WELCOME TO THE DRAYTON BIRD BLOG - Commonsense about marketing, business and life

Leave now if easily shocked or politically correct. Otherwise, please leave your comments. Statements such as "brilliant", "hugely perceptive", "what a splendid man" and "can I buy you dinner at the restaurant of your choice" are all greeted with glee.

If you like, I'll e-mail you each new dollop of drivel when I publish it. Just click here to subscribe. If you want to succeed faster, get my 101 helpful marketing ideas, one every 3 days. People love them - maybe because they're free. Go to www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com and register. You also a get a free copy of the best marketing book ever written

Thursday, 28 January 2010

"Make money while you sleep" - and other half-truths

If you can't steal from your relatives, who can you steal from?

"Originality is the most dangerous sin in the advertiser's lexicon," said Rosser Reeves, and - taking him at his word his brother in law David Ogilvy happily quoted this in "Confessions of an Advertising Man" and everywhere else for years after without attribution.

I was reminded of this when I saw a hoary old favourite re-emerge for the umpteenth time on one of those scamsters' twitter pages. "Make money while you sleep" it promised. Why be original when you can steal? Of course, even the best of misrepresentations works better if you can improve it - perhaps by saying "Make $452 to $3,217 a month extra while you sleep". Even a half-truth is improved by precision.

One of the world's best copywriters reproved me a while ago for being too modest I ignored him; it is an English thing. Then someone came to see me yesterday and repeated the criticism. If I have to boast a little in this fatuous world of legends and superstars I will say this: I probably know more good stuff to copy than anyone.

I first saw this "while you sleep" line used by Ed Axel one of the rather roguish American copywriters I met in the early '60's. He had a great ad for a product called "Slumberslim", with the headline: "Lose weight while you sleep through the miracle of auto-oxidation"

I said, "What's auto-oxidation, Ed?" "Sweating, kid - sweating," he replied. Ed had the greatest-ever guarantee: "Just tear the cover off this book and send it back to me to get your money back." I think he went off to Scandinavia to become a pioneer in the world of porn.

Lots of those guys were just brilliant. There was Monroe Kane, whose lawyer probably made more money than him for keeping out of serious trouble. Gene Schwartz was another. As Denny Hatch observed, I think in "Million Dollar Mailings", a lot of his stuff was very close to the mark. Gene asked me to write copy for him, and gave me a job to do. I came up with a line almost identical to the one he'd already written and decided I wasn't good enough.

Gene explained the trick with these outrageous promises: you sold a book, not a product, and based your incredible claims on what the author said. Joe Karbo, who also asked me to write for him was another master. His "Lazy Man's Way to Get Rich" - which must be one of the most copied headlines was just a book half on self motivation and half on how to get into the mail order business.

I learned a lot from that book. Dreaming of what you want does work. But not as well or as quickly as these crooks tell you, believe me. And remember the old Polish curse: may your dreams come true.

Now I guess I should make some outrageous claims about my Get Rich Slow programme as it gets perilously close to being launched. Instead I will just tell you that if I can swing it the free drinks will be on me when you register - which you can't yet because my website still sucks, and I need a decent microphone for my webinars.

There I go again. This modesty will be the death of me.

blog comments powered by Disqus