WAY West of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

Most of the issues of my newsletter over the last twelve months have been a virtual course designed to teach you how to write "killer" copy.

You can use that information in a number of ways: (1) If you don't want to do copywriting yourself, having that information will help you make a more intelligent decision when it comes to hiring an outside copywriter. (2) If you have a business and for some insane reason, want to do all your advertising yourself, you can also use that information to help you with your goal. (3) If you want to work as an in-house or freelance copywriter for some giant corporation, you should now have all the information you need to jump start your career.

However, if it is option #3 which interests you, there is something else very important you need to learn. What I'm talking about is...

How To Deal With "Nightmare Clients"!

There are a number of ways you can do a lot of work for a client and not receive money for your efforts. The first way to do this is, simply to write an ad or a series of ads which don't generate a profit. Every copywriter in the world... no matter how great he is at his work... will always write a few ads that don't generate a profit.

Back in the old days, when I used to have the time and inclination to take on new clients, my standard fee was an up-front payment of $15,000 plus 5% of all gross revenues I was able to generate for that client. I could have gotten much more than $15,000 up-front from many of my clients however, I didn't feel right about it. You see, in my mind, if a guy paid me $30,000 or $40,000 up-front to write an ad for him... and... if my ad failed to generate a profit, it would create such a feeling of guilt and be of such an emotional cost for me, it would be too much of a burden to carry around.

On the other hand, charging anything less than $15,000 up-front would have been foolhardy on my part. Why? Simply because I can always be guaranteed many times that amount of money by putting my efforts into writing a good sales letter to my own in-house proprietary mailing lists.

By the way, my deal with clients also stipulated, if my original ad failed to work, I would write a second ad. If that second ad failed to work, I would write a third. After that, we'd call it quits and the client would be out $15,000... and... I would be out an enormous amount of research, time, energy and work I could have spent elsewhere.

The few times my ads have failed to work, it was almost always because the client was trying to sell something the public didn't want to buy. Honestly though, there were times I just couldn't come up with a piece of copy which would make everything work. Like I said earlier, it happens to everybody. If you choose copywriting as your career... I want you to know... it will also happen to you.

As far as whatever fees you decide you want to charge your clients, that's a personal matter you should put a lot of thought into.

Now, let's discuss the second way you can do a lot of work for a client and still not make any money. In this case, let's say your ad works like gangbusters... yet... your client doesn't have the balls nor the brains to exploit your creative work to anything close to its money-making potential. Clients like this are simply scared people who should be working at McDonald's instead of trying to be an entrepreneur. They will take a winner and before they roll it out, they'll want to make dozens of nonsensical tests. Blue ink versus black ink. A stamped reply envelope versus one with a postage paid insignia. Yellow paper versus white. Etc., etc., etc. When this happens, you are guilty of...

"Casting Pearls Before Swine"!

The third way you can do a lot of work for a client and still not make a lot of money is, you write a runaway winner for a client, he exploits it fully... but... he doesn't pay you for your work. This is simple theft.

A slightly more sophisticated version of this type of theft occurs when the client makes a few cosmetic changes to your ad, then says he is running "his" ad instead of yours and thus, he says he owes you no commissions.

If you are seriously considering becoming a copywriter, you're almost guaranteed to run into at least one of these three scenarios... if not all three.

I am now going to reveal to you the worst client I've ever had in my career. This man could be a poster child for what I like to think of as a "Nightmare Client." A little later in this newsletter, I'm going to describe in detail the nefarious, dysfunctional and stupid ways in which this man conducts his business. However, I want to start with his name... which is...

Alec Jone

As I said, I'll tell you all about "Mr." Jone a few paragraphs later in this newsletter. Before I do that, I'd like to give you a few general tips on how to prepare yourself to deal with a Nightmare Client like this particular dumb ass.

Tip 1: Make Yourself 100% Judgment Proof.

