Planning An Advertising Campaign
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The first thing to be considered in planning an advertising campaign is the amount to be expended. If regarded simply as a part of the cost of production this is not a difficult problem. No one attempts any longer to disguise the fact that the consumer pays for the advertising. If it costs two hundred thousand dollars to advertise a commodity this two hundred thousand dollars must come out of the price paid by the consumers. There is no other way of acquainting the public with the goods—except through personal talk and solicitation—and under modern economic and industrial conditions this is impossible. Even if it were possible the expense would be prohibitive.
For an old firm manufacturing a well known commodity intended for universal consumption the problem of advertising will generally adjust itself upon a fixed economic basis. For such a firm the advertising expense constitutes one of the items of annual cost of production. At the beginning of the year so much is set aside for raw material, so much for labor, so much for insurance, so much for selling, so much for advertising. The expense of advertising in most houses is included in the general expense of selling and distribution. If it is a house doing business through wholesalers, jobbers, or retailers there is no known method of tracing definite results from advertising. The advertising appropriation must go for general publicity. At the end of the year the house figures up the business of the year, the cost and profits. If the business shows an increase the appropriation for advertising is renewed with the same regularity as the appropriation for raw material. The firm has learned that "keeping everlastingly at it" is what pays in advertising—that occasional, spasmodic publicity spurts do not pay. It is the continuity of advertising that gradually builds up a market for a product, the constant dropping of water that wears away the stone. If the business shows a decrease from previous years it is a question of radical change in advertising methods, in selling plans and other departments that require a reorganization to meet new conditions of trade and competition.
Perhaps it is not the fault of the advertising. Millions of dollars are thrown away annually in desultory advertising where there is no selling organization to supply the demand created by advertising. The selling organization and the advertising must be co-ordinated upon a smooth working and effective basis. There must be harmonious action between them. They cannot be dissociated in any successful scheme for marketing a product. They cannot work at cross purposes. The selling force must follow up the advertising campaign and the advertising campaign must be planned and conducted with reference to trade conditions. In order to know these conditions the advertising director must keep in very close touch with the selling force in the field. If there is a lack of co-operation it is a vital weakness in the business organization that must be remedied if ultimate loss is to be averted.
If a decrease of business is shown at the end of the year it is therefore proper to inquire into other branches of the business organization as well as the publicity department. Perhaps the appropriation has been expended in the wrong mediums. The advertising department has not reached the right sort of people. If it is a safety razor perhaps the advertising director has been going after the beardless portion of the human race. If it is a baby food perhaps he has been using too much money in mediums that are seen principally in bachelors' clubs. The publicity department has been spending too much money for "waste circulation." This question of useless and unprofitable circulation presents one of the most interesting problems that con-front the advertiser. It will be quite generally con-ceded by advertising men that a certain amount of useless circulation must be paid for by every advertiser in order to reach the people who may be interested in his product. A manufacturer of automobiles advertises in the general magazines, and yet it is perfectly plain that only a small percentage of magazine readers can be classed as possible purchasers of automobiles. In the case of a food product that may be eaten by every member of the human race, of every age and in every clime, it is plainly obvious that the advertiser is paying for very little "waste circulation."
Perhaps the advertising itself has been weak. The copy has been devoid of reason, argument or suggestion. It has not presented the vital elements of the selling argument effectively or convincingly. It has not shown an intimate knowledge of the product. It has no individuality of style. It is too much like all other advertising that is prepared for products of the same class. It has no selling force. It has been writ-ten by some one who has never made a study of the product or has never talked with the agents who have to put it on the dealers' shelves.
If it is a mail order business which has shown a loss over the previous year's business the problem is a comparatively simple one. It is easy to trace definite results from mail order advertising and it is a simple problem in arithmetic to calculate with exactness the returns from each advertising investment. Upon this definitely ascertained basis it is easy to plan a profitable and effective campaign for the next year.
But the publicity problem for a new product that is to be sold through dealers is one that must be solved without the aid of figures adduced from definite experience. It is a groping along a highway strewn with the countless wrecks of failure where the guide posts are few and uncertain. The advertising expert must be drawn upon for advice and suggestion, but even the most sagacious advertising man may fail to lay out a winning publicity campaign the first year for the reason that a new product calls for new copy, new methods, new mediums and new ideas. The principles that have been successfully applied in the marketing of one commodity may not sell another product even though there are points of similarity in their nature and uses. It is therefore a fact that experience is not always a safe guide in advertising. Cleverness in judging the class of people that may be interested in a particular product and in knowing how to reach them is worth more than the widest experience gained in the advertising of one product. It is not unusual for an advertising man to make millions of dollars in the manufacture of a particular commodity and then make a dismal failure in an attempt to create a demand for another product.
