In the direct response world everyone knows the name, Gary Halbert. He’s often called the best copywriter who ever lived. And if we could, we’d ask Gary to be on the show, but alas, that’s not possible, so we’ve done the next best thing. Bond Halbert is the guest for episode 83 of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Kira and Rob sat down with Bond to talk about his famous dad and the lessons he’s learned from a lifetime (literally) learning copy. We talked about:
• his path into the world of copywriting (it all starts with his dad)
• the story behind The Boron Letters and why Gary wrote them to Bond
• why Gary Halbert went to prison for a crime he didn’t commit (really)
• the 2-3 most important lessons he learned from Gary Halbert
• how he divides his work into thirds
• the four kinds of readers you’ll attract to your copy
• why copywriters are good at headlines but bad at closes
• what he does to nail the close
• the importance being persuasive in person (not just in copy)
• where good copy really comes from
• what Bond’s research process involves
• his hack for finding the problems your customers want to solve
• why expertise is relative (the differing levels of expertise)
• the formula he leans toward when he writes for his clients
• why you need to create a compelling sense of urgency in every sales message (and how to do it)
• why he wrote Part III of The Halbert Copywriting Method first
• how he talks differently about positive and negative ideas in his copy (we hadn’t heard this anywhere else before)
• how (and why) Bond’s relationship with money is different from his father’s
This interview was so good that it went a little long, but we think you’ll learn a lot from the extra time we spent talking about copywriting. To get this one, visit iTunes, Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. Or simply click the play button below. And of course, you can scroll down for a full transcript.
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Boron Letters
How to Make Maximum Money in Minimal Time
Glenn Gary Glen Ross
Big Jason Henderson
The Halbert Copywriting Writing Method, Part III
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
Intro: Content (for now)
Rob: What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits, then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Kira and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Kira: You’re invited to join the club for episode 83 as we talk with copywriter and marketer Bond Halbert about the most important lessons he learned from his father, the man many called the greatest copywriter ever lived; the story behind The Boron Letters; the formulas, tactics, and strategies he uses to make effective copy; and what he’s doing to carry on Gary’s legacy.
Rob: Hey Bond!
Kira: Welcome, Bond!
Bond: Hi! Thank you for having me here!
Rob: Yeah we’re thrilled to have you; when we made a list of all of the guests that we wanted to interview eventually on the podcast, your name was one of the first ones that we added, and so it’s taken us a little while to get to you, but we are glad that you’re finally here.
Bond: Oh! I didn’t know that, I would have come sooner! Laughs.
Kira: Laughs. This is perfect; perfect timing. Episode 83 is a good episode. So Bond, let’s start with your story, especially for people who are less familiar with you, you know; how—how did you get into this wonderful world of copywriting and marketing?
Bond: I’m going to try to make this really short, because I know I’ve given this to people who’ve heard me on other podcasts, and I like to give people as much, like, new stuff as I can, and tactical advice. Basically, my dad quit his last—got fired from his job—the day before I was born. And, he started getting into the world of copywriting and direct marketing on, basically, the day I was born. So, I grew up in the business, but, one day what happened was, I was talking to him—we were walking down the street—and my dad had this kind of rocky up-and-down relationship with money. And so, a lot of people don’t know it, but, you know, his ability to make money was only really eclipsed by his ability to blow it. And he didn’t do this on purpose—it took me many years to figure out that he was addicted to like, needing to have a big win, then making a big win. Laughs. And so, one time he was needing a big win, and I turned to him and said, “You know, I’m really lucky.” He said, “Why?” And I said, “My oldest brother got to grow up with, you know, all the toys and pleasures of being a rich kid. I get to see how to make it,” and he thought that was really, really smart thing for a ten-year-old to say. So, he singled me out and started, you know, because after… he started, you know, making money in copywriting. He made big wins, by breaking the rules and doing things the way he wanted; he decided he was going to parent that way too. So what he decided that what he was going to do is teach me from an early age; he wasn’t going to put me through the standard ‘go to high school; go to college’ blah blah blah blah. He started mentoring me right away, and he started taking me, you know, I was flying all over the country and internationally a little bit, on business trips so that I could learn what he was doing. He would explain what he was going to do; I would be in the meetings and hanging out with them, and then he would explain what happened in the meeting you know, afterwards—we called it, it was like from the military, we called it an “after action”, so, I started getting this incredibly early education. Even before that, I was stuffing, stamping, and sealing envelopes for test mailing as long as I can remember. I mean, as a little kid. Laughs.
Bond: So I’ve just been in direct response for ages, and that, that’s how I got into it. I know most people have a, you know, “I was sleeping in my car” story that everybody really appreciates—laughs. I…I just, you know. I was born into it, I will admit it. But I did earn everything that I know, you know? And a lot of times, what I would do it I would do a podcast or an interview and people would like, you know, do you mine talking about my dad, and I was like, “Sure, I love my dad; I’ll talk about him all day long, and if that’s all you want to talk about, I will.” But I little while into it, they’d realize it, you know, I did a lot of stuff on my own, and then eventually, my podcast, at the end, they stopped asking about my dad completely, and then recently we’ve been doing a lot more stuff to bring my dad’s, you know, highlight stuff. So, like, we’re going to be having a memorial seminar for his 80th birthday in June coming up. And, we do a lot of things to make sure that he’s not only in the spotlight still, which we don’t really have to do because as Parris Lampropoulos once said, “In the world of copy, all roads lead to Gary Halbert.” But, you know, to make sure that everybody knows that we don’t, we—everything. You know, my dad used to say this to me, and I give him credit and I say it’s true. He says, you know, “Every single thing that you do well, I get credit for because I taught you how to think. Everything you don’t do well, well, that’s your mom or somebody else.” Laughs.
Rob: I like that; I like that, yeah.
Rob: So Bond, the first time I think that I came across your name, I was reading The Boron Letters, which were letters that your dad wrote to you when he was spending some time in jail. I’m curious; you know, I think you were still really young when that happened, right? When you got those letters, was this stuff that resonated with you immediately, or did you sort of set them aside for a while, you know, until you were maybe mature enough to actually try out the things that Gary was telling you to do? Tell us the story behind that and, you know, how that all came about.
Bond: Well, I was fifteen—I turned sixteen while I was in there. So he was sending me the letters, but he was kind of more or less letting-getting his ideas down on paper and his thoughts and his lessons. You know, there were people who were friends of us that he would teach some stuff, but he didn’t really stop and like start mentoring, until me. And I’m not saying I’m his best mentee or anything like that. But what I am saying is, since I am the first, I saw these—all these lessons that he gave and training of all these copywriters that he’s famous for training. I was not only the first one, but I saw the lessons evolve over time, and stuff like this. So this was the very beginning of that. In fact, the Boron Letters is kind of like the outline for what turned out to be his newsletter. And then he took several of his key issues in his newsletter, and put them together in a book to produce his newsletter. The book was How to Make Maximum Money in Minimal Time, which will be available; again, CreateSpace, you know, stopped letting us use them unless they get a 70% commission, and we’re going to have that back up and ready to offer in about a week. But, in any case, that book promoted his newsletter, so this kind of started this whole thing: it was the Boron Letters. And for me, a lot of the lessons I was already getting for a long time but he was kind of rehashing stuff, but he was going into more detail. So it wasn’t as revolutionary to me when I received them. But what happened later, was I started to get a greater and greater appreciation. You know, when you’re older and you start to have kids you start to understand things about your parents that you get now, because you’re a parent, you’re in their shoes.
