Direct Marketing Secrets from The Boron Letters – An Interview with Bond Halbert

Bond Halbert
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Direct Marketing Secrets from The Boron Letters – An Interview with Bond Halbert

 

Bond Halbert has been in direct marketing since he was nine years old! Yes, you read that correctly. This is largely due to the fact his father Gary Halbert, (who is notoriously one of the best marketers of all time) was wise enough to train up his son to become the next generation of marketing talent. Bond was initiated into the world of marketing whilst still a boy, he’s been doing marketing pretty much his whole life so he knows a thing or two

The Boron Letters are a collection letters that Gary wrote to Bond whilst he had to do stint in Boron Federal prison. They contain some of the greatest marketing secrets you could ever hope to learn. They’ve become a cult classic in the direct marketing world.

In this interview Bond teaches how these secrets apply to both print advertising as well as in the digital age. Bond reveals…

  • The "Starving Crowd" rule which makes anything 10x easier to sell
  • Where to get fresh, super-targeted marketing data
  • The 3 phases of great copywriting
  • A clever technique which almost guarantees your prospect will open and read your direct mail piece
  • The formula which is at the heart of all forms of marketing and persuasion
  • How make it really easy for your reader to read by providing "Eye Relief"
  • And more. You can listen to the interview below. There is also a full transcript of the interview underneath.

Oh and by the way, if you’ve read the Boron Letters before, let us know what you thought of them in the comments section below…

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Joey Bushnell: Hey everyone, this is Joey Bushnell. Today I have with me a fantastic copywriter… Bond Halbert. Bond, thank you so much for being with me today

Bond Halbert: Thank you for having me

Joey Bushnell: Bond, how did you become a copywriter?

Bond Halbert: What happened was I was studying copywriting for a long time. My father, Gary Halbert, was known as one of the worlds greatest copywriters in history and he had started teaching me at a very early age.

I ended up being focused a lot more on hooks, offers and strategies which is the main thing he taught. But I really started in earnest writing a lot more copy when we started selling our own products. I worked with clients in the family business for so long that I didn’t want to take on clients or do anything like that. I ended up having to write for myself. I do a lot of writing but I mostly have to do it for our own products and services.

Joey Bushnell: I know you’ve just released a book called “The Boron Letters. What are The Boron Letters?

Bond Halbert: Well when I said my father started my education early I need to explain this. If someone has heard this before I’ll make this a really quick version because I know it can get tiring if you’ve heard it several times.

What happened was I was walking down the street with my father when I was about 9 or 10. He was down on his luck at the time so I told him I felt I was lucky because while my older brother got to grow up with him having a lot of money and doing all of this, I get to see how he does it. He decided right then and there that his main focus was going to be to teach me the business.

Immediately I was flying all over the country and being pulled out of school to go to brain storming sessions and very quickly became a contributing member to the team. So I was the only one doing this very first job as a list brokerage company and so forth. This was all around me being 9 or 10 years old.

Then a little later on what happened was my father had to do a stint in Boron Federal prison camp. It’s a long story but basically he was running a company and someone convinced him to invest all of the companies money into a list that was supposedly hot and pulling great results. The list turned out to be a dead list so they didn’t have money to fill orders. They charged my father with the intent to rip people off and he ended up after a lengthy trial going to Boron Federal prison for 10 months.

While he was there he wrote a series of letters to me teaching me the business, some life lessons and so forth. Then what happened was he took those and used them as a model for a book that he wrote which helped start and launch a paid newsletter, this was a long time ago back in the day. Then when he took it online he was the first big marketing guru online to take and show the real stuff online for free for anybody who was interested in doing so.

So all of that kind of thing boils back to thegaryhalbertletter.com, which goes back to the original newsletter, which goes back to the book which goes back to the Boron letters, which goes back to the very first letter he wrote to me on his 46th birthday. They are very unique letters and I just recently started adding and explaining background, how the things were translated, used and the lessons were updated in the future.

Joey Bushnell: These have become some what marketing folk law or gold dust. Thousands of people have read these letters and that’s what I wanted to ask you a bit about today. Can I ask you Bond the letters that your father wrote to you did you realize or foresee what it would turn in to?

