Gary Halbert saint or sinner?
"The risk of insult is the price of clarity."
You're probably thinking that's sounds like something Gary Halbert would write. Those that admire Gary--will applaud... those that don't--will boo.
The trouble is Gary didn't write it. Copywriting expert Roy Williams did in his first of many books, "The Wizard of Ads". You'll find it on page 12.
Roy Williams adds, "To be clearly understood, one must speak the simple, essential truth as plainly as he is able. While many of those listening will say "Such refreshing candor! So bold and direct!" others will say, "He is tactless, blunt, rude, insensitive, and unrefined."
Yep, that's pretty much the response Gary's latest newsletter has gotten on the various forums I visit.
Here's another quote:
"You can't afford to be humble... the bigger your ambitions, the more likely you are going to offend people while achieving those ambitions. And your opportunity to have meaningful impact will be in direct proportion to your willingness to offend."
No, that is not a Halbert quote either but a Dan Kennedy quote from his book, "How to Succeed in Business by Breaking All The Rules--A Plan for Entrepreneurs."
You see a lot of marketers hold Gary's point of view. You may not agree with the it but it gets results. It stops us cold.
It causes consumers to leave the catatonic state they constantly walk around in.
Gary's great at what he does because he is a master at eliciting the emotional response. Good or bad, love him or hate him, he is indeed great at what he does. Gary creates a copy-writing "car-wreck" that you just have to slow down and gawk at.
Go visit any of those web sites trying to sell a variety of Internet marketing products from traffic builders to search engine optimization. Much of the copy has absolutely no emotional appeal. It's deadly, dull and boring.
Gary Halbert is perhaps the best of his generation when it comes to writing emotional copy. You may hate his style but it gets results.
I'm sure folks are going to say "Yeah, but I think it's low class and I wouldn't ever do it"... whatever.
Now on the other side of the coin is the young lad that originally wrote Gary. I've got to admire him. Taking on Gary H.--now that's ballsy!
I can almost picture it...
...all those Internet guru's sitting around a table sipping their espresso and one say's, "Hey, I've got an idea let's have the kid bust Gary Halbert's balls--what do you think?" Now that's good!
The trouble with the attempt was the youngster just didn't have the lumber to finish the job. Sort of like what Sean Connery says in the movie the "Untouchables"..."Just like a Wop to bring a knife to a gunfight."
If nothing else it's good theater.
I Generally Stay Away From Controversy...but
Your comment sort of sparked a need to speak up on this one.
You said, "You may hate his style but it gets results."
I'm probably going to be the lone ranger here, but it seems to me this kind of philosophy has done more harm to society than good.
I am well aware of Gary, as well as Dan Kennedy, and have had the opportunity to study their materials and such.
But I hope I never lose my perspective that "the end never justifies the means", which is what your comment seemed to be saying.
Sorry, but I don't believe it does. To me, there is more to life and business than what I see in the lives of Gary and his newsletters.
Do I read them? Yes...but at arms length.
Do I learn? Yes. But I miss a lot due to the style.
I am many times saddened in my spirit that the tools used by Gary is so gutterish.
Even the email address of [email protected] is not necessary.
You said. "Gary creates a copy-writing car-wreck that you just have to slow down and gawk at."
"Gawk At"...I rather pity the man.
You said, "And your opportunity to have meaningful impact will be in direct proportion to your willingness to offend".
I believe the tally will show that folks like Bill Myers, Jim Rohn, and others in those camps have actually had more "meaningful impact". And they deliver without the "trash talk".
Life isn't just measured by the "impact" we have had, but rather it is the impact we have had measured against the impact we could have had.
But, as in all things, that's just an opinion.
New Release...A Step By Step Business Start-up Diary
My opinion: If people keep their promises I don't care if they insult me [DNO]
Re: If you're the Lone Ranger...I'm Tonto
I happen to agree with you 110%...and no one
admires good marketing more than myself.
But there are some things that are more
important than marketing and money.
Just because it works...doens't mean its right.
But I know that "right" is a relative word.
Marketing Best Practices Inc.
> Your comment sort of sparked a need to speak
> up on this one.
> You said, "You may hate his style but
> it gets results."
> I'm probably going to be the lone ranger
> here, but it seems to me this kind of
> philosophy has done more harm to society
> than good.
> I am well aware of Gary, as well as Dan
> Kennedy, and have had the opportunity to
> study their materials and such.
> But I hope I never lose my perspective that
> "the end never justifies the
> means", which is what your comment
> seemed to be saying.
> Sorry, but I don't believe it does. To me,
> there is more to life and business than what
> I see in the lives of Gary and his
> Do I read them? Yes...but at arms length.
> Do I learn? Yes. But I miss a lot due to the
> I am many times saddened in my spirit that
> the tools used by Gary is so gutterish.
> Even the email address of [email protected] is not
> You said. "Gary creates a copy-writing
> car-wreck that you just have to slow down
> and gawk at."
> "Gawk At"...I rather pity the man.