Exactly how to do this is outside the scope of this newsletter. If you do a little research, you will find it is easy-as-pie to make yourself "bullet-proof" from lawsuits, counter-lawsuits, alimony payments, etc. You know what I would do if you sued me for a lot of money? I'd probably not even show up for any of the hearings. That means an automatic Judgment would be awarded in your favor. At that point, you would be free to take every action provided by law for you to collect on the Judgment you had against me.

After you spent a considerable amount of your time and money trying to collect from me (while I, on the other hand, spent my time working on my tan and laughing at your efforts) you would sooner or later discover you had embarked on an utterly useless endeavor.

Tip 2: Learn To Wear A Wire.

99.9% of the time, I do not bother to record the conversations I have with clients and other people. However, once I sense a client is less than ethical, I make it a point to wear a hidden recording device on my body to capture all of our private, face-to-face conversations. I also make it a point to record all phone conversations with clients I suspect are unethical.

Tip 3: Learn The Law.

A little-known fact about me is I attended law school. Because I had no intention of ever becoming an attorney, I never graduated with a degree. I just wanted to know the true ins-and-outs of litigation so I could keep myself from being financially sodomized by dirt-bag attorneys and other people.

Now that you know the basics of how to pave the way of dealing with a Nightmare Client, I'd like to give you my real-life story about how I am dealing with Alec Jone, the worst client I've had in my 30-year career.

Let me begin by telling you how I happened to get involved with him. Shortly before my December 10, 1999 seminar, I received a telephone call from a young woman who wanted to desperately to attend. She had a problem in that her boss (Alec Jone) was only willing to pay one-half the tuition price. I hate discounting fees to attend my seminars or other services... still... she seemed so genuinely eager to learn, I made an exception. I allowed her to attend at half the price the other attendees had to pay. This, by the way, as you shall soon see, is further evidence of the axiomatic truth...

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished!

Anyway, when I met this young woman at the seminar in Phoenix, I was enchanted. Neta Friedman was this very captivating, young, blond woman with a sparkling personality as well as a very sincere desire to learn the business of direct marketing. One thing led to another and eventually, she convinced her boss to hire me. She also persuaded me to take Alec as a client and accept the copywriting job.

The initial piece of work I did for them was to write an ad for a diet product which was supposedly blood-type specific. I had misgivings about the efficacy of such a diet but, they had their in-house "doctor" (Alfred Schwingner) speak with me and inform me of all the reasons this was a valid diet.

I wrote the ad... and... the ad bombed.

For one thing, this particular diet required the prospects to know their blood type. Many people think they know their blood type... yet... they are not sure enough about it to spend money to buy a diet product without first checking with their doctor. They want their doctor to confirm whether or not their blood type is, in fact, "O," "A," "B," "AB", or whatever. This obviously created an ordering delay... and... in direct response advertising...

Delay Usually Translates
To The Death Of A Sale!

In an attempt to overcome this obstacle, Alec's corporation, Nutcasebizz, Inc., then decided (in their infinite wisdom) they would sell their customers a plastic fork-like device. The customers could use this gadget to jab themselves in the ass or wherever and then, use it with the test kits they were provided to determine with accuracy their own blood type. Needless to say, this was one of the most idiotic ideas ever conceived by a marketer... and... it didn't work.

Since my guarantee is once a client has paid the $15,000 up-front fee for my services, I will make at least three attempts to write a home-run ad for their product... and... since my first attempt failed, Nutcasebizz wanted me to write a second ad for this blood-specific diet. I didn't want to write another ad because I felt (and I still do) there wasn't any kind of ad that could be written by anybody which would convince people to buy this type of looney-tunes diet product. Still, I didn't want to leave my client high and dry.

So, I suggested to Nutcasebizz, rather than write another ad for this blood-specific diet product, I write a brand-new ad about a different product. I offered to fly to New Jersey to do this for them without receiving any extra payment whatsoever, if they would simply pick up my airfare plus hotel expenses. Nutcasebizz agreed to this.

I flew up north and walked into their corporate offices. This was the most insane, dysfunctional group of people I have ever met. Immediately, I reiterated to Alec, I found it hard to believe the blood-specific diet was actually valid. He told me "Doctor"  Schwingner had tested the product and assured him it was truthful. I asked to speak with the doctor one-on-one and was put in a room alone with him.

