The Boron Letters

Gary Halbert, Bond Halbert
"Therefore, truth, my good son, can be determined NOT by how people use their mouths, but rather, how they use their wallets."

3-Point Summary
...

  1. This book is a culmination of advice, journaling and documentation from the mind of Bond Halbert who wrote these letters to his son whilst in prison.
  2. A lot of the book contains ramblings of what Halbert was up to that day and not particularly beneficial for the reader. Whilst there are some great lessons in there on life and writing copy, the information is provided in a sporadic fashion that readers may not appreciate.
  3. Despite wishing this book had a structured focus on copywriting, it's a privilege to gain insight into the mind of what some consider to be the best copywriter of all time.
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Quotes and Notes

Rely on your own strength instead of somebody else's compassion!

The money is where the enthusiasm is. Please remember this! Remember it also, when, in the future, you need to hire someone. Always look for the most enthusiastic person, not necessarily the most qualified.

Now, of course, all of these things are important and you must learn about them, but, the first and the most important thing you must learn is what people want to buy.  And it's easy. You see, the way to deduce what people want to buy is to simply observe what they DO buy!  It's as simple as that. But be careful. You want to know what people actually DO buy, not what they SAY they buy.

What I am trying to teach you here is to constantly be on the lookout for groups of people (markets) who have demonstrated that they are starving (or at least hungry!) for some particular product or service.

Having something to upsell customers will always beat trying to make your website look fresh and upgrading to 3d buy buttons.

You see, the way I look at it, if you halt your forward progress every time you get a little tired or irritable or whatever, then you are suffering from a lack of discipline. On the other hand, if you keep pushing when you are chronically tired or really sick, then you are a fool.

As someone once said, "Most of the world's work is done by people who didn't feel much like getting out of bed."

All of us, including thee and me, have a slightly shrewd idea of ourselves. We often try to convince others and ourselves that we are something we are not, something we have an idea we "should" be. Therefore, truth, my good son, can be determined NOT by how people use their mouths, but rather, how they use their wallets.

It has long been my belief that a lot of money can be made by making offers to people who are at an emotional turning point in their lives. For example, when they have just had a baby, just gotten married, just lost a loved one, just gotten a raise, just filed bankruptcy, just purchased a new car, and so on.

The more honest you are with your true self and others, the faster you will see what really motivates people.

Nowadays, it is so cheap to segment and customize online promotions by interest, sex, age, location etc., and it’s cheap to customize headlines and subject lines.   You can easily afford to set up a sales page with a headline like, “Where To Hide Your Gold Coins At Home!” for traffic from gold buyers and then set up another page with a headline, “Where To Hide Your Diamond Ring” for people who just bought rings.   Customization is so cheap, and most the other guys fail to use a lot of it, so this is an excellent way to lick the competition.

Quite obviously, people aren't getting to order from you unless they read your promotion and, also, quite obviously, they can't read your promotion unless they open the envelope.

First of all, that little baggie filled with dirt just sort of reaches right out and grabs you, doesn't it? If you received this letter, wouldn't you be wondering, "What's in this baggie?" "Is that dirt in there?" "Why would somebody be sending me a baggie of dirt?" And, consciously or unconsciously, you would be thinking, "I better read this and find out what it is all about." And, you see, we now have not only captured our reader's attention, we have gotten his "focused" attention. Quality attention.

It’s Better To Be In The Spam Box of A Primary Email Address Than To Be In The Primary Box of A Spam Email Address! Worry about getting a good address before worrying about deliverability and what words will get you labeled as spam. I usually get double the industry standard open rates and a lot goes into getting 50% and higher open rates but it all starts before prospects enter an email address. You still need great subjectlines and a lot goes into what the list is trained to expect. If you want to learn more about this end of what I do, visit bondhalbert.com

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.

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.

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 unconfusing.

What does AIDA stand for? It stands for ATTENTION, INTEREST, DESIRE, ACTION. So, to make it clearer your letter should: 1. First, get his attention 2. Second, get him interested 3. Third, make him desire what you are selling 4. Compel him to take whatever action is needed to get whatever it is you are selling.

“If you are writing for applause... you will go home with empty pockets!” Write for money!

The key is to go through many edits……….cutting everything out until….cutting any more would be cutting something the customer would like to know. Chop long sentences into two short ones. Besides… short statements are more emphatic! Break up paragraphs, and if you’re writing for online, use one to two line paragraphs.

Now, listen up. When a person first looks at something you have written it should be something that looks inviting to read. Easy-to-read. When he looks at your page of copy he should be drawn to your copy like a convict is to a Penthouse Magazine. Your page of copy (be it letter or space ad) should be laid out in such a manner as to be an attractive "eye treat" for the reader. This means wide margins, a certain amount of white space, double spacing between paragraphs, short words, short sentences, short paragraphs and an attractive, inviting layout.

Now my son, listen and listen closely. Whenever you write an ad it should look, in so far as possible, exactly like a rave review written by a reporter.

And this: You either hook a reader or lose him when he very first looks at your ad or DM piece. Not when he reads it, but when he first looks at it.

If you use pictures they should be, as a general rule, of an upbeat nature.

By the way, before I forget one little-known fact that is kind of interesting, women like to see pictures of women in ads and men like to see pictures of men. I forget why. I just remember that surveys show this to be true.

If you are going to use a second color in your letters to underline words or something, you should use RED. If you enclose a photograph or a simulated photograph, you should make sure it does NOT look cheap, limp and soggy. Instead, it should look crisp, clean, glossy and clear.

Isn’t that a lot more powerful? You bet! The words “dramatically increase your sales volume” do not even begin to conjure up the visual imagery of “a bushel of money.” So, write like that. Bring your story down to earth and hit ‘em where they live. (In their hearts and their pocketbooks!)

So anyway, today I'm going to start by telling you about a little trick that will improve your copywriting. And that little trick is to read your copy out loud. What happens when you read your copy out loud is that you will verbally stumble over all the places that are not smooth. Then, of course, what you do, is rewrite the rough spots and read the copy out loud again. And, what you do, is you keep repeating this process until your copy is completely smooth and you can read it without stumbling at all. You see, advertising writing needs to be the best writing of all. It needs to flow from start to finish without a bump or a bubble.

You Must Always Find A Market First... And Then Concentrate On A Product!

Products are a dime a dozen. They are important, but much less crucial to success than finding a hot market. I'll tell you this: A guy with a new product cannot always find a hot market for that product but a guy who has uncovered a HOT MARKET can always find a product to fill the needs of that market.

Believability is one of the top most important ingredients of good MO & DM promotions. One way to increase believability is to give exact details. Instead of "most car owners" write "77.6% of all car owners". Instead of "you can lose lots of weight" write "and the average reported weight loss over a 31-day period was 37.5 pounds for men and 26.3 pounds for women".

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