Gary Halbert | Social Security Sales Letter – Learning From A Copywriting Genius 

By  Csaba Borzasi

Over the course of 100 days, I reverse-engineered 100 proven sales letters from copywriting titans like Gary Halbert, Joe Sugarman, John Carlton, and Gary Bencivenga...

While also documenting my learning process via DAILY YouTube videos.

I wanted to discover WHY they worked...

WHAT made them so damn effective...

And HOW you can apply proven fundamentals from these famous ads to your marketing.

(Or if you're an aspiring copywriter, give you tons of confidence and "show off" potential in front of your potential clients)

To kick off this series, we are going to start with a breakdown of Gary Halbert's famous "How to Collect from Social Security At Any Age!" ad.

This is ad is decades old… but it’s a genius ad regardless that generated many millions of dollars.

In this post, I’m going to explain exactly why it was so powerful, why it worked, and how you can also replicate its success for yourself.

So, let’s get started!

Prefer video instead? Watch Below!

How Gary Halbert Hooks the Reader

Social security is a popular topic that most people want to learn about, especially how to make the most of it.

Gary Halbert’s social security ad uses a direct approach using fewer than 1000 words for a high-impact copy.

With the value proposition directly in the headline, Gary immediately hooks the reader using the classic ‘how to’ headline structure.

He employs a direct, to-the-point lead and asks:

“Would you like to know how much you have invested in social security precisely at the moment?”

He creates curiosity right off the bat with a captivating open loop.

This is a very powerful technique in copywriting, that feeds off our need to never leave a question unanswered.

How effective is this type of “Direct Lead”?

Well, that depends on the Market Sophistication and Stage of Awareness of your customer avatar.

Unfortunately, in today's market, being direct doesn't usually work well, especially for "front-end" offers where your prospects would come from cold traffic.

So try coming up with a unique mechanism or discovery to differentiate your offer.

Tired of Lackluster Sales, Low Conversion Rates, and Marketing Campaigns that Bomb?

Steal the “Secret Recipe” Behind 100 of the Most Profitable Ads of All Time…

And Apply It To Your Own Marketing For BLOCKBUSTER Response... In Just 15 Minutes!

Why Gary Halbert Writes Out As Many Fascinations As Possible

First of all, what are fascinations? According to copyblogger.com:

Fascinations are a special type of bullet points — ones that are so compelling and so benefit-driven that the reader simply can’t help but discover the answer.

And, frankly, this genius Gary Halbert letter is full of those.

You see, most people are interested in learning about HOW social security works and HOW to make the most of it.

Having a hefty sum of money deducted from your paycheck every month creates the impression that the government is stealing your money. 

So if people can see the exact figures, why wouldn’t they do it?

Gary comes up with a promise and proof when he refers to the ‘confidential sealed envelope’ in the letter. 

So, he follows the promise and proof formula to establish credibility. 

Moreover, this flips the script as it looks like an official document from the government. 

People naturally want to learn about any potential announcements or policy changes relating to taxes.

He says:

“All earnings have been recorded. How much will be received is also calculated”

How can you ignore that?

Highly Effective Copywriting Persuasion Techniques

Gary uses a fascinating combination of FOMO and greed, which are highly effective persuasive techniques. He handles objections by saying that this book will “open your eyes”.

Since people buy on emotions and justify with logic, this approach works well. Gary doesn’t agitate the pain much, but follows a direct approach instead.

He instantly creates a craving for his offering through these so-called “fascinations”, in the form of bullet points.

In Gary Halbert’s letter, most of these are ‘How to’ questions on collecting ‘more’ from social security and on behalf of your family. 

  • “How to collect your share of the brand new Social Security benefits just passed by Congress.” Why would anyone miss on this?
  • “How to replace a lost Social Security card or check” - Isn’t that great?
  • “How you may be cheating yourself out of your Social Security benefits” - This is an incredible hook, because it sparks feelings and not just thoughts

“How to” hooks can be effectively used with a distinct angle like “7 secret tips no one talks about”.

They create fascinations like ‘what to avoid?”, and “what never to eat in an airplane” – a famous headline in the copywriting world. 

Such bullets create curiosity that keeps people hooked for more information.

Writing out as many fascinations as you can at the beginning of your writing process helps you avoid "Blank Page Syndrome"...

Gives you tons of great bullets to work with later on...

And pretty much guarantees you'll end up with a kickass headline!

Trigger Your Prospect’s “Greed Glands” (Until They Bleed!)

Interestingly, Gary appeals to prospects’ “greed glands” from several angles.

He builds longing for his offering – his book containing answers to all kinds of questions, techniques, and complexities of social security.

Then he says that studies show that 2 out of 3 people overpay.

Which he pairs with a fascination on “how to get a refund if you’ve overpaid”. The copy feels so simple, but there’s a genius level of sophistication on how we builds up the reader’s emotions.

Let’s see some more examples:

“What your social security retirement pay should be?”

People always want to learn how to make money quicker, easier, and better, so he builds upon those desires.

Gary offers solutions for complexities like paperwork for social security.

“How do ten million people who are only 30 collect social security?” 

^ What a fascinating hook!

Moreover, being specific adds credibility.

Gary also teases on mechanisms for social security by referring to divorce, the number of social security cards, and medical insurance for the aged.

How Gary Halbert Uses The Fundamental Copywriting Techniques

In addition to all these, Gary Halbert employs some of the best copywriting techniques in the book.

For example, he uses the “Us vs Them” mentality…conveying how big fish screw the common man and what you can do about it.

This is an extremely effective persuasion technique as he sides with the audience against a common enemy.

Another example: He employs the price anchoring technique by saying the book will make you hundreds and thousands of dollars but is offered for only $3.

He creates an irresistible offer by comparing the benefit of hundreds and thousands of dollars with the price of 3 dollars. He introduces risk reversal, as he makes buying the book risk-free with a money-back guarantee towards the end.

In as few words as possible: a simply incredible ad.

Next, I'll be breaking down one of the most famous ads from a true legend whose name rhymes with "Boogerman" (link)

Can you guess what ad I’m referring to?

Check out the next post to find out!


Here’s how you can (legally) STEAL the “secret recipe” behind some of the best direct response ads of all time... 

Including no-nonsense practical tips on how you can apply the same principles to your own products or services for more sales and profits.

Simply CLICK the link below and grab my FREE cheat sheet called “Secret Copy Recipe”.

Once you do, you’ll also receive instant access to my proven vault of conversion boosting resources…

Along with a complimentary subscription to my free e-letter where I break down more proven sales letters and share actionable marketing tips that work in 2021.

Get it all now when you click the button below… 👇

Tired of Lackluster Sales, Low Conversion Rates, and Marketing Campaigns that Bomb?

Steal the “Secret Recipe” Behind 100 of the Most Profitable Ads of All Time…

And Apply It To Your Own Marketing For BLOCKBUSTER Response... In Just 15 Minutes!

Interested in more great content on copywriting? Check out my Copywriting Resource Hub where you'll find in-depth guides, interesting case studies, and practical resources that will help you boost your conversions and sell more, without being salesy or aggressive.

Csaba Borzasi

Csaba Borzási is the founder of Game of Conversions. After spending 10 years learning the ins and outs of persuasion psychology, Csaba now focuses on what he loves most: helping ambitious entrepreneurs grow their online business and get more profitable customers. When he isn't geeking out on discovering how the human mind works, you can probably find him climbing a mountain, dancing salsa, or traveling around the globe.

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