The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert

Gary Halbert is known as the Godfather of Copywriting, and someone I have just recently discovered. He wrote a series of letters to his son during his life. This series is called “The Boron Letters” and they catalogue many of the life lessons Gary had learned. Here, I try to capture the core message I take from each of those letters:

Chapter 1 – Exercise one hour every morning, 6 days per week, right after waking.

Chapter 2 - Eat Fruit. Eat high-fibre cereal. (Fast one day of every week. Treat this as your rest day; physically and mentally.)

Chapter 3 - Eat vegetables. Cut them up each night and store them in a plastic container which you will take with you the following day. Drink a glass of milk for protein and calcium. Eat at least one serving of meat. Eggs contain a lot of cholesterol.

Chapter 4 - Be lean. Strengthen your arms. Be self-reliant.

Chapter 5 - Money is where your enthusiasm is. Understand what people want by observing what they already buy. Look at the numbers and find the reality.

Chapter 6 - Find the “starving crowd” – people who desperately want something. Use precision for targeting your customers…not en masse. Your best customers are…already your customers.

Chapter 7 - Recency (how recently did they make a similar purchase?), Frequency (How often to they mae a similar purchase?)  and Units of Sale (How much do they spend on similar purchases?): all good measures of a good potential customer. Sell people what they want to buy.

Chapter 8 - Read everything there is available in your industry. Make insights and find opportunities.

Chapter 9 - Personalise your marketing to the audience “Doctors” or “16 year old kids” and <Name>

Chapter 10 - Tailor marketing right down to the finest detail. Use resources already available to create new “composite knowledge” of value.

Chapter 11 - Make sure your marketing is read (opened, seen etc). Grab the viewers attention – do something out-of-the-ordinary that demands them to enquire further (attach a bag of dirt to a letter).

Chapter 12 - Lead the reader by the hand. Make things personal. Cover all the stops to enable low-barrier to action.

Chapter 13 - Test to see if adding a barrier to make marketing more personal will have a net gain of more sales.

Chapter 14 - Don’t bait-and-switch. Use a mysterious object and tie back the message to the mystery.

Chapter 15 - When writing copy, make sure you get all the materials you need and familiarise yourself with them.

Chapter 16 - Use AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). Use a relevant attention grabber. Secure interest by providing facts or information of value to the recipient of the message. What benefits does the recipient get that excite his desire? Give very clear, very specific actions to complete – as much detail as possible – and apply urgency.

Chapter 17 - To become a better writer. Write good writing. Find good writers and copy their work in your own writing…

Chapter 18 – Pay close attention to the way you format your marketing. Make it look good, but don’t make it look like it’s meant to look good (noticeable). Make it fit in with what the reader is there for; don’t make it look like an ad. Don’t “sell”

Chapter 19 - Make your reader salivate at the sight of your ad. Clean, crisp, high-contrast works best for first impressions. Invite the reader to feel good (a “lift”).

Chapter 20 - Never make a decision when you are HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired). It is the act itself that counts, not how far you go in doing it. Get and and go; regularly.

Chapter 21 - Have a good explanation for the deal you are giving! (This makes it believable) Use visual imagery.

Chapter 22 – Read your content out loud. Make it smooth! Find the market first, then design the product.

Chapter 23 - Be well-read, well up-to-date on the area of your life you are passionate about and make money from. Know where you want to go and work towards that.

Chapter 24 - Attach some mysterious oddity to your advertising. Tie that to the ad. Don’t use cheap tricks!

Chapter 25 - Be self-aware. Know when you are having a good patch or a bad patch. When it’s bad, take time to re-strengthen and recover your resolve.

That’s the summary of what I took from this set of letters. I intend to read many of the others too: here.

I hope you enjoyed reading and learning with me. What did you learn? Let’s talk in the comments below.

2 Comments to “The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert”

What a great list of advice. Thanks for taking the trouble to hightlight these. I like that HALT advice of chapter 20

Peter
@sticknz

November 8, 2011 Reply

Thanks Peter. What a great man to learn from!

December 28, 2011 Reply

Leave a reply