Copywriting, Persuasion and Sales –
How To Learn and Use The Persuasive Skills of The Late Gary Halbert
While The focus of many businesses, has turned to the use of
the internet as the prime mode of delivering a marketing message,
I’d like to take a moment to remember the good old days, when a
letter, sent through the mail,was created in just such a way as to
make it irresistible to open.
And then, once opened, the headline magically compelled you to
read on…and on and on.
Reading a great copy, whether on the screen, or in a letter
printed on paper is like magic.
Each line “sells” you on reading the next,and the next, until
you have consumed the letter. And, if there is value for you
in the offer, you feel compelled to buy.
In a really well drafted piece of work, you know it’s fine to
buy and to evaluate the product or service that has been
presented so enticingly, because the writer has revered
or assumed all the risk.
There is a guarantee – perhaps even offering more than
your money back if you aren’t completely satisfied, delighted
or ecstatic. The guarantee might even be for a year.
Who would give such a guarantee unless the product
There is nothing to lose….except the incredible opportunity
about which you’re reading, and time is of the essence.
You don’t feel manipulated. You do feel curious, enticed, or
filled with desire at your new find or discovery.
There is nothing to lose and so much to be gained.
Perhaps it has even offered you a return of ten times your
investment or more, and within a reasonable period of time.
In any case, a great sales letter is like a “greased slide.”
Once you get on the slide and you just keep going and
going….effortlessly. And the author has, in the words of
Collier, “entered the conversation” in your head.
Well, there are a few great and persuasive copywriters
who were so good at this, that anyone with a desire to
bring value to your customers or clients has to read their
work and learn from the masters.
One of those masters was Gary Halbert.
Gary has since passed away, and on June 12th it is
the anniversary of his birthday.
He was prolific, and still has a lot to teach anyone
who wants to be more persuasive, in any medium.
Seek out his work and advice. It can be found at
a site still run by his son Bond at:
And enjoy a copy of this email from his son Bond
Halbert. Even if you have no interest in being a
better and more profitable business person, sales person
or copy writer, some of Bonds suggested ways of
honoring his father’s memory will make you a
better person and help you to discover a better life.
Enjoy! Here is his letter:
Dear David Frees,
June 12th should be called International Copywriters’ Day
because it is Gary Halbert’s birthday.
As with most great copywriters, my father loved stories. He
had an incredible appetite for books and movies which helped
make it easy for him to find the interesting story behind
products and services.
He would take in 4 or 5 movies a week and while growing up,
Kevin and I were always tagging along.
Pop would just grab the paper and scan it for a movie he had
not already seen.
The movies were always playing in Westwood or up on
Hollywood Blvd. and we would immediately head out to
wherever the movie was playing next.
If there was time to kill, we would head to a bookstore
where he could spend hours on end if need be.
To encourage reading, he bought us any book we wanted as
long as we read it and I do the same for my kids.
If there was no time to hit up the bookstore, we would go
So as you can imagine, my simple ritual is to take in a
movie and go to the bookstore on his birthday which reminds
me of how he taught us to enjoy life.
This year, his birthday falls on a Sunday and like me and
my dad, you may not like crowded movie theaters, so here are
a few other ways to properly celebrate the birth of The
Prince of Print.
1. Write about him. He loved to write and he wrote a ton
about himself so writing about Gary and spreading the
word of his newsletter is always a great way to pay
tribute. We’d love to read any stories about how he
affected your life.
2. Help somebody. My father always helped a lot of people
around him and some of his proudest moments were when
he raised money for charity. His favorite charities
were children’s hospitals and family abuse shelters.
You could also simply help a stranger in some form or
fashion and just let them know you are paying back
3. Forgive someone. He loved the phrase, “everyone is
just doing the best they can” and he is right. He
certainly wouldn’t forgive anyone for anything, but
he forgave a lot of trespasses and if you are
harboring resentment for someone’s bad behavior you
know wasn’t mean spirited but just a case of being
very lame, see if you can let it go.
4. Share some raw honesty. One of Sir Gary’s greatest
gifts to the world was his brutal honesty which cut
through all the BS and told people what they needed
to know. Share with someone a simple trick which
really helped make your life or business better.
5. Write a letter to your kids. No father ever gave their
son a greater gift than The Boron Letters. When you
write letters to your kids explaining things to them
they won’t learn in school, you end up sharing
yourself in a very profound way your kids will learn
to cherish more and more as they get older. They will
truly come to understand that you love them and see
that you have put time, energy and thought into them,
even when they were not around. Trust me on this.
So, if you are not near a good movie house and bookshop, any
of the above suggestions is a perfectly fine way to
celebrate the birth of the baby genius Gary C. Halbert.