The Boron Letters - Chapter 12
Saturday, 10:02 AM
June 23, 1984
Let's get right back to that real estate letter. I've
already pointed out how that little baggie filled with dirt
will attract and focus our reader's attention. Now, let's
talk about the other particulars of the first page of that
I think I left off in my last letter where I was just about
to comment on the part above the salutation, the part that
tells the day of the week, the exact time, the day of the
month and the year. Why is it important to put these
specifics in the letter?
Well, it makes the letter a little more personal, doesn't
it? I mean seriously, don't you feel a little closer to me
because I put all this data in each of my letters to you? I
think so. I think this way of doing things bonds the writer
and the reader closer together. It also gives our
transmission the quality of immediacy. And, while I'm on the
subject, it just occurred to me that I should tell you that
another additional way to achieve this bond of intimacy and
immediacy in your letters is to describe where you are and
what you are doing as you are writing the letter.
For example, right now I am sitting cross-legged on my back
here in room 7 of dorm 6 in the Boron Federal Prison Camp. I
have just finished running the hill five times (4-miles) and
I did it in 57 minutes and 5 seconds.
Do you see how this type of personal specific info
bonds the reader and writer closer together? You do? Good.
Now, here's another little thought: When you tell the day of
the week plus the exact time you are writing the letter, it
makes it seem a more important communication too, doesn't
it? Sort of like a telegram. There's no doubt about it: A
time-dated communication carries considerable more weight
than one which is not.
Now let's talk about the salutation. Notice that the
salutation addresses our reader by name, just like I do in
these letters to you. "Dear Bond" gets a certain quality of
focused attention that is not enjoyed by "Dear Sir" or "Dear
Occupant" or "Dear Reader".
Think about it. When you read the words "Dear Bond", you
know my letter is for you personally, don't you? It's not
for Kevin. It's not for whoever owns the house. Or anybody
who lives at the address on the envelope. No. The words
"Dear Bond" indicate that this letter is for you and you
And this makes you pay more attention, doesn't it?
Now, if you will look in the lower right hand corner of the
letter in my illustration and, also, in all of my other
letters, you will see, in parenthesis, a tiny little
instruction like this: (over) or like this: (go to
page 7). What I am doing here is taking the reader by
the hand and leading him exactly where I want him to go. It
seems like a small point and, maybe it is, but is the little
touches like this that keeps the letter flowing, the reader
moving along, and, it relieves him of the burden of trying
to figure out what he is supposed to do when he finishes
reading a particular page.
Don't scoff. Quite often (most often) your letter will
arrive when your prospect is busy, when his mind is on other
things. Therefore, you need to work hard to make reading
your letter pleasant, easy-read, interesting and
Well, here I am once again starting to write without knowing
where I am going. All I know is that when I keep moving and
writing and flowing that generally something decent emerges.
No, wait. I know what I'll tell you. How about what else
goes inside the carrier envelope in addition to the letter?
One thing for sure is that you must include a reply
envelope. Now, when it comes to reply envelopes, you
basically have two choices. The options are to make the
reader pay the postage when he mails the envelope or for you
to pay the postage for him. There are two ways for you to
pay the postage. One of these is to simply put a "live"
stamp on the envelope so that it will be all ready to mail
when he receives it.
There are a couple of advantages to this strategy and one
big disadvantage. The disadvantage is cost. Right now, at
20¢ per stamp it will cost you $200.00 extra per thousand to
do business this way. And, naturally, because of this, most
mailers never even test this option.
That's too bad. Really. Because sometimes, this strategy
will pay off. Therefore, I believe, when either or both of
the following conditions exists you should test a SRE
(Stamped Reply Envelope):
Condition #1: You are selling a high-ticket item
where the profit structure is such that one additional sale
per thousand letters mailed will yield more than enough
profit to pay for your SRE's.
This means, of course, that each sale you make has to have a
mark up of at least $200.00.
You know what? What I just wrote may not be quite accurate.
Because, if you think about it, if those SRE's bring in two
or more orders per M, then your mark up on each sale would
only have to be $100.00. If they bring in three extra orders
per M, the mark up would only have to be $70.00 per unit to
make it feasible.
And so on.
Condition #2: You should test a SRE whenever you can
make the recipient of your letter feel guilty if he doesn't
reply. This works especially well for charity or fund
raising letters. For example, you might have a line in one
of your letters that goes something like this:
"...and those pitiful children need your help right now!
So please send a check immediately and send as much as
possible. That's all you have to do. I have already
addressed the reply envelope and I have even gone to the
expense of putting a stamp on it so you won't have to hunt
Pretty good guilt, eh? And you can also use guilt in a
regular sales letter. Here's how:
I Love You and Good Luck!
is no reason to add or detract from this letter at all.
paragraph in which he wrote about, where he is sitting while
writing the letter holds great meaning to me personally.
father and I have both always been people who loved to go see
places we have read about in books and magazines or places we
have seen in the movies.
went to Jamaica to see all the places where they filmed Doctor
No and even stayed in the Fleming Estate before it was a specialty
tourist hotel. He said he sat at the desk where Ian Fleming
wrote some of the Bond novels.
a lark, I was looking up the old Boron Prison Camp and decided
to take a drive out there. As it turns out, it is now an abandoned
property. Most of the structures while stripped of anything
of value, are still labeled.
gave me a chance to see inside Boron beyond the visiting areas
and actually walk the hill my father speaks of in the letters.
particular paragraph inspires me to put more detailed info of
where I am while writing my letters to my kids, because it is
really neat to be able to know exactly where he was at that
moment in time.
note about being more personal couldn't be more on target.
quick personal note. As you can plainly see my father and I
were never ashamed to show each other affection and now that
he is gone, knowing that we were that close brings me more solace
than anything else he could have done.
Copyright © 2005 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights