The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert is an enlightening and engaging book for copywriters. It has several copywriting nuggets and life lessons. And it gives you a real inside look at exactly how to create marketing campaigns that make millions upon millions of dollars.
It has several tips about making people connect with the writer and the offer. In fact, this Boron book is a trove of practical advice for copywriters.
And this article lists those tips as Boron Letters summary.
Let’s check them out.
Table of Contents
- What are the Boron Letters
- The Boron Letters Chapter 1
- The Boron Letters Chapter 2
- The Boron Letters Chapter 3
- The Boron Letters Chapter 4
- The Boron Letters Chapter 5
- The Boron Letters Chapter 6
- The Boron Letters Chapter 7
- The Boron Letters Chapter 8
- The Boron Letters Chapter 9
- The Boron Letters Chapter 10
- The Boron Letters Chapter 11
- The Boron Letters Chapter 12
- The Boron Letters Chapter 13
- The Boron Letters Chapter 14
- The Boron Letters Chapter 15
- The Boron Letters Chapter 16
- The Boron Letters Chapter 17
- The Boron Letters Chapter 18
- The Boron Letters Chapter 19
- The Boron Letters Chapter 20
- The Boron Letters Chapter 21
- The Boron Letters Chapter 22
- The Boron Letters Chapter 23
- The Boron Letters Chapter 24
- The Boron Letters Chapter 25
- Wrapping It Up
What are the Boron Letters
The Boron Letters book is a compilation of 25 letters. These were written by Gary Halbert to his youngest son, Bond. And these letters share the most important secrets Gary ever learned about making a fortune with copy.
Gary wrote those letters during his ten months in California’s Boron Federal Prison Camp. And they explain how you can develop a “killer” marketing appeal.
Boron prison conversations were blunt and to the point. So are the letters in this Gary Halbert book.
The Boron Letters Chapter 1
The first thing is about road work: walking, jogging and running. It cleans you out, settles you down and gives you a nice glow that will stay with you throughout the day. It also makes you more clearheaded and improves the quality of your thinking.
The reason this is at the top of a series of letters about business is because how you feel affects how you think. This is why writers need a strict routine.
Also, try things at least twice. Just the second attempt at anything hard will be much easier. Not a little bit but by A LOT. The big difference between those at the top and those still on the bottom is simply a matter of showing up tomorrow.
The Boron Letters Chapter 2
Here are some other good health habits that you should get into right away. It would be good for you to fast one full day each week. When you fast, you develop a self-discipline that helps you in most other areas of your life.
Do road work every morning to more or less “order your day” and fast every week in order to “order your week.” The next thing is to maintain a good diet. If you eat the foods you should eat, every day, you won't have much room (or inclination) to load yourself up with junk.
Another inspirational lesson from Gary Halbert’s Boron Letters is: nothing is impossible for someone who refuses to listen to reason.
Just because someone says you can’t do something or shouldn’t, doesn’t mean they are right. Even if the whole world agrees with them.
There is no benefit in dealing with people who have nothing but negative things to say. And there is no use wasting time and energy fighting established beliefs. It is better to just silently go about proving or accomplishing your goal.
The Boron Letters Chapter 3
Now, moving on to money.
When most people tell others of any plan to make money, they are met with instant negativity. The idea of you getting rich makes most people around you feel sick.
People don’t do this consciously. It’s simply a defence mechanism to make themselves feel better.
Instead, surround yourself with people who have similar goals or who have already become great successes. These people are almost always hungry for people to appreciate what they have accomplished. They like to be recognized for more than the size of their bank account.
Another thing worth noting that you must continue to think about and go over your plans for the future. Write down your goals and go over them every day, not just once a year.
The Boron Letters Chapter 4
Here is something to remember: Defensive behaviour invites aggressive action. In general, there is very little sympathy for a weakling. A fat, sloppy or skinny and weak body broadcasts to the world that the owner of that body is lacking self-respect.
So, a lesson on health here. A man looks best when he is lean and hard – not bulging and overdeveloped. It is plain useful to be strong. And just having big arms can keep you out of a lot of trouble.
It is far better to rely on your own strength; even in business.
Self-reliance is the most satisfying thing in the world. It is important to know that often, self-reliance is the real motive of great business men and not money.
You don't need to “act tough,” you need to be tough. When you “get tough,” not only does your appearance change, your “signals” also change. The way you move, you hold yourself, your reactions to outside stimuli – all of that changes.
