How to Think to Be Better Paid –
The Lesson of the Billion Dollar Letter

In late 2006, over the holidays, I think, Martin Conroy passed away. If his name means nothing to you, at least one of his pieces of work should – his “two young men” letter written to sell subscriptions to The Wall Street Journal. It was first mailed in 1974 and then mailed continuously for 25 years. (My longest used ‘control’ is in its 16th year).

In 1991, Denny Hatch, author of Million Dollar Sales Letters, checked with the Journal’s circulation manager and verified the fact that about half of The Wall Street Journal circulation for many years came from mailing the Martin Conroy letter. In most years, that’d be about 500,000 readers. If each worth $100.00, that’d be $50-million a year. In 25 years, over a billion dollars. Many of us have written million dollar sales letters, few have written billion dollar sales letters. That’s something.

Marty Conroy didn’t deliver copy on typewritten pages. He built for The Wall Street Journal an asset worth considerably more than the office skyscraper its offices reside in.

How you think about what you do as a copywriter is important.

I view a lot of my work as asset creation. The copy written for one time use for a short-term promotion or one-time seminar, not so much. But a lot of the copy I write launches entire businesses or new additions to established businesses or brings in new, first-time customers who will each be kept as oil wells, pumping out revenue for years to come. This is big stuff. And I make sure my client understands that this is what the work done with him and on his behalf is all about. Asset creation.

Even at the small business level where I haven’t worked in eons, the principle applies and must be understood by copywriter and client alike. If a cosmetic dentist buys a video-imaging machine or some other techno-gizmo and invests $50,000.00, what will it directly provide him in profits as return on investment (before it is obsolete and must be replaced)?

Unless a fool, he considers this when judging its price good or bad. If I create a direct-mail piece that can be mailed every month for years to come to all the newly divorced women in the affluent communities near his office, that, on average, produces one new patient worth $25,000.00 each month – less costs of lists, mailing and fulfillment of service = $12,000.00 – the asset I’ve delivered is worth $144,000.00 a year. In 10 years, $1.4-million. Will that hunk of equipment produce $1.4-million?

There are important business issues related to this for the copywriter, including the fee itself, possible royalties or yearly renewal of license payments, the copywriter’s rights to re-sell the campaign (with the client as its testimonial) to other dentists in other parts of the country. There is also the client’s understanding of this as asset creation, so that, as soon as one asset is created and performing well, you are hired to create another, and another, and, like drilling oil wells, the client is prepared to endure some dry holes.

If you find the getting of clients problematic, then this is all the more important, because getting more assignments per client, and more income per assignment, reduces the need for quantity of clients.

There is significant benefit for the client too, in being guided into thinking about your copywriting as much more and more significant than ink on paper. This task and opportunity of yours is NOT entirely self-serving, although there’s nothing wrong about self-interest. Most business owners take their marketing much too casually, they do it grudgingly, they aren’t really interested in it. If you re-orient their thinking and get them more engaged, you can be a hero. Because the first big quantum leap in income for just about any small business owner that I teach to 1-million of ‘em every year is: moving up from doer of your thing to marketer of your thing.

SPECIAL INVITATION: Join Dan Kennedy May 6-8th for a Once-in-a-Lifetime Immersion into the BUSINESS OF COPYWRITING!

Dan’s promise to you: After 2 ½ days with him, you’ll experience a fundamental change in the way you think of yourself and your role, and in the way you present yourself to clients.

You’ll learn directly from him exactly how, for the past 30 years, he’s prospered as a part-time copywriter, in the earliest years never earning less that 6-figures and in more recent years, over a million dollars per year.

You’ll be part of a small and personal group learning Dan’s particular, consultative approach to copywriting that transcends writing by assignment.

Dan will show you how to get clients, get better and better fees, get great results for clients, manage client relationships, and build your career.

He’s going to “open his play-book” and show you how he raised himself from fledgling copywriter to million-dollar-a-year copywriter … how he attracts, manages, keeps and leverages clients … how he works behind the scenes.

When Dan first announced this one-time-only event at Bootcamp last month, 39 people signed up on the spot. That means there are only 36 seats still open. If you want to grab one of them … if you’re ready to start increasing your value to clients in multiple ways … that will multiply your income … I strongly urge to claim your spot today.

Register easily online right here.

To hear more about this “Change Your Life” event from Dan, click here.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: December 11, 2009

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