W-a-y West of Jewfish Creek
Dear Friend and Subscriber,
Sometimes (in fact, often) in the press and crush of business, I forget my manners. There's no excuse for the delay but, herewith, I would like to offer public and belated thanks to: Gary Bencivenga for sending me a copy of Obvious Adams, Lee Rogers for the Thomas Hall report on Writing A Sales Letter, Dan Kennedy for the tapes on public speaking, G. Lee Roberts for a couple of the actual "Little Blue Books," and Frank Cawood for a magnificent bronze eagle.
Not to mention the legions of people who've written me nice letters.
Bless you all.
Also, before I get going this month, I'd like to answer a question here in print I am often asked by phone or letter. The question is: "Do you ever do any public speaking and what do you charge?" The answer is yes. I do quite a bit of public speaking and I do not charge a fee. What I do is, I ask the sponsoring organization to pay my expenses (airfare and hotel) and to write a check, no matter how small, to the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. I also ask that arrangements be made for my talk to be recorded and I want it understood I own the rights to the recorded material.
All in all, I'm a rather cheap date.
Now, let's down to business. Most of you who read this newsletter already know a great deal about selling via direct response. Now, let us suppose a newcomer comes to you and wants to know the single most important thing he could ever learn about this noble field of endeavor.
What would you tell that person? What, in your opinion, is the very most important consideration of all when it comes to selling via direct response? Or, for that matter, any form of selling? What should be the "cornerstone concept" of all of our efforts? What is the one thing we can do that will dramatically energize all our efforts, keep us perpetually enthused, insure our unflagging interest, help us overcome all obstacles and objections and keep us smiling, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed all the time?
Is there a single principle that's that critical? A stand alone consideration which is truly supreme above all others? You bet there is. And, I can communicate it to you in just four words:
Sell Something You Love!
Listen up: I get calls all the time from people asking for marketing help. I like getting those calls. I like helping people. I like showing off how smart I am. And I love all the cards and letters I get from people who've used my advice with enormous success. Like this one which just came in which says in part:
"I took your first $1.00 letter, changed it around to the copy enclosed, and mailed it out to about 600 of my 'best' clients. The only difference is that I sent a $2.00 bill instead of a one. Those 600 letters took in a little over 100 grand."
Think about it: One hundred thousand dollars from only 600 letters!
Now, the man who wrote that letter has a lot going for him. He's smart, he listens to other smart people (like me), he tests, he's willing to experiment, he's got a lot of marketing savvy... but... most of all...
He Love His Products!
His name is Fred Rowe. He sells quality gemstones and because of his genuine enthusiasm for his wares, he maintains a non-stop effervescence that transmits itself to all his customers.
And so, because of all this, and because it fits into the context of what I'm trying to teach you this month, I've decided to give him a free plug which he really doesn't need. Therefore, if you are in the market for a diamond, a ruby, a red spinel (my favorite) or any other type of gemstone, I recommend you give him a call at (502) 338-2363.
But, of course, not everyone who asks me for help gets the same response. Sadly, quite a few of my calls are from people who are trying to sell something that sucks. A case in point: Recently, I got a call from a guy who's having trouble selling his little report on making extra money.
"Does it work?" I ask. "Do the people who buy your report get a good deal? Does it really help them make a lot of extra money?"
"Not really," says the caller. "It's basically just a bunch of hot air; just something I threw together because I know there's a market for this work-at-home stuff."
Well, at this point, I lost interest. Why should I care about this nickel-dime scammer and his dreary little report?
Now, if you are ever going to listen to me about anything, please, please listen to this:
No One Can Ever Be A
Success Who Sells Something
Of Which He Is Not Proud!
Oh yeah, I know you know there are plenty of people who make plenty of money selling crap. So what? Money is only one (and truly not the most important) of all the ingredients that make someone a success. And... making money (even millions) while losing your self-respect leads to a dry rot of the psyche and a constant patina of despair that dulls the fabric of your life.
What's that? You say I've babbled on enough about this? That you didn't subscribe to this letter for a lecture on integrity? You say you want me to get on with it and say something practical?
Alright. Alright. How about this? How about if I teach you how to create a damn-near perfect product? Something you can sell for 20 times or more what you pay for it and still be giving full value? Something that's going to be so useful and so worthwhile your head will swell with pride and your wallet will swell with money? Not only that, this product is so wondrous that, if you already have a good product, this product will make your already-good product even better.
And, more saleable.
