17 replies
Hey folks,

I was scouring through Gary Halbert's letters a few days ago. After about 20 minutes or so, I chanced upon his letter that addressed wannabe copywriters.

Basically he said that anyone who wants to become a full time copywriter in the first place should do these 2 things (among others):

1) Read a list of recommended books - no real worries with this. Amazon does seem to have most of them.

2) Read and rewrite (word for word) a bunch of adverts.

And I quote:
O.K., now that you've read all that material, what's next? This: I want you to get a copy of the following ads and direct mail letters:

"Do You Make These Mistakes In English?"
"What Everybody Should Know About This Stock And Bond Business"

"The Nancy L. Halbert Heraldry Letter"

"How To Burn Off Body Fat, Hour-By-Hour"

"At 60 Miles An Hour The Loudest Noise In This Rolls Royce Is The Ticking Of The Electric Clock"

"Why Men Crack"

"How To Collect From Social Security At Any Age"

"The Admiral Byrd Transpolar Expedition Letter"

"The Lazy Man's Way To Riches"

And, in general, anything you can get your hands on that was written by Gary Bencivenga, Dan Rosenthal, Joe E. Kennedy, Pat Garrard, Steve Brown, Drew Kaplan, Claude Hopkins, Joe Karbo, Ben Suarez, Joe Sugarman, Gene Schwartz and, of course, yours truly.
Question. Where would one be able to get their hands on such a resource?

I have no intentions of using them as swipes, or copying. Or whatever along those lines. I want to get as good as I can. I've been reading. And I really want the hands on practice that he recommends.

I've tried searching Online, but haven't found anything that would be of much help.

Could anyone point me in the right direction please?

Cheers
#crazy #gary #halbert #tip
  • Profile picture of the author Andrew Gould
    Hey Prashant,

    Have a look here:

    For Copywriters | Ryan McGrath
    Signature

    Andrew Gould

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6218525].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
    Cool tip. : )
    Signature
    "Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity."―Joseph Sugarman
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6221669].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author V12
    This is an incredible resource for those who want to study copywriting and marketing:

    Free Marketing Interviews |Business Marketing Seminars | Internet Strategy Secrets and Information
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6416633].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author jimbo13
    Originally Posted by Prashant_W View Post

    1) Read a list of recommended books - no real worries with this. Amazon does seem to have most of them.

    2) Read and rewrite (word for word) a bunch of adverts.
    I honestly believe he wrote this as a joke.

    When you copy something out you take so long you don't really have a flow and therefore you certainly don't become attuned to the author.

    Practically the whole English speaking world had to copy out entire tracts of Shakespeare. Actually non- English speaking countries do this also.

    Yet it doesn't make anyone a Shakespeare or even remotely like a Shakespeare for the reason I gave.

    And people have been copying his stuff out by hand for 400 years.

    You are only looking at 6 or 7 words, then writing them down, then look at the next 6 or 7, then writing them down etc until the end.

    You will be lucky to do 6 or 7 I was being generous.

    If you have a newspaper next to you then copy out any 5 paragraphs from an article and you will see you have no train of thought whatsoever.

    I'm writing this to save you time.

    Just read whatever ads he recommends and you will get a feel for it as you will be reading in real time obviously.

    Want to be a horror writer? Read James Herbert or Stephen King or someone esle. See what style suits. No writing course ever tells you to copy it out by hand because that is plain stupid.

    Won't help one jot.

    Dan
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6416896].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author videolover7
      Originally Posted by jimbo13 View Post

      I honestly believe he wrote this as a joke.

      When you copy something out you take so long you don't really have a flow and therefore you certainly don't become attuned to the author.

      Practically the whole English speaking world had to copy out entire tracts of Shakespeare. Actually non- English speaking countries do this also.

      Yet it doesn't make anyone a Shakespeare or even remotely like a Shakespeare for the reason I gave.

      And people have been copying his stuff out by hand for 400 years.

      You are only looking at 6 or 7 words, then writing them down, then look at the next 6 or 7, then writing them down etc until the end.

      You will be lucky to do 6 or 7 I was being generous.

      If you have a newspaper next to you then copy out any 5 paragraphs from an article and you will see you have no train of thought whatsoever.

      I'm writing this to save you time.

      Just read whatever ads he recommends and you will get a feel for it as you will be reading in real time obviously.

      Want to be a horror writer? Read James Herbert or Stephen King or someone esle. See what style suits. No writing course ever tells you to copy it out by hand because that is plain stupid.

      Won't help one jot.

      Dan
      Dan, you heretic!

      You've disagreed with a legend. Naughty, naughty.

      You'll never amount to anything more than a steaming pile of doo-doo.

      I'll bet you even use an online thesaurus instead of mindlessly paging through a worn out book!

      LOL

      Seriously, I agree with you.

      I think the goofiest explanation I've heard is that writing out successful sales letters by hand implants the techniques in your brain's neuro pathways... or some such drivel.

      Remember man, if you don't do it "their way", you can't join the club.

      VL
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6417672].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Ken Hoffman
        Originally Posted by videolover7 View Post

        Dan, you heretic!

