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#65 This Guy Wants to Pay Me Millions of Dollars A Year
Denny Hatch -- Marketing Expert Denny Hatch -- Marketing Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia , PA
Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Issue #65 — Tuesday, August 6, 2018
Posted by Denny Hatch

This Guy Wants to Pay Me "Millions of Dollars a Year"

This may be one of the spookiest mailings I ever received.
     It arrived in an envelope that I did not save.
     Inside was a 38-page pamphlet—a diatribe from a perfect stranger with an eerie Voodoo-like hex mask on its cover of coated stock.
     It made me uncomfortable.
     It came solo, with no personal cover letter from the author introducing himself and telling me why he was sending it to me and what he wanted me to do:
     • Review it in this blog?
     • Write a blurb he could use in promoting it?
     • Publish an excerpt?
     • Devote an issue of the blog to discuss it?
     I turned the book over to look at the back cover, and discovered what Ryan M. McGrath had in mind:
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Go Beyond "B-Level" And Start Getting
Ferocious with Your Copy
Do you know what separates the B-level copywriters from Ferocious Copywriters? Are you making all the money you want from your copy? Do you find yourself relying too much on your swipe file and worrying about everyone else's needs other than your prospects?
It's time to stop playing it safe ... stop holding back ... and go for the throat of your prospects, no holds barred.
Step 1: Stop buying courses, stop chasing the "secret" and stop being an order taker ... instead unleash the animal within to create multimillion-dollar breakthroughs.
Step 2: Partner with us. We are always looking for hard working, ethical people to join our team of ferocious copywriters. Said a different way, if you can go the distance, I'd like to partner with you and pay you hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars a year in copywriting royalties.
Step 3: To partner with us, send me an email and get my attention. Tell me why I should work with you. Even better: Write me a ferocious sales letter to persuade me why I should work with you, using all the techniques I'll show you in this book.
     If you think we'd make a good team, send the email to: rmcgrath@agorafinancial.com.

Okay, I was sufficiently intrigued.
I sat down and read it cover-to-cover.
The word “ferocious” appeared 84 times throughout the pamphlet.
     A sampling from the “Manifesto:”

What would life be like for you if you finally got ferocious? Imagine how that would feel. Would it make our offers even more seductively compelling? How ferocious are you right now in attacking your current copy assignment? How ferocious are you in your research and execution? How much money would you make if you felt like you had nothing holding you back? What does the word "ferocious" even mean to you? What images in your mind does that word, ferocious, generate?
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Think of a jungle cat. Picture it in your head. Examine this cat... its motion ... its bearing. Do you see it? Ferocious is purposefulness. It's intensity. Its energy directed toward a very specific outcome.
Sometimes the cat roars to get attention. But it's on purpose.
The same is true with ferocious copy. Sometimes you make outlandish claims. Crazy promises. Use multiple exclamation points!!”
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Go to a quiet place where you can close your eyes...

Take a deep breath... like you are meditating...

Imagine a large jungle cat right in front of you clawing the floor with enormous claws.

Maybe you picture a cougar or puma...

Or a lion or a tiger...

Whatever form it takes, put this big cat on a movie screen in your mind.

Do you see it?

What does this cat look like? Is it a big roaring cat? Does it have glowing amber eyes? Ripping muscles?

Now, I want you to mentally make that picture this puma or tiger to be 40 feet tall. In your mind, I want you to picture yourself moving beside this cat. Swallow this image inside your head and step inside that cat.”
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Now, your big idea is at least 80% of your success. It might even be all your success, but for purposes of discussion, let's say response comes down to 80% your ideas and only 20% your execution. (I've never seen good copy save a bad idea. I have seen a great idea work, even with poorly executed copy.)
That means you should only spend about 20% of your time writing the copy and spending 80% of the time being ferocious in your ideas.
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The Real Surprise: McGrath’s Email Address rmcgrath@agorafinancial.com.
     Holy cow! I know Agora Financial well!
     Ferocious they ain’t. Or at least never used to be.
     I know the owner and founder. A number of years ago I journeyed to Baltimore and spent the day with him taking voluminous notes (I never tape my interviews) in his office over sandwiches at lunch and later at an elegant dinner at a classy restaurant. Plus I interviewed a number of his adoring associates—international real estate wizard Kathleen Peddicord and one of the savviest list managers in the business, Beth Dent. 
     The result was my long cover story, “Direct Marketer of the Year” for Target Marketing Magazine.