> You said, "And your opportunity to have
> meaningful impact will be in direct
> proportion to your willingness to
> I believe the tally will show that folks
> like Bill Myers, Jim Rohn, and others in
> those camps have actually had more
> "meaningful impact". And they
> deliver without the "trash talk".
> Life isn't just measured by the
> "impact" we have had, but rather
> it is the impact we have had measured
> against the impact we could have had.
> But, as in all things, that's just an
> John Palma
You don't have to be obnoxious to sell
Thanks for posting that. I agree with you that it works....
It's not MY style - and (as John Palma and David Frey point out), you don't HAVE to be obnoxious to succeed.
I've been studying some of the works of Elmer Wheeler. As you may know, he was a master salesman who taught thousands of people how to sell from the 1930s to the 1960s. Gordon Alexander has mentioned him in the past.
Elmer Wheeler wrote about TESTED methods that really worked to sell. And the wonderful thing about him - he was NOT obnoxious. In fact, his sales method could be called - how to sell while being completely charming. He charmed you into buying.
I'm learning a lot by reading his books. (I even have a couple sales films which he created for a couple companies - so, unlike many, I've even seen him "in the flesh" in these sales training films he made.)
Anyhow, back to the topic. Being obnoxious is not the only way to be a success. Yes, it gets attention. Yes, it can work. But it doesn't have to be that way.
On a personal level, being obnoxious is not really my style.
However, having said that, I'm actually a fan of Gary Halbert. I think he did go overboard in his latest newsletter - but in general, I like his stuff. I do find it entertaining - even though it's not my own personal style.
And like Joe Makowski points out in his post a little way down the forum, I think Gary Halbert was saying things he doesn't really believe himself. Because he contradicted things he's said before. As I've said earlier, he KNOWS that untargeted traffic does not necessarily equal sales. Yet he implies that it's the case in his latest newsletter. Why? I don't know (and don't really care).
As Simon Latouche said further down the forum, I think Gary went back on his promise to this young man. He didn't name him, but he did everything but that to make sure that most people could recognize who he meant.
Anyhow, back to the point. You don't have to be obnoxious to sell.
Mike, your posts are always among the sharpest and most intelligent online. I ALWAYS read them (and sometimes print them out to read them if they're quite long). And your latest post (the one I'm replying to) is no exception. Great advice.
I've never read a more accurate description than when you said this:
Gary creates a copy-writing "car-wreck" that you just have to slow down and gawk at.
There are many ways to succeed. I think you just have to find one that suits your natural style.
Gary Halbert - genius, mad man, potty mouth, old pisspot, entertainer, computer novice
Gary is an icon. His latest newsletter has mainly drawn attention because the majority of online board readers have their sights set on “internet marketing information” and not just “marketing information.”
His slashing of experts names and reputations based solely on Alexa ratings is wrong. Jonathan Mizel and Mike Enlow who I have a mild knowledge of are certainly not struggling. The others probably aren't either but I don't know enough about the current crop.
I do like the phrase "cross their palms with silver." Makes me laugh at the thought of my past enterprises.
You see, I also taught my tricks to those who "crossed my palms with silver." Never for much silver (really what was I thinking with my prices and lack of back end products?).
And I never thought my tricks were junk. When I was pushing ahead with my internet marketing teaching business in the mid-late 90s, there were actually a few "tricks" that could be used. Mainly in the areas of teaching niche marketing to beginners and search engine positioning to those who wanted to do battle daily. And a little copywriting I picked up from reading one too many get rich quick ads.
There is one name on Gary's list that I believe actually stepped on little internet marketing toddlers years ago with his virtual mall idea. But if he hadn't had it, someone else would have. How was he to know it wouldn't work out?
I think the way new technologies are used can go many different directions and the way they end up going is more dictated by a few headstrong individuals, persistence, will, money, and maybe a bit of plain luck. (But Jeffrey's "Cash Copy" book is a copywriting goldmine.)
* The interview books are usually weak in general (although in the non internet marketing world, I've read some wonderful stock market exceptions) and I dislike cross promotion through testimonials although it was a clever idea in the beginning.
* Fake geek vs. real geek battle = funny
* I don't see any way he would be in possession of this computer program, but being that he is not the most computer literate (which he has said and bragged about in the past) individual, he could easily have gotten confused when having the email tracing program described by his ubber geek who offhand mentioned a theoretical method of tracing emails via how hard someone presses the keys.
* I stagger around like a blind mouse quite often.
* I think he's going to suggest a newsletter with a very personal style of your own instead of follow up cookie cutter back end offers and affiliate offers.
* The merchant account info is something I unfortunately don't have a need for at this time.
* He's right about opt in lists. I joined some which they conveniently won't give me the information I need to unsubscribe from.
This would of course be different if it were an honest opt in list sending me offers and information I was really interested in on a super targeted subject.
* I liked his movie/TV sketch. Quite realistic of what to expect from most movies/shows.
* I don't want to nor need to hear about the AEP from Gary even though his langauge usually doesn't phase me one iotta... iota... iotah... bit.
