only be a few days before you have the answer.

  So, with all this going for it, why don't more direct marketers use daily newspapers?

  It's the same old story: They don't know how. And neither do the ad agencies they hire to help them either. Did you know there is not one ad agency in America that knows how to insure maximum readership from a full-page newspaper ad? I'd just love to be challenged on this. If you think I'm exaggerating, just stop reading for a moment and take enough time to call your current ad agency (or any agency in the phone book) and ask them how to do it. Then, compare the info in the rest of this newsletter with the garbage you just heard on the phone.

  But so what? You didn't subscribe to this newsletter to learn my opinion of ad agencies, did you? So, let's get to the heart of it. Listen: It has often been said the three most important factors in choosing investment real estate are (1) location, (2) location and, (3) location. I think that's probably true. And, when it comes to running ads in newspapers, a similar precept needs to be held in mind. Namely the most important factor of all is...

Position! Position! Position!

  Hark unto me. The #1 reason people don't respond to a newspaper ad is because they don't see it! Daily newspapers are huge. Many of them are several hundred pages thick. In fact, a recent edition of the "L.A. Times" contained 405 pages!

  Whooee! You sure could get lost in there, couldn't you?

  Now look, if you ask a normal (dumb) advertising guy, where in the paper should you run your ad, he'll probably reply by asking what you are selling. Then, if you are selling a sporting goods item, he'll tell you, you should run in the sports section. And, if you are running an ad for an astrology book, it should go in the horoscope section. And a cookbook should go in the food section.

  And so on.

  And he'll also tell you that you should try to get a right hand page as far forward in the paper as possible.

  Actually, all this is sort of true. But it's a dangerous sort of truth. It can lead to disaster. You want to know what most advertising guys remind me of? It's this: They remind me of a guy who's had three or four karate lessons. You know what a guy like this has learned? He's learned just enough to get himself stomped silly if he ever foolishly decides to darken the door of a tough redneck bar.

  So true. Anyway, remember how I am incessantly preaching the people of America sort through their mail while standing over a wastebasket? You do remember? Good. Now, here is something else for you to keep in mind:

As Soon As The People Of America
Sit Down To Peruse Their Daily
Newspapers, They Immediately
Divide It By Sections

  A man may ask his wife for the sports pages. The wife might zero in on the food section. Their kids may ask for the comics. Entrepreneurs may want the business section. Gossip mongers may pick up the society pages.

  And so on.

  But nobody reads the entire paper. In fact, hardly anybody even opens up more than two or three sections. Think about it, do you?

  So, what does all this mean on a practical basis? This: It means the very best place your ad can appear for maximum visibility (and hence, maximum readership) is on the front page of a section.

  And the second best place? It's the back page of a section.

  Here's why. You see, even though most people don't read or even open up every section, most people at least touch every section. Yes, they touch it if for no other reason than to pick it up to hand it to someone else or to throw it away. And, while they are thus handling each section, they are forced to at least glance at the front pages of those sections and (to a lesser degree) the back pages of said sections.

  And, of course, while they are glancing at those pages, should they happen to see an eye-catching ad, an ad with a "killer" headline, they just might read a couple of paragraphs to see what it is all about. And, if those first couple of paragraphs are real good, then just maybe they'll read the rest of the ad. And, if all that happens, who knows, maybe you'll get an order.

  So, know this: Your first job is not to get your customer to read your ad. No. Your first job is to get him to see your ad!

  It's just common sense. Look: An ad that appears on the inside of the sports pages will be seen by everybody who reads the sports section. However, if that same ad appears on the front or back of any section, it will be seen not only by sports fans but also by nearly everybody who handles the paper!

