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5 Best Sales Letters of All Time To Study

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If you want to become a great basketball player, you should train with other great basketball players.

And if you want to become a great copywriter, then you should train with great copywriters!

One of the best things you can do for your copywriting ability is study the best sales letters of all time… from legends like Joe Sugarman, Gary Halbert, and David Ogilvy.

Read them over and over again. Copy them out by hand. Study why they work. The more you do… the better copywriter you’ll be.

Here are five of the best sales letters of all time that you should study!

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1. “They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano” by John Caples

John Caples' sales letter "They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano" is a seminal piece in the history of advertising. Created in 1926 for the U.S. School of Music, the ad is a masterclass in direct response copywriting, using a compelling narrative to engage readers and drive action.

The letter tells the story of an individual who surprises everyone by playing the piano beautifully, transforming initial skepticism and laughter into admiration. This storyline not only captivates the reader but also makes the message relatable and emotionally resonant.

The ad's success lies in its ability to tap into common human emotions such as fear of embarrassment and the desire for respect and validation. By illustrating a dramatic transformation, it subtly demonstrates the efficacy of the U.S. School of Music's piano lessons, building credibility and trust.

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Full Sales Letter

Arthur had just played “The Rosary”. The room rang with applause. I decided that this would be a dramatic moment for me to make my debut. To the amazement of all my friend, I strode confidently over to the piano and sat down.

“Jack is up to his old tricks,” somebody chuckled. The crowd laughed. They were certain I couldn’t play a single note.

“Can he really play?” I heard a girl whisper to Arthur.

“Heavens, no!” Arthur exclaimed. “He never played a note in all his life… But just you watch him. This is going to be good.”

I decided to make the most of the situation. With mock dignity I drew out a silk handkerchief and lightly dusted off the piano keys. Then I rose and gave the revolving piano stool a quarter of a turn, just as I had seen an imitator of Paderwski do in a vaudeville sketch.

“What do you think of his execution?” called a voice from the rear.

“We’re in favor of it!” came back the answer, and the crowd rocked with laughter.

Then I Started To Play
Instantly, a tense silence fell on the guests. The laughter died on their lips as if by magic. I played through the first few bars of Beethoven’s immortal Moonlight Sonata. I heard gasps of amazement. My friends sat breathless – spellbound!

I played on and as I played I forgot the people around me. I forgot the hour, the place, the breathless listeners. The little world I lived in seemed to fade – seemed to grow dim – unreal. Only the music was real. Only the music and visions it brought me. Visions as beautiful and as changing as the wind blown clouds and drifting moonlight that long ago inspired the master composer. It seemed as if the master musician was speaking to me – speaking through the medium of music — not in words but chords. Not in sentences but in exquisite melodies!

A Complete Triumph!
As the last notes of the Moonlight Sonata died away, the room resounded with a sudden roar of applause. I found myself surrounded by excited faces. How my friends carried on! Men shook my hand –wildly congratulated me – pounded me on the back in their enthusiasm! Everybody was exclaiming with delight – plying me with rapid questions… “Jack! Why didn’t you tell us you could play like that?” … “Where did you learn?” – “How long have you studied?” – “Who was your teacher?”

“I have never ever seen my teacher,” I replied. “And just a short while ago I couldn’t play a note.”

“Quit your kidding,” laughed Arthur, himself an accomplished pianist. “You’ve been studying for years I can tell.”

“I have been studying only for a short while,” I insisted. “I decided to keep it a secret so that I can surprise all you folks.”

Then I told them the whole story.

“Have you ever heard of the U.S. School of Music?” I asked.

A few of my friends nodded. “That’s a correspondence school isn’t it?” they exclaimed.

“Exactly,” I replied. “They have a new simplified method that can teach you to play any instrument my mail in just a few months. “

How I Learned to Play Without a Teacher
And then I explained for years how I longed to play the piano.

“A few months ago,” I continued, “I saw an interesting ad for the U.S. School of Music – a new method of learning to play which only costs a few cents a day! The ad told how a woman had mastered the piano in her spare time at home – and without a teacher! Best of all, the wonderful new method she used, required no laborious scales – no heartless exercises – no tiresome practicing. It sounded so convincing that I filled out the coupon requesting the Free Demonstration Lesson.

“The free book arrived promptly and I started in that very night to study the Demonstration Lesson. I was amazed to see how easy it was to play this new way. Then I sent for the course.

“When the course arrived I found it was just as the ad said – as easy as ABC. And, as the lessons continued they got easier and easier. Before I knew it I was playing all the pieces I liked best. Nothing stopped me. I could play ballads or classical numbers or jazz, all with equal ease! And I never did have any special talent for music!”