Bond: So when I had my son, I was like, oh man! I now get why my dad had this extra amount of patience for me he had for nobody else in the world. I mean, nobody. Laughs. And I always later revealed in like, “Why would you put up with me?!” I mean, he would have punched somebody else for doing that. And then I had my son and I was like, oh, wow, I get it. And what happened later on with The Boron Letters, I was like, oh my God, I get how special this is. And the best part about The Boron Letters, which is also a good piece of advice is, re-read it. I noticed that the quick, to the point books, like scientific advertising in The Boron Letters; you can pick them up and reread them once a year and there’s a hundred different nuggets in there and there’s several nuggets in every paragraph. And what happens is you turn around and you go, oh yeah! That’s right! I forgot—I need to start personalizing my campaigns; I haven’t been doing that a lot. Or, I need to start targeting in this way or that way. The books, the impactful books, are the ones you get more out of the more often you read them. And they’re great reminders that they should be read once a year. And I do it, several of us do it, you know, and it became a cult classic. It was really funny. My dad first said, do you mind if I publish these- some of the wild ones? I said no, go ahead. No, as in, no, I don’t mind. And you know, he did that and everybody just really loved the raw honesty of it and they loved the life lessons and by the way, none of it is contrived. That is the relationship my father and I have. Complete and total open honesty and this real closeness all the time. That was the way he and I were the whole ride. And I’m very fortunate for that. One of the things I consider myself fortunate for is having a great relationship with both my parents.
Kira: Now, for someone listening who’s like, okay, I want to read The Boron Letters, where can they find The Boron Letters today?
Bond: I’ll tell you! You can read just the regular version online at thegaryhalbertletter.com but I put out a version on Amazon where you can go and get the print version or the e-book version, but I’ve added commentary that explains what’s going on behind the scenes at that time. And it also helps update things to say, this is a more modern way that you’re doing this. So, for example, my dad, one of his big breakthroughs was figuring out how to get mail opened and read more, for direct mail. And then I used the principles and the concepts behind it and I started experimenting and started getting astronomically high open rates for email. And that’s according to Aweber and Get Response. They’re rep said man, you get really high open rates! Laughs. And I started doing that and—I’m not saying that’s all outlined in the book. What happens is, since the book was written so long ago, sometimes people don’t see just how this applies today. So the commentaries in there will help do that but they’ll also give you some behind the scenes look at what was going on from my perspective and my point of view because while he was writing these letters, I was also driving out there to deliver his work. I was his messenger and liaison between his clients and him while he was there. The added commentaries are about those. And you can get that on Amazon—I think it’s like $10 for an e-book, maybe $20 or something for the print version. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. Laughs.
Kira: Okay, and you mentioned while he was there, and you’re speaking about prison, right?
Kira: So for someone who’s not as familiar with your father, can you share why he was in prison and also, what was that like for you as a fifteen year old, to have a father in prison?
Bond: You know, it wasn’t something that I was like totally ashamed or shocked of or anything like that… and the one thing that happened was, my dad actually did get railroaded for something he did not do. I know a lot of people say that but I can actually prove it. My dad had a long history of running direct mail campaigns and stuff like that. In 1976 he started running a commemorative plate campaign, where they were making plates to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the country. And so he needed some money so he went to a list broker and the list broker said I got a really hot list that would buy these commemorative plates. And he said okay, it’s a big list. He said okay, give me a thousand names to test.
My dad didn’t know any better at the time, so the guy gives him a thousand names, but he doesn’t just give him a thousand names, he takes that list and compares them with other commemorative lists and he pulls out the thousand names that are on every single one of these lists. So the test does really well. My dad orders up all of the names, he starts to mail to make money and get this in while the anniversary is hot. Well, of course, the list doesn’t perform the way that the test does because not everybody is such a hot buyer, and as a result, they couldn’t keep up and make all the orders and the refunds. Somebody complained to the postal inspectors. They come by and they see that my dad is living in this really expensive house, which he rented, but at the moment he needed money.
Remember? I told you—this is a rocky relationship with money. So, my dad makes the foolish mistake of inviting them in and saying here, come on, look at my books, I’m telling you, this is an honest mistake and this is how it happened. And they just used all of that as evidence to prove that he intended to run this ad and he never intended on fulfilling the orders. Even though he had a long history of fulfilling orders and building companies that did, right? So in any other instance, it would’ve been a company that just filed bankruptcy, right? But anyway, it’s a long, long story about how his trials went, because he had—he won an appeal that he said he shouldn’t have won but he got convicted of something he shouldn’t have been convicted for.
But when he went in there, he was very nervous before he went in. That was the scariest part for both of us, right before he went in, and not knowing what it was going to be like. Once he was in there, it turned out to be one of the best experiences of his life. He got into shape, he immediately said you know what? I didn’t do this, but I’ve done other things and I’m considering this cleaning my karmic slate and I’ve done my time and after this, I’m going to come out and I’m going to take the world by the horns, and he did, and he met some very savvy and influential people in there because he’s not in state prison, he’s in a federal prison camp. And I’d go visit him in the visiting yard, there was a limousine that was parked there because after a certain amount of time, you get a certain amount of doing your sentence, you’d get some leave time, where they would let you out for a weekend and there was a guy there who kept a limousine parked there so that he could hop into the limousine and immediately start having a good time, as soon as they released him for the weekend. So he’s not—I mean, he is in there with some murderers and drug dealers and all these people who are working their way from maximum level to being you know, out on parole or probation and everything, but there really were….you know, he was actually in there with some savvy folks.
Anyway, so, once he was in there getting in shape and doing his thing and everything else, it turned out to be something that hardened him, made him a better, stronger person, and you know, we both learned a lot from that. I learned lessons throughout that whole thing that have benefited me better in life. And I’m talking about legal lessons, and everything about it. So, it wasn’t a traumatic thing for me, you know, I will admit. But that’s the short version of how he got in there and what happened.
Rob: Yeah, and he has, I think…one of the issues of The Gary Halbert Letter, he actually talks about that whole process of what happened, which is really interesting to read. But, I’m really curious, Bond, about the copywriting and marketing lessons that you learned from your dad. I know there are probably hundreds of them, but if you had to pick a top three or four things that he taught you about copywriting, what would they be?
Bond: The number one mistake everybody seems to make in my opinion, and I think it’s my dad’s, is you know, they should really take writing out of it. Because the truth is, the writing isn’t the key part. It’s not the hard part; it’s not the talent. You want to be brief, concise. You want people to get your message, and most of all, you want to be compelling. You don’t want to be poetic. You know? It’s about persuasions; it’s about communications. You know, one of the things that people now really get a lot thanks to my dad is they shoot for a fifth grade reading level. I shoot for third grade, to tell you the truth, because nobody’s going to complain that “you’re too clear”, you know? So somebody will say, “Well you must understand,” and I’ll say, “Well you got to get.” Laughs. And the point that I’m making is, they worry about how they’re going to start that copy, and they’re worried about how they’re going to make this transition and everything, and that’s not the part to worry about. And, I’m going to give you lots of tips in this little explanation of what I’m trying to say here.