My opening words to him were, "Tell me about this blood-specific diet."

He replied, "It's a fraud. It doesn't work. We thought maybe it would at the beginning. Even though we continue advertising it, we've since learned it's invalid." (NOTE: It is exactly at times like this I find it invaluable to be wearing a hidden microphone on my body.)

Shortly thereafter, I relayed the doctor's comments to Alec who affected mock surprise and allowed as how maybe we should work together on a different product.

We began by assembling the staff of Nutcasebizz in a room with me so I could ask them questions. These people all had the attention span of a gnat. They couldn't focus on anything for more than 10-seconds at a time. We were constantly interrupted by phone calls, people knocking on the door asking what we wanted for lunch, Alec's wife (Monikah) scared to death something was happening she didn't know about, and other endless and aggravating disruptions. This came to a screeching halt when I lost my patience and started screaming at everyone in the room. I told them if this didn't stop immediately, I was going to the airport to head back to Florida. At that point in time, they began to pay attention to me and start taking notes.

Upon my arrival at Nutcasebizz, they had regarded me as some kind of eccentric "Willy Nelson-type guy." However, before I left, they were taping every word of advice I was giving them and even raising their hands to ask permission to go to the bathroom.

Prior to my returning to Florida, I had created a brand-new ad for a different product. It seemed to me this was a "clean" ad which would be profitable. Their in-house legal department questioned a few of the statements I made in that ad. I simply reminded them I only used statements which had already been cleared and approved by them in their own previous ads. That shut them up and they proceeded to test my ad.

This ad was a run-away winner. I had hit the ball out of the park for them. For every $1,000 Alec and Nutcasebizz were spending on advertising, they were getting $5,000 or $6,000 back on sales. This doesn't even count all the back-end profits they should have made from these customers.

I went home a tired but happier man.

Soon after, I realized my commission checks were always late... furthermore... they seemed to be short-changing me. When I asked Nutcasebizz about this, they told me they were too busy running my ad and taking the orders to take care of other matters like their accounting and sending me my full commission checks. Needless to say, I was a very unhappy chappy about all this and at that time, I made my displeasure known. I asked them to send me a commission check twice a month instead of just once a month, which they agreed to. For a short period of time, they did send me the semimonthly checks... however... they were still short-changing me.

I know this to be true because the ad was pulling 5 or 6 to 1 and their so-called 5% commission checks didn't even amount to 5% of the money they were spending on advertising... let alone... the 5% on gross sales I was entitled to receive.

I'd like to take a side trip which will illustrate the dysfunctionality of this company...

Alec Jone has his wife, Monikah, working for the company. Perhaps she has some invisible utilitarian value to the company. If so, whatever it is, it totally escapes me. As far as I could tell, Monikah is a very attractive woman who suffers from what used to be called "Stewardess Syndrome."

Years ago, airline stewardesses had to be registered nurses with an outgoing, friendly personality with drop-dead good looks. These stewardesses would socialize and often party with the pilots. Occasionally, a stewardess would get one of the pilots to marry her. Afterwards though, she would sit at home and worry her pilot-husband was doing with the other stewardesses what she used to do with the other pilots. She would become jealous, over-protective and paranoid. In my opinion, that exactly describes Monikah Jone. I think the only reason she works for Nutcasebizz is "to protect her turf."

Did I mention Neta is Monikah's sister? Although both of them are drop-dead good looking, Monikah is extremely threatened by the fact Neta is 10-years younger. Monikah is constantly accusing Neta of having sex with Alec.

Situations like this are not only ugly, they also have a very adverse effect when you are trying to run a profitable business. For example, we were going to use "before-and-after" photos of Neta in the second (the winning) ad I created for Nutcasebizz. Neta had gained an enormous amount of weight during her pregnancy and she said she lost that extra weight after the birth of her baby with the help of Nutcasebizz diet products. Even though those pictures were perfect for the ad, it turns out we were "forbidden" to use them.

