Rarer still when the copy sings and sells with almost no need for fine tuning all those decades later.
But that’s exactly what you’ll discover in these three print ads from the late mail order king, Paul Michael.
Among other things, Paul was the originator of the lift letter.
A lift letter is a sheet of note page sized paper that rides along with the main sales letter in a direct mail package.
It’s called a lift letter because its job is to LIFT response.
Paul’s original lift letter included one of best known (and copied) lines of mail order copy, “Frankly, I’m puzzled,” which Internet marketers occasionally parrot in their subject lines.
He’s also credited with helping produce as much as $100 million per year in sales for Greystone Press before going out on his own.
Here are three stellar examples of his copy in action.
All had widespread insertions in newspapers across the country in the 1970s.
You’ll find them of benefit whether you sell information products, packaged goods or services of almost any kind because these ads have all the elements of…
MULTI-YEAR RUNNING WINNERS!
You won’t see these covered in most copywriting courses, but if you really dig into the guts of a winner, you’ll notice they’re there.
Here’s some you’ll encounter in many space ad controls, including these of Paul Michael.
The effective use of…
- And alliteration
Alliteration is surprisingly often a component of blockbuster print ads — not that you’ll hear it mentioned in the average crummy copy course. 🙂
It really makes the headline, “How You Can Make a Killing in Coins.” The phrase is also repeated throughout the body copy.
All three ads start off with a similar sense of engagement — critical to any winner.
And they all immediately push the same hot button expressed in this line of copy: [experiencing] “the luxuries in life before you are too old to enjoy them.”
Paul’s ads masterfully stoke these feelings in the prospect.
- Fear of loss
- Desire for gain
- Being one of the cognoscenti
- Getting something for nothing
- Appeals to ego and prestige
Technically, these space ads are near perfect, even in 2012 — the guarantees, the bonuses and price justification are textbook.
He’s even thrown in continuity!
Show me another “kitchen table” operator from the early 1970s doing this and I’ll buy you a beer.
Look how he builds vibrant word pictures into the copy from “How YOU Can Turn Box-Tops Into Gold”
Money doesn’t grow on trees, so stop for a minute to figure out how much cash — in the form of box-tops and labels — you’ve thrown into your trash can in the last few months. $200 or more would be a good guess. (Almost $1,000 in 2012.)
I’ll make you this promise: when you follow my method, you’ll never do that again. Instead, you’ll get the thrill of having your mailbox filled to overflowing with money.
There are also plenty of little things that jump out to the trained eye, like moderation of claims, using that very important word: almost. “It’s almost foolproof.”
The only weakness in these ads by today’s standards are the bullets.
There’s too much repetition and too little variety.
In the “How You Can Win Contests!” ad there’s a line of “I will teach/show/give you” bullets.
A contemporary copywriter would favor something like: “How the right timing of your entry can quadruple your chances of winning any contest. (Hint: Too early or too late and you’re as good as sunk.)”
But quibbling with Paul Michael’s copy is like critiquing Picasso — it’s hard to do. Few writers can condense so much persuasion, aimed at so many, into a one-page print ad.
The bottom line is any one of these products can (and does) sell today.
And these ads are lessons in creating evergreen products with near universal appeal.
You can download these ads in a single PDF: The Paul Michael Swipe File.
Do yourself a favor and print them out, though.
You really can turn old ads into gold.