Bond: What I do is—and, everybody does it differently. Some people just research until they get it, and then they start writing their first draft. Other people, they have different formulas. I use “one-third, one-third, one-third”; that’s just me. I’m not saying it’s right for everybody. But one-third of the process for me is doing research. And so if you have three hours to write an email, the first hour is going to be research. That’s where all the power in your marketing comes from, because knowing and understanding your customer is more important than anything else.
The example I always use in the Domino’s Pizza campaign, because everybody was running on the idea, the “I got Mama Mia’s, Grandma’s from Italy’s famous sauce recipe for my pizza,” or “we use the freshest ingredients”, and everybody had heard that a million times. What nobody paid attention to is all the customers were sick and tired of not knowing when that pizza was going to be delivered. So Domino’s said, we’re going to do thirty minutes or less. Now, they could’ve said “half an hour or it’s on us,” “thirty minutes or it’s free”; they could’ve said “thirty minutes or less, or you don’t pay”….they could’ve put that offer any way they wanted, and they still would’ve crushed it. Right? Because they knew what the customers wanted. They did some research. And, and it doesn’t have to be a ton of research, but that’s what really made that offer fantastic.
So the power in your marketing is all in knowing your customers. And then, the talent really comes from after doing that research, or being part of the market. And, going through the processes yourself; the talent is in developing a unique—a big idea—which is either a unique hook, offer, or solution. And the solution could be a unique solution for the customers themselves like the “thirty minutes or it’s free”, or it could be a unique marketing solution like “how to get your advertising for half of what everyone else is paying”, right? That gives you the advantage. But that’s where the talent kind of comes in. And then, the middle-third is about walking around, gelling with all that in your head, getting your big idea, and then popping out a first draft. And that first draft can be as ugly as can be. It can be disjointed and terrible.
The last third is where your editing comes into play, and that’s where all the professionalism in marketing comes from. There’s anybody can have a great idea in the shower, or driving down the street in their car, and pull over and right down a headline. And you’ll see them write copy and I see this all the time; and you’re reading the copy, and it starts off really strong, and then just falls apart in the end, and there’s typos and everything, and it stinks. And you’re like, “Okay”. And I know exactly what happened. Because that person, you know, they didn’t edit it ten times. And the way it works is—and this is another tip—edit is complete passes, you know? Editing from the beginning and don’t stop until the end. Because what people will do is they’ll get on the computer, they’ll start reading from the beginning, they’ll find the mistake, they’ll fix it, then they’ll go back and start reading from the beginning again. And by the time they get to the bottom, the top’s been looked at and revised twenty times and the bottom has been revised once. Right? And the bottom is the close, right?
You have four types of readers: you have the reader that, you know, skims the headline, the bullets, the offer, the PS, and decides to buy or not; you have the people who start reading from the beginning and continue reading until they are sure that this offer is not for them, or they can move on without feeling like they’re missing something in their life; you have a third type that comes and then they, you know, they skim but they find something of interest like a subhead or a bullet and they start reading from that point forward; or the fourth kind, which skims it, and then makes the decision on whether or not they need to read it. And then they go back and start reading from the top. But, that means that, you know, the end is still very important. Yes, the headline is nothing. It’s a chain link. Everything stops at that first link; the headline doesn’t grab attention, so it is extremely, critically important. But, everybody really can do that, I think. Some people are better at it than others, but everybody is better writing headlines than they are writing closes. Right? Laughs. Because they have more practice at it. They don’t sit and then come up with the big idea for the close in the shower or in their car.
So, you know, you’re writing for those four types of people, and if you’re not editing all the way through and making sure you’re ending on a punch or in the middle you’re keeping them reading and stuff like that, you’re going to do yourself a disservice. Back to the original point: the shortest part of this entire process is actually writing that first draft. So, if you’re sitting around staring at a blank screen and wondering what to say, you either don’t know a hack for getting yourself writing, or you’re actually not ready to write. Because you know, you should be itching: “Oh, I got to tell them this; I got to tell them this; and I got to tell them that.” And you just start pounding that out, and not worrying about how smooth it is, and you smooth it all out during the editing process, which is actually—wasn’t really covered until I wrote about it. But, if you know it, it’s really a formula, you know? It’s not a talent. It’s something that you can do, and I’ve kind of proven that, and so the point of the writing part being the real quick part—it’s the knowing people. It’s like, “Oh I got to deal that’s going to make them want my offer more than anybody else’s. I got a solution, that…man, I wish I would have had this when I started in the market.” You know?
And that’s the offer I’m going to make and, you know, here’s what’s going to make it really compelling: “Oh, I’m going to make a double-your-money-back guarantee, because nobody is offering this, and I know that I can structure it in a way that nobody can cash in on the double-your-money-back guarantee. It’s really about persuasion and compelling; it’s not about the writing. You don’t want anybody to turn around and go, “Wow, he writes really well.” Laughs. You don’t want them to say, you know… It’s like going to meetings—I talked to my dad about that. He’s like, “You know, you don’t want to go into a meeting and have them say, you know, ‘she’s dressed well’. You want them to not notice that. You don’t want them to go, ‘wow, he showed up in jeans and a tee-shirt with holes in it’, but you also don’t want them going, ‘wow—look’, you know. You want them paying attention to your words.” You want them paying attention to your offer, and I think a lot of people think that copywriting is more about being a good writer.
And, it’s so—again, back to the original point—persuasion is about…. if you can persuade well in person, you can persuade well in print. And, my dad was experimenting with people and getting to know them, getting to know their hot buttons, getting to know everything about them in person, all the time. And that’s what translated into his writing. He did not write all the time; he didn’t write as often as most people who want to become writers writer. What he did was he experimented with people. So he would come up with ideas and hooks and he would run them by people and say, “Hey, I just figured out a way to do this and that,” and he’d see if it peaked your interest. And then if it piqued your interest, that might end up making it into a headline.
And, you know, he did a lot of time doing his research for products and services unless he knew the market really, really well already. And then he would experiment with people in person; he would pay attention. In fact, his most widely-mailed newsletter in history he wrote, he went door to door and would pitch people, and would pay attention to their eyes and their facial expressions to see where he was losing them, and what was exciting them, in helping him craft that letter. So you know, I tell people, good copy comes from good conversation. So if you say something that, you know, all of a sudden, everybody just laughs or everybody goes, “Oh, whoa! I can’t believe you said that!” and it grips them and now you’ve started a conversation, that’s going to be good copy in print too.
Rob: Yeah, I like that.
Bond: You know, I did that one time. I had a friend and I said if it wasn’t for The Boron Letters, people wouldn’t understand what an education I had so early in life, they would never believe it. And I said, “Thank God my dad went to prison.” And my friend just started laughing, and laughing. So, it became a subject line! Laughs.
Kira: Wow. So it seems like—this might be hard to hear from some of our listeners who are introverted and the idea of going out there door to door and speaking to people. Like, we just want to hide behind our laptop, right? But it seems like what worked for Gary was getting out there, and sitting with people and talking to people. And that was part of his process, that’s what worked for him. What else did you do in your research process that maybe was less attached to speaking to people face-to-face? What else worked for you?
