Advertising Is An Economy
( Originally Published 1912 )
The fact is that advertising is an economy. It reduces the cost of selling, it increases the output to such an extent that the price can be reduced.
There are numerous other ways of advertising which can be successfully used under particular conditions favorable to each by retailers.
Some of these ways are-
1. Circulars, booklets, store papers, dodgers, etc.
2. Mailings, postcards, enclosures, etc.
3. Bill boards, signs, bulletins, etc.
4. Street-car advertising.
5. Show cards, window and store displays.
6. Sales plans and schemes.
7. Charity advertising.
Let us examine each one of these kinds of advertising.
Circulars, Booklets, Store Papers, Dodgers, etc.
1. Throughout this book we have tried to look every situation squarely in the face and treat it with absolute frankness. The truth may sometimes hurt, but the backbone of the whole business world is business integrity. There can be no business integrity if only one side of a situation is explained or understood.
All at Sea
It is a fact that there are many retailers who can-not successfully do newspaper advertising. The rates of the paper published in their locality are so high, while such a small amount comparatively of the circulation of those papers is in their territory, that it would be foolhardy and commercially suicidal for them to attempt newspaper advertising. Such stores are handicapped. They must advertise. They know it. But when it comes to making up a plan of advertising to order, instead of using "ready made" newspaper space, they are all at sea.
Furthermore, in big cities, the retailers are often further handicapped by municipal ordinances which make it a misdemeanor to distribute advertising matter indiscriminately. Such ordinances usually require the advertiser to put his advertising matter in an envelope, address the envelope with a name, and put the envelope in the hall mail box.
Talk Directly To
In other localities, an ambitious retailer may find that the newspaper is so weak, that no matter how he advertises in it, he cannot get as large results as he wants. In other places, a retailer will be in a suburb, or the outskirts of a city, with a small but prosperous community right around him. With circulars, and other advertising matter of that kind, he can, at small expense, reach all of the possible purchasers that might be induced to trade at his store. Much of the circular advertising fails, just as much of the newspaper advertising fails because it
TALKS ABOUT the retailer who is doing the advertising instead of TALKING TO the customers whose trade the retailer wants.
Describe the Goods
When you write a circular letter, don't tell the story of your life, or brag about your store, or say much about its being better than other stores. Just describe the goods which you think your prospective customers may want. Make that description interesting and educational. Advertise seasonable things. Don't try to make the talk "grand" or "wonderful" or "marvellous" or the "best in the world" or "the lowest prices ever heard of," or any of the balance of such con. Just simply talk in your usual manner. Remember that you are living every day in contact with your customers. If you were a general advertiser in some far-away city, you might possibly spread it on thick. Don't forget that "A prophet is not without honor save in his own country," which means that nobody is ever looked upon by the people they meet every day as a "hero," or "great man," or as being "superior" in any way. Customers always look upon their home retailer as just "Johnson," or "Brown's," or, sometimes, plain "Bill."
Realize this fact. Write your circulars with as little as possible said about yourself and as much as possible of simple, sincere, enthusiastic language about the goods which you are offering—and see that the goods come up to their description.
When to Expect Results
One circular doesn't bring success any more than "one swallow makes Spring." When the housewife receives the first circular from a firm, something like this may flit through her mind : "Hello! Brown is advertising." That is as far as she gets. The circular is swept out. The next time a circular comes from Brown, she says : "I wonder what Brown is advertising." The third time she says : "Brown must be offering something good, or he wouldn't keep advertising so much." When the fourth circular arrives, before she reads a word in it, she says : "Hello, here is another circular from Brown; I must see what he is advertising."
From this stage on, each circular should be profit-able. Some retailers can write a circular which will get that attention at the very first start. Some others get it with the second circular, or the third, or the fourth. It will come to every retailer if he is offering good values and advertising TO HIS CUSTOMERS, and not always talking about himself.
Store Paper—Continuous Advertising
The value of continuous advertising has been so clearly proven that many stores now publish a store paper, which they issue every month, or twice a month, or every other month. In publishing a store paper, the same general rules should be observed as described above regarding circulars. Every paper must be so interesting to the customer that she, will look for it, and come to the store and ask for a copy at the usual time of publication, if the storekeeper misses her when distributing the paper from house to house, by messenger or mail.