Play Any Instrument
You too, can now teach yourself to be an accomplished musician – right at home – in half the usual time. You can’t go wrong with this simple new method which has already shown 350,000 people how to play their favourite instruments. Forget the old fashioned idea that you need special “talent”. Just read the list of instruments in the panel, decide which one you want to play, and the U.S. school will do the rest. And bear in mind no matter which instrument you choose, the cost in each case will be the same – just a few cents a day. No matter whether you are a mere beginner or already a good performer, you will be interested in learning this new and wonderful method.

Send for Our Free Booklet and Demonstration Lesson
Thousands of successful students never dreamed they possessed musical ability until it was revealed to them by a remarkable “Musical Ability Test” which we send entirely without cost with our interesting free booklet.

If you are earnest about wanting to play your favourite instrument – if you really want to gain happiness and increase your popularity – send at once for the free booklet and Demonstration Lesson. No cost – no obligation. Right now we are making a Special Offer for a limited number of students. Sign and send the convenient coupon now – before it’s too late to gain the special benefits of this offer. Instruments supplied when needed, cash or credit. U.S. School of Music, 1031 Brunswick Bldg, New York City

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2. “The Wall Street Journal” by Martin Conroy

The Wall Street Journal's direct mail letter, often referred to as "The Two Young Men" letter, is one of the most famous and successful pieces of direct mail advertising in history. Written by copywriter Martin Conroy, the letter was first mailed in the late 1970s and ran for decades with minimal changes, generating an estimated $2 billion in subscription revenue for The Wall Street Journal.

The letter begins with a simple but compelling story about two young men who graduated from the same college, started at the same time with similar ambitions, but ended up in vastly different positions twenty-five years later.

One became the manager of a small department, while the other became the president of a large company. The letter implies that the difference in their careers was largely due to their access to superior information, specifically, the kind provided by The Wall Street Journal.

This direct mail piece is noted for its simplicity and effectiveness. It uses a narrative approach to create a powerful emotional appeal, tapping into the reader's aspirations and fears about their own career and future. The story effectively highlights the value of staying informed and presents The Wall Street Journal as the key to gaining the competitive edge necessary for success.

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Full Sales Letter

Dear Reader:

On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college. They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both—as young college graduates are—were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.

​Recently, these men returned to their college for their 25th reunion.

They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and were still there.

But there was a difference. One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was its president.

What Made The Difference
Have you ever wondered, as I have, what makes this kind of difference in people's lives? It isn't a native intelligence or talent or dedication. It isn't that one person wants success and the other doesn't.

The difference lies in what each person knows and how he or she makes use of that knowledge. And that is why I am writing to you and to people like you about The Wall Street Journal. For that is the whole purpose of The Journal: to give its readers knowledge—knowledge that they can use in business.

A Publication Unlike Any Other
You see, The Wall Street Journal is a unique publication. It's the country's only national business daily. Each business day, it is put together by the world's largest staff of business-news experts.

Each business day, The Journal's pages include a broad range of information of interest and significance to business-minded people, no matter where it comes from. Not just stocks and finance, but anything and everything in the whole, fast-moving world of business... The Wall Street Journal gives you all the business news you need—when you need it.

Knowledge Is Power
Right now, I am looking at page one of The Journal, the best-read front page in America. It combines all the important news of the day with in-depth feature report-ing. Every phase of business news is covered. I see articles on new inflation, wholesale prices, car prices, tax incentives for industries to major developments in Washington, and elsewhere.

And there is page after page inside The Journal, filled with fascinating and significant information that's useful to you. The Marketplace section gives you insights into how consumers are thinking and spending. How companies compete for market share. There is daily coverage of law, technology, media and marketing. Plus daily features on the challenges of managing smaller companies.

The Journal is also the single best source for news and statistics about your money. In the Money & Investing section there are helpful charts, easy-to-scan market quotations, plus “Abreast of the Market, ” “Heard on the Street” and “Your Money Matters, ” three of America's most influential and carefully read investment columns.

If you have never read The Wall Street Journal, you cannot imagine how useful it can be to you.
A Money-Saving Subscription Put our statements to the proof by subscribing for the next 13 weeks for just $44. This is among the shortest subscription terms we offer—and a perfect way to get acquainted with The Journal.

Or you may prefer to take advantage of our better buy —one year for $149. You save over $40 off the cover price of The Journal.

Simply fill out the enclosed order card and mail it in the postage-paid envelope pro-vided. And here's The Journal's guarantee: should The Journal not measure up to your expectations, you may cancel this arrangement at any point and receive a refund for the undelivered portion of your subscription.

