Ernest Weckesser may not be a household name in direct response marketing but few have had such long-running, profit pulling ads in so many publications.
His ads in the opportunity market are exemplary and few copywriters (past or present) come close to his level of mastery.
Weckesser was a professor at Purdue University when he got bit by the mail order bug. He started by placing classified ads for a report on how to brew your own beer at home.
This quickly turned into the multi-million dollar per year earning company, Green Tree Press.
After Joe Karbo’s “Lazy Man’s Way to Riches,” Weckesser’s ads for the research publication, “Network,” are probably the most successful and longest running in the biz op market.
By the way, both of these legendary copywriters published multiple biz-op insertions in the super staid “Wall Street Journal.” Until Karbo and Weckesser, this had never been done.
But it’s a shame to call such artistry ‘biz op.” Bud’s decade-and-a-half lasting ads are a must for any serious copywriter’s swipe file.
Some of the things he masterfully does in his ads are:
- Overwhelming the prospect with numerous, detailed ‘case studies’
- Including his real address, phone number, bank reference and chamber of commerce membership. This trust building technique was a key factor in Green Tree’s explosive response rates, yet few ad writers in this market have the culture or the depth to even know about them.
- Offering an irresistible test to hook the reader’s attention
- Crafting world class bullet points
Here’s an example of the kind of case studies that pervade in Bud Weckesser’s copy. From a 1976 ad entitled:
“If you’re creative, here’s a “money hobby” that might make you rich”
3. A Kentucky woman selling a 15-page travel booklet for $1.00 was literally swamped with orders. In 87 days her classified ad running in six magazines made a net profit of $2,230.00 from a gross of $3,250.00. She was 69 years of age, widowed and living alone in her apartment at the time.
What made Weckesser such a formidable copywriting force was besides being a natural adman; he was a professor of communication.
Now, imagine the combined impact of several more specific case studies like this on the naturally skeptical reader and it’s no wonder these ads appeared the world over for 15 years. Opportunity seekers have mostly encountered hyperbole and adjectives in advertising before but here, the proof intensifies the promise so strongly that the ad can’t be dismissed.
No post about Ernest Weckesser would be complete without mention of:
“When I See My Ex-Husband, I Have This Secret Trick I Play On Him”
Not only one of the most brilliant ads in the history of weight loss advertising but in all of direct response.
As always, Weckesser’s ad commences with copy that yanks the reader by the lapels.
Did you ever notice that when you’re fat, men don’t look you in the eye? They look across your shoulder. There’s no eye contact. My name is Leslie McClennahan. I’m a real person. I live near Goose Creek, South Carolina. Up until two years ago, I was never looked in the eye. By anyone.
The ad then tells the story of an obese woman who is coldly served divorce papers by her husband. In the ultimate table turning transformation, the woman goes on a diet and in 193 days goes from 205 pounds to 124 pounds and becomes a knockout. She then takes up a vengeful hobby of going on dates at a restaurant her ex-husband frequents and strolling by his table with her new beau in arm.
Here are some of the titles marketed by Green Tree Press:
- The Beginner’s Guide to Selling Information by Mail
- Dollars in Your Mailbox
- Alternatives: The Network Program
- Cooper Weight Loss Program
- The Complete Guide About Identity Theft
- The Charleston Program