Carry yourself with confidence (not arrogance) in everything you do and people will respond in a good way. And never, ever encourage people who drag you down to hang around.
The Boron Letters Chapter 5
The #1 big secret to making money: Get involved in whatever excites you the most. Money, especially big money, is most often a by-product of enthusiasm.
The money is where the enthusiasm is. Please remember this!
Remember it also, when, in the future, you need to hire someone. Always look for the most enthusiastic person, not necessarily the most qualified.
And to make big, you must become a student of markets.
Not products. Not techniques. Not copywriting. Not how to buy space or whatever. Now, of course, these things are important. But, the first and the most important thing you must learn is what people want to buy.
If you want to be a top-notch marketing person, you must become a student of reality. Know how something really is. Not how people (or you) wish or think it is.
The Boron Letters Chapter 6
Constantly be on the lookout for groups of people (markets) who have demonstrated that they are starving (or at least hungry!) for some product or service.
But when selling something, the best list of all is your own list of existing customers. All other things being equal, your customers would respond far better than anyone else. Of course, there is a caveat: they must be satisfied customers!
Nothing will add to your bottom line as fast as selling something new to your existing customers and sourcing new prospects.
Little tweaks do make a difference, but there is far more money in adding to your product line and creating backend offers.
The Boron Letters Chapter 7
There are three main guidelines you can rely on when picking buyers’ lists: recency, frequency and unit of sale.
- Recency – The more recently a person has purchased (by mail) something similar to what you are selling, the more receptive they will be to your offer.
- Frequency – The more often a person buys a particular item, the higher their desire for that type of product or service.
- Unit of sale – A person who recently paid $100 for a bottle of diet pills is probably a hotter prospect for diet type products than a person who has only paid $10.
Sell people what they want to buy!
Be on the lookout for ads that you see over and over. What this means is that whoever is running the ad has hit a nerve. And a good way for you to make money is to hit that same nerve; only do it better.
Now, a bit about client relationships. Clients most often feel relieved with someone who takes a don't you dare mess with my copy attitude.
You should try to get paid as often as possible and spell out simple agreements. You could save a good relationship as well as a lot of money.
The Boron Letters Chapter 8
All of us have a slightly shrewd idea of ourselves. We try to convince others and ourselves that we are something we have an idea we “should” be.
You want to know what people actually DO buy, not what they SAY they buy.
Therefore, truth can be determined NOT by how people use their mouths, but rather, how they use their wallets. Be sceptical of what people say. Be sceptical of surveys… of questionnaires.
Keep your finger on the pulse of the industry. Stay aware. Keep awake to the possibilities of overlooked marketing opportunities. After a while, you will develop a sixth sense.
The Boron Letters Chapter 9
Picking the very best lists doesn’t mean that the less responsive lists are not valuable. Today, customization is cheap, but most guys fail to use a lot of it.
Generally, the more “custom tailored” your promotion is, the more successful it will be. But you don’t need to start from scratch always. You can keep the first section the same for everyone and then customize the last half for different groups.
You not only customise your promotions, but also personalise them to the receiving individual.
The more you work on your ideas, the more you’ll have ideas. Ideas breed other ideas.
The Boron Letters Chapter 10
Read the popular books on copywriting and its various elements. The first time you read these books, do so at your own pace. Just read for enjoyment. However, after the first reading, do take notes as you read them the second and third times.
Next, make yourself a collection (a swipe file) of good ads and read to take notes.
Now what you need to do is get three or four hot books on the industry you’re writing about. Read them and take notes. Also collect as many ads on the subject you can find. Read those, too, and make notes.
By now ideas will be churning around in your mind because you have fed your brain a lot of good stuff to work with.
Reading those books and ads will also give you an idea to curate and create your own pieces. But market is saturated with information products merely rephrasing what most of the industry leaders say. So, a little originality goes a long way, and it is very easy to come by.
The Boron Letters Chapter 11
Everybody divides their mail every day into two piles. An A-Pile and a B-Pile. The “A” pile contains letters that appear to be personal. From friends, relatives, business associates, and so on. The “B” pile contains those envelopes that, obviously, contain a commercial message.
If it looks interesting, “B” pile envelopes will be set aside for later examination. And, of course, sometimes... if the envelope looks interesting, or if the person receiving it has some idle time, or if the person is bored, maybe the B pile envelopes will be opened.