Suppose a firm with no experience in making or selling watches is about to put a new watch on the market, a watch that is to be sold through dealers to the consumers. Whether the watch is to be sold through wholesalers and jobbers or direct to retail jewelers is of little con-sequence so far as the problem of creating a demand for it is concerned. It is a product of universal use. It may be worn by every human being in the universe old enough to carry a watch, for it goes without saying that it will be made in all sizes and patterns. The advertiser, therefore, has the whole race to appeal to. The world is his market.
The first thing to be considered is the question of adopting a trade-mark. I am not an ardent believer in trade-marks. The name of the commodity is all the trade-mark I would ever ask for in planning a winning advertising campaign. A good name is in reality the best of all trade-marks. Only a commodity that has little selling argument behind it needs a trade-mark. Where an article gives little opportunity for talk or argument a trade-mark serves all the purposes of advertising and enables the advertiser to fix a commodity in the public mind and to keep it there.
In the absence of anything to say about a product, how it is made, why it is made in a particular way, why people should buy it, the advertiser can work the changes on the trade-mark from month to month in the magazines or from day to day in newspapers. But where a product gives opportunity for strong reason-why "talk" the constant repetition of the trade-mark has a tendency to make the reader miss the "talk" entirely. The first glance at the old-time trade-mark identifies the product in the mind of the reader and he turns over to the next page. The most cleverly constructed copy is lost on him. He is looking for some-thing new.
If there is nothing to be said in favor of the watch, if it does not differ in any material point from any other watch, it is a good plan to pick a trade-mark for advertising purposes. If it is a watch with new and strong selling points the name of the watch is enough. Let the advertising be constructed so as to make the public familiar with the name and the points of superiority.
Before inaugurating an advertising campaign the director of the advertising will naturally post him-self thoroughly on all trade conditions. He will want to learn from jewelers just what sort of a watch is wanted by the public and just what are the strongest selling points about this particular watch. It will then be possible to plan intelligently an advertising campaign that will be best calculated to create a demand on the dealer for this particular watch. This plan for the first year should present a combination of general publicity in the national mediums and local publicity in the towns where dealers have been induced to lay in a stock of the watches. The local advertising in the newspapers should always carry the name of the local dealer who handles the watch. General publicity will not answer for the introduction of a new product. There must be a combination of general and local publicity planned with reference to the work of the selling organization. It would be absurd to spend money to advertise in a city where the selling organization has not made arrangements for handling the goods. The advertising campaign and the selling plan must go hand in hand.
So much for reaching the consumer. The manufacturer, however, cannot afford to neglect those mediums which reach the jeweler through the channels of his own trade interest. The jeweler must be reached through his own trade paper, a paper that is devoted entirely to the watch and jewelry trade.
In preparing copy for such a campaign the same principles of publicity apply to the preparation of copy for this product as those which apply to the advertising of every other commodity that is susceptible of universal use. The first thing to do after deciding upon the general plan and the appropriation is to ascertain the "selling points" of the watch.
What are the points about a watch that appeal to the public? What is the principal use of a watch? Clearly it has but one important function—"to tell the time of day.” It is fair to assume, therefore, that a very large percentage of the possible purchasers will buy watches because of this particular function. They have only one idea about a watch—its ability to register time. If they buy watches it is natural to assume that they want accurate timekeepers. A watch that did not keep time accurately would be of no use to them. The transactions and appointments of the business and professional world rest upon accurate time-keeping. The industrial world moves by the clock. A watch is supposed to measure the hours that cover the wide range of man's activities.
It is very obvious, therefore, that the strongest selling point for the advertiser to work upon is the accuracy of the watch as a timekeeper. The advertiser can ring the changes on this point in a way that will gradually impress the public with the idea that this is the one watch that can be depended upon in every emergency of life and he can give some of the reasons for it. He should use the "bull's-eye" method to drive this selling point home. The accuracy of the watch as a timekeeper is the first and most important point to be exploited by the man who writes the copy and originates the advertising campaign.
So much for the purchasing class that buys a watch to keep time. But there are other reasons for buying a watch—other "selling points." The advertiser can-not afford to neglect the class that thinks of a watch as a means of personal adornment—the people who regard a watch as "jewelry"—who think of a watch only as something "to wear." To appeal to this class the skill of the artist must be drawn upon. To these the advertiser must appeal in picture as well as in copy; for these the watch must be a work of art—a jeweled product of the highest craftsmanship—fit to bestow upon a person as a reward for industry, a gift for signal achievement, a testimonial of birthday remembrance, a present that reflects not only the loving regard but the good taste of the giver.
An accurate timekeeper for the man or woman of affairs, a chaste and refined expression of the giver's esteem or remembrance, a choice piece of jewelry for personal adornment—here is abundant material for the man who is to devise a series of advertisements that will be calculated to create a popular demand for this watch without going into those watch-making details that are interesting only to the watchsmith.