This is a
North of Jewfish Creek
Dear Friend & Subscriber,
I propose the U.S. Government hire me to be used as a secret weapon against whatever country we happen to be pissed off at in any given week.
I would be more effective and destructive (and much less hassle and expense) than hundreds of cruise missiles or thousands of armed troops.
Remember when I last wrote you? How I was sitting in my rented trailer (built by Desi Arnez during a drunken spree in the 1930's) and I was waiting for Hurricane Debby to come pounding ashore and tear the living shit out of the Florida Keys? Remember how I even published for your perusal the "Keys Tourism Advisory #2" (Emergency Evacuation Notice) which had just been issued by the "powers-that-be" in the Monroe County Government?
While writing that newsletter, my son, Bond called and begged me to leave the Keys. He had been watching the Weather Channel and it said Hurricane Debby was on the verge of coming ashore directly where I was located with winds up to 135 miles per hour.
I refused to leave. Frankly, I'm getting tired of God pushing me around just for laughs and using horrible weather as His tool of choice. So guess what?
As soon as one of God's snitches reported to Him, "Halbert knows the hurricane is coming, he says he's tired of running from natural disasters... and... he refuses to leave the Keys," God then says to Himself, "Ah shit, stop the hurricane and I'll come up with something else."
And, in less than three hours after the evacuation notice, the hurricane stops being a hurricane, the winds die down to nothing fiercer than a tropical storm... and... what little weather disturbance was left went ashore someplace else and not the Florida Keys.
But God is a clever devil. Just wait until you hear how he figured out a new way to show me He's still the BOSS... and... I suspect... get back at me for refusing to run from Hurricane Debby which He had planned to send my way.
Shortly after Hurricane Debby is forgotten, my houseboat is finally ready for its sea trial and I have it motored up to a great marina which happens to be North of Jewfish Creek. It takes about three weeks for the workers to get it ready for me to move on board... and so... I decide to move into a hotel near the Miami Airport while the workers are doing all the stuff they gotta do.
A few days after I check into the hotel, a different tropical storm starts to drench Miami. At the time, I happened to be traveling with Scott "Mongo" Haines and he remarks he's never seen rain like this before. I hardly notice. It's nothing compared to all the other "shit storms" of weather God has been throwing at me.
But then, I do start to notice. It's more like a waterfall hitting us than rain. I start paying attention to the T.V. which informs me this is the worst rain in Florida's history. The T.V. says the absolute dead epicenter of the worst of the rainfall from this tropical storm is pouring over the intersection of Highway 836 and LeJeune Road in Miami.
The hotel in which I am staying is located at the intersection of Highway 836 and LeJeune Road in Miami.
How much rain did we get? I'm glad you asked.
We Got More Rain In One Day... Than...
California Gets In An Entire Year!
At least this year, we got... in one day... 18 inches of rain!
Do you have any idea how much rain that is? If it were snow, it would be almost 200 inches. Cars were stranded all over the city. A State of Emergency was declared. More people died and there was more property damage than was caused by Hurricane Irene which is the one that drove me out of my home in the Keys last year. Thousands of people were desperate. They were surrounded by water yet, they had none that was drinkable. No food. They couldn't get medical supplies. Their homes were devastated. Some of them won't recover for years.
Do you care?
Of course not. Unless you live in Florida, you probably didn't even have a clue about just how bad it really was. But, you know who could be made to care? Kosovo. Bosnia. Iraq. The Palestinians.
Here's what I say: Pull all our troops out of foreign countries. Order all our battleships back home. Forget the missiles and "smart bombs." No need for all that. Instead...
Just Send Halbert In!
Don't tell God why. Just tell Him I'm going on vacation or something. Then, as soon as I get to wherever the government sends me, God will pick me up on His radar screen and send in a hurricane, shake the place apart with an earthquake, pour an ocean of rain on that geographic location... or maybe...
Even Send In
A Plague Of Locusts!
Cheap, easy, effective and certain.
