A marketing lesson from Billy Crystal
Sep 13, 2017
In the movie Mr. Saturday Night, Billy Crystal plays Buddy
Young, Jr., a washed up comedian who never achieved the kind
of success he believed he should have.
In the twilight of his life and career, Buddy is courted by
Annie Wells, a young comedy agent played by Helen Hunt.
Annie is determined to put Buddy back to work making people
However, before they get very far, Buddy is outraged to
discover that Annie is completely unfamiliar with the
classic names in comedy -- something he believes makes her
unqualified to represent him.
He has a tantrum at the Friar's Club in New York and sends
her packing -- only welcoming her back once she has learned
a little history.
Annie's ignorance reminds me of something I see all the time
in the business world: Namely business owners who want to
grow their business ...
... and are willing to spend thousands of dollars on the
latest, greatest business-building bling ...
... but have never taken the time to read, let alone master,
the advertising and marketing classics.
Let alone to begin applying those principles to build their
These foundational tomes contain the indispensable
fundamentals upon which successful advertising and marketing
campaigns are built.
And they hold many -- if not most -- of the answers you seek
for increasing your sales and profits.
Better yet, they're dirt cheap.
To get you started, I recommend taking 15-20 minutes a day
to begin working your way through a recommended reading list
put together by the late, great Gary Halbert.
Though Gary wrote up the list more than 25 years ago, every
single book on it still has relevance today because the core
principles never change.
Bottom line: reading these books -- and putting their
secrets to work -- will make your business grow by leaps and
So, without further ado, the list:
1) "Scientific Advertising" by Claude Hopkins.
"Scientific Advertising" was published all the way back in
1923 -- but it's still worth its weight in gold. When you
read it, you my be surprised to discover that many of the
"secrets" the gurus have been sharing with you come straight
from the pages of Hopkins.
Here's what famed ad man David Ogilvy says about Scientific
Advertising: "Nobody, at any level, should be allowed to
have anything to do with advertising until he has read this
book seven times. It changed the course of my life."
Also immensely worthwhile is Hopkins' companion volume, "My
Life in Advertising." A fun and inspiring read.
2) "The Robert Collier Letter Book" by Robert Collier
Collier was a direct mail giant in the first half of the
20th century. He is perhaps best known for his advice to
write sales letters that enter into the conversation already
going on in your customer's mind.
3) "Tested Advertising Methods" by John Caples
Caples wrote the famous ad, "They Laughed When I Sat Down at
the Piano ... But When I Started to Play."
His books "How to Make Your Advertising Make Money" and
"Making Ads Pay" are excellent, as well.
From what I hear, the fifth edition available on Amazon (and
linked to above) is inferior to previous editions due to revisions
made after Caples' death. It's probably worth your while to see
if you can find a fourth edition or earler.
4) "How to Write a Good Advertisement" by Vic Schwab.
This great book is the original source for the "100 Greatest
Headlines" report you'll often find on the internet (usually
with zero credit given to Schwab).
5) All back issues of "The Gary Halbert Letter."
A terrific read -- and you'll find many of them here for
free, courtesy of Gary's sons Bond and Kevin.
6) "The Boron Letters" by Halbert himself
This remarkable book is a series of letters Gary wrote to
his son Bond while he (Gary) was incarcerated at Boron State
Prison. It is solid gold.
7) "The Lazy Man's Way to Riches" by Joe Karbo (revised by Richard G. Nixon)
Karbo was a mail order genius. Perhaps his most famous
headline was, "Are You Too Busy Working for a Living to Make
8) "Seven Steps to Freedom" by Ben Suarez.
Suarez has made multiple fortunes in the mail order
9) "Breakthrough Advertising" by Eugene Schwartz
This one takes a few readings to master, but it's well worth
These books were making fortunes for business owners decades
before the internet came along to bombard you with more
business building bling than you can shake a stick at.
And they'll give you a solid foundation for building
successful marketing and advertising campaigns.
Brad Peterson is a copywriter I have used for over 20 years he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org