I Almost Flunked English But Went On To Make Millions of Dollars
Writing Sales Copy
The Guinness Book of World Records
listed Joe Girard as the "World's Greatest Retail Salesman" for 12 consecutive
years. He holds the singular distinction of having sold an average of six
cars a day over his career. Recently, Joe Girard told me:
"Joe, I can sell in person to individuals in a personal way - in fact, I
can sell more cars per day than anyone else. Yet, I can't do what you do
-- you sell millions of products to masses of people through the sheer power
Salesmanship in Print
When you look at it from Joe Girard's perspective, it's hard to deny the
awesome power of writing good sales copy - which I call "salesmanship in
print" -- a power that anyone can take advantage of. You don't need good
looks, a charming personality or even great intelligence. In fact, you don't
even have to pass English.
This is why it baffles me when people desperately rack their brains trying
to find ways to make money -- when the greatest opportunity is staring them
right in the face. What's even more mystifying is that those very same people,
when presented with ingenious approaches to writing copy that sells, take
the skill for granted and don't use it to make personal fortunes for themselves.
Not many people know this, but I almost flunked English back in high school.
In addition, I don't know many big words, unlike the rest of my advertising
and marketing colleagues -- and my writing style is quite unsophisticated
to boot. Yet, by learning to incorporate into my sales copy all the things
about how the human mind reacts to certain words and phrases that I've learned
over the years, I have made millions of dollars for myself.
The most important lesson you must remember is this: If you learn nothing
else but the proper use of psychological principles in writing sales copy,
you will always make more money than you'll ever need.
The Million-Dollar Grapefruit Farmer
If you're one of those people who believes that you're not a good enough
writer -- and that you couldn't possibly learn to write ad copy that sells
-- I want to tell you the story of a man who attended one of my seminars.
This man was a grapefruit farmer who had never written sales copy prior to
attending my copywriting seminar. In fact, he expressed his doubts that he
would get anything at all from the copywriting lessons he learned. Yet, by
the end of the seminar, he was able to write direct mail copy to sell grapefruit
by mail which, over a period of ten years, has earned him millions of dollars.
Success Leaves Clues
For many years I specialized in "space-age" products, and my claim to fame
was in building and selling "the better mousetrap" -- from state-of-the art
smoke detectors to chess computers to new-fangled calculators -- and more
recently -- to BluBlocker® sunglasses.
But you don't need a space-age product to make a million dollars. In fact,
that is the downfall of most people who enter the marketing field. They find
a product, fall in love with it, and try to get the market to buy it. With
an unproven product, you could lose a lot of money in the process.
Instead what you should do is find a product that's already selling well
-- and use compelling copy to sell it better.
Harmonize with the Marketplace
One of the psychological principles I describe in my book, "Triggers," is
simply this: Your product needs to harmonize with the marketplace.
Here's a tip that you would definitely find useful: When you're looking for
a product to sell, go to the library and flip through the back issues of
magazines -- particularly the tabloids. Note those mail order ads that are
running week after week, month after month. There's only one reason why those
ads keep running -- they're making money. Those products are already proven
to sell well -- they've demonstrated that they harmonize with the marketplace.
Even if there are many companies that are already competing in those product
categories (example: weight loss, hair restoration, and wrinkle products,
etc.), don't worry. If you apply good copywriting guidelines, your marketing
efforts will fare better than those who are making money, despite their poor
"Splish Splash I Was Takin' A Bath"
Take a clue from Bobby Darin, a popular singer of the '50s. Darin was a young
singer in New York who, for a long time, tried unsuccessfully to break into
the music business. He would go from record company to record company trying
to convince them to make an album of him singing popular jazz oldies. He
So one day, Darin sat down and wrote a song that fitted or "harmonized" with
what the public was buying at the time. What was popular at the time was
good old rock and roll sung by black artists -- it was called the Motown
The song he wrote was called "Splish Splash" and the words started out, "Splish
splash, I was takin' a bath/ 'Round about a Saturday night." It had a good
old Motown rock and roll sound -- and it became a smash hit, selling millions
Darin recognized what the market wanted, and he created something that harmonized
perfectly with the prevailing market. From his earnings, he himself produced
a record in the music genre that he really loved -- popular jazz oldies.
His song, "Mack the Knife" went on to become a multimillion-selling single
and made Bobby Darin famous.
To summarize, you must first have a product that harmonizes with your market.
If you haven't made a substantial amount of money from your marketing efforts
yet, sell only products or services that have a ready market -- this is the
path of least resistance. Afterwards, with the money you make, you can blaze
new trails with other products of your own preference.
About the Author:
Joe Sugarman, the best-selling author and top copywriter who has achieved
legendary fame in direct marketing, is best known for his highly successful
mail-order catalog company, JS&A, and his hit product, BluBlocker Sunglasses.
Joe's new breakthrough book,
cracks the human psychological code by identifying 30 triggers that influence
people to buy.