Why have I done this?
1. In September, 1992, Gary C. Halbert made me buy that very hat and wear it while walking around Key West, Florida.
2. Inside that hat is a story that will help you make a lot of money.
I got the hat at Gary's famous "Hurricane Andrew" seminar and haven't worn it since, until this weekend. Dr. Harlan Kilstein and Chris Tomasulo held a fantastic seminar Saturday and Sunday at the Platinum Hotel in Las Vegas.
The seminar was called "Covert Communications" and all the proceeds were donated to Children's Hospital Los Angeles, a charity designated by the late Gary's sons Bond and Kevin. Harlan asked me to open the seminar with some reminiscences of Gary.
I donned the hat to tell the story.
Gary made us buy the hats and wear them around town in Key West because, he said, doing so would make us look like a local and blend in better on that island of very eccentric, self-styled people.
In a way it was a joke, but at the same time it was a vitally important marketing lesson. Gary's message (and I paraphrase):
Stop friggin' worrying so much about yourself, your identity, your self- and public image, and your wants and needs. You are not your market. You are not the people you are marketing to.
Instead, go beyond the narcissistic boundaries of your own precious and petty concerns. Expand. Explore. Mentally and emotionally move into the hungry crowd that is your market. Become them so you can understand, to the greatest degree possible, who they are, how they feel, what they want, what they think about, and what is going to make them most likely to buy.
It was great seeing so many old friends and making new ones in Las Vegas this weekend. Remembering Gary to such an esteemed crowd of entrepreneurial copywriters and other marketers also put closure for me, in large measure, on the agony and heartbreak of Gary's sudden and unexpected death Easter morning.
On a related note, direct marketing virtuoso Denny Hatch penned an impressive piece and published it this morning in his Business Common Sense e-newsletter about the idiocy of corporate / general-ad-agency attempts at lead generation. I can't do it justice even summarizing what he so brilliantly and incisively said. I did have fun making a comment, though, which appears in the reader comments section of that issue.
I strongly urge you to read it -- click here.
Publisher, World Copywriting Newsletter