Bond Halbert: I did see them turning in to an outline for a product, I could see that. What I could not see was the cult classic following that came out of it.

At one point my father asked me permission to reproduce the actual letters because they were my letters and they were personal between us. I said yes and he put some online but he has a hand written version where you can see the actual letters that he did.

I had met so many people over the years that not only say “This thing kicked off” and “This is what really hit me” but the most common thing we hear is, how many times they have read the book. You can go back to this book, even I do, and read it once a year and get more value out of it.

It’s the greatest gift I could ever get. I feel my dad’s love on every page and recently I did a blog post about “Thank God my dad went to jail” because while I was getting this incredible marketing education, nobody would really know it if it weren’t for the proof of those letters. You say your father was an admin or into plumbing or electricity, nobody assumes automatically that the kids are down there changing circuit breakers too. This is a case and example where my father was providing proof of this very early education so I get so much benefit out of them, I love them.

But I did not expect to have this brethren of people who have read the letters and wishing that it was their father who wrote those letters to them. Or feeling like they really get to know me so all of that was something that I did not expect in anyway whatsoever. I did expect it to get turned into an info product type of book, translated not the actual letters. So when I was saving the letters I knew I was saving the information but I didn’t know I was saving the actual letters that would get a cult following eventually.

Joey Bushnell: These letters are going to be the subject of today’s interview. We are going to take some of the educational pieces out of it and discuss some of those topics.

The first one that I wanted to ask you about was in the book your dad refers to “You must find a starving crowd”. Why must we do that Bond?

Bond Halbert: First, in marketing it’s very hard to even sell people what they actually really want. They have to justify the purchase in what they are doing. You may want a Porsche but you think I have to justify spending that much money on a car.

When you try to sell people stuff they are not starving for it’s horrendously hard. Everyone gets it wrong when they tell me “Your father could have sold ice to Eskimos” and they tell me that and they’re not paying attention. We would “sell heaters to Eskimos” because it’s an easier sale.

We do everything to put the odds in our favor and you still don’t get a 90% success rate as marketers. So you’re just putting so much of the field in your advantage when you have an incredible offer and a great deal to a crowd of people who are really starving for the solution to whatever you are offering.

Great hamburgers to a hungry crowd or medicine to people who are sick. So your chances of success are much much greater if you’re starting off with that. And in that first lesson my father explains and says “Look, I don’t want a heavy competition. I want  an advantage over other people”. He did not go and say get into contest and say “Let me see if I can sell the same things you were selling, just to prove we are better salesmen” he said “Give me something easy to sell so I can make more money”. And something that is easy to sell is something people are starving for.

Joey Bushnell: Great, what does it mean to become a student of markets?

Bond Halbert: Each market is different, even you yourself are a different person when you are shopping for different things that you are looking for, what you picture, what things you are doing, how much you are willing to spend and how long your relationship is with a company.

For example, what makes you think about going to buy a new car and your concerns about buying a new car, are completely different about your concerns and issues about that you are going to eat for lunch today.

So to know your market you want to know the size of the market and how much money the average customer will spend?

You want to know as much information as you can but you want to know how do the prospects talk when speaking about that individual product? You want to know the vernacular so it’s easier to put in your copywriting.

Great copywriting can be divvied up in to 3 phases…

Research which is where all the power is.

Then the phase I call the “Copy dump” which is just putting down that first draft or putting down even close to a final draft but putting it down on paper.

Then the clean up process and that’s where the professionalism comes in.

But the marketing research is where the power comes in. That is where you speak about your market and where to find these leads and how much it will cost to address these leads. There may be a lot of people out there but it’s very expensive to find, locate and communicate with them. You have to know all those in and outs about a market if you’re going to really do well.

Copywriters tend to specialize in a market that they do well in. So my father is one of the few who would have a runaway hit and record breaking winner in lets say diet, finance, heraldry and all these different categories.

The research is to the point where it’s so much easier if you already know the research and the hot buttons and everything else.

But in the Boron letters when my father is talking about market he is talking about knowing whether they have got money to spend, whether or not they are hot to trot for those products and are ravaging for anything new.

