Advertising Saved Business
( Originally Published 1898 )
I talked the other day with a man who had failed in the drug business. He said that he didn't believe that advertising a drug store paid, and that it was so different from other businesses that advertising could not possibly help it.
He said that his store had been an exceptionally good one; that the location was very fair, and that the stock was above reproach, but there were two other drug stores nearby which had been there for some time before he came. The people round about were acquainted with them, and to some they were just a little bit more conveniently situated than the new store.
My friend, the druggist, didn't try advertising. That is the way he knows that it does not pay. He said: "People do not realize that there is a difference in drugs—that the paregoric they get in one drug store is better than that which they get in another."
Advertising would have saved that man's business. By advertising he would have introduced himself to the people, and they would have become acquainted with him and his store in that way. By advertising he could tell them that there were different grades of paregoric, and that he kept the best grade; but he didn't try it, and so he knows positively that advertising doesn't pay.
Maybe he would have had to advertise three or six months, or possibly for a year, before he would have found that he was gaining actual profit on his advertising expenditure.
Advertising a new business is, to a certain extent, like advertising in the dull season. It is the after effect that must be looked at and not the immediate returns. Even if a new man were to meet his prospective customers personally, it would be some time before he would make actual buyers of them. It is this way with traveling salesmen. The first few trips in a new territory do not consume very many pages of his order book. In the mean time he is getting acquainted—advertising. He is letting people know who he is and what he is doing, and what he wants. If he is pleasant and courteous and persistent, he will win trade, but it will take time. Do not expect an ad to do more than a man.