In other words, what we're going to do here is create a product that will stand alone all by itself or else can be used to pump up the value of what you've already got.
Let's get started. Step Numero Uno is to make a rather comprehensive list of all the stuff you already enjoy. If I were to make such a list, an abbreviated version of it would include:
||Browsing in bookstores
|Playing with my two new kittens
|Writing my newsletter
||Buying surprise gifts for Paulette
Admiring myself in the mirror
|Messing around with my boat (I just bought the original dive boat from the old TV series "SEAHUNT" starring Lloyd Bridges)
|Watching my kids get excited about something.(It seems my son, Kevin,has really taken to video editing)
||Producing TV shows (I just produced my first one Friday before last and I loved it!
Etc., etc., etc. Etc., etc. etc.
Now, what you should do is make the same kind of list and make it very, very comprehensive. Take some time with this. This isn't some fatuous exercise. No. This is the critical first step to what can become an enormous marketing success!
O.K., now assuming you've made your list and reviewed it a couple of times, the next step is to take a trip down to your local library. I want you to ask at the reference desk for the following publications: The Standard Periodical Directory published by Oxbridge Communications, Inc., in New York City; the SRDS List Book and the SRDS Business Publications which comes in three volumes: Part I (trade magazines), Part II (classified) and Part III (International Direct Response - mostly postcard decks); and the SRDS Consumer Magazine Book.
Now, compare your list of stuff you love with the classifications and indexes in all these books. What we're trying to find out here is a rough idea of how many other people share one or more of your passions.
What you're going to find is there is no readily assessable market that coincides with some of the stuff you love but there are scads of folks who share your enthusiasm for some of the other activities on your list. Let's say, for example, you are just crazy about collecting antique sewing machines. Well, my friend, in this case you're going to find you are pretty much alone with this particular enthusiasm. On the other hand, if you, like me, like to ski, you're going to find there are tons of folks who share your interest. For example, a rather cursory examination of the above-mentioned reference works reveals the following:
Mailing Lists Available:
1. Ski Dazzle Mailing List: Attendees at the Los Angeles Ski Show: All California names. Total available: 39,128.
2. Skiers by Age and Income: Buyers who completed a questionnaire stating their interest in skiing and giving information on their demographics and other lifestyle indicators. Selections available: Sex, occupation, marital status, home ownership, credit card usage and ages of children at home. Total available: 2,640,622.
3. Skiing Enthusiasts: This one's from Donnelly Marketing, the big compiler. Total available: 514,148.
Publications Devoted To Skiing:
| 1. Ski Business
| 2. Skiing Trade News
| 3. Ski Magazine
| 4. Ski America
| 5. Ski X-C
| 6. Skier Directory
| 7. Skiing
| 8. Skiing Utah
| 9. Ski Area Management
|10. Ski B.C. (British Columbia)
|11. Ski Competition East
|12. Ski Industry Bulletin
|13. Ski Pro
|| (No Circ.Given)
|14. Ski Quebec
|| (No Circ.Given)
|15. Ski Shop Bible Industry Guide
|| (No Circ.Given)
And on and on and on. There's Ski Trails, Ski World, Skier of California, Skier's Advocate, Skiing in Europe, Sno-times, Southwest Skier, Student Skier, Sugarloaf Magazine and so forth, et cetera.
We have now done two very important things: (1) we have identified an area for which you have passion, and (2) we have verified you have access to millions of other people who share your enthusiasm.
Sounds like a setup to me.
Onward to Step #3. Hopefully, by now, I've got you wondering if it would make any sense for you to sell something that relates to skiing which interests you, as opposed to your current endeavor of trying to sell manure to the masses or whatever else you are doing that's boring you to tears.
Assuming all this makes sense to you, what in the world should you sell to all these people interested in skiing? Should you invent a new type of ski boot? Should you open a ski lodge? How about manufacturing ski clothing?
Whoa! You're making it too hard. Let's sell something else. Something easy. Something cheap. Something wildly profitable to you and enormously valuable to your customer.
But first, let's take a breather. I want to tell you a story. Once upon a time, I met a man in Miami who was assigned by a publisher to write a book on how to stop smoking without gaining weight. He told me the secret of the book (eating carrots, chewing gum, who knows?) could be explained in just a few pages. So, therefore, he had to add filler. Statistics on why smoking is bad for you. The story of Sir Walter Raleigh. The history of tobacco usage. And on and on.
Unfortunately, you see, when it comes to written information, much of America equates value with poundage.
