Who was J. Peterman and why should you care?
On this episode Russell talks about taking inspiration for writing good copy from the J. Peterman catalog (of Seinfeld fame).
Here are some of the fascinating things you will hear in this episode:
-- Learn something new about Seinfeld, like that the J. Peterman catalog was actually a real catalog that really had great copy.
-- Hear a couple of excerpts from the catalog that are amazing and see for yourself why it's so awesome.
-- And find out how Russell made a book about copywriting seem sexy.
So listen now to learn something new about Seinfeld that you can tell all your friends the next time you watch the show, while also being inspired by the amazing copy contained in the real catalog.
Understand, wherever you’re coming at, some of you guys have been doing this business for years. 6 months, 5 years, 10 years. But there is people that have gone before us that have mastered this stuff.
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What’s up everybody, this is Russell. I just wanted to jump on real quick, spur of the moment. Because I wanted to share something with you that is important. It has to do with the show Seinfeld, but I knew as soon as I said Seinfeld some of you would be like, “I read your book, Russell. It’s the Seinfeld email sequences.”
But it’s not, I got something completely different that you guys probably didn’t even know about yet. I don’t know about a lot of you guys, a lot of you guys are into marketing now and you’re loving it because we’re talking about it and making it exciting and sexy, but I want you to understand. Marketing has been the old timers, most of them are dead now, they’re no longer alive.
The legends, this is where the coolest stuff comes from. So people ask me what I do for fun. I spent $4000 buying these right here. These are a whole bunch of swipe files of ads from dead people, because they’re so amazing. Anywhere, where do I get weird stuff like this? Someone’s already asking. I get stuff like this on eBay. I just recently got a purchase that showed up today that I wanted to show you guys. It’s marketing, for someone like me, it’s the greatest marketing thing on planet Earth. Here’s a snapshot of what it is. That’s all you get. Based on that, who can tell me what this is? It has to do with Seinfeld, it’s a pop quiz. I want to know your answer down below. Anyone who gets the answer to this quiz, I will have so much respect for you as a marketing person.
There’s something that has to do with this and Seinfeld. Anyone who knows what it is, post it down below. I want to see if any of you guys know. There’s hints, it’s an old catalog from 1994. What does that have to do with Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine, and the crew? Any one of you guys know. I’ll give you guys another hint. I’ll give you the title of the top. It’s going to be backwards on Facebook live, but this is one of the official J. Peterman catalogs from 1994. Anyone getting close to knowing what I’m talking about. Okay. Alright, Kramer’s roommate?
Okay, for those that don’t know, I’m going to explain what’s happening. Most of you guys, hopefully everybody has watched the show Seinfeld. Do you guys remember that Elaine got a job at the J. Peterman Catalog. Do you remember J. Peterman was this eccentric person and he’d go on vacations and go buy hats and then he’d write all this amazing copy in these catalogs and Elaine became one of the copywriters and had all these people and it became this huge spoof on multiple different seasons. What most of you guys probably don’t know is that the J. Peterman catalog is a real thing.
It was a real thing and any old school direct response copywriters know and you study stuff like this. The other day I was doing an interview, a podcast interview with some Ecom sellers and they’re asking, “How does this funnel stuff work for ecommerce people?” I was like, “You guys! Do you not know who J. Peterman is?” and they’re like, “That guy from Seinfeld?” and I’m like, “No! Are you serious?” You need to understand your roots, where did you come from? You are marketing and selling and you need to understand your roots.
Understanding these roots, there’s so much gold just waiting there for you to take it.” So anyone selling ecommerce or anyone selling anything. You need to understand who J. Peterman was. J. Peterman was a visionary, a genius, an amazing copywriter who built a huge company based on these catalogs. I went to eBay and searched for J. Peterman catalogs after that interview because I wanted to get some to show all you guys the foundation and history where this whole thing is coming from. And if you have a ecommerce site, this is a hint. So here’s 4 J. Peterman catalogs, I got Dave and Steven here geeking out on them.
Dave: Geeking out big time, awesome stories.
Russell: So he doesn’t just say, give us an example of one real quick. Hold on. “Here is a blue shirt to sell” or “Here is …..” This is the best one? Do you want to read it in your marketing voice? This is, what is it? Slinky cord….a lot of you guys will have this on your ecom story, ecom funnel, “it’s ugly green pants and a white shirt.” So listen to the copy. On every single page in the Peterman catalog, just see why this company grew so big and what you guys should be doing to the copy on your ecom and Amazon lists and all sorts of stuff. So ready to read our order?
Dave: Absolutely. “A bedouin horseman chased you half way across the desert. (A beautiful woman on a camel in the desert alone is too ripe a target to dismiss.) Your heart leaps in your throat again and again, an exquisite torment the Arabs, katu’l-kalb, or “heart cutting.” Delirious, half dead you reach the emir’s palace. A Galla slave rears his horse in your path….you notice he is speaking in Peter O’Toole’s voice. Just then you awaken in the Royal Suite of the Lanesborough in London, “Lawrence of Arabia” blaring from the television set. You rush back to sleep, Slinky Silk Cord Tank Top. And Slinky Silk Cord Pants. Not harem pants, but close. 100% flowing, loose silk. More romantic, more interesting than you remembered.”
Russell: Now that is how you sell something. That’s called good copy. You don’t put like brown, orange or yellow, add to cart. You sell your stuff. Every page of this catalog, they’re selling…they don’t even have pictures. It’s like painting of the pictures because this is pre-pictures, apparently. But every single one has amazing cpy to sell it. It would behoove most of you to go to eBay, I don’t know how many are still available, or even Google it. I’m sure you can find it online as well. But search for the J. Peterman catalog, the original ones. These one’s I bought here on eBay are from 1994. The older the better because stuff like this gets better with time.
Steven: The whole thing is a story in one line of description. Look at this.
Russell: So this is….Steven’s going to order this one. This is the Famous Miss Blue. The famous Miss Blue Hat. So if this was on the Shopify site, this would be one button, add to cart and this would be all they would get.
Steven: Yeah, basically. And a picture of it.
Russell: So what would J. Peterman do?
Steven: J. Peterman would say something like this, “You know who I mean. It could have been you. One day you arrived by train, but from where? Nobody knew. You carved a plantation out of 1,000 acres of dry land which the smart money called worthless. You diverted a stream and proved them wrong. You wore a big Panama hat, big like a man’s. but you didn’t look like a man. Sometimes you wore it held on with a chin strap, sometimes you wore it down your back. You became rich, I guess. Anyway, you had a piano, I heard it. I saw you and those……” Anyway, it’s really cool. And at the end it goes, “I remember all that.” And it all kind of rhymes as you go through it. And it’s literally one line…”Made in Ecuador. Leather chin strap. Approx. 4-inch brim. Memorable. $40” What? I want this hat now. It’s for a woman.
Russell: Alright so, what the lesson and moral for today that I want you to understand, is that copy is the king. It’s the key to everything. I told this on the Marketing Secrets podcast, a lot of you may not have heard this. But copywriting is not sexy, it’s not exciting. So when I wanted to teach copy…..in fact, if I call it copywriting guess what all of us do? We all fall asleep, our eyes glaze over. But if you read the expert secrets book, guess what that book is? It’s my contribution to copywriting.
Teaching you how to tell stories, how to do it the right way. How to do epiphany bridges, how to tell kind of like bridges, how to position the offer. All those kind of things. It’s copy, it’s copywriting. So that is the study that you guys gotta understand.
Understand, wherever you’re coming at, some of you guys have been doing this business for years. 6 months, 5 years, 10 years. But there is people that have gone before us that have mastered this stuff. So the reason why I do good today is because I study the old timers. The old timers are the key, you guys. There’s so much of this stuff. If you have an ecommerce site and you want to do well, master J. Peterman. Buy his catalogs, read the copy, understand that. If you want to understand how to do newletters, go read Gary Halvert letter.
Go read, you know go back to the foundation where this stuff all began because that’s the key. So anyway, there you go you guys. There’s our sneak attack episode of the J. Peterman catalog. If you liked this please share as much as you can. I’d like for more people to hear about it. But now you guys are all in on the secret.
So understand that you guys. Copy is the key, it’s the secret. Next time you watch Seinfeld working at the J. Peterman catalog, now you’ll know the joke behind the joke. What she’s talking about and why it’s cool. All sorts of stuff like that.
So that’s all I got you guys. And if for some reason you’ve been living under a rock and you don’t have the Expert Secrets book yet, just go to expertsecrets.com because it is my contribution to copywriting. You know I always said I would never write a copywriting course or product because it’s not sexy or exciting and just not that cool. So I called it something different, but it’s copywriting, that’s what that message, that book is all about. Helping you understand how to write good copy, tell good stories, all those things tied together. So that’s what I got you guys, have an amazing day. I hope you guys had a good job. We will talk soon. Bye everybody.