He is talking about knowing the numbers, the size of the list, they call it the hot leads but how many fresh names come in per month. If you hit one of those type of lists or you get into something that brings in a whole bunch of new prospective clients every month you can create a much better, bigger evergreen marketing campaign.

Joey Bushnell: In the book it mentions the SRDS. What is that and how can that help you become a student of markets?

Bond Halbert: The SRDS is the Standard Rate and Data Service. They produce these really big huge books and they are the books of people who have lists that you can rent for mail order. The SRDS, I’m sure you can still get in print, but the great thing about it is you can get it online so you can just Google it and look at it.

With the SRDS, you would flip through there and by category you could look and say “I’m going into golf and golf has got an incredible number of people who are paying lots of money for info products, all on how to take a stroke off their game.” So you see these lists and you can pick one that is particularly juicy that has a lot of fresh names coming in every month and run a test to it. It’s a great tool for sizing up markets especially for offline.

Now online there are all kinds of things that you can do. People use the Google searches and see how many times a particular thing is searching so you can get a concept of it. Online it’s so much cheaper nowadays to address and try and get the attention of the prospects so you can reach much smaller niches and make them profitable.

Back with mail order, the lists where a little bit more generic by category and interest, that was what you got. So you needed to know that size because lets suppose that you were picking on something that was too much a niche, what would happen is you would find a list but it would be a small list, it would not be worth putting together a campaign, testing, mailing and all of this other stuff.

But the main lesson here is that is you know the market first, you can then design a product that the market wants. That is the right way to go about doing things. Most people come up with an idea they come up with a solution to what they perceive as a problem, then they go out to sell it and it might not be what the market is actually looking for or wants at the time.

Joey Bushnell: Bond do you do a lot of direct mail pieces or is a lot of your work online these days doing copy for websites? Or do you do a bit of both?

Bond Halbert: What I’ve done is help a lot of people who are clients that are offline in doing mail order pieces.

I personally like to do a lot of writing online because I like to write a lot of shorter email letters than I would for long copy direct mail pieces and long copy space ads. So that is my preference to go that way but I end up helping and consulting a lot of people with their direct mail pieces.

Direct mail is very hot right now. There is lack of competition for it. People are not coming home to big piles of mail as they were before. The great things about that lack of competition is relatively speaking, it’s still pretty cheap to address and get those clients and have that undivided attention if you do direct mail right.

Even online the circulation costs, the circulation of newspapers has gone down so the price isn’t that much. But if you are targeting the right people who are reading the newspapers you can make a lot of money in space ads too right now because the cost of the advertising to reach each person is less money. You will have less competition in the newspaper itself and the people who are reading it are a demographic who has money.

Joey Bushnell: That’s quite cool that the online world has made things less competitive in the offline world.

The next few questions are geared towards traditional direct mail, through the letter box mailing. So my first question on this topic is why is it important to segment and customize our mailings?

Bond Halbert: This is true for online too. The reason you want to segment and customize out is you want to make sure that you are reducing waste circulation and grabbing more attention.

So when you would mail to an audience, let’s suppose your mailing out a thing for electric razors and it’s an offer for it. Every woman on your list, unless she’s married or has a partner, you’re not hitting the right audience. This may not be the perfect example because woman do often buy razors for men as gifts. Golf may be a better example that’s pretty heavily men. So you are going to mail golf to golf lists you are targeting people who are into golf so there are already showing an interest in it. They have raised their hands and given the ultimate vote which is their pocket book.

So you want to know how a prospect thinks, talks and most importantly acts. When you see they like to buy golf products and golf books on let’s say putting or taking a stroke off their game on the fairway then this is what we can create our book around.

If you were to take that offer and put it out into the newspaper there are a whole bunch of people that you are paying to reach that don’t play golf at all. So you must segment out and you attract those people.

But then it’s also easier to call them out by name, if you segment out an offer on how to make more money and draw more people into your business and you are sending it to a bunch of chiropractors and say “Hey, this is a hot new way Chiropractors are making $5,000 extra a week with very little work here in the Los Angeles area.” Then they go “I’m a chiropractor, I’m in the Los Angeles area and I would like an extra $5,000 a week.” It draws them in.

