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3 Dynamite Letter Openings from the King of ‘Junque’

He wouldn’t advertise his copywriting services.

You had to find him.

And if you did get his attention, you’d stand in a waiting line of clients – ready to pay as much as $20,000 for one of his mailing packs. (This was back in the 70s and 80s – when a dollar was worth 3 times what it is now.)

His name was Bill Jayme – and no, he didn’t write junk mail. He called it ‘Junque.’ Tasteful and high-class. The kind of copy used to sell quality magazines – like The New Yorker, Utne Reader and Worth.

What made Bill Jayme so exceptional?

A number of reasons. But if you study his letters – as I have for many years – you realise it’s his openings which are particularly special. Not only do they force the reader onwards, they also set a cadence, rhythm and tone for the entire package.

Here are my 3 favourite letter openings from the master of ‘junque.’

‘Has it happened to you? It’s sure happened to me.’

Surely the most versatile opening line of any sales letter.

While I’m no swipe-monkey, you can steal this and make it work in any number of situations.

It’s friendly. It’s empathetic. It’s almost impossible to ignore – and it forces your reader onto the next line. This can also work when writing to cold leads. You quickly establish some common ground, even if you haven’t any prior relationship with your reader.

‘Scott Fitzgerald observed, “The rich are different from us.”

Ernest Hemingway then shot back, “Yes, they have more money.”

But money isn’t all the rich have more of. They also have more worries. So before you accept this invitation to move up higher financially, you may want to consider some of the pros and cons.’

A very slick opening where Jayme uses a (supposedly true) story to dramatise the benefits of his offer.

Jayme was excellent at delivering his offers in new, interesting – even stealth – ways. Once the reader knows what’s on offer they’re already hooked.

‘First fill a pitcher of ice.

Now pour in a bottle of ordinary red wine, a quarter cup of brandy, and a small bottle of club soda. 

Sweeten to taste with a quarter to a half cup of sugar, garnish with slices of apple, lemon, orange. 

…then move your chair to a nice sunny spot. You’ve just made yourself Sangria – one of the great glories of Spain, and the perfect thing to sit back and sip while you consider this invitation.’

Whenever you sit to write copy you must consider the objections in your reader’s head. What question will they ask next? How can you keep them nodding?

This is why demonstrations work so well – in virtually any selling situation. The reader sees the benefits for themselves. You knock a fist-full of objections out of the part at once.

This letter, selling Bon Appetit magazine, demonstrates the product before delivering the offer. And does so with charm.