The Boron Letters
Published in copy notes. Tags: copywriting, letters, notes.
Overall Takeaway: A lively discussion on marketing and copywriting in the form of letters written from copywriting legend Gary Halbert to his son Bond Halbert, there is a lot to takeaway, and much of it is very easily understood because, well, they’re written by a master of sales letters and copywriting.
Books I bought because of this: Scientific Advertising & The Robert Collier Letter Book
Notes and Highlights from ‘The Boron Letters’:
On copywriting routines:
This is why writers need a strict routine which gives them the best possible chance to be in a pretty good mood for work.
Another trick my father taught me was to work in libraries because we humans are such social animals, it is really hard to be in the library and not try and work.
You will lose ideas trying to remember how to record a note on your phone. One idea quickly rolls into another, so keep a pen and paper nearby at all times.
On showing up:
Everyone wants to climb the mountain, but the big difference between those at the top and those still on the bottom is simply a matter of showing up tomorrow to give it just one more shot.
On depending on yourself:
You see, when you depend on others, you give yourself an excuse for failure. “It’s not my fault if she forgot to buy my vegetables.” And so on. Don’t set yourself up like this. Depend on yourself.
Rely on your own strength instead of somebody else’s compassion!
On going over the goal:
Going over and over plans is a good way to make sure everyone is on the same page and remembers small things.
Write down your goals and go over them every day, not just once a year.
On money and getting paid:
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.
This is why you should try to get paid as often as possible and spell out simple agreements via email.
On putting yourself in your customers’ shoes:
Describe what it looks like when happy customers receive the benefit of your product. For example, phrases like, “My clients wake up all excited and can’t wait for the morning because………… they love to sip coffee while opening their email to see how much money they made while sleeping.”
Another simple way to get a reader interested is to tell their story by telling your story with the problem your solution solves. The key is to switch to talking about them as soon as things get better in the story.
On copywriting and marketing fundamentals:
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.
At least this is our main attraction. So, what’s let’s do is let’s help him to picture in his mind the benefits of having more money. Don’t think it’s not necessary. Remember, you must always do even the obvious. Here then, are some benefits of having more money: New car – impress your friends and family, ride in comfort and luxury Nice house – comfort, luxury, and status Peace of mind – no worries about bills or financial emergencies Vacations – money lets you travel the world, go where you want when you want
On closing a sale:
I am very thorough when it comes to closing a sale. Here’s a little of example of how I do it. “Would you like to get in on this great investment opportunity? Would you like to be one of the privileged few who actually own a piece of the finest beach in Maui? If so, it’s easy to order. All you have to do is fill out the order coupon and send it to me with your payment, etc., etc.” One thing I want to stress is that you must be very clear, very specific about what you want him to do. Lead him by the hand and take him exactly where you want him to go. Tell him where the order coupon is.
As part of your nugget notes, describe the benefits emotionally. You may swap “you will be able to choose what to do with your day” with “you will have the freedom to choose what to do with your day.”
On writing bullets with benefits:
When you write bullets…the basic pattern should be specific/blind fact, benefit. Only 20 Minutes leaving the rest of the day free to do anything Why The 4 Way Guarantee Crushes The Competition A Four Line Note Which Cuts Refunds In Half! You will also find your second choice headlines make good bullets. There are no hard and fast rules; not even the rules of English apply.
On handwriting good copy:
Now, here’s why I want you to do all this: you see, what happens when you actually write out a good ad in your own handwriting is that the words, the flow, the sentence structure, the sequence of information, and everything else about the writing of that ad becomes a part of you. This isn’t just an empty experience. This is a way of internally imprinting on your mind and body, the process of good writing. If you do this often enough, you will soon have a deep “inside out” understanding of what it takes and what it feels like to write a good piece of copy.
Let me tell you a little tale about a man I very much respect who was not above doing this sort of thing. He wanted to become a great writer (he was!), and so what he did was take great books and copy them (in a sense he was actually writing them) in his own hand-writing, just as I am instructing you to do. He did this for a long time. Now here is something else he took the trouble to do: since one of the books he wanted to write involved what it was like to cross the ocean under horrible conditions, what he did was travel the ocean himself in the bowels of rusty old freighters.
On making your copy easier to read:
Well, as a matter of fact, I first blah… Now, naturally, we don’t want to blah, blah… And, of course, here is what she said blah, blah, blah… Now, here’s a few more great ideas: Ask questions once in a while and then answer them yourself. Like this: Bond, do you understand what I am saying? You do. Good, then let’s go on. Etc. How do we get the benefits? The answer is simple. All we have to do is etc., etc. Can you imagine that? I know it seems unbelievable but facts are facts! Etc., etc., etc.
You can make your copy easier to read by the judicious use of parentheses. For example, if you want to tell people that your offer is good anywhere in the U.S. (except Alaska) the proper use of parentheses, as I just did, makes the copy easier-to-read, easier to understand and provides a little “eye relief” for your reader.
On pricing your offers:
Ideally, you want to offer first-time buyers three price points. The Cheapo Option Which Has What You Need The Deluxe or Mid-Priced Option With Some Bells and Whistles The Supreme Package With Prestige Service
You see, if you don’t have an explanation, your “deal” won’t be believable, and you may not get the sale. Here are some common explanations for good deals: “I’m going out of business.” “I just had a fire and I’m having a fire sale.” “I’m crazy.” (all used car dealers) “I owe taxes and I’ve got to raise money fast to pay them.”
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.
On the most basic marketing mistake:
What is that mistake? The mistake is finding or developing a product FIRST and then looking for a market to sell it to. This is backasswards. 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.
On increasing believability of your copy:
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”.