Considering the headline of his fabled full-page ad, it’s no wonder the late and legendary Joe Karbo was able to sell millions of copies of his self-published little paperback book The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches. The headline I’m referring to is: MOST PEOPLE ARE TOO BUSY EARNING A LIVING TO MAKE ANY MONEY.
What’s so great about this headline is that the vast majority of people can relate to it. And one of the least-understood secrets of good writing — including copywriting — is to write things that get people nodding their heads in agreement with your words.
When I first read Karbo’s headline, I immediately envisioned millions of people shaking their heads up and down. That’s because it’s evident that the vast majority of people are too busy doing what they have to do to bring in their revered paychecks to do what they need to do to make any serious money.
A paycheck is the only thing standing between Mr. Burbs’ suburban image and his ultimate nightmare: not being able to make the payments on his SUV and big-screen HD television set, which might result in the Snootsuns across the street discovering the bloody truth about him. God bless that bill-paying, nine-to-five job (a.k.a. voluntary servitude).
So, when Mr. Burbs gets home from work, does he sit down in front of his not-yet-paid-for big-screen TV, have a glass of wine, relax, enjoy a quiet candlelight dinner, then work on serious-moneymaking endeavors the rest of the evening?
Not quite. The reality is that when he steps foot inside his home, it’s time to deal with the daily cares of life — from the trouble Johnny got into at school that day … to unpaid bills … to studying the life-insurance packet that just arrived in the mail.
Mr. Burbs’ biggest challenge is to deal with this tidal wave of domestic yuck as quickly as possible so he can get to bed at a reasonable hour. After all, servitude is not an easy job. One has to be rested in order to perform tomorrow’s duties.
Now and then, of course, he fantasizes about working on serious moneymaking projects on the weekend. Which is a nice thought, but it rarely happens. Why? Because the weekend is his only chance to try to catch up on the daily cares of life that he wasn’t able to get to during the week.
Which can include such fun projects as shoveling snow from the driveway, changing the air filters throughout the house, gassing and washing the cars, grocery shopping, dropping off and picking up the dry cleaning, reinstalling Windows on his dying computer, and helping Johnny with a massive, but totally useless, project that is due in Ms. Malevolent’s class on Monday. Like time and space, the daily cares of life are infinite.
The result, of course, is that Mr. Burbs, notwithstanding his good intentions, never quite gets around to doing what he has to do to become the dealmaking entrepreneur of his dreams. Which usually results in his giving up all hope and submitting to the role of servitude as his lot in life.
As it turned out, though, Mr. Burbs’ plight was the best thing that ever happened to Joe Karbo. That’s because Mr. Burbs — make that millions of Mr. Burbs — bought Karbo’s book by the carload. They bought it because, in his brilliance, Karbo got them to shake their heads up and down as they read his ad. They instantly recognized that they were the very guys to whom Karbo was referring — the guys who were too busy earning a living to make any money.
That said, a good question with which to begin the New Year is: Am I too busy earning a living to make any money? If so, reread this article — three times. Servitude for life is a tough gig to handle.