So segmenting especially online helps you because the way the people who provide emails are going is they are starting to target and say “an email from these people don’t get a lot of engagement from people who have our email”. So Gmail will say Bond has sent 1,000 of our people this email and very few people have opened it. Therefore we are going to start sending them and putting them in the spam box, that’s all the emails that are coming from me.

To get them engaged, if they have come on and signed on to my blog to learn about copywriting and I sent them a series of jokes or sent them a series of other things that aren’t segmented based on their interest and they start to lose interest and disengage from that then my open rate goes down and on top of that they basically start losing interest. When they lose that engagement I end up in the spam filter.

What I’m really getting down to is segmenting is really important because it helps you target the right people, it helps you make the most out of your advertising dollars but even online there’s a million other good reasons for segmenting that are very good like technically staying out of a spam filter. So segmenting is very good for being able to target and you’ll be much more effective at selling that way as well.

Joey Bushnell: So online the auto responder that you are using they should hopefully have some segmenting tools or customization tools. In the offline world do we need to find a list broker perhaps where we can find these very targeted lists or is that something we should build ourselves?

Bond Halbert: The way I look at it is, when you are offline and you’re in the direct mail space, let’s say it’s the golf product again, and this woman has bought a golf product. I wouldn’t take her off the list because she’s a woman, she still bought a golf product. So you have to do less of this online.

What you want to do is make sure you are cleaning the list of “Nixies” which are return mails and bad addresses from people who have moved and not forwarded their address.  You don’t want to do a lot of merging purging.

What you want in a list when you are looking for it is, you first want a lot of hot names because names get cold and stale. You may have a hobby about 5 or 10 years ago you just don’t do so much anymore like cycling or fishing. But when you were Cycling or fishing you probably went out and bought bamboo fly fishing poles and you were studying and reading books, you bought a lot of stuff on it. Now that it’s been kind of passé you haven’t bought any fishing products in the last 3 years, people have hobbies like that.

When you own the list what you want, is a list that is continually bringing in a lot of fresh new names then of course you would like a list that was really large. You want a list of people that are used to spending a lot of money per item. So if you had people who spent $3,000 on fishing equipment in the last year that is going to be better than people who spent $40 on equipment in the last year. Recent names are going to be better and a bigger list is going to be bigger to mail to.

The key to that is to make sure that you’re actually getting a good sample from it. You don’t want to have happen what happened to my father which is where people would come in and the list broker would say “Here, let me give you an average sampling of these names.” What they would do is give you some of the freshest, hottest and best names in the country hoping that your test would go well, hoping that you would then rent and buy the rest of the list form them.

My father explained in one of the letters or newsletters that there are ways to try and get around them. What he would do, is say “I want the first 1,000 names in this zip code” and they would say “No there is a bias there because these people are in Chicago and they are different from the people in Los Angeles”. He would say “Yeah I know there’s a bias but not nearly as big as the bias of you pretending the whole list is more responsive than it is.”

With the lists sometimes you’ll segment them geographically, you might even target them. You might look at lists and might only be buying the people in the Los Angeles area for real estate because that’s where you operate. There is some targeting that gets done but for the most part it’s not as detailed or intricate as the way you will target your own list with having them take a poll and tell them what you are interested in and segment them that way. Online has got so much flexibility it’s insane.

Joey Bushnell: How should our envelope look so that it has the best chance of getting opened?

Bond Halbert: Well, it either needs to look like a very average personal mail, you want to shoot for not even having a label on it. Nowadays it should just be printed and addressed normally, it should look like a palm mailing. Like my father would explain it should have the regular address that it would go to, an actual live first class stamp and the corner card which is the return address should have no name on it. In a regular envelope itself not being extra thin, having a window or logo on the back. The curiosity will drive them nuts and they will have to open that piece of mail.

Online you can do a similar thing. If I sent you a piece of mail that said this was coming from Mike at thegaryhalbertletter.com it almost drives you crazy not to open that email. That is so powerful, you can only do 10 of those and the service providers will not start trying to send you out 10. So they way I look at it is subject lines as forced teaser copy.

With your direct mail pieces you want it to be as simple, plain and as non from a business as you can. That’s why you use a live first class stamp, you don’t use metered mail and you don’t send in bulk rate.