Why? Because Monikah said she somehow felt these photos would cast an improper image of the company. When Monikah was reminded she herself used to enter (and win) bikini contests on a regular basis... she said that was different. I didn't get it then, and I don't get it now. How could using modest photos of her sister in a "before-and-after" diet ad possibly be negative for the corporation?

What I think though is, Monikah is one of those sad people who has relied on her looks all her life to get what she wants. Now that she's "a little longer in the tooth," she is very frightened by younger women... especially... her own sister whom she feels has eclipsed her in physical beauty. It is indeed a sorry situation when a man or woman has nothing else in their "tool kit" for getting through their lives than their physical appearance.

Unfortunately, this obsessiveness about relying on physical appearances has rubbed off on Neta. This mindset caused her to have a completely unnecessary surgery to enhance the size of her breasts. Not to be outdone, you can be sure if she hasn't already, Monikah too will soon have a boob job... and... unless I miss my guess, an unnecessary face lift and other cosmetic surgeries.

It all makes me sad. Monikah and Neta both are extremely attractive women. Unfortunately, it's men like Alec who make them feel so insecure, these women believe they have to resort to any means possible... to be attractive enough... to deserve these assholes' attention.

Not only does Alec have his wife working for him, he also has his brother working for the company. His brother has his girlfriend working for the company. Now try to follow this: While I was in New Jersey, the brother's girlfriend registered a complaint about Neta to the effect Neta was trying to seduce her boyfriend (Alec's brother). This was based on Neta's supposedly flirting with Alec's brother during a meeting which I attended.

Even though Neta was dressed very conservatively at that meeting, supposedly, when she leaned across the table to pick up some papers or something, it was possible to see a 1/4 inch of her bra strap where it crossed one of her shoulders. I can assure you Neta was in no way flirting with Alec's brother or in any way trying to seduce or titillate anyone. The fact of the matter is, she's a very hard-working individual and the most valuable person who works for Nutcasebizz. Neta's efforts have been Herculean in trying to make Nutcasebizz a profitable company... despite the fact... she has to work with a group of people jealous of her appearance (and ability) who moronically try to thwart her efforts at every turn.

Unfortunately, by this time, I had introduced Alec to some of my most important contacts in the direct response business. I was embarrassed I had done this since none of my colleagues much liked working with a man who can't focus on a conversation for more than 20-seconds without allowing himself to be interrupted. They've told me Alec is constantly paying his bills late, changing ad schedules, making unnecessary and foolish revisions to the ad copy, asking idiotic questions, besides being an all-around aggravation for everyone who works with him.

Now that you get an idea of how truly dysfunctional Nutcasebizz is, let's get back to the issue of my commissions.

Alec said he received a couple of letters regarding the new diet ad from Attorney Generals in two different States. Anyone who runs any type of diet ad knows these types of letters are routine. Since Alec didn't know what to do, I gave him the name of one of the most competent and hard-boiled attorneys with which I have ever worked.

This attorney scared the living shit out of Alec. What he did was analogous to comparing Alec's business with someone attempting to drive a car from Los Angeles to New York.  Yes, it's true you could get lost in a bad part of town, or your tires could explode, or you could get in an accident. All of these are things which could happen... and thus... a trip like this should not be undertaken by someone who drives as incompetently as Alec runs his business.

At that point, Alec panicked and stopped running the winning ad I had written for him. This is the outcome I had hoped for. You see, the "alphabet agencies" don't scrutinize newspapers extremely carefully looking for ads which are fraudulent. They're too busy for that. These agencies are like cops and only respond to complaints. Cops don't go door-to-door asking homeowners if they've had any problems recently. No, police are too busy to respond to anything except the "squeals" which come across the radios in their patrol cars. But the ad Alec was running was generating a lot of complaints. Mostly because he didn't have competent people to answer the phones, answer the customers' questions or, ship the product on a prompt basis.

