Gary Halbert’s Crazy Copywriting Exercise

Last week I bought the great late Gary Halbert’s How to Write a Sales Letter that Will Make You Rich Seminar Transcript.

Now, if you don’t know who Gary Halbert was (a lot of people don’t, unless they’re really hardcore into marketing and copywriting), he was greatest copywriter who ever lived.  You can check out his online newsletter, for free, here:  Just scroll to the bottom and click on the left link which is the newsletter archive

While reading through his seminar transcript, he gives a bunch of exercises for us to do.  They’re all really powerful copywriting exercises, but this one really shows you how words can make or break you.

Gary starts off by telling us how to address an envelope, and how we should always put the date and time underneath our return address.  He then tells us exactly what to write on one piece of paper (see Exhibit A):

Exhibit A Gary Halbert Letter to Mom

Exhibit A Gary Halbert Letter to Mom

Here’s the transcript of Exhibit A Letter:

Dear Mom,

     I’m very busy right now and I don’t have time to call so that’s why I’m writing you this letter.

     You know, Mom not only are you responsible for my very existence, you are also the nourishment that has made my life sparkle.  I’m under a lot of stress right now and for some reason, I started thinking about you.  And it has occurred to me maybe I haven’t let you know recently how much I appreciate you and how much I love you.

     I especially like remembering you taking us on trips when we were younger.

     Anyway, I’m going to make it a point to see you just as soon as I can.

All my love,


How sweet, ay?  I feel a big huge coming on from my mom!

Now, Gary tells us to address another envelope, same way with different time, and then tells us the exact words he wants us to write (see Exhibit B):

Exhibit B Gary Halbert Letter to Mom

Here’s the transcript of Exhibit B Letter:

Dear “Mom”:

     If I weren’t such a long way from home, I probably wouldn’t have the guts to tell you this.  But, the following has been true ever since I was born.  You have made my life a living hell.  Every person I know has a mother that is superior to you in every positive way imaginable.

     You are nothing more than a wrinkled up old bitch, as far as I’m concerned, the biggest waste of skin God ever created.  Speaking of God, as the Lord knows, you’re certainly not too mentally swift either.  So, just in case your low IQ keeps you from understanding what I am trying to say, let me make it perfectly clear…

East Shit And Die!

     Please don’t call or write me.  I have no inclination whatsoever to communicate with you ever again.

Reluctantly your son,


P.S.  Dad sucks too.

Yikes.  I think I just ruined Mom’s day… oh, and Dad’s.

What do you think would happen if your mom read this letter?  She’d be really upset, right?  She’d probably call up your Aunt Martha (everyone has an Aunt Martha, no?) crying about how much you hurt her and how she was a bad parent (oh, and word spreads like wildfire… your whole family would know in probably 17 seconds flat).

But, on the other hand, if you were to send the first letter, your mom would call up your Aunt Martha and she’d sing songs of praise on how sweet of a child you are.

The purpose of this exercise was to show that it costs the same amount to mail these letters (same envelope, piece of paper, postage).  Also, it shows it took the same about of time to write. 

So, when you’re writing copy for your ads and marketing campaigns, how are you going to write it?  Are you going to write it where customers are singing songs of praise and handing over their money to you, or are you going to scare them off so they can go write a bad review about how you made their lives worse?

Now, I want you to do this exercise so you can FEEL what it’s like.  Copy the letter just like I have it so it can be engraved into your brain and you’ll never forget it

Oh, and you get brownie points if you seal the letter into the envelope, put a stamp on it, and take it to the mailbox.  😉

Be sure to leave your comments below and let me know if you have any questions about this exercise, since I do have the transcript.

As always… Now go take action!


  1. Thank you Duke for taking the time to post this. Halbert truly was a great, perhaps the greatest copywriter as he often said. So I thank you for taking the time to teach us one of Gary’s lessons, and keep our passion for quality copywriting going.

    You’re the man Duke.

    Greg – “Mr Bum Gun” – The King of Bathroom Hygiene

    1. You’re welcome, Greg! 🙂

      I just got a copy of The Boron Letter’s by Gary Halbert, which his son is signing and putting Gary’s Certified Stamp on it. He only had 100 copies. Can’t wait for it!!

      -David “The Duke” Hunter, haha

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