Bond: Being a customer. You know? I’ll give you an example. I didn’t spend too much time with watch people. I collect watched; not really expensive ones, I only have a couple of expensive ones, but I have like seventy watches from like the 60’s and 50’s and 80’s and stuff. And, I was collecting watches; and, one thing that I hate is haggling. And so… but it’s a jewelry business, and in the jewelry business, you haggle, and they start off with really high prices and expect you to haggle down. So I developed these like strange techniques for getting a decent deal, and research or finding a good deal. And it wasn’t like I was spending a lot of time socially with people in the business or anything like that, so I don’t want the introverts to think, “Oh no that’s not me, you got to talk to somebody.” You have to talk to people the same way you have to talk to a car dealer when you go to buy a car; it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be your friend, or you want to, you know, become chums. Laughs.
So, what I did was I had learned some tricks that I taught myself, which is, I would print out, you know, a really great deal for the same exact watch I wanted from the internet, and put it on the paper where it was cleared, so when I went to the watch seller, I put it down on the glass, and I knew their eyes would glance at it. And if I knew the watch was $500 and I was willing to pay $250, because you can get, like, $50 off of Japanese watches—I would put $250 cash in my wallet. And all the other money would be in my pocket. So I would get him down and he would say, “Okay, you know, I’ll go for $280.” And I’ll say, “That’s a great deal, I’ll accept that,” you know? “That sounds good!” And I’d open up my wallet and go, “Oh, I’ve only got $250.” You know; he’s looking, and he knows he’s not going to get more than $250. It’s time for him to say “yes” or “no”, right? Laughs.
Rob: Good tactic.
Bond: Yeah, so he’d say “yes”, and they did it all the time, right? Because I knew that they made money; they got them cheap enough when they made plenty of money if they got it for 50% off for Japanese and 40% off for Swiss watches. I wish i had known that trick when I started. So all I have to do is write that up in a report, and say, you know, “Little known trick—you know—exposes the secrets and will allow you to buy any brand new Japanese watch for 50% off”, or you know, “Swiss watch for 40% off”. And then I can build a rapport that generates names and started recommending vendors and selling things to people and stuff like that.
So, the point I’m making is if you’re a problem solver, okay—and I’ll give you a hack for that if you’re not a problem solver—but if you are a problem solver, you can walk in the shoes of prospects; you can order online; you can do these things and find out what would’ve made the offer more compelling for you. What would make you feel safe for buying; what would’ve gotten your attention more? What it is when you go through it? See, because a lot of people don’t get that. When you’re with clients, you just sit there and you ask them why. And they expound on it, and then you say, ‘why is this?’ You know, it takes them forever to really get around and tell you something that’s juicy, you know? You’re with a client, who’s, you know, telling you about their college experience and all the same stuff you’d hear about the same stuff and their business. And forty hours later, they just drop and mention the fact: “Yeah, that was one of…I was lost at sea for a month.” Laughs. Like, really?
Rob: Yeah, that’s a story there. Yeah.
Bond: “Why didn’t you tell me that before?” Now, I can tie that into how time is precious to you. And if you’re not a problem solver, it’s really easy to solve problems: get together with a group. A group of people will sit there and solve problems. And, this is kind of a—like a preview of one of the things I’m writing about in my book right now, which is, what you do is you first tell people, okay. We’re here to solve this problem; we want to know how can we provide. What is it you’d like to see that these people don’t provide or, that, you know, there’s been a failure or would make things better? Can you let them all back that idea around and then prove it, you know?
Anybody’s in a brainstorming session, or what they now call masterminds, will you know—one person will have an idea, and that will spark the other person up for an idea how to improve the first idea, and it bounces back and forth, and gets kind of honed. Then the second thing—and you wait to do this—the second one is, you say, now how can we provide that solution and do it cheaper? And then they’ll start working on that. If you start off and say how can we provide a solution that’s cheap, they will all sit there and go: “I was going to say this, but I’m not going to say this now because that sounds too expensive.” So you have them first work on the solution, then you have them work on, you know, how to get that solution inexpensively. And you’ll come up with something that’s, you know…that’s unique.
And, I was telling this to a dental student. And he said, “You know what”—because I said, you know, a lot of the money seems to be inventing these tools like the [Gracey?] which is a type of scraping tool….I don’t even like to think about that. But, he says, “Yeah that’s true, but I’m not, you know, that kind of a thinker.” And I said, “Well you just get together with a group,” and he goes, “You know what? The guy who’s now 3D printing and patented the process for 3D printing dentures did exactly that. He got a group of dentists together and said, “How can we do this and that?” They all ping-ponged it around, and he took the idea, patented it, and now he’s making a lot of money. So you can do “Groupthink”.
Well, if you’re not a problem solver and you’re walking in the shoes of your prospects, even if you don’t really communicate with anybody else in the industry, even if you’re doing it online or through mail order or through space ads or whatever, my dad did most of his research—he would read four or five books on a subject that was new to him. And, believe it or not, being an expert is relative: back to the watch thing. My friends all think I’m an expert in watches because I know the brands, and I can change watches, and I can fix bands. Laughs. To me, a “watch expert” is somebody who can, you know, swap out faces and dials and modify a watch; an expert is somebody who can take apart the watch completely, oil it, lubricate it, adjust it, and put it back together. So those guys…a watch expert is somebody who can manufacture parts to repair a watch. To those guys, an expert is somebody who can actually design and make their own actual movement and watch. And so, there’s always an expert. “Expert” is relative to other things, and most of the time, if you read four or five books, you are an expert at something that people who don’t know very much about it are. You know? You take three of four copywriting courses, you’re an “expert” in copywriting compared to a business owner who doesn’t know anything about copy.
Bond: It’s all relative. And so when you’re doing your research, you can do it in forms—that’s another great place, you know. And if you’re shy, you just do it anonymously but you can you… It’s a lot easier for an extrovert, because I can go and ask a question in a form and I can ask a question like, I get into an Uber, and I like sociable people so some of my friends are like, “Hey, how you doing” for the day. I get in there and I go, “Oh, what’s the best day…you’re favorite day to work? When do you get the most money?” You know, and stuff like that. I asked him business questions, right? Laughs. And they give me some answers and you’re surprised. So, I’ll ask you guys. Do you know—in Uber—do you know what’s one of the most profitable days for them to drive?
Kira: Groan. I don’t, no.
Bond: Take a guess; take a guess. And I was wrong when I made my guess! Don’t be afraid to make a wrong one.
Kira: I mean, I would’ve guessed a weekend like a Saturday or Friday night.
Rob: Yeah, maybe a Friday night? Yeah.
Bond: Friday night is what I would’ve guessed, right, because you know, even if you have a car, you want to go out and drink and be safe, or whatever. It’s actually Sunday.
Bond: And I’m not saying this isn’t….you know, I’d have to statistically prove it, but I was shocked to hear Sunday was good. But when you heard about it, you’re like, okay. That makes a lot of sense. Because a) people are going to pick up their cars that they’ve left on Saturday night. They have a routine and a route, you know, carpool to get to work and get about their work life that’s figured out. Sunday is the day when they’re like, “You know, I’m going to go to the beach today.” You know, and so the people without the cars go, you know, hop on it on Sunday. And…. But Sunday is one of the better days. And when you know that, and I’m not saying I’m going to, but if I was going to do a thing about how to make a little extra money and everything, and say, you know, and the great thing is, you know, Sunday, you get good money as an Uber driver, and you don’t have to fight traffic, the way that you do during the week. You know? And you can think of a whole new thing. So, it is easier if you are an extrovert. But as an introvert, you can still do research in form. You can still read the books. You can still do the research in numbers and the industry and all kinds of things and information that you would want and need that you don’t have to. Now, for an extrovert like me, that’s not nearly as fun as getting out and talking to people and finding out info that way. But, for an introvert, you know, it’s where they’re going to shine. So, yes, you can do lots and lots of good research and still be an introvert without talking to anybody.
