Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Niche is in the "Name"

Well it's sort of in the name, in this case it is in the title. While this post is about the imporance of a title it also lets you realize how important a "headline" is.

I found this book in the Public Domain "Sustaining Grassroots Community-Based Programs:
A Toolkit for Community- and Faith-Based Service Providers" , that's not how or why I found it. It reminded me of this true story about E. Haldeman-Julius. E, Haldeman-Julius was a book publisher in the 1920's, and he would take authors books that were not selling and edit them for length and retitle them with a marketable title. I can't remember how short he required the title but it had to grab the readers attention from a one page ad in a magazine where there were, I believe 100 other titles listed.

Here is a better description straight from Gary Halbert's newsletter about the Little Blue Books: "The story of the Little Blue Books offers up a treasure trove of marketing insights that is pure gold. Here are the details: Once upon a time, way back in the 1920's, the Little Blue Books were born. They were, all in all, a collection of some 2,000 titles. All the books had a blue cover and measured 3-1/2 by 5 inches. Most often they contained 64 pages, although sometimes they went up to 128 pages. The content of the Little Blue Books was wide and varied. They covered everything from Shakespeare to the Debate on Birth Control. Many of them were self-help books of the "How To" genre. They were sold in large ads that appeared in many of the major newspapers and other publications such as Colliers and the Saturday Evening Post. They sold for a nickel (5 cents) and you had to buy at least 20 of them with every order.

Now listen: Do you remember when Playboy magazine first hit the newsstands? Remember the technique of how to buy it? Remember how you'd go to a newsstand and grab copies of Life and Look and maybe the National Geographic and a couple of others and then you'd pick up a Playboy and hide it in the middle of all those others when you went up to the cash register?

You do remember all that? Geez, time sure passes, doesn't it? Well, since a person had to buy 20 Little Blue Books at a time, that meant he could anonymously sandwich in an order for what he really wanted to read or learn about with all that stuff society was telling him he was supposed to be interested in." Gary Halbert

After E. Haldeman-Julius had sold over 100 million of these little books, then he wrote a book titled "The First Hundred Million". The late great Gary Halbert talks about it in his newsletter Now when Gary wrote he didn't use a filter on the metaphors, the sexism of that era comes through loud and clear. I used to love whistling at the girls, now I have heard it is considered a form of sexual harassment, so much for that compliment method. Gary was a brilliant copywriter and Dan Kennedy says this about Gary, "When he would focus, he was so much better than me it aint even funny." Dan Kennedy, if you could hire him to write a sales letter, would start with a $25000 dollar fee and 3 to 15% of the gross.

The book I mentioned earlier is in the public domain, although I did not read all of it, merely skimmed it, it has good marketing advice and I wonder what Haldeman-Julius would have called it. "How to Be Successful as a Non-Profit" comes to mind.

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