A Consummate Entrepreneur
In 1979, Bill Bonner was bloodied by three failures and was $70,000 in debt.
     In his head he conceived a newsletter to be called International Living for people who wanted the good life, but couldn't afford it in the United States. He sat down at a typewriter to write a subscription letter and began to peck away at the keys.
     The letter ran a staggering 3,710 words, defying the old shibboleth that people won't read long letters.
     The offer was for "12 information-packed issues for $34," plus "A FREE copy of "The 5 Best Retirement Destinations in the World."
     This sales letter—the dry test for a newsletter that did not exist—was cash positive from day one, bringing in 300 percent of breakeven.
     The letter launched Agora, Bill Bonner's gazillion dollar publishing empire with hundreds of employees working out of a cluster magnificently restored townhouses in Baltimore (including a Stanford White masterpiece), sumptuous digs in London and Paris and two mind-blowing 17th century chateaux in France.
     These goodies are funded by a slew of ventures—publishing, nutraceuticals, real estate and financial operations all over the world.
Many Years Later
     Peggy and I were hired by one of Bonner’s French/Swiss subsidiaries in Lausanne. It turned out Bill—like Warren Buffett—is the ideal entrepreneur. He will pony up plenty of investment cash for an agreed-upon piece of the action and leave the partner alone. Bill is always available if needed.
    At one point I was summoned to Baltimore to meet with my Swiss client. Bill was the same guy I always knew—rail thin, elegant, low-key, cosmopolitan and completely accessible working at a desk out in the open at the far end of a big room. 
     Mrs. Bonner also greeted me—warmly and welcoming. Our families in the Hudson River knew each other from upstate New York. We briefly exchanged news. I was invited to stay for dinner, but alas had to decline.

Bill Bonner at Chateau d’Ouzilly,
His “Fixer-upper” in the Loire Valley.

Below is page 1 of Bonner’s 
1979 eight-page masterpiece
Readers Note: If you would like to see the complete 8-page letter and other elements that launched Agora, write me and I’m happy to send you a PDF. dennyhatch@yahoo.com

The New International Living
Bill’s original letter brought in customers for probably for 30 years through direct mail and later via email and the Internet.
     I recently Googled International Living and the newsletter has morphed into a glossy magazine promoted by a Ferocious Copywriter.

     Below is the current landing page.
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Compare Bill's letter to this current pitch. 
     Bill's message is magical, deeply personal. 
     For 30 years this image has been etched in my brain... 
   ...an ocean view with a maid bringing me breakfast in bed and being able pick fresh lemons and figs in my front yard.­ 

     Other messages from direct mail letters that have stayed in my head for 30 years:

• The guy who reads The Wall Street Journal will go farther in business than the guy who doesn’t.

• If I had the money, I could have taken the history-making first private jet round-the-world flight and had a private audience with the pope and met the emperor of Japan.

My opinion: great copywriters are not ferocious.
     They are the creators of dreams that are fulfilled by the products and services they are offering. 

Final question: Is "Ferocious Copy the Manifesto for Bill Bonner's AWAI—American Writers & Artists Inc.—famed direct marketing copywriting course?
     If so, then in the immortal words of movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn: "Include me out." 

Takeaways About Letters—Print and Email/Digital
• "Direct marketing is intimate advertising." 
   —Lester Wunderman
Of all the formats used in direct mail, none has more power to generate action than the letter. —Dick Hodgson

• “Any package containing a letter will generally pull greater response than a package without a letter; extensive testing has proved this to be true in most cases.” —Dick Hodgson

Most of the tested rules of direct mail letters directly apply to creating successful email and letters on a website.

“Even though it may go to millions of people, a letter never orates to a crowd, but rather murmurs into a single ear. It’s an intimate message from one letter writer to one letter reader.” —Harry Walsh                                                                                   
“When reason and emotion come into conflict, emotion wins every time.” —John J. Flieder

"Tell a story if possible. Everybody loves a good story, be it about Peter Rabbit or King Lear.  And the direct mail letter, with its unique person-to-person format—is the perfect vehicle for a story.  Stories get read.  The letter I wrote to launch the Cousteau Society twenty-some years ago has survived hundreds of tests against it.  When I last heard, it was still being mailed in some form or other. The original of this direct mail Methuselah started out with this lead: “A friend once told me a curious story I would like to share with you...” —Harry Walsh

• This is not about copywriting. Not about words. The reader should not be aware of great copy. It melts into the page.

• “In a great novel, you are never conscious of the “writing.” If a reader says, ‘How beautifully this author writes…’ it’s a failure.”
—Paul S. Eriksson

“Use short words. Short sentences. Short paragraphs.”
—Andrew J. Byrne

• “Eliminating the first paragraph often improves most letters.”
     —Andrew J. Byrne

  Inbox Hotspots.
1. "From" line. (DH)
2. "Subject" line. (DH)

Letter Hotspots.
3. Johnson Box (billboard above salutation and letter body).

