David Garfinkel's World Copywriting Newsletter, Issue 1, September 9, 2004


The Tip of the Iceberg

  Cartoon by Jim Siergey

San Francisco
September 9, 2004

Good copy is a lot like music... it can put you in
the mood to buy and thus make it easy for you to
take action and make a purchase.

Before we get into the symphony of sales wisdom I'd like to share with you today, here's a little nugget about my relationship with music...

When I was a kid, I was pretty clumsy.  (Years later, that hasn't changed, but, it's my clumsiness way back when that's important for this story.)

My mother, worried that my stumblebum nature would perhaps ruin my chances of becoming an Olympic Gold Medal Winner (just kidding, Mom!) (yes, she's a Subscriber), signed me up for tumbling lessons, to improve my co-ordination.

Close, but no cigar.  So we tried guitar lessons.

I don't think that helped my co-ordination too much either... but...

I discovered that I loved playing music!

My one regret is that I never learned to play the piano.  I guess there's still time... but...in any case...

That Brings Us To The Central Message
Of Today's Newsletter: The "Piano Secret"

I learned about the "Piano Secret" in a wonderful book Subscriber (and Master Copywriter) David Deutsch told me about, called How to Get Ideas, by Jack Foster.

It's a great book, and not just for copywriting.  You'll find a lot of valuable material in there for opening up your creativity in all aspects of your life.  Opening up your creativity is an important step on the path to greater wealth.

The part of the book containing the Piano Secret told the story of a man named Bud Robbins.  Bud's first job in advertising was at an ad agency in New York City.  His first assignment: to write copy for the Aeolian Piano Company.  This was about 40 years ago.

The piano company no longer exists; it was sold in 1985.

But Bud Robbins' experience is important today as it was nearly half a century ago.

Bud had to write an ad about one of the company's grand pianos, and run the ad in the New York Times.  Much against the company's wishes, Bud took a field trip from his ad agency in Manhattan to the factory in East Rochester, New York, where the pianos were made.

Why Did He Want to Take the Trip?  Because He Didn't Know Squat About Pianos And...

... he knew that without good information, the copy he would write would be worth less than nothing to his client.

So Bud took his trip and he took his tour.  But he couldn't find out anything remarkable he could use in his ad.  He was about to leave no better equipped than when he first arrived, when...

... he happened to see an Aeolian piano standing next to two much better known pianos.  He mentioned to the sales manager that all three pianos looked pretty much the same.

The sales manager agreed, except for one thing.

"Ours is heavier," he said.

Bud asked him what made it heavier.

Well, it turns out that the Aeolian had what was known as a Capo d'astro bar inside.  This metal bar pretty much just sits there and doesn't do anything... at least when the piano is new. 

But after 50 years, the piano's harp - the frame the piano strings inside are pulled tight across - starts to warp.  And that makes the piano much harder to tune.

However - this is important - the harp doesn't warp when the piano has a Capo d'astro bar.  So the piano lasts longer without needing major repair.

After the sales manager explained all that to Bud, he then said eleven words that changed Aeolian Piano Company's fortune forever:

"Well, there's got to be some reason the Met uses it."

The sales manager was talking about was New York's famed Metropolitan Opera ("the Met").

Bud started asking even more questions.  And he soon learned that the Met was moving to from its current location to a new auditorium in Lincoln Center.

The best part: The only thing the Met was taking along was its 50-year-old Aeolian piano - the one with a Capo d'astro bar keeping it in great shape.

When Bud went back to New York, he wrote his ad for the New York Times that started this way:

      'About the only thing the Met is     
      taking with them is their Piano.'    

If you're not a New Yorker or an opera fan, you might not grasp how powerful a statement that is. 

Telling New Yorkers that the only thing the Met was taking with them, was their piano...

... was like a golf club manufacturer telling golfers that Tiger Woods uses only their brand of golf clubs.
 Everyone who plays golf would want one of those clubs!  The company would be flooded with new business!

So, did Bud's piano ad work?  You bet it did.

The demand became so great that Aeolian pianos were on back-order for six years.


OK, OK, I know what you're thinking:

"Great, David!  But what the heck does a Capo d'astro bar have to do with my business?"