People still do it to a degree and just like online they sort their mail over a garbage can. Trying to sniff out with their human spam filters is this something I need to open? This is a windowed envelope and it says it’s from Raleigh, North Carolina, these are always those credit card offers I throw that away. Just like we scan through our email boxes first trying to figure out what we can delete it’s the same kind of process.

That will keep you out of the garbage can. But one step further to complete this lesson is inside the thing you don’t want to open it up and have a bunch of coupons and other stuff fall out and make them think “This really did belong in the garbage can” and throw it out. So it’s important to avoid the “yuk factor” when they open that mail.

Joey Bushnell: So you would carry on in the same kind of way almost like a letter from a friend type of style?

Bond Halbert: Yes. If I sent you this letter and you got the envelope like that and you had to open it and inside all you see is a letter, your curiosity has not be satiated yet you still need to read that letter.

That is when the copywriting took place that’s when it grabbed your attention. Then it gave you interest in a story or hook and pulled you down and the grease slide begins. That grease slide is a way that makes it feel like “I can read just one more sentence” and you just end up falling through the copy. It’s not labored like “oh let me sit down with a glass of wine tonight and read it”. You want them sucked in immediately and before they know it, they have read the whole thing.

Joey Bushnell: Your dad used to send strange objects with the mailings that he sent out sometimes. I know in the Boron letters some of these include dollar bills which he sent out in the mail, he also sent out a little tiny bag filled with dirt so why would he do that? What is the thinking behind that?

Bond Halbert: Well, it has 2 effects when you send mail like that. It’s called lumpy mail, that helps get that mail open. The curiosity will still get you to open the mailing I just described. But if you feel something in there it makes you go “Hmm I wonder what is in there?”

Marketing changes over time. Right now, if you send something and they think it feels like a credit card in there, people will think that’s just another credit card offer and still throw it away. But if they think “oh that feels like a quarter in there” they might open it. But they didn’t feel the dollar bills so that leads me to the second reason.

The first reason is sometimes the lumpy mail will actually help to get it open but the second reason was it got your attention, it was a great excuse. So when you sent sand or whatever it was now going back to our letter. You received a letter and you can’t really tell who it’s from, you can tell it’s from me in Los Angeles but you can’t tell anything else. So your curiosity makes you open it, in there you see a small envelope and maybe a letter. So you have to open the letter.

You start to open the letter and you feel something and see there is a baggy of sand. Now you’re not just going “oh he just wanted to send me some sand” and throw it away. Your curiosity is going to pick that up and go “why is this guy sending me some sand?”. Then it immediately goes in and starts to explain and says “I know this is odd but I sent you a baggy of sand and I’ve done this for 2 reasons… 1. I need to get your attention and this way seems appropriate and 2. What I have to tell you about concerns buying beach front retail estate property in Maui for no money down.”

So it starts twisting into that and now because the list is targeted and you know this person is interested in buying property then you know you have hooked his attention and that is the beginning of the grease slide. So it’s all at first to get your attention, it feels much more personal and it stands out in a way that is well worth the investment.

So the higher the price point is the more you can afford as a grabber or something to get to your prospect. So my dad wouldn’t send out a dollar bill letter to sell a $3 report on your family name.

I remember an example, it was called one of the most expensive mail campaigns in history and I found it in my fathers files but I do remember finding it and emailing him the story. It was a press release story and the guy was taking up the principle except he was going after lawyers who have a lot of money with a very expensive product. He was sending them $50 bills in the mail. Since it was sent out via Fedex and stuff like that it was also a good way to get past that gate keeper because the lady at the front desk didn’t want to be caught stealing $50 from the box so they passed them straight on.

Joey Bushnell: Do you know if he got a return on his investment?

Bond Halbert: He said so in the PR article, in fact it should be up on my blog if you scroll through. It was just something odd I found in my files because I thought people might be interested to know what kind of weird things you would keep.

Joey Bushnell: So what you send them the object, for example the baggy of sand, it has to be relevant, it then tied into beach real estate. So is that a key factor? That it does have to be somehow relevant and tie in with the offer?

