In memory of Gary Halbert

You may have already heard…

Gary Halbert passed away.

Who was Gary Halbert?

Because there are so many people who read this letter who are relatively new to marketing, I thought I’d answer the question in this e-mail.

First, Gary was one of the top copywriters of the last fifty years and should be ranked among the very best who ever practiced the craft.

This may sound like hyperbole, but I assure you, it’s not. For clarity, simplicity and selling power, he was second to none.

Second, Gary was a direct marketing practitioner of a very high order.

He not only wrote brilliantly effective ad copy, but he was also inspired when it came to devising ways to put his ad copy in front of prospects using direct mail and space ads.

Third – and perhaps most important for us – Gary was a master teacher.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that he did more to introduce small business owners and what I call “bootstrap entrepreneurs” to the wonders of direct marketing than any other person.

Before Gary, direct marketing – the basis of direct mail and Internet marketing – was a closed shop.

The only ways to learn the art was to apprentice yourself for many years to the ad agency world or to test your mettle directly against the brutally unforgiving world of direct mail.

Gary took the latter route and after many years of painful trial and error, hit a major home run with Halberts, a mega-successful mail order company that sold genealogy materials.

If Halberts had been Gary’s only accomplishment, he would have earned a place in the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame, but he did something even more important and challenging…

He distilled his highly sophisticated and hard earned knowledge into simple, easy-to-understand principles that everyone could profit from.

Again and again when I’ve tried to explain a direct marketing principle to a “newbie”, I find myself remembering something Gary said. In fact, I seriously doubt I’d be where I am today had I not had the benefit of his insights when I was getting started.

In 2003, we were very fortunate to have Gary as a speaker at our System Seminar in San Francisco. (Fortunately, we videotaped the presentation and I hope to have it up for free viewing in a week or so.)

At the System, Gary said something that I never heard before and I’ve never heard anyone say since, but it’s easily one of the most important things a marketer can keep in mind…

It’s one of those golden principles that can make the difference between success and failure…

It’s one of those gems of wisdom that appears totally obvious AFTER someone has articulated it…

Here’s what he said – and he said it in relation to writing ad copy:

“A sale is a very fragile thing.”

When you read Gary’s copy (or when he read it to you), you’d quickly realize – if you were perceptive – that Gary never left anything to chance. His copy, which seemed so simple and spontaneous, was as thorough and as well thought out as any NASA space launch.

One of the things Gary recommended to new writers was to take a piece of successful ad copy and write it out by hand.

Track down some Halbert copy – you can find it at – and start writing…

There’s no better tribute you can pay to one of our greatest writers and educators.

P.S. We’re started an archive of free Gary Halbert videos here. Click here for instant access.

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.

If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

Gary Halbert videos
The biggest marketing mistake there is

2 Responses to In memory of Gary Halbert

  1. Clint Lenard August 2, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

    I used to read a lot of Gary Halbert’s sales letters (even had one of your courses) back in the early 2000’s. I found out recently that he had passed, but not sure of when?

  2. Anonymous August 11, 2017 at 9:15 pm #

    Thank you so much for the insight into Gary’s career.I got to hear of him through recommendations from some sites i visited,wanting to find details on who he was .The world misses him already.Its surprising there’s no Wikipedia article about him yet.

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