* (JAMES JONES) "(What do you want to bet that since his house geek was leaving he pulled a little going away prank on Gary and told him that there was software that could do that. He knew Gary wouldn't be able to resist braging about it in his newsletter and making a fool out of himself. Gary probably made up all the stuff about his uncle to make the story sound better. ) "
I think James is right on.
* Yes, Boyd. I'd like to know what his "not free publicity" no cost newspaper ad idea is.... too bad if it's real like most "secrets" it wouldn't work more than a month after that seminar where he gave it away.
* Simon, like you I enjoy subtle humor much more than "tasteless."
* Andrew, I would take up issue with this...
"The basic value is how not to ... I think I'll send my clients there to show them what not to do."
What Gary is doing is obviously working for him with regards to both the people who knew him in the old days and the new batch finding their way to him sick and tired of the same old/same old boring BS from every other packaged self proclaimed expert.
I would venture to guess that he is making a lot of money from his web site.
I would tell them more that here is a web site tattooed across the forehead with personality. That it is an extreme example.
Vulgar and seen as tasteless by some but coming from a man who some see as an almost god of gurus who can say and do whatever he wants and not worry about not offending. A man who has built up loyalty and customers across the world.
I would explain that they must project their own (not someone else's) personality at least to a degree in their web site. So you can show them the extreme end of the spectrums by showing them Gary's site and say a copy and pasted affiliate site no one is going to look at for more than 2 minutes.
* I am still a fan of Gary Halbert.
And, Mike, Bravo on your post summarizing it all (car wreck/knife to a gun fight) and thank you for igniting discussion here. As always, I will continue to look forward to your posts.
* Gary is an "old pisspot" and he simply doesn't care.
Like a virgin?
> "The risk of insult is the price of clarity." ["The Wizard of Ads" p 12.]
> Roy Williams adds, "To be clearly understood, one must speak the simple,
> essential truth as plainly as he is able. While many of those listening will say
> "Such refreshing candor! So bold and direct!" others will say, "He is
> tactless, blunt, rude, insensitive, and unrefined."
Very great excerpt from an equally great book. BUT... like all things in life, you must remember that while the truth is often blunt and even rude.... this does NOT mean that all blunt or rude things are true. A very important difference.
> Gary's great at what he does because he is a
> master at eliciting the emotional response.
Yes, indeed, he is at that. Just lookie at the forums these days.
> Go visit any of those web sites trying to
> sell a variety of Internet marketing
> products from traffic builders to search
> engine optimization. Much of the copy has
> absolutely no emotional appeal. It's deadly,
> dull and boring.
I'll second that. And third it... and fourth too, if you want. I've lamented long and loud about people who have ZERO writing talent trying to put 50 paragraphs on a page and expecting anyone but their mother to actually READ it all. ; )
> If nothing else it's good theater.
Maybe I've been in marketing too long to see it that way. I've been in marketing since about 1978, before the "kid" in the story was even a gleam in his daddy's eye. If my kid (who is 21, by the way) acted that way, I'd take her out back and smack her upside the head. (Not literally)
Bad manners are bad manners, whether you're having a temper tantrum because someone didn't like your idea - or whether you're breaking a promise in full public view. Bad manners are not ballsy, or good theatre, or much of anything except bad manners. For those who recognize them as such, anyway.
But then.... it's a scenario that's not new in the entertainment industry. I believe it was Madonna that quipped "There's no such thing as bad pr!"
She should know... she's been making waves since her "Like a Virgin" stunts... or maybe before.
With all the posts I've seen across several forums, if there is one thing that letter DID do, it definitely did stir up some attention.
And if you're still reading along... here's food for thought. If I was instructing a one legged man on how to start a foot race, I wouldn't tell him where to put his second foot. He doesn't have one. Common logic has to prevail.
Yet, so many of the "pros" with DM (direct marketing) background profess on one hand that "no one" can write like they can... and on the other hand, tell people that they way to success is to write a killer sales letter.
Most people can't write their way out of a wet paper bag, much less write a truly GOOD sales letter. There *are* other ways to sell, and to sell well. Go - look at Microsoft.com. Do you see a sales letter with line after line of happy sappy bullets on the main page??
Like, man, how dumb is Gates? Doesn't he even know how to make money on the Internet?
P.S. I'll be out back plucking the chicken. [ref; p 12, Wizard of Ads]
Re: Like a virgin?
While i agree with all you said - I love this part:
> Most people can't write their way out of a
> wet paper bag, much less write a truly GOOD
> sales letter. There *are* other ways to
> sell, and to sell well. Go - look at
> Microsoft.com. Do you see a sales letter
> with line after line of happy sappy bullets
> on the main page??
> Like, man, how dumb is Gates? Doesn't he
> even know how to make money on the Internet?
LOL! Of course, i've always detested the long sales letters myself, but then what do I know?! Now if only i could be as "dumb" as ol' Bill.
Well said, good sir! (DNO)
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