The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert: Summary & Notes

Rated: 8/10

Available at: Amazon

ISBN: 9781484825983

Related: Cashvertising, The Adweek Copywriting Handbook


A classic in the world of copywriting, this is a short, easy read full of both advertising and life wisdom.

It’s written as a series of letters from successful copywriter Gary Halbert to his son (Halbert is in prison at the time), and is itself an example of great writing.

A book you re-read over and over.


  • First thing to do in the morning? Get outside and get walking.
  • Fast one day per week.
  • To figure out what people want to buy? Just look at what they do buy.
  • Segment your marketing - be specific in who you are targeting, and custom tailor your ads to them.
  • Work on subjects you love - the enthusiasm will make it easy.
  • Keep two lists - one of tough tasks and another of tasks you can do regardless of mood. That way you can be productive regardless of your state.
  • Work in the library, or somewhere else people are working - as social animals, it’s hard for us not to work in places like this.

You should write copy according to a formula, a proven sequential outline like AIDA. What does AIDA stand for? It stands for:


So, to make it clearer your letter should:

  • 1. First, get his attention
  • 2. Second, get him interested
  • 3. Third, make him desire what you are selling
  • 4. Compel him to take whatever action is needed to get whatever it is you are selling.
  • Describe benefits the prospect gets if he buys our product or service, and remember, you must do even the obvious.
  • When you write bullets … the basic pattern should be specific/blind fact, benefit.
  • Re-write (by hand) famous ad and marketing copy to get a feel for it.

To write well:

  • Use simple, common, everyday words.
  • Write short sentences and short paragraphs.
  • Use transition words and phrases to make your writing flow smoothly.
  • Ask questions once in a while, and then answer them yourself.

What is a good writer? One who makes things perfectly clear.

  • Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut is a great example of clear writing.
  • The best writing goes unnoticed.
  • Your ads should have a crisp, clean appearance.
  • Go the extra mile in whatever you’re doing to increase professionalism and perception.
  • Never make a decision when you are HALT: hungry, angry, lonely or tired.
  • If you offer a promotion, offer a reason to go with it.
  • "I am offering you this special deal because you (by virtue of some unique circumstance) are so special."
  • Read your writing out loud to improve it.
  • Sweat the details. And use exact details in your promotions.

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