Package Enclosure Slips
No package should ever leave a store without some neat, appropriate slip, advertising special goods, special service, or a special department. Some modern sales checks are so made that the retailer can print on the back such special advertising matter. In addition to this, however, a dainty printed announcement should be at the wrapper's elbow—no matter whether the store has a special wrapper, or whether each clerk does his own wrapping—and every wrapper should be compelled, under penalty of a fine, to automatically pick up one of these slips and enclose with each package of goods wrapped. Such slips, or dodgers, or special announcements should contain just a reference, and should be made like the headlines of a newspaper, to attract attention, even as the slip flutters to the floor when the package is unwrapped.
What Enclosure Advertising Does
A weak department can be bolstered up, new goods can be introduced, particular methods of buying can be encouraged, an evil can be corrected, customers can be brought into closer personal relations with the store, and everything be made to be more harmonious, more successful and more profitable.
Mailings, Postcards, Enclosures, etc.
2. Many retailers have found that it is very profitable for them to get up a mailing list of people in their community whose trade they want. They mail their circulars and store papers to this list. They also make special announcements on postcards, and send special multigraphed or printed letters. These letters, instead of being talk about themselves, are good advertisements, offering special services, or special goods, or special prices. Such mailings are particularly effective on R. F. D. routes, and in localities where customers are not changing addresses too often. In big cities, however, where from ten to thirty per cent. of a store's customers move every year, it is expensive to keep up a mailing list. If it is not kept up, the waste of postage and advertising makes it almost prohibitive.
In big cities the retailer makes an arrangement with the newsdealer or the man who distributes the papers from house to house to enclose in the Sun-day paper, or in the Morning and Evening papers, his circular or store paper. This also is subject to a good deal of loss, unless the newsdealer or paper carrier is reliable. However, this method of distributing advertising matter has proven so successful that it is widely used.
Bill Boards, Signs, Bulletins, etc.
3. In country districts the fence sign has been used with success. In some towns, progressive retailers, especially those with a chain of stores, have found bill boards effective. Where there are enough stores in the chain, very effective posters, similar to those pasted on the bill boards, can be used for window signs or wagon displays. These posters announce the "specials" for the week. Of course, most stores will try to have a big sign on the front of the store, or a painted sign on the side of the wall which can be seen at a long distance.
The bulletin is sometimes simply written on a blackboard, or on a big sheet of paper hung in the window or around the store. It is strange that every retailer does not take a big sheet of wrapping paper and write down the names of a dozen or more articles and their prices and hang that sign up in some conspicuous place in the store. The goods don't have to be on special sale ; the prices don't have to be cut ; elaborate descriptions don't have to be put down. This bulletin will be the keynote for the day for the clerks. This bulletin, if you have the right relations with your clerks, will be the suggestion to the clerks to call the attention of the customers to the things mentioned on the bulletin.
Furthermore, the customers, many of them, wandering aimlessly about the store waiting for their package, or waiting for some clerk to look after them, will glance at this bulletin and select, unconsciously, some of the things mentioned. It will also be a reminder to some of goods needed.
4. Few people realize the enormous amount spent in street-car advertising—twelve million dollars annually. More than ten billion fares are collected on street cars in the United States annually. One advertising card in each car for one year will cost about $180,000. The rate varies for each card in each car, providing all the cars on each line are used, from forty cents to sixty cents per month per card for a full year; from forty-five cents to sixty-five cents per card per month, if the advertising is only run six months.
When only half the cars on any line are used, an additional charge is made. If only one-quarter of the cards are used, then a still greater price per card per car per month is made.
The important thing for a retailer to remember about street-car advertising is, that he should say something definite—worth saying—in every card. He should not waste his space merely with pretty pictures. He should not let the same card run month after month. Street-car advertising should be educational and argumentative.