        You've disagreed with a legend. Naughty, naughty.

        You'll never amount to anything more than a steaming pile of doo-doo.

        I'll bet you even use an online thesaurus instead of mindlessly paging through a worn out book!

        LOL

        Seriously, I agree with you.

        I think the goofiest explanation I've heard is that writing out successful sales letters by hand implants the techniques in your brain's neuro pathways... or some such drivel.

        Remember man, if you don't do it "their way", you can't join the club.

        VL
        What's drivel is being so close-minded about something that more than one person who's massively successful has advocated doing to improve their copywriting.

        Why?

        Just to be contrarian?

        I'd rather make money.
        Signature
        http://www.warriorforum.com/warriors...ost-sales.html
        Professional Direct Response Copywriting
        50% Off Limited Time Offer!
        "http://www.profitproducingcopy.com"
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6488784].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author V12
    So Terry Dean was joking too?

    Secrets to writing Million Dollar Sales Letters

    And read Peter Lowe's testimonial on this Ted Nicholas site:

    How I Sold $400 Million Worth of Products and Services

    Just two examples. There are tons more.

    Actually, here's one more, and this is the clincher from the great man himself, Ted Nicholas (Marketing Secret #26):

    http://www.tednicholas.com/87/87_Marketing_Secrets.pdf
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6417041].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author jimbo13
      Yes they are.

      Do as I said and see if you get in the groove of the newspaper writer. You wont.

      Every copywriter on this forum has read all of the Halbert letters and many would have copied them out as instructed too.

      So lets see them write a half convincing letter in his style for a remote control for my TV then.

      I won't hold my breath.

      Dan
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6417123].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
        Originally Posted by jimbo13 View Post

        Yes they are.

        Do as I said and see if you get in the groove of the newspaper writer. You wont.

        Every copywriter on this forum has read all of the Halbert letters and many would have copied them out as instructed too.

        So lets see them write a half convincing letter in his style for a remote control for my TV then.

        I won't hold my breath.

        Dan
        No, you're wrong.

        Maybe every copywriter would like to pretend they've written them out by hand. The truth is, most probably haven't even read them.

        Copying out controls is something I've done loads of times. Sometimes the same ones over and over and over again.

        I haven't done too badly.

        And, if you want me to write something for you to 'test' my abilities, I have only one thing to say, first... wait for it...

        ... wait for it...

        ... you ready?

        ... here it comes...

        ... Show me the money!!!
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6417277].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author V12
    So Halbert and Nicholas were both joking. What do they know?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6417155].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author jimbo13
      How to make money out of people.

      Look, I'm simply suggesting how you can save time.

      If you want to copy all that stuff out by hand then that is not any of my business.

      I'm open for you to prove me wrong. You can choose the object you know best if you like. You can post your letter in 30 days.

      Copying a sales letter is absolutely no different from copying any other form of literature is it?

      You don't get a flow when copying.

      That is why authors don't sit copying out books. Script writers don't spend their time copying out scripts either.

      Whoever wrote Friends didn't copy out M.A.S.H or Cheers.

      It is only Copywriting people who seem to think this would be a good use of their time.

      Dan

      .
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6417218].message }}
      • Originally Posted by jimbo13 View Post


        Copying a sales letter is absolutely no different from copying any other form of literature is it?

        You don't get a flow when copying.

        That is why authors don't sit copying out books. Script writers don't spend their time copying out scripts either.
        Except Hunter S. Thompson :rolleyes: :
        Peevish Penman: Learn to Write by Copying a Book Word for Word
        Signature
        Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
        - Jack Trout
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6417803].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
    Back in December a study was published in the journal Human Brain Mapping titled: Neural Correlates of Creative Writing: An fMRI Study.

    The researchers wanted to see what areas of the brain lit up during the creative writing process. As controls they had each subject read a passage and copy a different passage by hand.

    The results showed that reading and copying by hand activated the same brain areas, EXCEPT that copying by hand also lit up the left rolandic operculum. This area is associated with sentence level syntactic encoding. It was also activated when the subjects were asked to produce original writing samples.

    So the brain pays extra close attention to syntax both when writing and copying.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6418502].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Jomuli3
      Originally Posted by Pusateri View Post

      Back in December a study was published in the journal Human Brain Mapping titled: Neural Correlates of Creative Writing: An fMRI Study.

      The researchers wanted to see what areas of the brain lit up during the creative writing process. As controls they had each subject read a passage and copy a different passage by hand.

      The results showed that reading and copying by hand activated the same brain areas, EXCEPT that copying by hand also lit up the left rolandic operculum. This area is associated with sentence level syntactic encoding. It was also activated when the subjects were asked to produce original writing samples.

      So the brain pays extra close attention to syntax both when writing and copying.
      Good research work.