The previous issues of this year's newsletter could fairly be called "Copywriting 101." I've given my readers everything they need to know to write at least an average ad or sales letter. In this issue, I'm going to add the icing on the cake and give you two final (at least for now) secrets about copywriting which can take your efforts over-the-top.
To do this (at the least the first part), I've got to tell you a few stories. Don't try to figure out the point of the stories or where they are going. It'll all come together for you in the end. In the meantime, just sit back and enjoy the ride. It'll be a good read.
Let me start with that hotel I stayed in during the "Big Rain." It's called the "Miami Airport Hilton." It's very nice and beside it, in fact, connected to it, is another hotel called the "Marriott Courtyard." Connected to that hotel is yet another hotel called the "Marriott Fairfield Inn." While I was staying at the (main) Marriott, I decided to check out the other two hotels.
The Marriott Courtyard had rooms which, as far as I could tell, were exactly the same as the main Marriott... except... they cost less.
The Fairfield, also as best as I could tell, had rooms exactly like the main Marriott, except those room cost even less than either the Marriott main hotel or the Marriott Courtyard.
This seemed strange to me so I asked the desk clerk at the Fairfield about it. He was stumbling around trying to explain it in a rational way to me but, not much of what he was saying was making sense. Then, a wisened and seasoned old businessman standing at the same counter spoke up, "I'll tell you what the difference is," he said. "There is none. The Fairfield Inn is the biggest secret in Miami. You get exactly the same thing you get at the Marriott or the Marriott Courtyard, only the Fairfield costs about half as much."
That businessman was almost 100% correct. But, he had overlooked something. When you stay at the main Marriott Hotel, the USA Today newspaper is waiting for you outside your door every morning when you wake up. However, the other two hotels don't deliver USA Today.
Maybe that explains the difference between $68 per night and $178 per night?
Another story: Before I left the Keys with my houseboat, I was living in it at Mile Marker 59 at Peg Leg's Marine Center. My houseboat had three phone lines going into it for my phone, fax and computer. My telephone line was set up with Bell South voicemail because I wanted people to be able to leave me a message if I was either away from the phone or actually tying up the line.
But then some work needed to be done on my houseboat which required me to vacate the premises. I end up staying a few days in the Hidden Harbor Motel in Marathon, Florida which is located at Mile Marker 49. This also is the same location as the world-famous "turtle hospital" where sick and/or injured sea turtles go for relief, therapy and medical treatment for whatever ails them.
I was delighted when I saw my room. It was "smallish" but clean. Cable T.V. Good water pressure in the shower. And... miracle of miracles... a phone! "Can people call me in my room?" I hopefully ask the front desk clerk.
"Well, not really," explains the clerk. "They can call me here at the front desk and leave a message for you. We'll write you a note and stick it here on our bulletin board."
Hey, it's better than nothing. Besides, they comment I can make local calls for free and long distance calls by credit card. Hot Damn! Now I can at least talk to some of my friends and clients by phone.
Read very carefully here and pay attention. Let's suppose some dipshit like Joe Polish calls me on my regular telephone (not the motel phone) and leaves a voicemail message like, "Hey Jerky, this is Joe. Give me a call back." Imagine this scene: Gary ensconced at the Hidden Harbor Motel... surrounded by six psychotic turtles... trying to get his voicemail messages. I pick up the phone in my room and press zero. I tell the operator I want to make a credit card call. She thanks me for choosing (I swear this is true) the New York Coin Telephone Company to make this long distance call, and asks which credit card I want to use.
"Visa," I reply.
"Sorry. Visa is one of the credit cards we do not accept," she informs me. Then she rattles off the names of a bunch of credit cards I never even knew existed, and which, needless to say, I didn't have.
Since it's not the essence of coolness to call your clients collect, I ask her if I purchased a pre-paid phone card from a convenience store, could I make calls that way.
Turns out, I can... so... I trot down to the nearest Arab-owned piece of shit convenience store and purchase a handful of phone cards. Now get this... the physical phone line that has my voicemail is only 12 miles up the road from where I am currently staying. But does that mean I can make a local phone call to retrieve my messages? Nooooooooooooo. You see, the nearest Bell South office is located in Key West. Thus, I have to call there to get into the voicemail system.