  I know. I know. You think I'm making an awful big deal about this point, don't you? Well, I guess I am. But I'm not going to apologize. I don't care. I don't think there is anyone on the planet who can touch me when it comes to making full-page ads work in daily papers. And, believe it or not, as simple as it seems, you have just learned my numero uno secret which is:

Run Your Ad On The
   Front Or Back Of A

  So much for numero uno. Now for numero duo. In a nutshell, my second big secret is:

Make Your Ad Look
   Like A News Story

  Don't make it look like an ad. Don't use line art. Don't use arrows, cute graphics, reverse type (except maybe to highlight a phone number), weird typestyles...

Or Anything Else That
Might Win An Award
For Graphic Design!

  Come closer. Listen: Here is how to "think" about your newspaper ads. Think about what could be the best possible piece of luck you could have. Think about a reporter who heard a rumor about your product or service and decided to check it out. And then, he fell in love with it. In fact, he loved it so much, he went back to his typewriter and wrote a full-page rave article about what you are selling.

  Wouldn't that be nice? Sure would. However, it is also unlikely such a thing will happen. So...

You Be That Reporter!

  You write the rave "article." Just like a reporter would. And, at the end of the article, you perform a "public service" for your readers by telling them where and how to order. But, after all this, don't screw up by having your "article" typeset to look like an ad.

  No. No. Noooo. It should be typeset to look like the "article" it is. You know, ad agencies just love to quote studies that prove how much people love to read advertising.

Garbage!  Garbage!  Garbage!

  Editorial material (or material that appears to be editorial) gets 500% more readership than material that is obviously advertising.

  So be it.

  Now, a cunningly careful, highly scientific examination of daily newspapers will yield yet another useful bit of data. Namely...

Newspapers All Come
Folded In Half

  Hmn? So what's the big deal about that? This: It is not necessary to unfold a newspaper to separate one section from another. And, what this means, of course, is that in the process of separating a newspaper by sections, a person may only have to glance at either the top half or the bottom half of the front or back page of each section.

  Not both halves.

  Now, if it's the top half at which he glances, that's fine! That's where your headline is. And we all know what a headline is, don't we? A headline, of course, is...

An Ad For Your Ad!

  But wait. What if our reader, while separating his paper into sections, is doing it in such a way so he only has to glance at the bottom half of each section? Where there is no headline? No ad for our ad?

  Gadzooks. This is no good. No good. No good. So, what we've got to do here is make sure the bottom half of our ad has several subheads (little ads for our ad) interspersed between paragraphs and printed in bold type.

Sort Of
   Like This

  What else? Oh yeah, if you really want to make newspapers work, you've also got to buy them right! This is a real art and, trust me, there aren't any ad agencies (even the big ones) who have the faintest idea of how to do it.

  Here's a story about someone who does know how. Once upon a time, I owned a publishing company with offices in North Canton, Ohio and also at 535 Madison Avenue, right in the heart of the Big Apple. Well, at that time, I was buying a truly enormous amount of newspaper space. In fact, you probably wouldn't believe just how much. So anyway, back then, one of the guys who worked for my company hired a new gal to do some secretarial work for him. Her name was Nancy Jones and, over a period of time, she got into buying media for us. Soon, she became better at buying space than any of my executives and, for sure, far better than me. The years have rolled by. My publishing company was sold many moons ago but Nancy, on her own, has continued to sharpen her space-buying skills. And, I'll tell you this:

When It Comes To Buying
Space In Daily Newspapers,
Nancy Jones Is The Best
On The Planet!


  Proof: Here is a slightly edited and bowdlerized version of a letter Nancy wrote (I wish I could figure out some way to steal the credit and claim I wrote it) to a large number of newspapers:


Dear Advertising Director,

      Over the past several years, our client, the XYZ Company, has repeatedly expressed an interest in having his advertisements published in your newspaper.

      However, our agency has compared your open rate with that of newspapers where the advertisement has already been published and we have found it necessary to advise the client against including your newspaper in his advertising schedules. This decision was based mainly on the fact the client's advertisement has been profitable only in those newspapers where a stand-by or remnant rate has been offered

      As you know, stand-by simply means a newspaper agrees to publish an advertisement whenever or wherever space becomes available and offers to reduce the open line rate to the advertiser for "standing by." Space may become available due to last minute cancellations of scheduled advertisements or because of production difficulties. Whatever the reason, the newspaper will generally insert a house ad or a public service ad to fill the hole in the newspaper. Therefore, more often than not, the newspaper receives no revenue for the use of this space.