Bond Halbert: Yes, the more it ties in, the more it feels like it wasn’t just a trick to get me to open the mail and the better it is. It’s something that they can grab, you are getting their attention, they’re getting a visceral playing with this thing and this thing will sit around.

I one time just out of the blue because I got inspired, I didn’t even do this for a client or anything, I wrote a letter for a dinar using an Iraqi dinar. I found the dinars in my father’s apartment. I knew that he was thinking of using these as grabbers but he didn’t have an idea of what to use them for yet.

So what I did was I attached them to a letter abut 4 years ago and said “See this Iraqi dinar this is worth less than the paper it is printed on because even a blank paper has value. This is made worthless by the decisions of the man whose face is on the front of the dinar. Do you feel like the decisions in this country are going the right way” It goes down and it takes them right down the grease slide. All the way down to explaining how some good Americans are trying to invest in gold but probably the way to weather the storm that is coming is through Forex, the foreign monetary exchange because all the countries will be passing spending bills and balancing the currencies.

The important part of that lesson is first of all that would be cheaper than a dollar. Second of all because it’s money even tough it’s cheap defunct money, people have a hard time throwing away money. People who do not collect foreign money will have foreign notes sitting around the house for whatever reason. No one can seem to bring it on themselves to toss out money even if they can’t use it or if it 60 cents worth of coins in Liechtenstein.

So what happens is that sits around but the better part is when you mail them again and say “Last time I sent you this Iraqi Dinar” their heads are nodding yes or mentally they are nodding yes. “Remember back at that time we talked about gold and foreign exchange? And at that time if you would have invested in gold right now you made only X% or you would have lost X%. But the moves to be made to the Forex exchange are even higher.”

So if you have a more interesting beginning like you sent them the baggy of sand, an Iraqi dinar or something else unique… 1. It can cost less than a dollar 2. It’s lumpier than a dollar so it might actually do better job at getting the mail open 3. You get a series of yes’s in their head as you hit them again in another mailing.

They remember this thing that you were talking about and you are building that truth and credibility in who you are. Look at the credit card offers that they never stop sending you, they keep coming in but you don’t get this feeling “Oh remember the last credit card offer I sent you?” “No, you sent me about 14,000 of them and I don’t know you from anybody else”. But you will remember the guy that sent you an Iraqi dinar and you will probably remember the guy who sent you a dollar bill. You will definitely remember the guy who sent you a bag of black sand from the beaches of Hawaii.

Joey Bushnell: Absolutely brilliant stuff. My next question was what is the AIDA formula?

Bond Halbert: AIDA is the basic formula for all marketing but the way I like to explain this is it’s the basic formula for all human persuasion period!

When people talk about marketing as life, marketing is all human life. When you are trying to get your kids to do their homework you are doing the same process as someone who is trying to sell you a car.

First you need to get someones attention. That could be yelling at your kids “Hey get over here”, it could be whispering “Hey”. Whatever it is, you’re trying to grab someones attention. In advertising we think of it as a headline, that first shocking statement or that really sexy girl on a video whatever it is.

The first thing you need to do is get attention because if you don’t have attention the game is over. Imagine trying to convince anybody to do anything but they just can’t hear or see you or you don’t have their attention so it starts with that.

I is for interest. So now you’ve got their attention now you need to get their interest. I need to say “Come here” or “We need to start talking about this or that”. In an ad it’s usually the story part. It’s the part where your story becomes their story.

So I would start talking saying “I got your attention in explaining that I am going to teach you about open rates of 40% and up.” Now I’ve got your attention, I’m starting to get your interest. I’m going to tell you “When I first started mailing to my list I was disappointed to see how few people would open my emails. I thought it was horrible and tragic and so I waited and made sure I was going to spend more time building better content before mailing out to the list again. Low and behold then more people complained and the rate went even lower. Then I did the worst thing I could which was wait even longer and worked harder to make sure that I had even better content. Then I realized the solutions to why I was getting these lower open rates from a lot of people and what the reality was but now I’ve cured the problem.” So now my story has become your story, that is the interest part.

That slowly starts peppering in desire. This unfortunately was made very famous in “Glenngary Glen Ross” and they misconstrued the D as decision but it’s really desire. If anyone wants to send me spam or hate mail on that then I don’t want to bother. But you need to build up the desire for them to want the thing.

