Analysis of a Jay Abraham Letter

Last week I got a letter in the mail from Jay Abraham. On the outside of the envelope, the teaser copy reads, “Led Zeppelin Concert Gives Me a Great Idea.”

On the inside, the headline is really the letterhead itself; “Jay L. Abraham” is in large blue type, centered at the top of the page. Underneath that, in normal type, it says, “Reunion, Reunion: Led Zeppelin Concert Gives Me a Great Idea.” And then the letter starts…

At first, I wondered what Jay Abraham (a business consultant) and Led Zeppelin (a rock band) had to do with each other. They seem so unrelated. Curiosity drew me into the letter.

Overall, the letter is deceptively simple. It is only four pages long and asks for no money, only an “expression of interest.” But the concept driving the letter is brilliant.

The letter begins by talking about Jay’s recent experience watching Led Zeppelin perform in London at the band’s 29-year reunion concert. By the fourth paragraph, an astute reader may already begin to see what Jay is doing. By the fifth paragraph, the hook is sunk…

Over 20,000,000 people tried to get tickets to their concert. 19,980,000 failed to do so.

Notice the scarcity build is already happening… but Jay hasn’t even told you why he’s writing yet!

Finally, at the top of the second page, the reader discovers that Jay is planning a reunion style event for past customers and seminar attendees. He’s not even sure if he’s going to do it or not… he merely wants to gauge interest in such an event.

But to build the value, Jay compares (indirectly) the excitement of a Led Zeppelin reunion concert to the excitement a business person might feel at this reunion event. And he compares the scarcity of concert tickets to the scarcity of seats that will be available.

Now, instead of the reader thinking that this business event will be “more of the same,” he’s thinking it will be thrilling, exciting, and unusually memorable–a much better emotional state for a prospect to be in if you want him to express interest in attending.

How well is Jay’s “Reunion, Reunion” letter doing? Honestly, I don’t know. But I would be surprised if it’s not doing well.

This concept of comparison is called simile or metaphor. (In the example above, it’s really an extended metaphor; it extends throughout the letter.)

Similes and metaphors, when used well, can be quite persuasive. Rather than describing a product, it can be much faster and often more effective to compare it to something bigger or better. For instance, when I was writing the sales letter to sell seats in Alex Mandossian’s Virtual Seminar Week, we included this paragraph…

Let me explain: Just as Steve Case changed the Internet with AOL in 1999, and as Pierre Omidyar revolutionized online auctions with eBay in 1995, and as Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe created a personal information-sharing phenomenon with MySpace… my partner Rick Raddatz and I have high hopes we can totally transform three of the world’s most important “distance learning” communities.

In this case, we could have said, “Virtual Seminar Week will transform how people learn,” which is pretty flat. But instead, we compared Virtual Seminar Week to other online services that had already transformed the Internet.

Do you see how powerful this is?

In another letter promoting an Apprentice program, I wrote this…

Can my Apprentice Program make that much of a difference? You betcha! It’s literally the difference between walking to your destination… and driving a supercharged sports car. Which would you choose?

I actually got the idea for this metaphor from Steven K. Scott while listening to his audio program “Mentored by a Millionaire.”

One last real-life example. When I was investigating Glyphius over a year ago, I first read the sales page. Then I read the testimonials. One testimonial in particular sold me. It was written by Brian Keith Voiles, and he said (and I’m quoting from memory), “Glyphius is as addictive as a video game.”

By making this comparison, Brian implied that you “play” Glyphius just like you might “play” a video game. Deeper still, Brian implied that the software is fun, and that it takes the work out of writing copy. Of course, he didn’t directly say any of this. It was all embedded in an eight-word simile.

So… how can you use this technique when writing copy for your own products and services? Well, you could attempt an extended metaphor like what Jay Abraham has done in the example above. Or you can start off with a simpler approach. Here’s how it works…

First, define what your product actually is. Is it a software program? A home study course? A seminar or workshop? This should take you two seconds. Then, take your answer and plug it into this formula…

It’s not just a ________, it’s a ________.

In the first blank, enter what your product is. In the second blank, write in the thing you’re comparing your product to. For instance, if I wanted to create a metaphor for my blog, I might say, “It’s not just a blog, it’s a community of savvy business owners and copywriters.” In this case, I would be comparing my blog to a community.

At first, this exercise may be difficult. Your metaphors may have comparisons that are too similar (Example: “It’s not just a blog, it’s a news source”). Or your metaphors may be too cliché. But with some practice, you’ll get the hang of it. Ultimately, your sales copy will be stronger for it

Heck, if it’s good enough for Jay Abraham, it’s good enough for just about anybody.

-Ryan M. Healy

Ryan M. Healy

Ryan Healy is a financial copywriter and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like WordStream.com, SmallBizClub.com, and MarketingForSuccess.com.

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