      Thus, stand-by advertising has become advantageous for both the newspaper and the advertiser. The newspaper has the opportunity to make money on space it might otherwise have to give away. The advertiser is able to use a publication it could not use at the open rate.

      More and more newspapers are becoming involved in stand-by advertising. Enclosed is a current list of newspapers offering a stand-by program and the discounts they allow. We are aware your newspaper has not offered a stand-by rate in the past but we would like very much for you to consider this possibility now. We are enclosing an insertion order for a full page, a mechanical and a check for the new amount of the order. The net amount has been computed at the open rate discounted by 50% for stand-by, normal for the industry, and 15% for the standard agency discount.

      If you accept our offer, simply hold the material until space becomes available. If and when the opportunity presents itself, run the ad, cash the check and send us a tear sheet. If you do not wish to participate at this time, simply return the check to the agency and destroy the mechanical.

      This offer expires in 15 days. Please feel free to call if you have any questions about the offer or our client.


                                        Nancy Jones

  So, guess what has happened as a result of that letter? This:

72% Of The Papers Responded
On A Favorable Basis And Nancy Jones
Can Now Buy More Newspapers At
A More Favorable Rate Than Any
"Sophisticated" Media Buyer
Working In Any Ad Agency
Anywhere In The U.S.!

  Here's a list of just ten papers showing the card rate (the rate ad agencies get) and the "stand-by" rate Nancy gets:


Name of Paper

Daily Circ. Open Rate Nancy's Rate Savings
Abilene Reporter News 51,070 $3,315.00 $1,823.25 $1,491.75
Augusta Chronicle 78,706 3,919.02 2,155.46 1,763.56
Bakeresfield Californian 81,145 3,720.78 2,455.72 1,265.06
Dayton Beach News Journal 100,232 3,715.74 2,043.66 1,672.08
Fresno Bee 138,453 6, 275.85 3,451.72 2,824.13
Las Vegas Review Journal 100,011 4,102.20 2,256.21 1,845.99
Long Beach Press Telegram 127,870 6,439.68 3,541.82 2,897.86
Nashville Journal 189,755 8,012.19 4,406.71 3,605.48
Shreveport Journal Times 99,483 6,023.01 3,312.66 2,710.35


  And so on.

  Note: These rates change often and this is just a few of the hundreds of papers with which Nancy deals. Not only that, I have purposely listed only a few of the little papers with whom she does business. But rest assured, she gets similar discounts from many of the biggies.

  Whatever. I'm running out of gas. Therefore, here is a summation of some of the secrets that have helped transform Sir Gary, the Ravin' Maven of Marketing into the Ace of Space and Prince of Print:

  • Try to run your full-page ads on either the front or the back of a section.

  • Make your ad look like an article.

  • Pepper you ad with subheads, especially the lower half (that half that appears

  • Buy cheap. Nancy Jones is now the official media buyer for Everett & Lloyd Advertising (owned by my honey, Paulette Teta) and you can get more info by calling (213) 273-7053 and talking with either Paulette or myself.

  A final point: Would you like to know how to get more mileage out of this newsletter? It's simple. After you've read it once for yourself, read it again aloud to someone else. You'll be surprised how this little trick will make the info and insights come alive and how it will have a synergistic effect and spark a lot of ideas.

  Besides, it will help spread the word of my wonderfulness.

   Gary C. Halbert
A man who is truly
"a legend in his own mind."

P.S.    Next month will be the first anniversary of this newsletter.
        Therefore, it will be a very special issue!

P.P.S.  Do you need "roll-out" money for a tested ad or direct mail package?
        If so, call me.

        And remember . . .


        See you next month. 


Copyright 2003 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.