Robert Collier’s Top 8 Tips to Writing Ads During Tough Economic Times

by Lou

Have you ever heard of Robert Collier (1885 – 1950)? He’s famous for writing various metaphysical books, but he’s famous in copywriting circles for creating sales letters during the Great Depression that made millions of dollars for the companies he worked for.

And since modeling is the crux of what NLP is all about, let’s study Mr. Collier’s methods.

Here are his 8 rules for writing salesletters that work in a difficult economy:

1. What is the bait that will tempt your reader? How can you tie up the thing you have to offer with that bait?

Here’s a Robert Collier quote on how to do that:

“The reader of this letter wants certain things. The desire for them is, consciously or unconsciously, the dominant idea in his mind all the time. You want him to do a certain definite thing for you. How can you tie this up to the thing he wants, in such a way that the doing of it will bring him a step nearer to his goal?”

2. Appeal to the emotions (A.K.A. “How to arouse that acquisitive feeling”). A great way to do this is to pace their current problem and future pace their problem being solved. Used the language of tabloids and religious evangelists if you have to. Show them the satisfaction of owning and using your product or service.

3. Get news interest into your ad. Show how your product is new or unusual(or show how to use it in a new or unusual way). Show how your product has evolved, especially when compared to similar products.

4. Paint word pictures that make people want to buy your product. Use sensory rich descriptions of your product, its outcome, or both. Use a metaphor here and there. Show how your product is better than your competition’s. Show the general flaws in your competition as well (not by name though). Show them what they will avoid by using your product.

5. What are your prospects’ motives? Do they want to be richer, smarter, healthier, happier? How can your product do this for them? Robert Collier believed there were six main motivators: love, duty, pride, self-indulgence and self-preservation. Scarcity is another good motivator. Can your product provide for one or more of his motivators?

6. How can you prove your product will work the way you say it does? One way Robert Collier said to do this is to describe the situation your prospects find themselves in with such exactness that they can’t help but try your product. He was also a big fan of testimonials. So it goes without saying to use them.

7. Supply that buying impulse. Make it as easy as possible to buy. Here Mr. Collier said to let the customer try your product for a few days or weeks without paying – then bill them. We can do that today with a money-back guarantee.

8. Put a “hook” into your offer. Show how your reader will lose out if they don’t do what you say. Or how his or her situation will get worse if they don’t act now. It is all about consequences. Then get them to take action. Tell them what to do and the benefits and consequences of that action.

Now here’s a sample sales letter of Robert Collier selling Harvard Classics – the famous Five-Foot Shelf of Books by Dr. Eliot:

If Dr. Eliot of Harvard Were to Say to

“Come around to my home to-night. I want to show you some books that I believe you’ll enjoy; they are interesting, entertaining, yet they will give you all the essentials of a liberal education, even if you can spend only fifteen minutes a day with them.”

You’d go, wouldn’t you, and the next morning you’d hasten to get copies of these books?

Now that is, in effect, just what Dr. Eliot has done. From his lifetime of reading, study and experience–forty years of it as President of Harvard University–he has chose a Five-Foot-Shelf of just the few books and only the few, that are really essential to the Twentieth Century American.

Just 15 Minutes a Day, and Then–

This is what he says to you: “I believe that the faithful and considerate reading of these books will give any man the essentials of a liberal education, even if he can devote to them but fifteen minutes a day.”

Think of it–The Essentials of a Liberal Education, under the personal guidance of Dr. Eliot, who has trained more men for success and is a greater authority on books and reading than any other man in the world today. What other books, or who else, could offer you so much?

Dr. Eliot’s work is complete. You owe it to yourself at least to examine the result–the fruits of his 40 years’ experience as President of Harvard University. They are not the mere product of his genius–they are the finished utterance of the human race.

Examine the Books for a Peek–at Our Expense

Don’t send a cent of money. Simply drop the enclosed card in the mail and the complete set of Harvard Classics will be shipped to you from our nearest branch office AT OUR EXPENSE. Keep them for a week; browse through them; read them; enjoy them. We won’t urge you to buy them either then or now, because we realize that is up to you to make up your mind in your own way as to just what the books will be worth to you. If you decide to keep them, you can pay for them as you like, even as little as $2.00 a month; if not, you can return them at the end of the week without question at our expense.

Here is your chance to avail yourself of Dr. Eliot’s wonderful knowledge and experience to prepare yourself for life. You owe it to yourself to at least SEE and EXAMINE this Library that he selected to speed you on the road to a bigger, broader success. The card brings it to your door, charges prepaid. Merely put your name on it and drop it in the mail.

But remember, in the great book of Time there is but one word
-”NOW”-so drop your card in the mail now.

Very truly yours,

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