If you feel as we do that this is a fair and reasonable proposition, then you will want to find out without delay if The Wall Street Journal can do for you what it is doing for millions of readers. So please mail the enclosed order card now, and we will start serving you immediately.

About those two college classmates I mention at the beginning of this letter: they were graduated from college together and together got started in the business world. So what made their lives in business different?

Knowledge. Useful knowledge. And its application.

An Investment In Success
I cannot promise you that success will be instantly yours if you start reading The Wall Street Journal. But I can guarantee that you will find The Journal always interesting, always reliable, and always useful.

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3. “Desperate Nerd From Ohio” by Gary Halbert

"Desperate Nerd From Ohio" is a well-known direct mail sales letter written by Gary Halbert, a legendary copywriter known for his impactful and often unconventional marketing strategies.

This particular letter is one of Halbert's most famous works, showcasing his unique ability to create engaging and persuasive copy.

The letter is characterized by its informal, conversational tone, and it tells a personal, relatable story. It begins with Halbert describing himself as a "desperate nerd from Ohio," immediately capturing the reader's attention with a mix of humility and humor.

Halbert's story revolves around his personal struggles and eventual success, portraying a journey from desperation to achievement.

One of the key elements of the "Desperate Nerd From Ohio" letter is its authenticity. Halbert's candid and often self-deprecating storytelling makes the letter feel genuine, which helps to build trust with the audience.

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Full Sales Letter

Dear Friend,

If you would like to make a lot of money very quickly, this is going to be the most exciting message you will ever read.

Here is why: my name is Gary Halbert, and, sometime ago, I was dead broke. My business was almost bankrupt and I couldn’t even pay the rent. Actually, I wasn’t just broke, I was desperate.

Then, one day, I came up with a “crazy idea” about how to write a certain kind of sales letter (it was not a chain letter) that would get people to send me money.

I was living in Ohio at the time and my friends laughed at the idea. They thought it was a big joke. They said I was a dreamer and that I had no “common sense”. In fact, one guy said I was just a nerd and that my Idea was so silly, he felt sorry for me.

Oh yeah? Well, I didn’t care. I still thought I had a good idea and I typed up a few of my letters and started mailing them out. And guess what? People did start sending money. And I used that money to mail more letters which brought in more money. And I used that to mail even more letters which brought in even more money…

And so on.

What’s the bottom line? Simply this: before I was finished, that one simple letter pulled in

More Than 7,300,000 Replies
Think about it: more than 7 million people wrote back to me and every one of those people sent a check (made out to my wife) or else cash I could put in my pocket. And what was I selling? Actually, it doesn’t matter. You see, the magic was not in the product, it was in the letter!

Do you have something to sell? If so, you can use that “crazy idea”. I used in my letter to create a letter of your own and sell almost anything you’ve got.

Who Needs This Secret?

  • Are you a salesman who needs more leads?
  • Are you a housewife about to get a divorce who needs a simple way to make a lot of money?
  • Do you have a furniture store, restaurant, car dealership, hot dog stand, or some other kind of establishment you'd like to see swamped with customers?
  • Are you a manufacturer who would like to sell so many of you widgets you'll have to run extra shifts to meet the demand?
  • Are you a marketing consultant who likes to keep up with the new ideas on techniques so you can better serve your clients?
  • Are you an M.D., a dentist, a chiropractor, an optometrist, therapist or any other kind of health care professional who would like to see your waiting room bursting with new patients?
  • Do you have a house you'd like to sell? A thousand houses? A car? A boat?
  • Do you have anything you'd like to sell?
  • Consulting services? Products? Yourself?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you should try my “crazy idea”. You can read all about it in my new book called

How To Make Maximum Money In Minimum Time!
Listen: many years ago, I thought I wanted to be a salesman. I got myself a job selling encyclopedias door-to-door and I kept at it until I was darn good. But there was a problem. You see, I could only knock on about 40 doors each evening. And therefore, no matter how hard I worked, there was a definite ceiling on my earning capacity.

And besides that, going door-to-door is a horrible way to make a living!

So I kept searching and searching until I came up with my “crazy letter idea” which is the first experience I ever had with what I call RCS or “Remote Control Selling”.

RCS uses the secrets of something else. I developed “Killer Advertising” which almost forces people to buy whatever you are selling. And what RCS lets you do is, sell almost anything without ever meeting your customers in person.. or even talking to them on the phone!

This “remote control” selling secrets of “Killer Advertising” can be used by anyone. Even a housewife, a student or someone who is unemployed. And if you have a business or (you want to have a business) these secrets can generate so much cash-flow, you may actually have a hard time getting all the money to the bank. I’m not kidding. My “crazy letter idea” for example brought in…

More Than 20,000 Checks Per Day!
By the way, getting that many checks everyday means you have to hire at least 30 full-time employees just to make your bank deposit. But anyway my “crazy letter Idea” isn’t the only thing you’ll learn when you read my book. No. That’s just chapter One! Here is a sample of what you will learn when you read the rest of the book:

  • How to get a product to sell if you don't have one already, and how to get it for nothing! (see page 11)
  • How to get as much money as you need to really get rolling… and get it without borrowing! (see page 19)
  • How to get movie and TV starts to help you sell your products and services. (see page 21)
  • An amazing secret that can turn your local newspaper into your own personal goldmine. (see page 29)
  • How to get the exact name and address of thousands of people who would love to send you money! (see page 37)
  • What to write on a cheap little postcard that will make people flood you with cash!(see page 41)
  • How to mail up to 100,000 letters per week at no cost whatsoever… not even postage. (see page 53)
  • How to use "976"; phone numbers to get people to pay to hear your sales pitch!(see page 57)
  • How to use the Yellow Pages of your phone book in a secret way that will flush out wads of money! (see page 65)
  • How to use cheap little classified ads to make as much $10,000 per day! (see page 71)
  • How to get yourself or your product featured on cable TV at no cost whatsoever! (see page 89)
  • There's more. A lot more. Including how, (if you aren't married), to use RCS to find your dream lover, how to get the most valuable gift in the world absolutely free (I was once paid $2500 for one of these), how to avoid legal hassles and lawsuits from "human buzzards" who are jealous of your success, and so on.

OK, that’s it for now. I am running out of space here. But anyway, I hope I have given you enough information about my new book to make you decide to get it and read it right away. But please…

POSTED YOUR CHECK OR MONEY ORDER FOR 30-DAYS AHEAD!
Look, the cost of my book is extremely low compared to what you get. However, even so, I don’t want to deposit a single penny of your money until you read my book and find out for yourself how good it really is. Does that sound strange to you? I’m sorry if it does but no matter what… I intend to treat you like I would like to be treated.

In other words, I think you deserve to be able to read my book before you allow me to cash on money order or check.

Here’s how to order. All we have to do is right your name and address and the words “Maximum Money” on a piece of paper and send it with you check or money order (postdate 30-days ahead) in the amount of $19.95 plus $3.00 postage and handling (total $21.95) to

Everett & Lloyd, Inc.

Dept. 208

5701 Overseas Highway, Suite #4

Marathon, FL 33050

That’s all there is to it. As soon as I receive your order I’ll send the book to you immediately…​

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4. “Vision Breakthrough” by Joseph Sugarman

"Vision Breakthrough" is a sales letter written by Joseph Sugarman, a legendary figure in the world of direct response marketing.

Sugarman begins by sharing a personal experience of discovering BluBlocker sunglasses, highlighting the dramatic improvement in vision and eye comfort.

He then uses vivid, sensory language to describe how BluBlocker sunglasses enhance visual clarity and protect against harmful UV rays. He effectively addresses potential customer concerns and emphasizes the unique features of the sunglasses, such as their ability to block blue light, which can cause eye strain.

The letter also includes testimonials and scientific explanations to build credibility and trust. Sugarman's strategic use of a compelling narrative, combined with clear, persuasive arguments about the product's benefits, makes "Vision Breakthrough" a classic example of effective direct response copywriting. The letter's success lies in its ability to engage readers emotionally and logically, driving them to take action and purchase the product.

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Full Sales Letter

I am about to tell you a true story. If you believe me, you will be well rewarded. If you don’t believe me, I will make it worth your while to change your mind. Let me explain.

Len is a friend of mine who knows good products. One day he called excited about a pair of sunglasses he owned. “It’s so incredible,” he said, “when you first look through a pair, you won’t believe it.”

“What will I see?” I asked. “What could be so incredible?”

Len continued, “When you put on these glasses, your vision improves. Objects appear sharper, more defined. Everything takes on an enhanced 3-D effect. And it’s not my imagination. I just want you to see for yourself.”

COULDN’T BELIEVE EYES
When I received the sunglasses and put them on I couldn’t believe my eyes. I kept taking them off and putting them on to see if what I was seeing was indeed actually sharper or if my imagination was playing tricks on me. But my vision improved. It was obvious. I kept putting on my $100 pair of sunglasses and comparing them. They didn’t compare. I was very impressed. Everything appeared sharper, more defined and indeed had a greater three dimensional look to it. But what did this product do that made my vision so much better? I found out.

The sunglasses (called BluBlockers) filter out the ultraviolet and blue spectrum light waves from the sun. Blue rays have one of the shortest wavelengths in the visible spectrum (red is the longest). As a result, the color blue will focus slightly in front of the retina, which is the “focusing screen” in our eye. By blocking the blue from the sunlight through a special filtration process and only letting those rays through that indeed focus clearly on the retina, objects appear to be sharper and clearer.

The second reason is even more impressive. It is harmful to have ultraviolet rays fall on our eyes. Recognized as bad for skin, UV light is worse for eyes and is believed to play a role in many of today’s eye diseases.

SUNGLASS DANGER
But what really surprised me was the danger in conventional sunglasses. Our pupils close in bright light to limit the light entering the eye and open wider at night like the lens of an automatic camera. So when we put on sunglasses, although we reduce the amount of light that enters our eyes, our pupils open wider and we allow more of the harmful blue and ultraviolet light into our eyes.

DON’T BE CONFUSED
I’m often asked by people who read this, “Do those BluBlockers really work?” They really do and please give me the opportunity to prove it. I guarantee each pair of BluBlockers to perform exactly as I described.

BluBlocker sunglasses use MaleniumTM lenses with a hard anti scratch coating. No shortcuts were taken.

The black, lightweight frame is one of the most comfortable I have ever worn and will comfortably contour to any size face. It compares with many of the $200 pairs you can buy from France or Italy.

There is a clip-on pair that weighs less than one ounce and fits over prescription lenses. All models include a padded carrying case and a one-year limited warranty.

I urge you to order a pair and experience your improved vision. Then take your old sunglasses and compare them to the BluBlocker sunglasses. See how much clearer and sharper objects appear with the BluBlocker pair. And see if your night vision doesn’t improve as a direct result. If you don’t see a dramatic difference in your vision — one so noticeable that you can tell immediately — then send them back anytime within 30 days and I will send you a prompt and courteous refund.

DRAMATIC DIFFERENCE
But from what I’ve personally witnessed, once you wear a pair, there will be no way you’ll want to return it.

Our eyes are very important to us. Protect them and at the same time improve your vision with the most incredible breakthrough in sunglasses since they were first introduced. Order a pair or two at no obligation, today.

Credit card holders call toll free and order by product number below or send a check plus $3 for postage and handling.

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5. “The Man in The Hathaway Shirt” by David Ogilvy

Launched in 1951, the ad was designed to promote Hathaway shirts and is renowned for its creativity and effectiveness.

The centerpiece of the ad is a striking image of a distinguished-looking man wearing an eyepatch, a Hathaway shirt, and standing in a sophisticated setting. The man, who was actually a professional model named Baron George Wrangell, became iconic due to the eyepatch, which was a last-minute addition by Ogilvy to add an element of mystery and intrigue.

This eyepatch transformed the advertisement from a simple product promotion into a memorable narrative, sparking curiosity and capturing the public's imagination. The tagline "The Man in the Hathaway Shirt" further reinforced the brand's association with sophistication and exclusivity.

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Full Sales Letter

American men are beginning to realize that it is ridiculous to buy good suits and then spoil the effect by wearing an ordinary, mass-produced shirt. Hence the growing popularity of Hathaway shirts, which are in a class by themselves.

Hathaway shirts wear infinitely longer—a matter of years. They make you look younger and more distinguished because of the subtle way Hathaway collars. The whole shirt is tailored more generously, and is therefore more comfortable. The tails are longer, and stay in your trousers. The buttons are mother-of-pearl. Even the stitching has an ante-bellum elegance about it.

Above all, Hathaway make their shirts of remarkable fabrics, collected from the four corners of the earth—Vyella and Aertex from England, woolen tartan from Scotland, Sea Island cotton from the West Indies, hand-woven madras from India, broadcloth from Manchester, linen batiste from Paris, hand-blocked silks from England, exclusive cottons from the best weavers in America. You will get a great deal of quiet satisfaction out of wearing shirts which are in such impeccable taste.

Hathaway shirts are made by a small company of dedicated craftsmen in the little town of Waterville, Maine. They have been at it, man and boy, for one hundred and fifteen years.

At better stores everywhere, or write C.F. Hathaway, Waterville, Maine, for the name of your nearest store. In New York, telephone MU 9-4157. Prices from $5.50 to $25.00.

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Want to learn more?

Then I’ve got good news!

I’ve been writing copy and building sales funnels for several decades now — in fact, I’ve built the biggest funnel-building business in the world (ClickFunnels)!

If you want to learn how I did it, click below to get my bestselling books with my best marketing secrets.

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