Hence, in order for me to retrieve my voicemail messages while at my motel room, it goes like this:
||I dial a "9" to get an outside line.
||I dial the 11-digit 800 number printed (in microscopic type no less) on the pre-paid phone card.
||I press "3" to signify I wish to communicate in English.
||I punch in my 16-digit secret code number from the phone card.
||All the above simply gets me another dial tone which now lets me punch in 11 more numbers (1-305-872-5636) to get into the Bell South automated voicemail system.
||I press the asterisk button (*) to retrieve messages.
|| Next, I am prompted to enter in my 7-digit phone number.
||I am then electronically asked to press in my 5-digit secret voicemail code number.
||Finally, I am told to touch the number "1" to start to listen to my messages.
Do you realize what all this adds up to? It means, I have to leave my motel, get into my car, drive somewhere and purchase pre-paid phone cards from some unwashed, smelly towelhead, drive back to Turtle Center, unlock my motel room door, go to the phone in my room... and...
Dial 54-Numbers To Hear Some
Braindead Cretin Like Joe Polish Tell
Me He Wants Me To Call Him Back For
Some Trivial, Meaningless Reason!
Another story: During the downpour I mentioned earlier, it was hard to get around and almost impossible for services (even FedEx and UPS) to deliver stuff. So, I had my Assistant, Theresa, send me some fungolas via Western Union. Since my car had gotten so drenched, it wouldn't start. Besides, it would have been impractical for me to drive in all that rain and the flooded streets anyway. Thus, I locate the closest office of Western Union which happens to be a pawn shop on South LeJeune Road.
I walk down there and I swear, the water is almost up to my knees. I get to the pawn shop and the owner tells me he doesn't have enough cash to give me. He can only give me $100 in cash and the balance in the form of a Western Union check. You know what I remember about that pawn shop? Outside there was a sign that said:
Please Unload Weapons
And Remove Ski Masks
I thought maybe it was a joke. When I asked the owner about the sign, I found out it wasn't a joke. "We get all kinds of weird people around here," he explained.
Here's what I wonder: Two guys with guns wearing ski masks walk up to your store. You see them on your security camera. They reach out to push the buzzer so you will let them in. But then, they notice and read your sign. Being the obedient, violent felons they are, they unload their guns and take off their ski masks. Only then do they punch the buzzer. What do you do then? Do you buzz them in and say, "Thanks for taking off your ski masks guys. How can I help you?"
I don't know. If a guy approaches my place wearing a ski mask and then takes it off after he reads my sign, I still ain't gonna buzz that sucker into my store.
Anyway, back to the main gist of the story. I go back to my hotel and tell them I need to stay a few extra days because of the rain and I need to pay them with this check from Western Union. No dice. They refuse to accept a check from Western Union. The hotel staff informs me there's a Western Union office at the airport, only minutes away.
Being the compliant person I am, I go to this second Western Union office using the hotel's airport shuttle bus. I tread through the massive Miami Airport and lo and behold, I find the Western Union office. The woman behind the bullet-proof glass doesn't even bother to look up and acknowledge my existence. When I finally do get her attention (even though she still doesn't look up at me) she discloses they are, indeed, a Western Union outlet... but... they never give out cash... only checks.
I want to murder her but, I check the Florida Statutes and it seems that's against the law.
Consequently, I start going to other Western Union outlets. For your information, here is the bottom line...
I Had To Go To Six
Different Western Union Outlets
To Get My Western Union Check Cashed!
Another story: I'm on a plane to Los Angeles and I decide to read the entire 105-page instruction booklet for my new (approximately my 160th) cell phone. I learn my cell phone can be used as an organizer, a day runner, a calendar, a calculator (that is if you can remember which tiny key means "divide" and which one means "multiply", etc.) and several other options... and... best of all... this cell phone can even be used to... play three different video games! YIPPEE!