Rob: Yeah. Interesting! So Bond, I want to jump back to an idea; I kind of had an ah-ha moment when you were talking about how the top of a sales page gets edited, you know, twenty, thirty times, and the bottom of the page gets edited once. And it’s like, I hadn’t really thought that through the way that maybe I should have in the past, so, I’m curious: what is your process for nailing the close? Are there tactics, or strategies, tricks? Anything that you do to make sure that that close is just buttoned up and works every time, you know? Are you spending that much time on the bottom of the page as opposed to the top of the page? Let’s talk about that a little more.
Bond: I spend the same amount on every element of the page as I do on every other element of the page, because all the writing, the offer and everything else is done in my head. The only time I actually spend more time honing is usually the bullets. But, I’m going to give you a hack, so that anybody can do it, for the closing and stuff like that.
Rob: Yeah, let’s do it. I like hacks.
Bond: Okay. When it comes to closing, it’s basically how much effort you have to put into the closing depends on the market-awareness, okay? So, for anybody who doesn’t know that it’s, how, you know, there are people who don’t know they have a problem. They don’t know they have bad breath, right? And so you’ll have to explain to them that, you know, “Hey look, people back off when you start talking to them”…laughs…and you have to make them aware, you know. They’re not even aware they have a problem. Then there’s the people who are aware of the problem, but they don’t know what solutions there are. Okay, you can change your diet; you can take these pills; you can use mouthwash; you can brush your teeth more often, and so forth. Then there are the people who are aware of the problem, and they know of different options, but they’re not sure which is the best option, and you explain to them why Listerine’s better than Scope, okay?
Then there is the people who they know of the problems that they have—and then this is a very basic, you know, example, but this is true with all marketing in this century, you know—and they know everything, and they just need to be given a good price. But then they need to be told why they’re getting a price that sounds too good to be true. The second factor is, how unbelievable is the offer, you know? Does it sound like, “Okay, that’s ridiculous”, or, is it not? So, the example I like to use is—and this is actually, I’m writing this in a book right now, the same book I mentioned earlier—if, you know, I say, “Hey, I’m going to take you across town”, you know a thirty minute drive and it’s only going to cost you $2, I have to explain that deal because that doesn’t make any sense to you, right? “How in the world could he do that?” If I say, “I’m going to take you across town, it’s only going to be $20 or 15 bucks,” you’re like, “Okay, you know. It’s kind of like an Uber; I can do that.” You’re not really questioning it. So the more unbelievable the offer, the more you have to explain.
So, one of the first things that you’re doing during the planning and conceptualizing of your campaign is what’s the offer, and the explanation of why you’re doing this offer, why you’re putting this together, and why, you know, you’re making it so good. And you have to explain it in a way that makes you go, “Okay, I believe that.” So that’s another part of the close. And then, so the harder it is, and I can’t do all of this, but you know, the harder it is to believe, or the big—and the third-thing is, how much money are you representative of their income; how much are you asking for? So, for example, if I go to a big developer who is always working on buying properties and buildings, tearing down homes and building thirty or forty McMansions, and I say “I want to sell my house to him”, he just needs to know the square footage, the cops in the area, where’s it located; that’s all he needs to know. But if I got to somebody, she’s looking to buy her first home, you know—how much information do they want? They want a binder full of information that they might not even read but has the answer to every single question they or their friends or any of their advisers might actually have. Right? Because it represents a greater amount of their income and their experience is less in the market.
So the greater these hurdles are, the more you have to put into the close, okay? The more you have to put in risk reversal, the more you have to put into explaining why you’re making such a good offer, and the more you have to convince them that you’re offer’s genuine, okay? If, the less that’s true you know, you don’t have to do that that much. You know, so, if you say, “I’m offering this for 90 bucks; it used to be a thousand bucks, but I’m doing it for 90 because it’s easier for us to provide digitally and so-forth,” everybody goes nods their heads and says, “That’s okay.” And so, the stronger it is, the harder it is to make that close. And, if it gets really, really difficult, this is a hack that I learned from my father, which is a fantastic one.
You know, the funny thing is I learned it, but, I learned it in person before I ever learned it and how to write it and use it. And so when I would have conversations with people—and some people, this after my dad had passed away—and they’re like, “Man, you sounds just like your dad”, and it’s…I’m always thinking, “Of course I do. Don’t you sound like your dad?” You know? Everybody does, but I realized it was in the way that I was arguing and the way I was making my cases and stuff like that. But my dad taught me this close, which is a really killer one, which is called What if I’m Right, What if I’m Wrong. There’s some great psychology in this, in the way that you do it. So let’s suppose I’m selling you something that’s really expensive. It sounds too good to be true; it’s an income offer, something like that. And I say, “Hey, I get what you’re feeling right now, and it sounds like this is too good to be true, but let’s put it to you this way: what if I’m right, and what if I’m wrong? What if I’m actually wrong and I’m full of beans; I actually don’t care about my home, my wife and my children here, and the life I’ve built over twenty years? I’m actually going to take your $2000 and I’m going to run off to Costa Rica and I’m going to blow it on drugs and scuba diving trips, you know? You’ll never see me again. Under that terrible, worse case scenario, you’ll probably have to get back to your credit card company and do a chargeback and wait sixty days to get your money back.
But what if I’m right? What if what I provide to you is a new way to make money that gives you the freedom and the kind of money to really do what you want and follow your passion in life, and the freedom to follow your passion as well? And it provides you all the XYZ benefits that you want, right?” So that’s a really strong close, and there’s a lot of things you can add to that. Just say, you know, “And in addition to that, I’m giving you refund time in case you have any doubts whatsoever that come up even after you’ve ordered,” and so forth, “so you can check it out, test it, and make sure that everything is as legitimate as I say it is.” And that’s a very strong, powerful close to get people over the edge. This is also in the book that I’m writing. For those four readers—you remember I was talking about all those readers?
Bond: Okay. Well, what I like to do is to make—you know, I want to make sure all of them read. For the people who are skimming, you’re kicked over the edge. And, I’m not a big fan of templates, but I do make sure everything I do follows the formula or A.I.D.A, okay: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. If you watch the Glengarry Glen Ross movie, he got the “D” wrong. It’s not Decision. Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action, and that’s the formula. They can blend into each other, but they need to go kind of in that order. And, so, in the action part, you’re always compelling them to act. This is part of the closing as well. Closings, you have to give them—if people think that they can wait to make a decision, they will wait, and then they will forget, life will get in the way, and they won’t make the decisions, so everybody’s putting in a sense of urgency. And there’s no reason to put in a false sense of urgency. You can create real senses of urgency.