What I'm talking about here, of course, is the dumb people of America.
But there are lots of smart folks out there too. People who realize that time is the irretrievable element. People who are mature and astute enough to trade money for time. And these folks want fast, accurate, stripped-down, no-nonsense information.
And... they're willing to pay for it.
Hmn? I've got you thinking now, haven't I?
Another side story: Gene Schwartz, the brilliant New York copywriter, once shared with me how he goes about creating an ad for a book. First, he hires someone to digest the book for him into what he calls a "dialogue." Then, sometimes, he has someone else digest the digest. And then he reads what's left and writes his ad.
I wonder? How many other people are there out there who, like me, often say to a member of their staff:
"Hey, read this for me and tell me what it says."
So, what I'm saying to you this month is this: (1) a stripped-down, accurate, hard-hitting report is the perfect product to sell via direct response, (2) the subject of the report should be something about which you are very enthusiastic, and (3)...
Don't Ever Screw Around
Trying To Sell Something
You're Ashamed Of!
Why should you? Aside from the obvious ethical considerations, you have literally millions of other options that will be infinitely more satisfying to your soul and your self-esteem.
Hey, you still with me? You are? Good. Not only are you a wondrously perceptive and gracious human being, you also seem to have the patience of Job.
So, let's create that report. On skiing. Here's how we do it: First, we trot down to our local library (I went to the one in beautiful downtown Burbank) and see how many books they have on skiing. (The Burbank Library has 41 in their card index.) Next, let's ask at the reference desk for the invaluable...
Subject Guide To
Books In Print
This is a huge, 2-volume reference work published by R. R. Bowker Company in New York City. It contains the title and other info on almost every book that is currently in print. (Once, I read every title in this reference and went into a bookstore in Canton, Ohio and ordered 605 books at one crack.)
So anyway, let's look up skiing and see what's listed. Hmn? Would you believe there are 130 titles?
Press on. Press on. Press on. Let's go over to the...
Reader's Guide To
And look up skiing. Where upon we will find there have been hundreds of articles written on this subject.
Now, let's go to the biggest bookstore in town and see what they've got. And, let's get a hold of some of those ski magazines and check out the articles.
Now listen: What you do after this overview of all this material is you take possession of a bunch of it. You check out some of the books from the library, buy some of the books from the bookstore, locate and Xerox some of the articles mentioned in the Reader's Guide to Periodic Literature, you clip out articles from the ski magazines you learned about from the SRDS book and the Standard Periodical Directory and so forth.
Now, lock yourself in a room and start reading.
And, every once in a while, stop reading the ski stuff and start reading from your collection of headlines. You do have a collection of headlines, don't you?
And then, go back to the ski stuff. And later, back to the headlines. And then, back to the ski stuff. And later, back to the headlines. And... and... and...
Yeah! Somewhere in here you're going to have an "aha experience." That's where you say, "Aha! I've got a great idea."
And then you develop that idea into a written report that tells skiers something that would be really valuable for them to know. Maybe it's:
How To Ski Everyday
And Get Paid For It!
- or -
10 Ways To Get
Discounts On Ski Equipment!
- or -
How To Avoid Lift
Lines No Matter How
Big The Crowd!
- or -
17 Neat Ways To
Ski Better Instantly!
And you're on your way to making a lot of money by selling a product of which you are proud and which delivers real value.
Like this newsletter.
|| Gary C. Halbert
P.S. I met a guy in Akron, Ohio once who turned his passion for model airplanes into a 10 million dollar business. What he did is he had a bunch of middle-aged ladies making models of Piper Cubs, Cessnas and so forth and he sold the manufacturers of those planes on the idea of giving every new purchaser of a new plane an exact replica model the guy could take home and sit on his TV or to the office and display it on his desk. Neat gimmick, eh?
P.P.S. What's all that yammering and jammering out there from all you folks who already have a product you're proud of? Brighten up. Reading all this hasn't been in vain. You see, you should consider creating a report related to what you're selling and feature it in your ads and give it away as a premium. It'll serve two purposes: (1) it'll pump up your sales, and (2) if you're not already doing it, it'll enable you to measure the response of each of your appeals.
P.P.P.S. Hey, can you believe the Subject Guide to Books in Print lists 13 titles on skull abnormalities and deformities? Or that there is a news magazine for bingo operators? And at least two magazines (combined circ.: 42,808) for people who like to hunt for treasure?
See what happens when I get carried away?
Copyright © 2002 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights Reserved.