I simply wanted Alec Jone to completely get out of the direct response business. I thought it would be a good thing for all concerned if he remained in the sleazy occupation he was in before meeting me. He was a "hypnotist" who ran around the country screaming at people during his seminars who supposedly hypnotized them into giving up smoking and losing weight. There may be an exception but, just for the record, I have never met a hypnotist, with a shred of ethics. This business of Alec's had generated (even before I met the man) all kinds of flack from Attorney Generals in States like Rhode Island, Texas, Pennsylvania and others too numerous to mention.

Since he couldn't stop all the ads from running which were already scheduled, I asked Alec what he was going to do about the residual orders still coming in from those magazine ads and other publications. His answer was simple: He was going to keep the money from all those orders... however... he was not going to pay me my commissions. Take note boys and girls: In actuality, if the ad wasn't "clean" (as Alec claimed)... then... he should have simply returned all the orders he received from that ad. In that case, I would have felt fine about him not paying me my commissions.

I told Alec if he was going to keep the money from these orders and not pay me my commissions, he was going to have to deal with me in court. He replied, 'fine, go ahead and sue me. You'll win the lawsuit but, it will delay me from having to pay you for a considerable length of time.'

Good Sirs and Fair Maidens, this moron kneweth naught with whom he dealteth.

I'm suing him alright but, not for any commissions he owes me. No, Step 1 in handling a Nightmare Client is...

Suing For Civil Fraud!

The FDA, FTC and Postal Authorities are going to be watching my civil lawsuit against Alec like hawks. You know how O.J. won the criminal lawsuit against him but lost the civil one? That's because the lawyers did it backwards. Let me explain: A civil lawsuit is far less restrictive in what information you can force the defendant to give you... than... what you can obtain in a criminal lawsuit. So, if you first bring out all the negative shit in a civil case, it makes winning a criminal case a slam dunk... because... you have all those nasty, negative facts you obtained in the much more liberal atmosphere of civil litigation.

If you've read my book, How To Make Maximum Money In Minimum Time, and have read the chapter entitled "The Dark Side Of Success" you have probably figured out the various "alphabet agencies" would love to have me work with them. I very seldom choose to do this. I don't like snitching anyone out... even if they deserve it. Although in some cases, people are so blatantly evil and dishonest, I will help the authorities put them away.

For example, there's a guy named Frank Sarcone, who never made $60,000 a year until I started working with him. When my commission checks reached the level of $126,000 per month, Frank decided to stop paying me. This decision was based on the advice of his business manager who, at that time, was his live-in girlfriend. She has since bankrupted him and Frank has now been forbidden by the powers-that-be to ever work in the direct response business again. But, you know what? Frank lives undercover in the Fort Lauderdale area and is operating a direct response business using some brain-dead loser as a "front." The authorities are soon going to learn this and incarcerate him. Any ideas on how they are going to get all this inside info? You be right... Sir Gary of Halbert is going to see they have it.

Another guy in Texas (John Polk) hired me to write an ad for him featuring Ronnie Milsap, the country singer. I thought John was going to be running the ad in newspapers and use it in a direct mail campaign. That wasn't how he used it at all. No, what he wanted was to brag to people in multi-level marketing meetings they should join him in his MLM scam because he had secured the services of the world's best copywriter. This made me livid. Where do you think John is now? He's serving out a six year term in a federal prison in Texas. Want to take a stab at who put him there?

My guess is (because a little bird told me) Alec Jone is also going to wind up incarcerated. In my opinion, he's not going to do too well during his imprisonment. He talks and acts tough... yet... he's nothing more than a loud-mouth, New Jersey street punk and I would venture to say by the time he serves his sentence, his asshole will approximate the size of the Holland Tunnel. Prisons are not populated by women, relatives and employees who will eat shit from people like Alec. Prisons are populated by real, hard-core, tough guys who, I surmise, will have him wearing lipstick, bras, panties and dresses in record time.

Proceeding with Step 2 in dealing with a Nightmare Client...

Turn Off The Money Spigot!

To do this, I am sending a certified letter to newspaper space banks, standby ad placement agencies, print media sources and the like. My letter will inform each of them Alec Jone is continuing to run a suspect ad, of the forthcoming civil and criminal proceedings, along with the fact if they continue to run ads for him, they will do so at the risk of having to deal with a conspiracy indictment filed against them.

Because Alec also has his own (incompetent) in-house advertising agency, I am writing a separate letter to every newspaper in the SRDS telling them about Alec and why they should not accept any of his ads.

Is there another step in dealing with Nightmare Clients? You bet your bippee there is! Step 3 is...

Piercing The Corporate Veil!

Alec probably thinks because of his "corporate veil" his personal money will be invulnerable. Little does he know his corporate veil is going to be pierced in a micro-second... and therefore... he is going to be drained of not only all his business money... but also... he'll be drained of all his personal assets.

Does all this sound a little over the top to you? Do you think maybe I'm overreacting? If so, let me tell you of a stomach-turning event which occurred to me about 2-1/2 weeks ago.

I'm sitting in the salon of my houseboat, drinking a cup of coffee and reading the Miami Herald. I turn the page... and... lo and behold... there is almost word-for-word the exact ad I had written for Nutcasebizz! You guessed it, the very same ad Alec said he wasn't going to be running any more. There were a few cosmetic changes but, I bet if you put that ad side-by-side with my ad, you'd be hard put to find those changes.

This Nightmare Client of mine is a thief, a bully and a simpleton... all rolled up into one.

I intend to pound this man completely out of the direct marketing business. I don't care if he's selling hypnosis seminars, diet products or Bibles. I don't care what company names he uses or how cleverly he attempts to disguise the fact he is running these businesses. I have two detectives watching every move he makes. And every time there is an opportunity to thwart him, I will be there to do it for all the rest of his days.

Do you think I like doing this? Actually, I hate it. I would much rather help people than hurt them. But Alec is a loud-mouth bully who hires doctors who really aren't doctors, incompetent attorneys... and... wives, relatives and other family members who he abuses with impunity. If the law allowed it, I'd simply take him out in an alley to beat the living shit out of him. Of course, it's not legal so, I'll do the best I can with other methods.

To prove to you I only take this kind of action as a last resort, I will tell you what else I did recently. Since Monikah and Neta are directly involved, I sent a multi-page fax to each of them. I wanted to give them the opportunity to see how this situation could be resolved quickly and peaceably. You know what? Neither of them has even bothered to acknowledge the terms of that fax. Maybe it's because Alec or his bullshit "corporate counsel" didn't want them to see the fax so, they didn't give it to them. Or maybe it's because Monikah and Neta don't understand how real and immediate this situation is.

Oh well, I tried.


   Gary C. Halbert


P.S. Alec and his attorney have tried to make the point they relied on me to write a clean and honest ad for them and, if anything goes wrong, I too will be liable. That's utter bullshit. True, some copywriters get indicted along with their clients... however... those copywriters are partners with their client. Me? I'm not Alec's partner and, in fact, I don't even get paid for the work I did for him.

Secondly, holding a copywriter or an advertising agency responsible for the claims made in an ad would virtually stop all advertising in America. How so? Suppose a client came out with a new car and asked a copywriter to write an ad about it. This client told the copywriter the car gets 51 miles per gallon, has 265 horsepower, and will go from 0-to-60 in 4.5 seconds. Is the copywriter or the advertising agency supposed to test this car somehow and figure out if it really does have 265 horsepower or if the other claims about the product are true? No, of course not.

It is he who publishes an ad who is responsible for the claims in the ad.

Alec's corporate counsel sent me a memo of how he "reluctantly" approved my ad. That's like saying he "reluctantly" agreed to drive the get away car after his comrades robbed the bank. With that statement, Alec's corporate counsel is now going to join Alec, Monikah, Neta and the good doctor in being sued and indicted. These people are truly crazy.

P.S.#2 Anyway, I hope for those of you who decide to become copywriters, you have gotten some useful ideas from this newsletter on how to handle "Nightmare Clients."


*The story is true but some of the names have been changed.* 


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