Early in my direct response copywriting career I was fortunate to work under one of the greats: Jim Rutz.
Jim was one of the most in-demand copywriters in the world. Clients would wait up to a year for him to put his pen to work for their products. That’s why he was able to charge some of the highest fees of any copywriter — up to $100,000.
Perhaps you’ve seen the “World’s Most Interesting Man” commercials for a well-known beer?
Jim was the world’s most interesting copywriter.
Once you started reading his copy, you just couldn’t put it down.
It pulled you in by your collar. His words, his wit, his intelligence (and his respect for the reader’s) were truly a delight.
For example, here’s Jim talking about the spread of the Church in the 4th century BC. Could there be a more boring subject? And yet see how he brings it to life…
“A funny thing happened on the way to the Millennium: In the 4th Century, the Church’s wheels fell off.
“Until then, it looked like the Gospel would reach the outermost parts at chariot race speed. Or at least before McDonald’s did.
“No such luck. Just before A.D. 300 the Church made the biggest blunder in its history and crashed like an Indy racer with a stuck throttle and a full tank of gas.”
See what I mean?
Jim’s Rule #1, don’t bore the reader.
Jim’s Rule #2… see Rule #1.
Try to see exactly what makes it so enjoyable to read.
Hint: Specific nouns. Action verbs. Clever analogies.
But most of all, the lack of predictability.
See how what comes next — whether the second half of the sentence or the next sentence — is so completely unexpected?
When Jim combined this with just a bit of salesmanship, prospects opened their wallets faster than a college student on their 21st birthday at half-price beer night. (See what I did there? Can you come up with your own Rutzian analogy? Comment below!)
Would you like (much) more of Jim? Do you want to understand for yourself how Jim worked his copy magic?
Thanks to Brian Kurtz, you now can.
When Jim passed away, marketing superstar Brian Kurtz, who paid Jim millions of dollars to write for Boardroom over the years, was given Jim’s extensive archives to preserve and enable others to benefit from them.
From this, Brian created a priceless collection of Jim’s work and teachings: “Read This or Die: The Lost Files of Jim Rutz.” (The title is based on one of Jim’s most famous headlines.)
It’s packed with over 200 of Jim’s distinctive and highly original, often a bit controversial ads, promos and magalogs for health, investing and other markets — including ads selling his copywriting services to prospective clients (“Sorry Your Control Died”) and one selling himself to prospective mates (“Damsel Wanted, Distress Optional”).
You’ll also get deep insight into Jim’s thinking and what he was like as a person, thanks to a wealth of support material that includes interviews (there’s a great one with Clayton Makepeace) as well as correspondence to and from Jim with some of the biggest names in the business — including me!
And you’ll find an exclusive webinar conducted by Brian Kurtz in which he grills John Carlton and me about what it was really like to work with Jim and what we learned.
And last but not least, there is a “Lost Files Headlines” section with headlines and copy ideas you can use when you’re struggling for a subject line, headline or copy platform.
This is a reference tool for a lifetime, delivered on a handy USB thumb drive.
Here is the page where you can find out more about it.
If you depend on words to get and keep the attention of people and compel them to buy, getting your hands on this collection should be one of the easiest decisions you’ve ever made.