Recession Beater #7: The Coming Business Opportunity Explosion

Gene Schwartz Ad #88Almost everyone is interested in making more money.

If you can legitimately show others how to make more money, you’ll never want for money yourself.

This is especially so in recessionary times.

George Haylings slept in his car while pyramiding his classified advertising profits during the Great Depression.

Joe Karbo and Ernest Weckesser wrote breakthrough biz-op ads which ran in the Wall Street Journal at the height of the 1970’s recession. Such ads never appeared in The Journal before. Boardroom launched its business development classic, I-Power, during the recession of the early 90’s.

The last century saw two world wars, the Great Depression and a dozen or so recessions.

The power of direct response advertising makes itself felt all the more acutely during these “bad times” as it pushes the unaccountable, “feel good” ads off the page. To boot, the price of advertising drops like a lead weight allowing savvy marketers like the above to roll out with force.

This ad was written nearly 40 years ago by Eugene Schwartz. It has all the drivers, all the hot-buttons that would cause someone to respond to this offer today. This is one-of-ten idea generating templates in the biz-op area I’ve uncovered, that’s been written by Eugene Schwartz.

The product is a newsletter subscription from mail order magnate, Joe Cossman. This offer is a link in the chain of biz-op compendiums started by George Haylings during the Depression and later continued by Thomas Hall (87 Japanese Money Making Plans) and Ernest Weckesser’s Publication, Network.

The kind of “making money” or biz-op advertising we’re likely to see will target to a broader, more sophisticated swath of respondents than the typical “work-at-home” fare and have higher price points.

There’s also bountiful opportunity in direct mail to target high profile segments of recently unemployed workers in the financial industry. Direct marketing and Internet marketing are for the most part, “new” to them.

You can download the 354 KB PDF by right-clicking on the thumbnail above and choosing either ‘save link as’ or ‘save target as.’ The first page is marked up to draw attention to the important elements of the ad. The second is untouched.


  1. says

    Lawrence, your post today is, characteristically, a gem.

    And enough of one to bring me out of hiding.

    To date, my copywriting has focused on corporate America, mainly in Silicon Valley where I live. Right now, I’m helping prepare the #1 PC manufacturer’s messaging for their 09 desktop series. Before this, I was senior copywriter at eBay until the axe fell.

    While this kind of writing can be rewarding work, it’s not the classic direct response which keeps me coming back to your stuff time and again.

    Interestingly enough, “biz opp” always felt “hypey” to me. Perhaps, I was on my high horse, but it felt like “hanging out with the riff-raff.”

    Yet, the idea of speaking to laid off Wall Streeters via Biz Opp is radical and refreshing.

    Back in the 80s, I worked on Wall Street. I started out as a trader’s assistant with a Japanese bank called Nippon Credit Bank.

    I’ll never forget, one day, seeing my Japanese supervisors get all excited about a new product. I asked them what it was. They said, “mortgage backed securities.”

    When they explained to me how it worked, I had to hold my tongue!

    My first thought was, “You guys have a AAA credit rating and you fund major infrastructure projects around the world and now you want to go slumming with the American homeowner for windfall profits at a time when blue collar jobs are leaving the US permanently? This is a game of hot potato that can only lead to an eventual collapse.”

    Not long after I left the bank, the Japanese real estate meltdown kicked in and took Nippon Credit Bank down with it!

    All this to say, Lawrence, is… that if what you’re saying about direct response aimed at laid off Wall Streeters is true, this is a niche I could go after – with a vengeance!

  2. admin says

    Hey Eric.

    Fascinating how we keep making the same mistakes time and again.

    In ten or twelve years a batch of freshly minted financiers will have a stroke of genius by devising new, risk-free, high leverage products without any memory, or even knowledge, about what’s transpiring today.

    I hear you about Nippon. My wife was (for a brief while) the head of a trading desk at a major energy company before the Enron implosion. There were so many energy trading products and derivatives floating around, you wouldn’t know this was a company whose core business was shipping natural gas and oil through pipelines…yet somehow they fancied themselves such financial luminaries that they started betting on credit and interest rate spreads.

    What the heck that has to do with supplying energy is on par with Sumitomo diving into mortgage backed securities in the 80’s.

    Anyway, my man on the street’s take is things are going to get a lot-lot worse before they get better. I think we direct response people have as good a chance as any, besides medical associated workers, of keeping our heads above water and perhaps even thriving. Oh, and of course, tobacco and booze manufacturers will make out like bandits.

    Once I clear some l-o-n-g overdue things from my plate, I may try a DM drop to the Wall Street crowd.

  3. says

    Great find,
    I am looking at writing a sales letter for my site now, might take the liberty of swiping some of these ideas,
    In our current financial state of the global economy I think this seems to be very appropriate.

  4. admin says

    Hi Jeremy,

    Glad you stopped by.

    Swipe away.

    That’s what the site is here for!


  5. says

    Excellent article. Great way to find opportunities when the rest of the world is only seeing slow downs.

    Opportunity always exists for the man who is willing to saddle the horse and ride.

    I do agree that things are going to get worse before they get better. Tony Robbins even posted a video talking about the stock market.

    He doesn’t claim to be a stock market guru but some of his clients are pretty big traders. It’s an interesting take on the future.

    If you are interested you can find it (and a couple of posts of my own about why you shouldn’t have your money in the stock market right now)

    He also talks about being ready to take advantage of the opportunities that will come out of this. Always be ready because you never know when opportunity knocks.

  6. Robert Coates says

    Anybody know the story behind this ad? I knew Joe Cossman very well and seriously doubt that he wrote this ad himself. Most likely was written or commissioned by whoever was behind that address on Fifth Avenue. The address seems very familiar, anybody know whose address that is?

    Thomas Hall had an excellent report on how to write a good sales letter that he sold for $25 or $50 way back around 1975. Would like to see that report again if anyone knows where to find it. Part of what made Thomas Hall interesting is you had to order his stuff from Hong Kong, I believe.

  7. Robert Coates says

    Oh, now I see that you say this ad was written by Eugene Schwartz. That makes sense — Schwartz was a great copywriter. I suppose the Fifth Avenue address is Schwartz’s.

    In the genre of business opportunity compendiums, there is also “999 Successful Little Known Businesses” I Googled and found it by W. Carruthers, but also thought that David Magee of Kerrville, TX also had a title like this.

    Old compendiums like this are still valuable, even if they are really old. It is really an education about what customers want and how to supply them with what they want. Other than the fact that prices and technology have changed, there is still a lot of valuable ideas and idea-generating concepts in these kinds of books.

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