Clarence Darrow was a famous trial lawyer. You have probably heard of him and his famous Monkey Trial. Or maybe you saw the one-man show where Henry Fonda portrayed the lawyer. Darrow was an idol of mine when I was a teenager. I almost became a lawyer due to his inspiring life. That great man once said:
"As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man (or woman) objected and no man (or woman) rebelled, those wrongs would last forever."
I object to a practice far too many writers still believe in and use. I call these particular writers creators of "malnutritious writing." These are writers who leave out the vitamins in their writing—the facts. They feel that a knack for writing is all you need to persuade readers to listen to them.
These writers are "vegetarians" because their writing lacks meat. It lacks substance. It lacks credibility. They are so in love with their phrases that they overlook the need for reality.
There's an old joke about a writer who applies for a job at an advertising firm. The employer says, "Your resume consists of lies and empty statements. You got the job!"
The belief that too many writers still have is that a catchy letter or cute writing style is all you need. Sorry, Charlie. Readers are smarter than that. Frank Perdue of Perdue Farms stated that over 80 percent of all advertised products fail because the ads treat the consumers like fools.
People want facts and benefits and solid ideas. Joe Karbo wrote a book titled The Lazy Man's Guide to Riches. The book sold well and people still talk about Karbo's advertising. Karbo's long, wordy, personal ads were riveting. They motivated many people to buy his book.
But over 40% of his customers asked for a refund! Why?
Because Karbo didn't deliver. He created a powerful letter based on fluff. People fell for it. But nearly half asked for their money back. And nearly all of his customers never bought from him again.
Yet people still think Karbo (his name reminds me of karb-age) was a success. They are dazzled by the glittery writing and blind to the fact that the ad didn't get what it set out to get: results.
This happens even today. Major advertising firms are given awards even for their creative ads. Even when those ads didn't make a dent in sales. For example, people really love the Isuzu advertising. It's been rated as clever and creative. Yet the cars don't sell. Which means the ads don't work! So why are we applauding them?
A friend of mine told me my copywriting and letter-writing skills are so good he felt I ought to take some rocks out of my driveway and sell them as "lucky stones." He said people would buy them if I write strong enough copy to sell them.
That's a belief I am objecting to. Not only is it unethical to do what my friend suggested, I also think it is cruel. And from a realistic business stance, the idea is a dud. You may fool a reader once, but ultimately you'll lose him for life.
Robert Collier, the legendary copywriter who wrote The Robert Collier Letter Book, blew it once, too. He wrote up a powerful sales letter to market a series of books he hadn't even written yet. He wanted to test the product before he created it.
Collier made history. His letter brought in nearly a 100% response. People wanted his books! Collier had to write night and day in order to write those books and fulfill all the orders.
Give Me Some Meat!
But almost half of his customers demanded refunds! Why?
Again, he had left out the meat. The facts. Collier promised more than he could deliver. In defense of Collier I admit that his books (which became The Secret of the Ages, a metaphysical classic now in its fiftieth printing) may have been ahead of their time. His customers may not have been ready for his ideas. Still, Collier didn't give the people the truth. He led them on.
Benjamin Franklin said the noblest question in the world is, "What good may I do in it?"
Are writers who offer empty phrases and flowery prose and advertise books not yet written doing well?
People aren't dumb. Burn them once and you lose them forever. Not only that, but research proves that those people will tell 8 to 10 other people about your crime. Furthermore, when any writer misleads a reader, he makes all writers look bad.
We all lose!
The techniques you're learning in this book will help you write material that will hold your reader's attention. But if you want to create Hypnotic Writing, you must work with real facts and real benefits and solid ideas.
Step two in my Turbocharge Your Writing formula encourages you to gather facts through research. Why? Because facts give your writing backbone. It gives your writing a spine. Without a spine, your writing will have all the impact of jelly.
Use facts. Give your writing some meat. Deal with the real world. Don't use words as sleight-of-hand devices to mislead your readers. Be honest.
Clarence Darrow was an honest lawyer who moved extremely opinionated people, even angry people, to see things his way. Dar-row was a gifted speaker. He could hold a courtroom spellbound for hours. But his use of words depended on one essential ingredient, without which his life would have amounted to nothing: truth.
Think about it.
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