The first time I met Joe Sugarman was 17 years ago on a blazing hot evening in Midtown Manhattan.
If it looks like I’ve got an impossibly goofy expression on my face… it’s because I do!
Joe was (and still is) my hero in direct marketing… and I just couldn’t keep calm.
But several years later, we spent an even HOTTER evening together here in “Cactus Country.”
Direct response came up a few times.
I wasn’t there to pick Joe’s brain. We discussed so many things that evening.
Joe’s book, Success Forces, is one of my most prized library holdings, and it has little to do with advertising. One of the “success forces” Joe advocates is humility. And believe… me he lives it.
So many hotshots destroy themselves in all industries because of arrogance and Joe is 100% right about the power of humility.
But considering how many times he’s been knocked off over the years, Joe might say…
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” NOT!
When Joe came out with his blockbuster story selling opener, he was knocked off right off the bat.
Copywriters from all corners knew a good thing when they saw it.
And since Joe was running hundreds of ads and TV spots for his trademark Blublocker sunglasses, they figured he might be on to something.
Here’s the opener.
“I am about to tell you a true story. If you believe me, you will be well rewarded. If you don’t believe me, I will make it worth your while to change your mind. Let me explain.
Len is a friend of mine who has an eye for good products. One day he called excited about a pair of sunglasses he owned. “It’s so incredible,” he said, “when you first look through a pair, you won’t believe it.”
Quite a lead.
The late great Professor Weckesser ran with the opener a few months after Joe Sugarman.
And what’s not to like about “I am about to tell you a true story,” given that story selling is one of the most powerful advertising angles around.
When Professor Weckesser used Joe’s opening sentence, it was not only smart, but was one master paying tribute to another, like the great Impressionists often did, except in mail order. 🙂
But not every fellow advertiser is so noble.
This one, executed a “perfect swipe” of Joe’s ad right down to his trademark, “Let me explain.”
The ad ran once or twice and was never seen or heard from again.
Mind you, there are a LOT of variables in direct response, not the least of which is the price for media.
But some marketers get too carried away with imitation.
It pays to borrow from the best, but ultimately every ad is different… every ad is unique.
Here’s something you can sink your teeth into for a bounty of winning ideas and an unusual direct mail system rocking response.