One of these video games in called "Snake." Somehow, when the snake gets fed, his tail grows longer... but... I don't know if that means you are winning or losing the video game.
When I arrive in L.A., I find myself carping about this to a young woman in a coffee shop. "Oh, you've got Snake!" she exclaims. "I've got it too. I love playing Snake."
As the day progressed, I found quite a few people who love playing Snake on their cell phone... and... I found out something else:
I Was Part Of An Elite "In-Crowd"
Because I Have The Capacity
To Play Snake!
Another story: Mongo wants a "Twister" and a soft drink. A "Twister" is a burrito-like sandwich filled with chicken and is sold by Kentucky Fried Chicken. He goes to KFC and gets his Twister and a soft drink. No problem. But, after eating his Twister, he's still hungry and wants another one. The clerk tells him he can order another Twister... but... he'll have to order another soft drink with it also. Mongo doesn't want another soft drink. He still has some of his first one left. However, the clerk says they literally can't sell him another Twister without selling him another soft drink... because... the cash register has pictures on it instead of numbers... and...
The Key With The Picture
Of The Twister On It... Also Has...
A Picture Of A Soft Drink!
Ergo, nobody who works for KFC has enough intelligence to figure out how to sell a Twister all by itself.
Thus, Mongo orders something totally different which doesn't require him to order another soft drink.
Not a story, just a fact: Politicians average 8.2 seconds to answer a question.
Another fact: Many people punch "88" seconds on a microwave instead of "90" because it is minisculely faster to tap the same digit twice.
Another fact: A buffet in Japan charges by the minute.
Another fact: Telephone information operators are taught to get you off the line as fast as humanly possible. The average length of a call for you to get a phone number from information takes 21-seconds. This is the standard and, if any operator is much slower than this, the "powers-that-be" will fire them. The phone company wants their operators to do it swifter and their "aces" get people who call for a number off the phone in an average of only 16-seconds.
Enough. What's the point of me telling you all of this stuff? Well, to begin with, copywriting fundamentals don't change. The things people want now are the same things they wanted 100 years ago... and... will probably want 100 years from now. But, the emphasis of specific things does get greater or lesser in certain periods of time. One of the specific things I believe people are desperate for today is...
Simple, Easy Solutions
Which Do NOT Give Them
When a person buys a cell phone, he is not so much (in my mind) buying a communication solution... as... he is opening up another Pandora's Box of problems. That's true with all kinds of items today. More than ever, people want articles which are turn-key. You plug it in the wall, push this button, and VIOLA! it works for you.
I believe the turn-key aspect is more important than ever before.
People don't want any more work to do. People don't want anything else to learn. People don't want something else to think about. We all have brains which are jam-packed with so much trivia and information, it's a wonder any of us can even function with the mundane, everyday aspects of life.
All of this brings me to my last point. My old partner, Dennis Haslinger, taught me something I will never forget. He said, "You should think of your business as a circle. I want you to literally draw a circle which represents your entire business. Next, divide that circle like you would cut up a pie, each 'slice' representing different tasks to be done in your business. Be sure to label each 'slice' with things like answering phones, opening mail, running errands, paying bills, talking with clients, writing the ads or sales letters, etc. Next, shade in each slice of that circle where you can hire someone else to do that particular job. The only items you should personally take care of yourself... are those matters in your business... where you are absolutely indispensable. In your circle, the only jobs you will do, are those in the non-shaded sections."
Just what does that have to do with copywriting? I'm glad you asked. I've done the best I know how to in the last few months in teaching you to write a good ad or sales letter. But, here's what I consider to be (possibly) the most important object I can teach you about copywriting at all.
It is true that with a lot of effort and using everything I've taught you, you ought to be able to write a piece of copy which will bring in profits for you. However, it is also true it will probably take you years to get as good at writing copy as you would like.
And like Dennis said, you should only personally take care of those those matters in your business where you are absolutely indispensable. If you can find yourself a good copywriter who will do a good job for you, it is my opinion, you should not write your own copy. Therefore, if you can afford it, I strongly suggest you hire someone else to write the copy and thus free you up to do whatever you do best.