Your first objective is to get your messages into the “A” pile, i.e., out of commercial junk.
Also, in today’s world, people have multiple email addresses, to take care of different tasks.
Worry about getting a good address before worrying about deliverability and what words will get you labelled as spam. It’s better to be in the spam box of a primary email address than to be in the primary box of a spam email address!
The Boron Letters Chapter 12
What's next is that we must now get our potential customer to begin reading our sales letter.
Quite often (most often) your letter will arrive when your prospect is busy, when their mind is on other things. Therefore, you need to work hard to make reading your letter pleasant, easy-read, interesting, and unconfusing.
You must form a bond of intimacy and immediacy in your letters. A way to do so is to describe where you are and what you are doing as you are writing the letter.
Adding particulars like date, time and day of the week at the beginning of the letter also helps. Personal, specific info bonds the reader and writer closer together.
And of course, start with the name.
The Boron Letters Chapter 13
When sending mail-based promotional letters, the first important decision is deciding what type of return envelope to use. You have Stamped Reply Envelopes (SREs), Business Reply Envelopes (BREs) and Courtesy Reply Envelopes (CREs) to choose from.
Now, here’s an interesting secret about buyers: If you can get a person who is not going to order to agree, even in their mind, to write and tell you they are not going to, then you will get more orders.
When things are tough, a very simple (but effective) thing to do is just keep moving in some sort of positive direction.
Keep two task lists. The first list is of every important thing you really should do while at your best. The second list is of all the important tasks which you can do equally well regardless of your mood.
The Boron Letters Chapter 14
Now, there’s one tip worth mentioning in The Boron Letters summary: disguise your pitch until you want the prospect to know you are selling something.
Many people, when they read an ad, what they do is, they read the headline first and go right to the order coupon.
We do want them to read our order card but we want them to read it at the proper time. And the proper time is after they have read the copy. It’s not good if the reader sees the order card as soon as they open the envelope.
You can tailor your words to your readers average age but you want to do that during the bonding part of the copy/script. Make sure you know when you're using a positive word and when negative. Keep your list of words divided into positive and negative.
Another tip is to use picture words. What it really means is to use phrases and terms which paint a picture, like cherry red.
The Boron Letters Chapter 15
Now, here's how to begin writing your copy.
The first thing you need to do is to assemble a file that contains everything you can get your hands on that is relevant to your promotion. It should also have copies of ads and letters that other people have used to sell similar products or services.
Now, start taking notes and note down potential ideas. Alongside, also note down essential facts and description of your product/service. But don’t stuff yourself.
Once you're done noting down everything, re-read your notes. Highlight the good ideas, hot ideas, most suitable ideas and so on.
Then, stop working on the project. Just let it go.
Brainstorms come when your brain is well nourished and the most relaxed. It means the ideas come when you least expect them. So, always keep a pen and paper with you.
Remember, the copy is only about you in so much as it proves how you can help the prospect solve their problems.
The Boron Letters Chapter 16
You should start writing your copy according to an established formula. It means you should work within a proven sequential outline like AIDA.
The copywriting formula AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action.
Attention comes first. Naturally, we must get our readers attention before they are desirous of our offer. It’s crucial. If you don’t get the attention, your advertisement will never be read.
But you must get the right kind of attention. Your attention grabber needs to be relevant.
The next thing we need to do is to catch their interest. Sharing interesting (and relevant) facts or telling your story around your solution, both works. But switch to talking about them as soon as things get better in the story.
Now, you should work to make them desire what you are selling.
Once you’ve got their attention, got them interested, created desire, the last step left is to ask them to take action.
About action: you must be very clear, very specific about what you want them to do. Lead them by the hand and take them exactly where you want them to go.
The Boron Letters Chapter 17
Copy the good ads and write them down. When you actually write out a good ad in your own handwriting, the words, the flow, the sentence structure, the sequence of information, and everything else about the writing of that ad becomes a part of you.
If you do this often enough, you will soon have a deep “inside out” understanding of what it takes and what it feels like to write a good piece of copy.
Use simple common everyday words. Use “get” instead of “procure.” Write short sentences and short paragraphs. Use “transition” words and phrases to make your writing flow smoothly.
And chop long sentences into two short ones. Cut everything out until cutting any more would be cutting something the customer would like to know.
You can make your copy easier to read also by the judicious use of parentheses. It makes the copy easier-to-read, easier to understand and provides a little “eye relief” for your reader.
