The History of “Frankly, I’m Puzzled…

If there’s one thing that you should know about me, I continually
go back to classic direct mail letters to learn from the masters. 
One master copywriter that few have heard of is Paul Greystone. 

Yet, not only did Greystone invent the lift note, but I would
venture to say that 99 out of 100 copywriters have used Paul’s now
famous words:

“Frankly, I’m puzzled…”

The funny thing is, those weren’t Paul’s the exact words.
The opening sentence of his “lift note” was actually, “As the
publisher of this Encyclopedia I am puzzled.” 

It was the next sentence that began with, “Frankly.”
Of course, everybody remembers the “Frankly, I’m puzzled” part.
What everyone misses is his brilliantly crafted risk-reversing offer, which reads…

“Frankly I do not understand why everyone does not send for free volume 1–since it is absolutely free (we even pay postage) and since there is never any obligation to buy volumes, now or ever.

“Once you see how good it is, I hope you will want the rest.  It’s a
sample.  Of course, if you don’t want further volumes you never pay
for it–no one will call you or come to your home or try and change
your mind.

“We don’t send books to people who don’t want them.  It would be
just as silly as if your grocer sent you five pounds of apples you
didn’t want.  You would only send them back and not pay for them.
It’s the same for us in the book business.  Sending unwanted books
doesn’t make sense.”

What I find most fascinating here is not only seeing how Paul
created this action device, but also reading his exact words and

The Ultimate Risk-Reversal

I think the big lesson to be learned here is how Paul used the
concept of “risk-reversal.”  I think the comparison he uses with
the grocer is quite powerful.

It goes much further than what most writers do today–and that
includes me.  To me it provides an additional icing-on-the-cake
“reason why” that relates directly to the offer.

I guarantee you’ll see this in my next promotion.  I hope to see in
in yours. Talk with you soon.

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Doug D'Anna

As a seasoned direct response copywriter, Doug D'Anna has created more than 100 widely-mailed control packages for the world's largest specialized information publishers—generating over $100 million in direct sales.