So, you know, what you can do is you can offer a bonus report that’s good for a limited time, and then just switch up and offer a different bonus. Right? And then later bring back the original bonus and say, “Hey, you know this bonus was really popular. We offered it a year ago and it’s been off the market. We haven’t offered it for a year, so now we’re bringing it back for a limited time.” Right? So everybody thinks that you guys are will do these like, you know… We have reputation and everybody knows when we say we’re going to do something, we do it. When we say we’re going to pull something, we do it. You know? Everybody says this link will be dead in six hours, and the link’s there for six months. But, you have to do a false sense of urgency. You can create real sense of urgency is getting people to do it, and you should. You really need to do that, because in sales, delay is death. And that’s a motto that you really need to stand by. It’s one of the mistakes I see most marketers are making these days, because again, they’re working on, “I got to great offer; I got to great headline; I’m going to work with somebody who’s fantastic,” but it’s that the one component i see missing all the time is not really doing a really good compelling sense of urgency that’s believable. But the top marketers, I do seeing them. And here’s how you do it: Let’s suppose you have that sense of urgency, and I don’t know what it is… Lets suppose you’re throwing a meeting for copywriters in New York, right? And…
Rob: But who would be crazy enough to do that?
Bond: Well I don’t know, it sounds….and let’s supposed you’ve got some really great people like Big Jason Henderson, and some unknown super-fantastic guys like Sam Markowitz and things like that.
Bond: But if you… Let’s suppose you round up some experts like that and you’re going to have them, right? You’re writing you copy, and you’re down at the end, and you’re like, how do I end this thing, you know, my P.S.? You say, remember you know, with these one hundred experts have changed a lot of lives, and can teach you, put you on the tracks.
But….actually, I’m sorry, let me give you the formula first. Let me give you the formula first. You say remember, then you do comma, and you repeat the benefit and then the sense of urgency. So you say, “Remember, at our even, there’s going to be thirty experts who have changed the lives of hundreds of entrepreneurs, and helped them get the lives that they’ve been after or building and writ fantastic copy and turn businesses around. But, if you’re interested, there’s only ten seats left.” There’s your sense of urgency, right? Okay. Well if you got that OCD reader who starts from the beginning and reads to the end? That kicks them over the edge, right? That person who’s skimming, that’s a compelling part of it. For the person making the decision based on the headline and the bullets and the P.S. and the offer; for the person who’s skimming it and trying to decide whether or not they need to read this, it tells them that, “Hey, this sounds interesting to me, but I better read it now because I have to make a decision.”
Bond: Do you get that?
Bond: So, that’s why that P.S. hack is good for all four readers.
Kira: Yeah, so…sigh. I feel like I took off my interview hat. I’m just like soaking this all up! I want to be on your list when your book comes out so I can read your book. Are you mentoring right now, or providing copy critiques? I’m just listening to all this, and I struggle with my close. I know I’m struggling with it right now, so selfishly I’m asking for my own work, but…what do you offer right now?
Bond: I do offer copy critiques. My brother and I both do it. The mentorship program that we’re starting to put together is actually a pretty high-end certification program where what I’m going to do is teach everybody research, walk them through, you know, developing the unique hook, offer, and solution from the research; doing the first draft and how to get them going; and then whether they’ve got writer’s block or not; and then putting in the editing process. But we do that on a one-on-one basis, and you know, you just contact at us at bond- or firstname.lastname@example.org, and we do offer that.
But for the most part, what I’m trying to do now is… My main focus has been the books. And I know Rob wanted to ask me about that. What I did was…you remember how I explained how I divide the work into thirds: research, you know; first draft; and developing the unique hook, offer, and solution, and the editing? Well I decided to sit down and write all of that. And, the first one done was the editing book. And so that’s already out there. And, that one was really exciting for me and the reason was, is because nobody’s ever done that. David Ogilvy says, “I’m not a great writer; I’m a great researcher, and I’m a great editor.” Right? Everybody else will say, you know, “Edit, edit, edit, edit.” Has anybody ever told you how to edit?
Kira: I’m an awful editor!
Rob: That does really happen.
Bond: Yeah; when I did that, I was like, you know, holy smokes. Nobody’s ever taught this, and everybody’s saying, “Edit, edit, edit”, and I was like, “Oh!” You know, I mean, I said you know, “This is a first.” It really motivated me to get it done quick so that you know, because I get the feather in my cap to be the first person to be the first person to ever write a book on editing copy. Laughs. You know, because everybody says there’s nothing new in copy. I’m like, “Well, here’s something new!” But here’s a good thing about that editing book, and I’m not here to push that because I’m fine without the sales from the book, but what I like about the book the most is some of it is stuff that I learned, not directly from my father. I learned it from recognizing patterns in his work. And, the one skill that I have that personality & aptitude tests say is “pattern recognition”. I’m good at recognizing patterns. So I would recognize the pattern I would see in the way that my dad would put things, and I would see that in other pieces of copy. And I was intro’d into what was effective copy, and what didn’t work, you know? I knew those things. You know. People will pass out swipes at my dad said “I don’t know whether or not it worked or not.” And they’re like, “Oh yeah! Laughs. You know, this is great copy.” It’s like, “Yeah it looked like great copy; it didn’t really work that well.” But, in any case, so I started recognizing patterns, so there are actually lessons in there that are Gary Halbert lessons that nobody learned before; not even his protégés, because he never verbalized them. He was too busy focusing on other issues and stuff like that. Not my dad’s editing formula had five things to looks for—or I think it was fine. It was break up your paragraphs; break up your sentences; it was look for the instances where you used the word “that” that you don’t need them. Called the “superfluous ‘that’ hunt”. Laughs. Like, why are you using a word like “superfluous”? Laughs. My dad had an incredible vocabulary; it’s just nobody would know it reading or talking to him. And, you know, he would insert subheads and stuff like that, but what happened was, I was like, “Okay. Here’s what I want to do and I want to look out for this, and this is what I do, and this is what I do.” Because my dad and I came up with two different worlds. He came up with the world where people type things out, and they had just started to invent the electric typewriter. And, there was really not that much in the way of corrections, so my dad—his process, he would do the research; he’d walk around, he’d get that *snap* ah-ha idea. And he would always snap his fingers too, and go, *snap* “Ah-ha! Got it!”
Bond: And then he would write down the big idea, and then he would stat perfecting the pitch in his head with an imaginary prospect. And then when he was ready, he would sit down and he would start writing and he would write from beginning to end, and it was as close to the finished product as I’ve ever seen any decent copywriter do. But that was because he grew up in those times. And then he would go through edits three or four times, but they were expensive to have done. And he did more editing. The more—the easier it was for his assistant, who started working with a word processor. I grew up with the computer, so I just pound out that first draft, and I spend my time reading and editing, polishing it and then it ends up sounding more like Gary Halbert’s stuff, right? It’s sounding like a Halbert because again, you know, you have the same kind of tone, intonation, arguing, persuasion techniques that you grew up with your parents, right?
I just happen to grow up with Gary Halbert. But it was the editing process that smooths my stuff over. You know, and I knew it was there when John Carlton’s like, you know, was reading something that was with my commentary, and he goes, “I couldn’t tell the difference between yours and your father’s writing.” Chuckles. I was like, oh, that’s a good pat on the back, right? But, the point is, the editing process was something that I turned around and put more time into it. So, I would do things…. I’ll give you an example from the book itself that most people don’t do. In copywriting, there’s a famous thing that everybody called the ITU Formula where they say that you should use “you” and “your” four to eight times more than you use the words “I” and “me”, because it’s always about the prospect. So they say, you know, I want you to always use “you” and… that’s not what the great copywriters do.