Showcards, Window and Store Displays
5. In the chapter entitled "Big Store Methods," you will see it stated that one store in New York spends $80,000 per year in decorating its windows and counters. The modern principle of successful window decoration is to display the actual goods in the most attractive manner.
Many manufacturers spend great sums of money for multi-colored window displays. The most progressive stores will rarely use such window displays. The little stores, or the unprogressive stores fill their windows with these displays, because they do not yet know that a store will sell more of any kind of goods if it will arrange the goods themselves in a window, than it will sell if it displays in the window the cutout, sign, hanger, or transparency which the manufacturer supplies. Probably an effective way in some stores would be to use the advertising matter as a background, with the goods displayed attractively in the foreground.
Sales Plans and Schemes
6. The wide-awake retailer is cudgelling his brains all the time to work up new ideas for special sales. He tries "Anniversary" sales, "Opening Day" sales, "Harvest" sales, "Clean-Sweep" sales, "Stock Reducing" sales, "White Goods" sales, "House-furnishing" sales, "Red-tag" sales, "Hour" sales, "Home Week" sales, "Sample" sales, "Souvenir Day," "Reorganization" sales, "Store Remodelling" sales, "Invitation Day," "One to a Customer" sales, "Free Sample Day," "Pre-inventory" sales, "Introductory" sales, "Telephone" sales, "Friday Bargain Day" sales, and a thousand others.
Trading stamps and premiums of a hundred different kinds are used—some successfully, some unsuccessfully; some successfully by some stores, and others unsuccessfully by some stores. Most things of this kind are successful or unsuccessful according to the way in which they are operated by the dealer. Any retailer who has any initiative or originality, can think up a hundred different little tricks or schemes for attracting attention and drawing trade. They cannot be described here, because a whole book could be filled with such descriptions and it would contain only such as had been done. New things are being thought of and tried out every day in every part of the country.
The tendency, the willingness, the eagerness to get hold of new ideas, is one of the healthiest signs of progression in any retailer. A dealer who does not have this wide-awake desire, ought to sit down with himself and do some hard thinking as to whether he is not getting old, or going down hill, or falling behind, or needing a rest.
7. There is a great deal of advertising done by retailers for charity's sake. It may be a desire to help a church, or a society, or a club, or a friend; on the contrary, it may be a fear of losing the patronage of a church or society, or club, or a friendly customer. Such charity advertising is usually in the form of a program, or paper, or annual, or class book and similar advertising.
There are various ways adopted of turning down solicitors of this kind. In the larger stores the advertising manager can say, "The directors will not allow me to spend money in that kind of advertising." Another common excuse is, "My advertising appropriation is all contracted for." Still another way is to say, "Mr. So and So has full charge of my advertising; take it up with him." For what-ever reason the merchant turns down such solicitors, he should do so in such a way as to keep the solicitor friendly towards his store.
Still Other Kinds
There are, of course, many other ways of advertising, such as painted signs, electric signs, theatre programs and curtains, hotel registers and writing tables, moving picture slides, etc. Then there is also "sample" advertising.
Newspaper advertising is undoubtedly the least expensive and most effective for any store so situated that it can successfully advertise in newspapers. The other stores must work out their advertising along the lines mentioned above.
Cuts Out Haggling
Go to any country where they do not sell their goods by advertising, and what will you find? You will find the travelling man arguing and dickering and haggling with the merchant. You will find the store salesman arguing, and dickering and haggling with the customer.
Time is money. In America the manufacturer advertises so that his own men can make quick sales, and his customer, the retailer, can also make quick sales. The retailer advertises so that his clerks can sell four or five times as many goods per man, or per woman, as they could if he did not advertise. The great problem in this country is to increase the efficiency of the salesman; advertising has been the most successful means of increasing that efficiency. Hence the retailer who successfully advertises, makes his clerks more profitable, and by increasing his output, makes it possible to buy more advantageously. Hence, it cuts down his costs and in-creases his profits.
The merchant who does not get these results from his advertising is not doing his advertising in the right way. He is wasting it. The thing for him to do is to find out how he is wasting it, and then change his methods so as to eliminate the greatest possible amount of that waste or loss.