So then I could say “Then I found out about some little tricks that have increased my click through rate 400%. I taught this trick to my buddy and he took a 10,000 name list and went from a 9% to a 28% open rate.” Now what I’m doing is I’m fueling your desire for this product and this information.

Then the final things is to get people to Act, that is the A. So it’s attention, interest, desire and action. The action is where you are pushing them to make that decision to buy if they haven’t already made it. It’s the whole phase of closing or getting them to order and really see your sense of urgency, the reasons why they shouldn’t delay and so forth.

All human persuasion is based on that. You have to grab attention first and each phase could be shorter or longer. I’m seeing great headlines where it covers everything. Or in a simple tweet they could cover grabbing your attention giving a little bit of interest, fueling your desire and forcing you to act. There is no set rule as to how long these phases are. The interest and the desire one can blend into each other because if somebody is telling you the story of how they solved your problem you are going from interest to desire. So that phase will often get blended in together. But it’s the basis of all human persuasion and relationships.

Joey Bushnell: So that’s definitely applicable to both offline mailings, online and even just getting your kids to go to bed!

Bond Halbert: Yes! Door to door sales, anything.

Joey Bushnell: Back to offline mailings. It’s recommended in the Boron letters that we should include a reply envelope in our mailings. Can you give us a little bit of information about how we can use that effectively?

Bond Halbert: The reason you put in a reply envelope is you can’t leave anything to chance. Delay is death in sales and it’s even more true nowadays than it was before. We are so bombarded with messages that if somebody says “Well, I’ll think about this and maybe order it later” and they put it down. Over the next couple of days the other mail and messages that come in will start to cover that. Just like when you have an email and you opened it, you let it sit there for a while and then in a week it’s down under 200 other pieces of email that you said “Oh I might be interested in that later”.

So delay is death all the time in sales and you have to make the ordering process as smooth as possible so nothing stops them or distracts them from doing it. Good marketers will not leave anything to chance. They will bring you to a place where you should have a thought or conclusion to buy on your own but they won’t wait for that, they will tell you to buy. That’s why they pick up the phone and order. They are not leaving it to chance for you to figure it out that how you order is picking up the phone.

So they want to make everything as smooth as possible and one of the worst things that could happen is have them fumbling around to find a stamp and a return envelope to send the order in. You want to make it such that they from the moment they feel the word yes and making the decision to buy to completing the order, you want that to be a smooth, short and simple as possible.

Online that applies to the same thing. If you have software that says this is a returning customer and we can already fill out this information for them, you do it. You get everything as close as you can to saying the word yes. That goes with everything in marketing as well. When I go into a meeting or I go into something and I want something from someone, I try reduce down as close as I can so the only thing they need to do is say “Yes”.

You can’t always do that because you might be needing something from them but you are trying to make it so what they have to do to get you, what you want is the minimum amount required, the better off you are. You do not want people in your mail to stop and go looking for an envelope and a stamp to mail it. There is already so many chances that they are going to put this down and save it until later which is never.

Joey Bushnell: My last question was, in the book it talks about providing eye relief for the reader. So what is eye relief and do you have any tips to how we can implement that?

Bond Halbert: First of all, the best way to describe eye relief is, I like to show people the exact opposite of eye relief. The exact opposite of eye relief is a legal disclaimer. You will notice them in all caps, not broken up into paragraphs or short sentences, they are block writing from left to right hand side. There is no bolding or special formatting in there. Those are designed not to be read so they are the exact opposite of eye relief.

Let’s suppose you are going about your day, it’s Monday morning, the boss is going to be calling me, I better start jumping on taking care of this stuff online. You log on, you see your emails and you open it and you see one that looks what could be half of a book. Even if you want to read it, you’re going to put that off until later.

But the eye relief is what makes it easy to first make the decision to say “Let me check what this is about, I can read the first couple of lines”. Then each line leads them in a certain way where they want to read the next line then looking at the next line thinking “it’s short I can read that one”. You do not want them to look at it and go “Let me scroll this down, are you kidding me? This is about 20 pages of text! I don’t have time for this right now”.