The great copywriters—and they, some of them do it by accident and they don’t realize that this is the difference between their good and their bad ads—the great copywriters, they for the most part take on all the negative in the “I” form, and then they put off a positive in the “you” form. So what they do is they start off and they say, “I was sleeping in my car,” or, “I was just waiting and wondering how long I could keep the doors open before the money runs out,” and “I couldn’t sleep at night, and I was sweating, and you know, so nervous and wondering if i was going to have to go back to work, or if I was going to ruin my credit, what my family was going to think, and so forth. And that’s when I discovered the secret that will allow you to get so much business, that you’ll have to turn it way. And you’ll never have to worry about going back to work at the nine to five job ever again.” And the reason you do that that way is because if I say, you know, “I know how it is—you’re struggling, you’re sleeping in your car”, that person might be like, “…I’m not sleeping in my car.” Laughs.
You know. But, so if you take on all that negative…and the way you want to do it in copywriting is, “my situation is worse than yours is right now, you know, and I’m going to show you how to end up into a spot that’s better than the one you were even hoping to end up in.” That’s the real formula, right? You know, so that’s why I was sleeping in my car, and sometimes it’s resonates; and other times, it’s like, “Wow, your’s is even worse than my situation.” Then “I discover the trick that, you know, you’ll have to open up new locations; you’ll be looking for investors to see if you can do it, and you know, and you’re just going to have to admit that it’s time to start sending business to your competitors because you just can’t handle it all.” They’re like, “Oh that’s a situation I’d love to be in”, you know? So, it starts off with “I’m in a situation far worse than you’ll ever be in; and you’ll be in a situation better than you hoped to dream.” They take on all the negative with the “I”, and when they switched the positive, that’s when it becomes “you” and “yours”.
So I don’t do the, you know, formula of, you know, this is how many times I said “I” and “me”; this is how many times you say “you” and “yours”. And another…well I don’t want to on too long. You want another quick tip on that?
Kira: Yeah, one quick tip, and then I have one last question before we wrap.
Bond: Sure. Well what you do it, when you do the “I”, there’s sometimes you have to do a brag. You have to say, “I’m really good at this.” Okay? So what you do right before that is you explain how human you are. So, you say look, you know, “There’s a lot of things about my life that are far from perfect. I don’t even know how to set my watch; I have to get my kids to put the contacts in my phone.”
Bond: “But the one thing I am really good at is teaching people how to write copy, because I learned from the guy who taught the best of the best, and I heard the first lessons he gave to anybody, and I heard them; I saw them refined over time, and learned the most effective ways to convey those lessons in those principles to people who want to learn how to write copy. And so, the one thing I am very good at is teaching people how to write copy.” Okay? So, the point is, people go, you know, if you sit there and go, “Oh I’m great! I’m good-looking, I’m wealthy, I’ve got my stuff together, I haven’t made a mistake in ten years,” people just hate you.
Bond: Right? I mean I hate people like that; you know, you do too! But, if you hear put into that words, because my dad would do this—I would hear him say, “Look, I can’t do this and this and that, but I’m really good with this,” and I recognized that pattern because you turned around and you go, “Wow, you know what; and if you teach how to write copy, I’ll know how to write copy and I can program my phone, so I’m better than you!” Laughs. That’s what’s subconsciously going on in their heads. So when you do the “you” and the “your” thing, remember that if you’re going to have to talk about your accolades and how great you are, don’t forget to do it with that humility.
Kira: That’s….oh my goodness. I’m just thinking of a sales pitch I’m working on write now. I’m like, I have to redo everything based off of everything that you shared in this conversation today. So, I want to ask you one last question that I can’t quite let go of. You mentioned earlier in the conversation that your father had a rocky relationship with money. I’m curious, like…what is your relationship with money? Did you carry that and take that from him, or have you evolved and changed your relationship with money?
Bond: Oh, I’m completely different. My father and I…actually, a lot of people don’t know this, but, my dad made and took home the most money in his entire career working on a project that we both pioneered, invented, and ran together. And the reason he was able to do that is I was in charge of the money and wouldn’t let him screw it up. Laughs. It was…and that’s really the reason. I mean, he has lots of lots of winners, but this was you know, I recognized what he was doing. But my parents were complete opposites. My mom, you could, you know, work the same job as a surgical nurse for like thirty years. You could set your watch by when she was coming home. My dad was this radical wild card. And I hated the ups and downs. And the one thing—and, this is impossible to most people to believe until you experience it, so I don’t expect anybody to believe this. Money really doesn’t buy happiness, but you don’t know that until you have money and you’re not happy. Okay? And being…but I’m not, you know, being broke sucks too! You know. Laughs.
Bond: Being broke will cause you unhappiness. And so, growing up, my brothers and I were the wealthiest kids in school, and then you know…never really the dirt-poorest kids in school but had no money; and then wealthy again, and then had no money; and wealthy again. I saw my dad who was going to prison and, you know, scrounging through the cushions and the couch looking for change to put gas in the car, to basically throwing away money and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on boats and totally useless stuff. And again, it took me a long time to realize that my dad…he really needed that feeling of needing to make it, so he would blow his money, and then get into a position where he needed to then have a breakthrough, because he didn’t work that hard when he was making a ton of money.
So, one of the things I hated, and I think all kids do this with their parents, is they kind of rebel. Kind of like skips a generation, and I don’t know if it’s because men get a lot of their attitudes from their mothers, who get it from their fathers, so it’s like skipping a generation, or if it’s just that you’re rebelling because your parents were wild so you’re straight-laced, or your parents are straight-laced so you become wild, or whatever. But my parents were both polar opposites, so I kind of like went right in the between, and I’ve seen times when we had great times and terrible times, when my parents had plenty of money. I’ve seen great times and terrible times, when my parents had very little money! Laughs. So, what it is for me, is, I realized very, very early on in life that it’s not he who dies with the most toys wins. It’s not he who’s…you know….take any measure that anybody does. In my opinion, the person who wins at the game of life is the person who, from birth to death, has spent the majority of that time happy. Period. And, that means that you have to prepare for the future, you know. Or else, you’re going to have a terrible future. If you’re scrambling to make rent at the end of the month, then the end of the month is going to suck, right?
You have to still prepare for the future, but you can’t swell on the past. You have to live in the now, and what makes you happy is how you spend your day. It really is. It’s what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis, because that’s really what you life is. And so, I kind of re-prioritized it. One of the things I learned early was everybody, you know who’s older than me, said, “This is what it’s going to be like”, or, “This is what’s important,” I starting paying…they, you know, as soon as I realized they were right, once, I was like, “I’m going to start paying attention to that advice.” So when I had kids, they’re like, “Take your time and enjoy it.” And I did. I said, you know what? Instead of going and traveling for work all the time and worrying about this and that, I’m going to make enough money to live comfortably, not work hard at all—I’m the biggest underachiever you’ll ever meet…
Bond: …And I’m proud of that too! Laughs. And so, I’m always at home you know, when my kids get home from school I spend lots of time with them; I take them and explore and do all kinds of different things, and they were babysat outside my family, like outside of the grandmother’s, like twice, you know? Because everybody said, you know, enjoy them while they last. And I’m enjoying my children while they last! Now my son’s hitting the teenage years, so I’m not starting to be willing to travel for business a little further.
