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

    1. 2. Second, get him interested

    2. 3. Third, make him desire what you are selling

    3. 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.

    1. Write short sentences and short paragraphs.

    2. Use transition words and phrases to make your writing flow smoothly.

    3. 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.