(And if you weren't thinking that before, I hope you are now.  Because it's an excellent, important and relevant question to ask.)

Here's What:

Before Bud Robbins went to East Rochester to take a factory tour, the Aeolian pianos were exactly the same as they were after he came back to his ad agency in Manhattan.  Weighed the same.  Looked the same.  Sounded the same.

But after Bud did his detective work and made his discovery, there was soon a six-year backlog in orders.  The company had more business than it could handle.

Now... what's important to you about all of this is, you can learn the habits, skills and actions to replicate Bud's success.

For your own business.  For your affiliate program.  For a client you are writing copy for.  Or for any situation where you are writing copy - even a personals ad!

It Starts By Asking Questions

Here's something interesting for you.  Notice that Bud wasn't systematic and focused in his questioning like a scientist or a trial attorney.

He was more like that old TV detective Columbo... wandering around, asking questions as he explored different aspects of the product from many different angles...  all to find its secret.

And when he found its secret - it had a Capo d'astro bar, and the other brands didn't - Bud kept on going.  Because who the heck knew what a Capo d'astro bar was... and once they knew, why on earth would they care?

But just about everyone in Bud's target market - readers of the New York Times - knew who the Met was.  Many of those people revered the Met.

So when Bud found his one golden opportunity, he pounced on it!

But you gotta stop... look... listen.  Ask.  Consider.  Reconsider.

You might have to take a drive in the country.  Go to a different city.  Look at what you're selling in direct contrast to what other people are selling.

It will be worth it.

As Bud Robbins says in How To Get Ideas: No matter what you are writing copy about, "I promise you, the Capo d'astro bar is there."

       The World Copywriting Newsletter

Did you hear the music at the top of this issue?
It's from a package of royalty-free music my friend and audio mentor Mike Stewart put together.  I've used the music in my audio products and of course in this very newsletter!

To find out more about Front and Back Music, click here

Of course, putting music online by yourself, so the music plays automatically when someone else clicks a button, is easy... if you have advanced degrees in computer science and audio engineering. 

But most of us don't... Lord knows I don't!

So I found a "one-click solution."  It's what I used to put the nice clip of piano music on top of this newsletter.  It's also what my Webmaster used to put the entire one-hour seminar with Terri Lonier online (I'm referring to the sign-up bonus you got when you subscribed to the World Copywriting Newsletter).

It's called Audio Generator.  (I'm also using it for the 19 audio testimonials I collected for my new product, which I'll be releasing later this month!)

You can do a lot with Audio Generator, and it's really easy to use!  For more info, click here.

Finally... the inspiration for this first issue was Jack Foster's excellent book, How to Get Ideas.  You may remember that the title of this newsletter was "The Tip of the Iceberg."

Now I'm going to tell you why I called it that.  The Tip of the Iceberg is the little part of the huge mass that you see above water, that gets your attention and focuses your awareness on the larger part that lies beneath.

There's no logical process that will get you there... but learning more about creative thinking is the surest path available to you to start to develop Tips for your own Icebergs!

And How to Get Ideas is a great way to accelerate your progress in the kind of creative thinking that will rapidly improve your skill... and your results! ... as a copywriter.

To order your own copy from amazon.com,
click here.



I just launched the World Copywriting Blog on September 16.  Hot stuff for you between issues of the World Copywriting Newsletter.  You can visit the blog by clicking here


Well, that wraps up today's issue of the World Copywriting Newsletter.  I've enjoyed writing it and I hope you've enjoyed reading it.

Hey - come to think of it, send me a note and tell me how you liked it: david@davidgarfinkel.com

By the way, you may forward the URL of this newsletter to anyone you like.  Just cut and paste this link into an email:


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Until next time,

David Garfinkel


Copyright 2004 by the World Copywriting Institute, a division of David Garfinkel, LLC

All Rights Reserved.  Duplication Prohibited without Written Permission, except email forwarding of URL as noted above.

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David Garfinkel, LLC
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Turn on your speakers
and click on the speaker
icon above to hear some lovely piano music by Mike Stewart...

... piano music to
"set the tone" for
what you are about to