Good day PRL reader!
I’m at the dining-room table, finishing my licorice tea and wrapping up this week’s post about an excellent book on direct-mail marketing.
If you send email or physical mail to your clients… this book might be just what you need to increase your conversions.
The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert and Bond Halbert.
Gary C. Halbert was a well-known (and well-paid) writer of successful direct-mail sales letters.
He made and lost a fortune in direct mailing and other business ventures… more than once.
In the early 1980s, Halbert went to Boron prison for tax fraud.
While he served his time in this minimum-security Club Fed, Gary Halbert wrote the letters in this book to his son Bond.
Intending to give his son an education in the direct-mail marketing field, Gary Halbert’s letters cover a lot of business advice and general philosophies on life.
At the end of each chapter, Bond throws his two cents in as well, shedding some light or expanding the topics in each letter.
The first half of The Boron Letters gives an overview of marketing via direct-mail, as well as some health advice to his son. The second half of the book is about copywriting and the letters themselves.
If you’re writing letters (or emails) to your customers, or are otherwise working with clients, this book is a worthwhile read.
Here are ten things that you’ll learn… but the book has so much more…
Ten Things You’ll Learn in The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert.
1, How You Feel Affects How You Think
Halbert opens his book talking about the importance of exercise and eating well (with an 1980s tilt), and projecting self-care and self-respect. These all contribute to a better-performing individual across every aspect of your life.
This may not seem evident, but our brain’s function are highly impacted by our body’s health and the food we eat. Many people don’t understand the connection between their stomach and their brain. The two are literally connected by the vagus nerve, with your stomach’s bacteria sending messages to your brain (driving your cravings, by the way).
He also hits on the idea that persistence is the key to success.
2, The Money Is Where The Enthusiasm Is
Halbert tells that we’ll make money when we’re enthusiastic about the work, not when we’re doing the job only for the money. He suggests hiring someone for their enthusiasm as well, not because they might be the most qualified, but because they’ll like working in that position. (Good life advice).
3, Get Paid Often
If you’re contracting with a client, it can be hard for them to write a very large check, or for them to continue paying for your services after writing such a check.
To help make the money seem a bit less alarming, Halbert recommends a frequent pay schedule. It can save your relationship with the client.
4, Be Skeptical About What People Say… And Watch What They Do
Halbert knew, as many of us do, that how people describe themselves and how they actually act may be two different things. For example, apparently “nobody” watches the Survivor tv show anymore… yet it’s still on TV. And “nobody” reads the National Enquirer.
People want to associate themselves with the better things in life, with values, with discipline. If you watch their activities, their calendar, their spending… you might come to another conclusion.
Sell what people really buy, not what they say they buy.
5, Customize Your Message
When you’re able to customize your message, it helps people to realize that yes they can benefit from this solution. It’s not a generic solution to a generic problem. It’s specific to him or her.
If you’re able to take a generic solution (How to Make More Money!) and market it to different segments (How Plumbers in Atlanta can Make More Money!)… all the better.
6, Tips On Letter Writing
Since I’ve started my (near-) daily emails to our PRL list, these tips have come in handy to help make a connection with my readers.
Halbert suggests opening your emails with the date and time, your location, and a brief description of your activity before moving on to the purpose of the letter.
Now, you should address the reader by name, if possible.
Use simple, everyday words. Use transaction words between paragraphs, like anyway or now.
Provide plenty of “eye relief” to your reader. (White spaces and parenthesis will do that for you.)
7, Ask For a “No” Response
We don’t hear about this tactic much.
Halbert’s direct-response marketing letters occasionally included a self-addressed stamped envelope. The SASE itself costs money and lends an air of importance to the direct-mail letter.
If the letter did it’s job to hook the reader, his response was requested in that envelope — even the reader intends to decline. (“Let us know if we should close your account…”) Once someone starts putting pen to paper, Halbert says, he might reconsider your offer.
If you ever send a piece of direct mail, “The Boron Letters” chapters 13 and 19 lay out the individual sheets inside the envelope, the type of paper to use, the order they should go in, all that fun envelope stuff.
9, Research a Market — Don’t Try to Create It
People are buying things now. You only need to tap into that market. There is a magazine named SRDS that publishes lists of industries and businesses, and related mailing lists to rent.
(Of course, you can do a similar thing online.)
Find an interesting list, research the topic (including other DM letters and promotions), write a report… and then write your sales copy, selling that report.
“The Boron Letters” was the first copywriting book I’ve read, and the first place I came across AIDA — Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
Your headline must grab attention, and be relevant to the sales copy. If it’s unrelated, people feel cheated and will quit reading your letter.
The letter must interest your reader with interesting facts about your offer.
Then you kindle his desire by discussing the benefits of your offer, painting a picture of his future happiness or health or what have you.
Finally, you ask him to take action, to fill out the order form right then and there so that he can get these benefits for himself. You describe the very action you want him to take.
There you have it, 10 great insights from Gary Halbert’s The Boron Letters.
Don’t let the cover scare you off!
The ideas and methods inside The Boron Letters have made Gary and Bond Halbert a lot of money… and many other people…
These are time-tested ideas.
And they can help you to make money as well.
There are tons of valuable ideas in Halbert’s book that can boost your returns in any advertising or mailing.