But if you have enough eye relief and they can just hop into the first page and see what it is about then they can get pulled into that grease slide again. I could go on for hours and hours teaching how to perfect the grease slide and get people to read every word of your ad and pull them through it.

But what my dad was talking about, I’ll give you the basics…

Break up those paragraphs into small paragraphs. He liked around 3 lined paragraphs but you have to do it even shorter nowadays people read less and less and the attention span has become shorter and shorter. So online that’s an even shorter period.

Smaller sentences so breaking up those compound sentences.

Indenting this all the exact opposite, capitalizing the first letter of the sentence and lower case for the rest which is the opposite for the legal disclaimer.

Bolding and subheads. Subheads look like little headlines that are key points that need to be made, that are designed to do 2 things; emphasize a key point in the ad itself and copy you are writing but also take people who are skimming the ad and suck them in right there. Now they are in the grease slide because they read that and they start reading the paragraph below it which now starts pulling them down through the copy as well through all the desire points and to the point of taking action.

So providing sub-heads, indentation, proper spacing, making the paragraphs short making all of this short makes it easy for the decision to read it. Online you don’t want to go too far with this because people are OK with it but you don’t want 21 inch wide sentences. Your eyes are just going back and forth and it’s just really annoying. You don’t have to be as short as making them something that will fit on a cell phone. But the eye relief needs to match and look like it’s easy to read.

Nowadays you have to use templates, frames and things like that to make sure that whatever device they are reading it on, it fits properly. So on a 21 inch monitor it never goes out of 21 inches but it looks clean and readable on an iPad 2, an iPad mini, a kindle fire and a smart phone.

Joey Bushnell: So is that just a case of getting your site mobile ready?

Bond Halbert: For the websites yes, it’s the mobile versions of the websites. For email marketing it’s using frames and formatting services. I can’t go through all the tech it could be something that takes a long time, but here’s a quick tip… I have an iPad mini and an iPad touch. What I do is when I send up emails and send them out, I take a look at what they look like on all the devices.

Just like you should be looking at your emails to see how they look on the different browsers and your website to make sure that everybody is getting as close to the same experience you want them to have. I learned that one the hard way. I put out and launched these things, had a website and internet explorer couldn’t read it. I didn’t know that because I was using Firefox and it was like “Wait a minute Internet explorer is a pretty big one to lose”.

Joey Bushnell: So did someone get in touch with you and say they couldn’t get on the site?

Bond Halbert: Yes, they got in touch with me and told me about it a week later. Here I am all dejected “Oh, the offer didn’t work!”

Joey Bushnell: Bond, thank you so much for doing this interview with me today I’ve really enjoyed the time that I’ve spent with you, the information has been really great.

Where can we go to buy the Boron Letters?

Bond Halbert: The most popular version is the kindle version right now because I’ve added commentary and lessons to it. Some of the stuff we’ve talked about today but a whole lot more. You will get the full background and everything, plus it’s an easy place to go. So you can go to Amazon and you don’t have to have a kindle. You can read it on a smart phone or any other mobile device using one of their free apps.

The formatting can get a little wonky because my dad put in examples and I tried to format his letters exactly as they came. So sometimes he puts in little examples and if you don’t have the right sized font it looks a little off. On kindle and other devices you can say I want this to be in bigger font to make it easier read, that is flexible and dynamic. But you don’t need a kindle to read it and we have a version for $10.

But get it soon because we had a webinar that is available if you send a proof of receipt, it’s a Boron bonus at thegaryhalbertletter.com then you will get access to the replay of the webinar we did on email marketing with the lessons in the Boron letters. We did that with another email marketing expert so that for $10, it’s an insane deal. But if you just want the original letters with out any kind of updates whatsoever you can go and join thegaryhalbertletter.com and they are up there posted online as well.

Joey Bushnell: Great, is that your main website Bond? Do you have a website of your own?

Bond Halbert: I do, we call that the family website it’s more like the legacy website with thegaryhalbertletter.com. I have one of my own which is bondhalbert.com.

Joey Bushnell: Fantastic. I highly recommend you go over there guys because if you like the information that you got today there is a whole load more for you over there.  Bond, once again thank you for taking the time to do this with me today.

Bond Halbert: Thank you Joey I appreciate it.

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