The Boron Letters Chapter 18
When a person first looks at something you have written, it should be something that looks inviting to read. Easy-to-read. When they look at your copy, they should be drawn to it.
Your page of copy (be it letter or space ad) should be laid out in such a manner as to be an attractive “eye treat” for the reader. Wide margins, a certain amount of white space, spacing between paragraphs, short words, short sentences, short paragraphs and an inviting layout.
Also Read: Creative Elements of Landing Pages
The layout of your advertisement should catch the attention of your reader, but not in a way that causes them to notice the layout!
You can do a better selling job when at first it does not appear you are attempting to do a sales job. Your ads should look like an exciting piece of editorial material.
The Boron Letters Chapter 19
Another piece of tip from Boron Letters copywriting lessons is: you either hook a reader or lose them when they very first look at your ad. Not when they read it, but when they first look at it.
Most (or many) of our decisions about how we like or dislike something are made not in 40 seconds, or the first 4 or 40 minutes. They are rather made in the first fraction of a second that we see something new.
One thing that helps is if your promotion has a "crisp" look about it. In other words, the layout should be clean, there should be a lot of contrast, and it should look easy and inviting to read.
So, think what kind of look will give the reader a lift.
The Boron Letters Chapter 20
When you get stuck or emotionally jammed up one of the ways to get yourself unclogged and flowing again is just to keep moving. Run. Walk. Jog. Write. Do the dishes. Or whatever. But don't sit around waiting for a flash from Heaven.
You should clear the “deck” and get (so far as possible) the garbage out of your system. It ensures that your strategic decisions, and everything will be clear. The key is movement!
Wait 72 hours after being emotional to make any important decisions. You don't have to get things right. You just have to get them moving.
Please remember this word: HALT. It stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired, and you should never make a decision when you are any of those things.
The Boron Letters Chapter 21
Propositions are very important in most types of selling. And a very important ingredient in making your propositions work is the “reason why.” In other words, when you say you have a deal, you need an explanation as to why you are offering this good deal.
If you don’t have an explanation, your deal won't be believable. And you may not get the sale.
Offering special deals based on where your promos are listed works well too.
The Boron Letters Chapter 22
Another thing you must do is to read your copy out loud. What happens when you read your copy out loud is that you will verbally stumble over all the places that are not smooth.
A good writer is one who makes things perfectly clear. They make it easy for the reader.
But remember: If you are writing for applause... you will go home with empty pockets. Write for money! Don’t worry about developing a “style.” Your peculiarities will emerge soon enough.
Also, you must always find a market first... and then concentrate on a product!
The Boron Letters Chapter 23
Most people (at least many) walk around with their heads in the sand. They are lost in a fog. They go whichever way the current of the streams of their world happens to push them. It’s a bad way to be.
What you must be (wherever you are) is alert, on top of things and ready. You never know when opportunity will knock. Fortunes are made by those who know what’s going in their fields.
Always be ready to catch a break.
Be aware of the surroundings. Most people who are on top of things (and aware) usually know what time it is (in the range of a few minutes) without looking at a watch or clock.
Another interesting point Gary made is about believability. It’s one of the top most important ingredients of good promotions. And one way to increase believability is to give exact details. Describe where you are and what you are doing to make your conversations real like.
The Boron Letters Chapter 24
Impact is the impression you or your promotion makes on its intended target. Make what you attach to your letter to fit in. But you must not use cheap tricks. Never.
Whatever you attach to arrest attention should tie in with the rest of your offer/copy and what you are selling. It should make sense and fit into the promotion in a natural way.
The Boron Letters Chapter 25
People can smell it when you are weak. When you are vulnerable. They can smell success too. They can sniff out a winner. And you can't fake it. Not for long. You've got to be it!
Pay attention to yourself and drop out of sight when you're “off.” Stay out of sight and do what is necessary to strengthen yourself.
One thing worth remembering from Gary Halbert Boron Letters is that being off happens to all of us. And it is super important to know when you are off.
And you can learn to respect yourself by creating your own moral code and standing by it. Also, your respect for others means a lot more when you have enough self-esteem to never respect those who don't respect you.
Wrapping It Up
And that marks the end to The Boron Letters summary. The book is a mix of health tips and writing lessons for copywriters. And those were all the scattered tidbits and copywriting tips from The Boron Letters, Gary Halbert. It’s actually a no-BS self-help book for copywriters.
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