Before, I had a rule, which was I’m never going more than an hour away from home by flight or by car for business. So, people were like, you know, “Hey, do you want to come to GKIC Summit, or you want to do…” I remember they invited me to Titans! I was one of the few people they’re like “Hey, you know, you guys are legacy and everything so, you know, we’ll give you tickets and everything like that, and I’m like, “I’m sorry. Have fun getting on the plane in New York and then taking the train to Connecticut! Laughs. I was like… but you know, that’s because, you’re my family. But now that that’s changing, I know that in this next phase of my life, that one of my main goals is to travel more, you know?
And, so, back to your question about relationship with money. So, what I do is, I’ve always made more money than I need for what I do. But I don’t turn around and say, that’s it—my goal is to make a million, or two million, or three million or anything like that. My goal is to do the things that I really want to do. The things that I’m proud of; the things that I enjoy. So when I wrote that book on editing—and I’m, you know, I’m writing all three of the books, actually, I’m working on book number two right now—but when I wrote that, it wasn’t because I needed the money. It wasn’t because I needed the win. It was because I wanted to be the first person to write a book on editing. I wanted to provide something of value; it’s more fun, it’s interesting. So I spend my life doing the things I want to do. Right now—and, this changes all the time for me—right now, I’m doing a whole lot of hiking and mountain biking in the Santa Monica mountains and I’m spending a lot of time at the beach because we’re having these incredible weather spells. And, I’ll actually go out there and sit and work and edit. You know, everybody on our business says, “You can work from anywhere in the world!” But the truth is, if you get a lot of clients, or you’re doing webinars, and you’re doing things like that, you got to be up during American working hours.
Bond: You know, so all my friends are like, “I can work from anywhere. I’m in Malaysia!” Like, “Yeah? What time are you getting up to do that webinar?” “….Three AM.” Laughs.
Rob: Not worth it, for sure.
Bond: But I literally can work on the plane. Laughs; you know, because my brother and I, we create our own offers, you know; we create our own products and services and we can do it via remote control, or you know from remote locations and stuff like that. That’s the great thing about direct marketing, is, you can do it that way. Now copywriters who are guns-for-hire, you still have the problem of having to work during American hours. If you got time and the resources and you’re not always up against the gun when you’re sending out direct mail and ad campaigns and everything, you can work via email. Send out your emails in the middle of the night. Then people get back to you by the time you wake up, laughs, and stuff like that. It does offer a lot of freedom. And, growing up, you know I looked at my mom my dad, and I’m like, “I could be a lot like them, in good and bad ways.” So I decided I wanted to be like my dad in the ways that I admired; my mom, in the ways that I admired. And one of the things that I really admired about my dad? Everybody’s dad was off going to work. My dad showed me, you know, “No, I like to go movies on a Tuesday afternoon, you know?”
Bond: And, I do too! And, you know I live in Los Angeles. One of the worst things about living in Los Angeles is traffic. I never get suck in it because I just don’t have commute in during rush hour.
Bond: You know? I’ll go out to the beach, sit down and pop up a chair, and watch the dolphins swim up the coast, and I’ll sit there and edit my book because I edit on paper—which, by the way, everybody should do. Don’t edit on the computer; print out your stuff on paper and edit that way. And I do that, and you know, and I work, and then I’ll come home, and I’ll actually hand it to an assistant, or my daughter, who I’m training to be an editor right now, and say, “Make these edits”, you know and she’ll do it. I’ll print out the fresh copy and I’ll go sit at the beach and do more. But if I get an idea, I just pull out my laptop and pound it out and, you know, add another section to it and stuff.
Rob: You’ve convinced me. I’m ready to move to Southern California, so I can sit on the beach.
Kira: Sign me up for all of it. I want all of it.
Bond: Well, again, it’s a lifestyle thing for me, and that’s just what I want, you know, I mean and every time something changes, if I want something else, it’s like I’m just like my dad: Oh, I want this! Okay, how much is this? Okay. Then I’ll go back to work and make more money and get what I want!
Rob: Yeah, great approach. This has been a fantastic conversation. We have gone way over time, but, I think there’s been so much value here that hopefully our listeners will forgive us. I have a feeling they’re going to appreciate what you shared.
Kira: Oh, they’re going to be excited. For real.
Rob: If people want to learn more about you, find your books, connect with you in person…where would the best place to go be?
Bond: Okay, my website is bondhalbert.com. And of course, we own thegaryhalberletter.com. Don’t forget the “the.” And I’m on Facebook as well. We do run a copy group as well like you do, but I really like you’re copy group, by the way. Laughs.
Rob: Thank you!
Kira: Oh! Thank you!
Bond: Most of the time you join a copy group and then you get so many notifications you turn off the notifications. Laughs.
Bond: …I don’t turn off the notifications for your group.
Rob: Well that’s good.
Bond: But anyway, you can also connect and reach out through me on Facebook you know, as well. And we’re readily available. People are usually stunned how quickly—and that’s something we also picked up from our father—a lot of people didn’t know but for a long time the number on my father’s newsletter was actually his home phone number! Laughs.
Rob: Oh wow.
Bond: Yeah, they didn’t realize, you know…everybody’s like, “Well you know, I’ll never get through to him.” So, he didn’t have to worry about it being too much of a pain! But he was really always made very approachable, so Kevin and I have always decided that we’re going to be very approachable too. And so, you know, we are. And, a lot of people, they’re like, “Why?” Didn’t think it’d be so quick or so easy to get you to, you know, to give me few minutes of your time. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m available like, I’m going to you know, give everybody who calls an hour of my time, I couldn’t afford to do that. But we’re available, so you know, you can hit us up, you know, and again, I gave my email address out earlier, which is email@example.com.
We have another site called Halbertising.com. And the way that originally was, is we didn’t want anybody to think that we were going to step on our dad’s legacy in any way. So whenever we created something that’s just mine, I’ll put it on bondhalbert.com or announce it there. If it’s all solely, 100% Gary Halbert-related, it goes to thegaryhalbertletter.com. And then when Kevin and I did stuff that was Halbert-adjacent or, you know, that was marketing, it’s about marketing but it’s Kevin and I, and a little bit of stuff from our father, because you really can’t separate, you know, us from him…
Bond: …we put it on Halbertising. And you know, so if we were doing breakdowns of his ads, we put it Halbertising instead.
Rob: Okay. So, yeah. Three great resources. The Gary Halbert Letters, one of the resources that we share with everybody saying, you know, all of the newsletter that are there are just a great free resource that you guys have provided, we’d like to share that with our group but hopefully, you know, people can connect with you. We would love to have you come back for another episode, just to talk to about all the stuff we didn’t even get to. If you’re open to that someday Bond, you know, long before another 83 episodes have passed, hopefully. But we really appreciate your time and everything that you’ve shared. It’s been fantastic.
Kira: Yeah. This has been amazing.
Bond: Thank you very much for having me!
You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club Podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music for the show is a clip from Gravity by Whitest Boy Alive, available in iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word by subscribing in iTunes, and by leaving a review. For show notes, a full transcript, and links to our free Facebook community, visit thecopywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.