Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Persuasive but NOT Pushy: Here’s what this legendary marketer taught about truly effective copywriting! [Monday: Marketing Marvels]

September 12, 2022

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more.

A Note from Miles Everson:

Happy Monday!

We hope you all had a good rest over the weekend.

Let’s start the day with motivation from a “Marketing Marvel”—an outstanding person in the business industry or marketing industry. Each Monday, we talk about these professionals and highlight their insights, experiences, and contributions.

In this article, let’s discuss the story of another legendary copywriter.

Read on to know more about this person and how his works were revered by digital marketers and are still regarded as a source of valuable information for marketing and copywriting until today.

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Marketing Marvels

There’s a misconception in the marketing or copywriting industry that if you’re going to write a sales copy or create a marketing strategy, you have to become a pushy salesperson.

Well, it’s true that one of the goals of marketing and copywriting is to sell goods or services. However, over-focusing on that goal is bad practice. It pushes your target market away from your brand!

We’ll let you in on a secret: Writing good copy is like having a friendly conversation with your customers.

You can be persuasive without being pushy. Plus, you can make that conversation formal or informal, or compassionate or humorous, depending on the nature and image of your brand.

Shall we show you how a legendary copywriter did this?

Allow us to introduce to you Gary Halbert

Halbert was a well-known direct response copywriter. His persona and approaches to marketing are highly regarded by professionals in the business industry even until today.

He was one of the GOATs (Greatest Of All Time) of copywriting—he had more multi-million dollar winning campaigns in different niches than any other copywriter! In fact, digital marketer Ken McCarthy wrote about Halbert:

“First, Gary was one of the top copywriters of the last 50 years and should be ranked among the very best who ever practiced the craft.

Second, Gary was a direct marketing practitioner of a very high order.

Third—and perhaps most important for us—Gary was a master teacher.”

According to McCarthy, direct marketing was a “closed shop” before Halbert came… and due to the lack of information and guidance in the field, the master copywriter experimented with direct marketing to develop a successful set of strategies.

Because of his efforts, Halbert landed a deal with Halberts, a mail order company that sold genealogy materials (yes, they have the same name but in case you’re wondering, Halbert the copywriter is not in any way connected to Halberts the company).

This was where he had his first notable achievement, the “Coat of Arms” letter. The mail was a personalized letter template that aimed to sell recreated family crests along with heraldic descriptions of families who had the same last name as the recipient of the letter.

According to Halberts’ swipe files, this letter was mailed 600 million times and generated 20,000 orders per day. What’s more?

Through the “Coat of Arms” letter, Halbert helped the company generate USD 75 million in revenue!

This only shows that Halbert was truly a master in spotting and taking advantage of direct marketing opportunities.

What else can we learn from Halbert’s successful copies?

  1. Using questions to start off a written conversation

One of the most effective techniques to make your writing more conversational is to address your readers directly with a question. 

Example: In his “Coat of Arms” letter, Halbert started his message with a question: 

“Dear Mr. Macdonald, 

Did you know that your family name was recorded with a coat-of-arms in ancient heraldic archives more than seven centuries ago?” 

Even in his other sales letters, he used questions to start a conversation with his readers. He knew addressing readers with a question helps establish a quick connection, making them feel like he was writing to them personally. 

However, if you’re planning to use this technique, be careful to not overdo it. Using too many questions can slow readers down as each query makes them pause to consider an answer. Just keep your questions calibrated and natural. 

  1. Using transitional words/phrases

Aside from questions, Halbert used lots of transitions and interjections to make his writing more conversational. 

For instance, in his “Open Letter to Attractive Women in Miami” copy, he used the following transitional phrases in different parts of the content: 

“Now, check this out:” 

“Now, here’s a fact that’s somewhat sad.” 

“Here is the best news of all!” 

“And now, we’re going to talk about believability.” 

Both the choice and frequency of these transitional phrases made Halbert’s writing conversational. In writing your own copies, you may also use well, now, here is, and more as long as they’re appropriate to the tone of your content. 

Studying the life of legendary copywriters is interesting because you get to learn various lessons from their work and contributions.

In the case of Halbert, knowing more about his written works gives a glimpse of his expertise… and in return, you get a few ideas on different methods you can try to make your writing better.

His life as a master copywriter illustrated that success is a matter of maximizing tried and tested techniques, and maintaining the right mindset. He showed that with a proper approach to connect with your target market, you can be persuasive and NOT pushy at the same time.

We hope you enjoyed reading today’s article!

Keep in mind that with perseverance to fill a gap in the market AND a proper approach, you will not only attract customers but also positively connect with them.

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some brand or company’s marketing strategy.

… only for the audience to later find out that its product was a flop, or worse, that the brand or company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole.

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the roles of marketing and communication are always paramount to that success.

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies, marketers, and communicators.

However, the difference between our articles and the numerous ones out there is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group) in keeping with a person’s leadership skills in the area of marketing and/or communication.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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