      Copying great sales letters can definitely help improve copywriting skills. Babies learn by imitating what adults say. A new copywriter could do well copying great sales letters.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6419623].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
    Just a quick stop in to give you some Halbert food for thought...this is reposted from the Seeds Of Wisdom forum...
    8888888888888888
    Let me share with you a radical belief given to me by Gary Halbert in a biker's bar in Barberton, OH. I thought at the time, Gary was full of sh*t, and I held to that opinion for many years...however, it turns out, if you think about it and can get out of the way of your brainwashed beliefs from a 140 years of marketing BS...

    as Gary said, “Your enemy in sales is not your competition, it is your prospect. You are at war with your potential customer, and once they surrender their money, they become your prisoner of war.”

    I might add that both Gary and myself had more than one cool refreshing beverage in us...as he was waiting his turn at the pool table. I just laughed at him and said Bull Sh*T.
    *********************
    Now we both had a background in sales, in fact, he helped me get a job at a local mail order company but his very RADICAL thinking about competition and the prospect...well, I pretty much ignored it for decades.

    BUT, I think there is something to it. The BATTLE you fight in your copy is between your words and their wallet. You WIN only after they surrender their money to it.

    WAR is, of course, an oft used metaphor in marketing, from Jay Conrad Levinson's GUERRILLA MARKETING to adaptations of Sun Tsu's ART OR WAR IN MARKETING.

    Maybe Gary was right...if you are open minded and don't have a box you need to think outside of.

    The battlefields of world history have taught us many lessons, at the cost of millions of lives. Keep that in mind when you start to take you and your copywriting too seriously.

    But the elements of combat, strategic, tactical and operational elements are not unlike those of copy.

    Today's warfare is very different from many wars of history, in that, there is no clear cut goal, no exit strategy...no way to declare victory.

    In your copy, VICTORY happens when your opponent waves the white flag and gives you what you demand from them.

    So, another way of looking at your copy...and then using your knowledge to fill in the blanks could be

    Purpose or Intent VICTORY
    Intelligence
    Strategy
    Tactical
    Operational including Support.

    Thinking of your potential customer as the ENEMY, is radical thinking, even for Sir Gary...but, consider he WON many victories on the battlefield of copywriting...and well, gulp, maybe he wasn't as full of sh*t as I thought.

    Quick survey...how many of you have studied Sun Tsu and ART OF WAR? And how many of you are familiar with Lt. Col. John Boyd?

    gjabiz

    PS. Gary's concept of your customer as a prisoner of war, well, when you see many affiliates of the big name IM guru's touting their captor's stuff...maybe there is some room for thinking along these lines? Put your prisoner to work for you and extract even more moolah from THEIR efforts...hmmmm.













    Originally Posted by Prashant_W View Post

    Hey folks,

    I was scouring through Gary Halbert's letters a few days ago. After about 20 minutes or so, I chanced upon his letter that addressed wannabe copywriters.

    Basically he said that anyone who wants to become a full time copywriter in the first place should do these 2 things (among others):

    1) Read a list of recommended books - no real worries with this. Amazon does seem to have most of them.

    2) Read and rewrite (word for word) a bunch of adverts.

    And I quote:

    Question. Where would one be able to get their hands on such a resource?

    I have no intentions of using them as swipes, or copying. Or whatever along those lines. I want to get as good as I can. I've been reading. And I really want the hands on practice that he recommends.

    I've tried searching Online, but haven't found anything that would be of much help.

    Could anyone point me in the right direction please?

    Cheers
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6445224].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Laura De Giorgio
    Originally Posted by Prashant_W View Post

    Hey folks,

    Basically he said that anyone who wants to become a full time copywriter in the first place should do these 2 things (among others):

    1) Read a list of recommended books - no real worries with this. Amazon does seem to have most of them.

    2) Read and rewrite (word for word) a bunch of adverts.
    That's write. We develop any skill by imitating others. If you do sit down and copy ads that you like, you program that stile of writing into your subconscious mind, and it begins to influence the way you write. For that matter, whatever you read will also influence your writing style, however the first thing any copywriting program will tell you to do is to sit down and copy down on paper the ads that you like, and more importantly those that have proven to be effective.

    In addition, while human traits and interests might not have changed much throughout time, the way people buy and the best way to write copy does change in relation to different cycles of the product you are selling, how familiar are people with it. An item that seemed like a breakthrough 25 years ago is not a breakthrough today, so obviously the copy would change to match the appeal it has for the target audience.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6445579].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
    I posted this in another thread, but this one is about the exact same thing so I'll say the exact same thing.

    Do you think learning to play a song someone else wrote will help you get better at writing your own songs?

    Do you think looking at other performances of a role will help an actor give their own best performance in that role?

    Do you think that learning to paint with the techniques of the old masters will help you become a better painter no matter what your own style?

    The answer in those contexts, as well as this one is, "yes, obviously". But what's also obvious is that it's not the SOLE COMPONENT to those ends. It's just part of the path, and even then, certainly not a required stepping stone.

    I don't read other people's sales letters to study. But that's not to say I don;t read a massive amount about other topics specifically relevant to my work. For me, I'd rather learn WHY something worked, and think of a way to implement it, than simply learning solely to mimic someone else's schtick.

    But ymmvaat.
    Signature

    Fair warning: It's possible I'm arguing with you because I have nothing better to do.
    Join my free copywriting group on Facebook: http://CultOfCopy.com

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6488822].message }}

Trending Topics