4. Salutation. If personalized, spell the name right or your message is DOA. If you personalize and have never met the person, do you really want to write “Dear [First Name]. You are always safe if your salutation reads Dear [FirstName] [LastName]. (DH)

5. First sentence/first paragraph.

6. Johnson Box (billboard above salutation and letter body.

7. Last paragraph.

8. Signature.

9. Title with signature.

10. P.S. and P.P.S.
     —Pat Friesen and (occasionally) DH

“Your first 10 words are more important than the next ten thousand.”   
   —Elmer “Sizzle” Wheeler

“Your best lede paragraph is most likely found somewhere on page 2 of your first draft.” —Pat Friesen

“The letter is likely to be the only “person” your market will ever meet—at least on the front end of the sale—do don’t make him highbrow if your market is lowbrow and vice versa.
    Make sure he speaks your prospect's language.  If he’s a Tiffany salesman, he writes in one style; if he’s a grapefruit or pecan farmer or a beef grower, he writes differently  (‘Cause he talks diffrunt.)  I develop as clear a profile of my prospect as the available research offers and then try to match it up with someone I know and “put him in a chair” across from me.  Then I write to him more or less conversationally.
     “The salesperson in the letter is doing the job he obviously loves and is good at.  He knows the product inside and out and is totally confident in and at ease with its values and benefits—even its inconsequential shortcomings—and wants to get his prospect in on a good thing.  Here is someone with a sense of rhythm, timing, dramatic effect and possibly even humor—getting attention... piquing curiosity... holding interest... engaging rationally... anticipating and assuaging doubts... and ultimate winning the confidence (and the signature on the order) of the prospect.” 
—Malcolm Decker

"The letter is NOT a monolithic corporation addressing a computer-generated market profile; it is not impersonal in tone, form or content
—Malcolm Decker

"The letter is NOT a letterhead on top and a signature on the bottom and the most cherished sales pitch of the VP Marketing sandwiched in between.” 
—Malcolm Decker

"Be sure the right person signs the letters.
  “Some time ago, two investors newsletters—Advance Planning Letter and Investors World Intelligent Report—sent out long (12- and 16-page) highly technical promotional letters filled with forecasts with recommendations. The former was signed by Bobbie Bunch, Assistant to the Publisher; the latter was signed by Joan Pendergraft, Executive Assistant to Sid Pulitzer. Obviously neither wrote the letter, so believability was out the window.” 
—Malcolm Decker

"Don’t overlook the color, size and vitality of your signature; they're your salesman’s handshake. Even people who aren’t graphologists pick up a lot from the way a name is signed. Do not use an obviously phony-baloney computer font for a signature. Use the real thing.” 
—Malcolm Decker.

"The other signature that can work for you is your company name and logotype. Use them to tell your prospect what kind of company you are: traditional, avant-garde, industrial, financial."  
  —Malcolm Decker

"The letter MUST be quickly scannable: that is, a reader should get the gist of the proposition simply by reading the (1) eyebrow/Johnson Box/headline, (2) lead paragraph, (3) crossheads, (4) wrap-up, (5) P.S. If not, send it back for surgery, because without a strongly integrated skeleton, the body of the argument will slump. 
   —Malcolm Decker

“The letter MUST be easy on the eyes, open, inviting and varying in its texture—with normal margins... individual paragraphs with line space between... at least one crosshead or subhead per page (two per page for long letters)... occasional variation in paragraph width... a quotation, underlined sentence or phrase... numbers or bullets to list benefits... and/or other bits of “color” to maintain reader interest by promising visual variety. The longer the letter, the more important these techniques.”
         —Don Hauptman

"To avoid a gray 'wall' of type that discourages reading, paragraphs shouldn’t be more than seven lines. A visual and dramatic break can be provided by an occasional paragraph of one sentence, one line ore even one word." 
   —Don Hauptman

"Underscore key words, sentences and even entire (short!) paragraphs. Always underscore with a continuous rule (i.e., not “hatched” or broken between each word.)  Unfortunately, some fonts and printers create a rule that cuts into the lower edges of letters; use a font that cuts a hairline space above the rule.” 
  —Don Hauptman

"Bullets, round or square (always solid), can be inserted. 
  —Don Hauptman

"Do NOT use asterisks, hyphens, periods or the letter 'o' as substitutes for bullets.  
  —Don Hauptman

“Check marks work nicely, especially for a list of benefits.”
     —Don Hauptman

"Subheads help break up long copy. They should be centered, capitalized and underscored.  For greater emphasis, set them in a larger size.”  
  —Don Hauptman

• "Inset paragraphs, centered (10 or so characters worth of space both left and right), and blocked.Useful for calling attention to important points.” 
  —Don Hauptman

"Always include a P.S. say experts.It can restate the guarantee, premium offer or major benefit, or make a provocative point that kicks the reader back into the reader.  Use a “hanging indent”—that means the entire message is positioned to the right of the P. and S.” 
   —Don Hauptman

The P.S. is one of the most-read elements of the letter.

P.S. What have I left out? If you know rules that are missing, please share with your fellow direct marketers by using the Comment Section below. Thank you.  —Denny Hatch


Word count: 2764

At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press. He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter and archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 years he has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.


Denny Hatch
The St. James
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Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-644-9526 (Rings on my desk)

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