Gary Halbert (this guy==>) had a dream.
He was in the mail order business and wanted to create a letter he could send to every address in the phone book and make money.
It was the 1980s, and fancy new computers now let you personalize each letter to look like it was sent directly to “Mr. Stevens,” “Mrs. Jones,” and so on.
This was a huge deal at the time because mail order offers used to start with “Dear Future Real Estate Mogul” or something equally cheesy. People would throw them right in the trash. But having your actual name on the page was a real attention-grabber at the time.
So what did this letter sell? It began like this:
Dear Mr. Ward,
Did you know that your family name was recorded with a coat-of-arms in ancient heraldic archives more than seven centuries ago?
My husband and I discovered this while doing some research for some friends of ours who have the same last name as you do.
We’ve had an artist recreate the coat-of-arms exactly as described in the ancient records. This drawing, along with other information about the name, has been printed up into an attractive one-page report.
The letter was less than a full page and asked people to send $2 for this report about their family’s crest and its history.
The evil genius of this approach was that it :
(1) Gave people something with a high perceived value for free
(2) Got a large percentage of them to respond to the small “foot in the door” offer; and
(3) Opened the door to a ton of “back end” products to sell based on their family name.
So hmmmmm, what else could we sell these people?
A framed poster of the family crest?
Family crest coffee cups?
In fact, this letter even spawned a travel business. They would get groups of O’Donnell’s, Fitzpatricks, etc all together and go to visit Ireland or wherever their family name originated from. In other words:
They Got People Who Didn’t Even Know Each Other To Go On “Family Reunions”
The campaign was a smashing success. In the words of Halbert, it was:
“…the most widely-mailed sales letter in the world with more than 600 million copies mailed. That family crest letter built an organization that needed 700 employees to keep it going… and…40 of those employees were needed just to make the bank deposits!”
The skill that Gary Halbert used to create this business empire from a 354 word letter is called copywriting.
But to be honest, I dislike that word because it can be confusing.
When I tell people I’m a copywriter they usually think it has something to do with copyrights and I should apply to law school. The term is just not that well known outside of certain limited circles.
Copywriting is really just the psychology of writing words that compel the reader to get off their butt and do something:
To subscribe to your email list
To come to your poker game
To give to your nonprofit
To buy your product
To form a habit
and so on…
Interestingly, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. For decades, marketers have tracked the response rates from different types of headlines, offers, styles of writing, even tiny details like fonts and colors.
And, over the years, a simple set of rules has emerged to help anyone dramatically increase the effectiveness of their persuasive writing.
Do you see how this is a massively valuable skill that will help many areas of your life even if you aren’t selling anything?
Is this a skill you’d like to have?
If so, read on…
Here’s What I Got
There are a ton of lessons and resources for learning copywriting. Some are free. Some are thousands of dollars. And some you can’t buy anymore.
And I’ve spent the last few years really nerding out on this stuff, testing it on my businesses, and seeing what works and what doesn’t.
I have created something I call Will’s Copywriting Bootcamp. It’s a series of 5 short lessons that give you the basics of copywriting. The goal is to make your emails, sales pitches, Facebook posts, etc all dramatically more effective.
I’ve broken everything up into 5 chunks that get sent to you every day by email.
So sign up, watch your inbox, read each email, and you should see a massive improvement in your ability to write persuasively in just 5 days.
Here’s What It Will Do For You
In this free course, you will learn:
Day 1: The exact mindset you must adopt to compel people to take action. (And a little mental trick to help with this.)
Day 2: How to pick who to sell to. (Most people forget these 3 “duh” questions that would let them eliminate most people who will never pay or who aren’t a good fit for you.)
Day 3: The single most important element of any action-getting message. (And 5 templates you can steal.)
Day 4: A simple four-step formula that takes your reader by the hand and gently pulls them all the way down to the “buy now” button.
Day 5: What tugboats can teach you about selling higher priced ($500+) products and services.
Here’s What To Do Next
To get Will’s Copywriting Bootcamp, just enter your email in the box below and click “Enlist!”
You’ll get an email to confirm your signup.
Click it to confirm, and I’ll start sending you the lessons one-by-one.