I believe it's important I taught you how to write copy, even if you end up not writing yourself. Why? Because it will give you a better understanding of copywriting... and of copywriters... and you will know which ones are good and which ones are bad.
Lately, I, myself, have gone back to writing copy for clients. If you would be interested in working with me and if you can afford my admittedly expensive fees, you and I ought to talk. I charge (usually) $15,000 plus 5% of the gross. That seems like a lot of money, doesn't it? Before you decide if that is a lot of money, I want to tell you one last story.
Not long ago, I was asked to write a diet ad for a company in New Jersey called Nutramerica. They had a product which was based on the customer's knowing their own blood type. I did the best I could with that product and ad but, my best wasn't good enough. This pricked my ego so I told Nutramerica I wanted to fly up there and find out if there was a different product we could work on. After two days of questioning, I discovered they had a different product which I believed would be much more profitable to sell and I wrote an ad about that product. (You know, half of the process of doing a great copywriting job for someone is knowing WHAT job you should be doing.)
Anyway, I want to show you the final version of that ad which is being ran (as I write this very newsletter) in newspapers all over the country. It's a pretty simple ad... at least it looks simple... when you read it. Here it is (in a revised format to fit into this newsletter):
Stops Hunger 100%!
Amazing High-Speed Diet Pill
Produces Extremely Fast
You can now purchase an all-natural (and extremely fast- acting) weight-loss “miracle” pill that literally destroys fat… even if… you refuse to diet! News of this “killer” fat-fighting pill is creating a virtual flood of letters to the small company that developed it. One doctor says it burns off more fat than running 98 miles per week.
To Leave Your Body!
Even though this product is extremely bio-active, it contains no drugs whatsoever. There are seven highly unusual (and extremely hard-to-find) ingredients combined in such a certain, scientific way… that… scientists call it “synergistic”! This means each ingredient is much more powerful because of thermogenic interaction with all the other ingredients. With clinically- controlled, scientific testing, the researchers who created this formula produced a weight-loss compound so effective... that... human body fat is almost immediately destroyed and literally flushed right out of an obese person's body. Sophisticated scientific testing was necessary to discover exactly why this product produces such an extremely rapid weight-loss.
The Way It Works
One of the ingredients is designed to maximize your body’s metabolic process. Another promotes the utilization of body fat and prevents it from being stored. Another inhibits the synthesis of cholesterol, lowers certain forms of high blood pressure and, works as an insulin mimic and has a normalizing effect on blood sugar levels. Another ingredient is a potent antioxidant which enhances your
immune system and provides “insurance” your metabolism remains at a continuously high level. The other three ingredients influence the thyroid gland, assist in mineral absorption and reduces cravings for sugar.
This Product Is So Effective At Producing Weight-Loss
In Record Time...
It Is Protected By A
Trademark And A Patent
By The United States'
Obviously, this is NOT an ordinary diet pill. Follow the simple instructions and take this pill with water three times per day for five days a week… and… you can eat anything you want!
Proper use of this pill according to the simple instructions, will reverse years of overeating. People who have tested this pill say they rejoice almost every day… as… they look in their mirror and see the visible results of unwanted fat, flab and cellulite totally disappear.
Word Of Caution!
There is a tendency in this country (especially among young women) to want to be dangerously thin. This is very unhealthy and can have serious side effects. Therefore, since this pill is now so incredibly effective (and, has no side effects whatsoever) you must be careful not to lose weight too rapidly. Before starting on this or any weight-loss program, you should check with your physician to make sure you are in normal health… and… you should take his advice on what should be your personal perfect weight.
Do Not Go Below The Weight Goal Recommended
By Your Physician!
H.S.D. Inc. (Health Sciences Direct) is the only company in the United States authorized to sell this
product which is marketed under the name “Trim Spa.” They have worked thousands of lab hours and spent what amounts to a small fortune to make sure this product will give you the ability to achieve the body of your dreams.
This product is so truly effective and amazing, it is sold with an equally amazing guarantee.
You can make this type of guarantee only if... you are 100% certain... your product will help people lose all their excess weight. Here is the way the guarantee works: Take the pills as directed and follow the simple instructions for 30-days and be totally thrilled as you watch your rapid and dramatic weight-loss. However, if you are not satisfied with the results, simply return the empty product container with a short note about how you took the pills and followed the simple instructions… and... Health Sciences Direct will send you… double your money back!
It’s just that simple and it’s easy to order. All you have to do is call toll-free at 1-(800)-***-**** ext. *** and order with your credit card.
Supply options: $39.95 for a full 30-day supply, $69.75 for a full 60-day supply (you save over $10.00) or, a full 90-day supply for only $87.55 (you save over $30.00!). Whatever quantity you order, you must also pay an additional $5.95 per order for shipping and handling. Orders will be shipped within 24-hours on a “first come, first served basis.” Thank you.
Nutramerica is grossing an average between $5 and $6 for every $1 they spent on advertising. That means, since most of the orders come by phone, if they spend $10,000 in advertising on Monday, by Friday they'll have approximately $50,000. As far as I understand it, Nutramerica is spending about $100,000 in advertising per month.
$15,000 plus 5% of the gross doesn't seem like such a bad deal when you look at from this financial point of view, does it?
I have performed this "little" miracle for literally dozens of other clients. During my career in the past 20-years, I have pretty much refused to take on but a few, select clients. However, my circumstances are presently situated where I can take on new clients. Like I said, if you're interested, you and I need to talk. How do we arrange that? I'm glad you asked.
Just call my office at (305) 534-7577 and tell Theresa you want to schedule a phone appointment with me... but... only if you're for real.
This newsletter is not meant to be a sales pitch (well, I guess it's sorta a sales pitch) but, more importantly, it has sought out to dramatize to you how complex modern life is... and... continues to become. Like how difficult it is to do the simplest things (like order a chicken burrito without a soft drink) and how more and more people are desperately seeking solutions to problems that used to be simple.
Remember I told you about the 54-numbers I had to punch in to get my voicemail? You know what we had to do when I was a boy to make a phone call? You simply picked up the phone, a woman on the other end who knew you would say, "Hi Gary, who do you want to talk to this morning?"
I'd merely reply, "I'd like to talk to my friend, Elaine."
"Sure, I'll connect you right away." And PRESTO! Elaine was on the phone. Things ain't like that any more.
It seems to me we have to manipulate 1,000 digits and letters to operate beepers, cell phones, voicemail, computers, ATM machines, find out credit card or bank balances, etc., etc., etc. Doesn't it also seem to you life is becoming more and more complicated with these devices which are supposed to make our lives more and more simple?
Right now, even though I'm living in my houseboat, I'm still in the process of setting up housekeeping. I am facing the same problems any other homeowner does when they decide to remodel or add something onto their house. It's truly a nightmare. I think the movie, "Money Pit" is the most accurate comedy I've ever seen. If you've never seen this movie, I highly suggest you rent it.
I close with my final tidbit of advice...
Do Not Sell People Problems...
But... DO Sell Them Solutions!
|| Gary C. Halbert
||I can't program my V.C.R. I can't master my microwave. I can't operate the remote on my television. I can't keep my car insurance up-to-date. I can't fill out the forms necessary to join a gym. I can't keep my papers in order. I can't write a check to pay a bill. I can't schedule appointments to see my doctors. These are things I can't do.
However, there is one thing I can do... and... do better than anyone else on this earth. That's write an ad or sales letter.
So take Dennis Haslinger's simple but profound advice: Hire someone else to do the tasks in your business which are "dispensable"... so... you'll be free to do those things in which you are absolutely indispensable.
Call Theresa at (305) 534-7577 and tell her you want to make a phone appointment with me so you can be one of the elite few to take advantage of my God-given copywriting blessing.
Copyright © 2003 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights Reserved.