What Percentage To Spend On Advertising
( Originally Published 1902 )
Here is an important subject.
The wisest heads in the business world have been scratched and rubbed many and many a time in endeavors to find inspiration upon so intangible a subject.
For it is an intangible subject—bounded by no set rules and with only the track of common sense and the individual requirements of a business to follow.
Retail houses spend from two to ten per cent of their business in advertising. The average expenditure is three per cent.
With a new retail business—a new store or a new department the advertising expenditure is frequently in the vicinity of ten per cent.
In a town where the competition is keen and advertising is vigorous the advertising expenditure is very often found from seven to ten per cent.
Under the direction of an aggressive advertiser you will frequently find that the advertising expenditure for even a well established business ranges from five to seven per cent.
These percentages are high yet considering the influence of advertising and the necessity for it in this age who will call them extravagant business expenditures?
The average expenditure is three per cent.
In an article upon " Advertising the Circus" which appears elsewhere you will isee that the Advertising Manager of that institution spends from thirty-five to forty per cent. of the gross receipts in advertising.
There is advertising with a vengeance! But these people know their business.
The most successful patent medicine and proprietory article advertising men are those who apparently poured their money like water into the advertising trough.
Some may be wasted but most of it comes back.
The advertising appropriation of a big live business is very much like an accordion—open to the widest with the expenditures under some circumstances and closed up tight and hard upon other occasions.
The weather—the seasons—the styles—the moods of the people—geographical conditions—market fluctuations and thou-sands of causes gauge the advertising outlay.
You will find plenty of general advertisers who spend twenty, thirty and forty per cent. of their receipts in advertising.
In order to give a new business a start you must shut your eyes to advertising expenditures and consider only the growth that advertising will surely bring—provided other conditions are equal.
In order to galvanize life into a sleeping business you must apply the electrical current of advertising with a strong stream.
"Economical" advertising is in too many cases money wasted. Advertising is a force that cannot be measured by pints or quarts, ounces or pounds, inches or yards.
But for the average retail business we know that three per cent. is a fair expenditure for advertising.
Advertising a Printing Establishment.
A great many printers send around a huge calendar "to the trade" once a year and "let it go at that. "
A great many printers content themselves with the simple imprint of their names upon all work they do.
A few printers understand and apply the possibilities of advertising beyond the blotter and calendar stage.
Why not do as the retailer—spend two, three or four per cent. of the gross business to advertising in the local newspaper? That is the plan!
Every time the business man picks up his local paper he sees the ad of his fellow townsman and good printer only to conclude that this printer must be an enterprising chap and worthy of patronage.
Apart from the local paper advertising, a system of cards, leaflets and booklets can be operated with advantage. One week the merchant may receive a card in his mail from enter-prising Mr. Printer, next week he may receive a nicely worded printed typewritten letter calling attention to Mr. Printer's work in that line, next week a tasty leaflet may float along—all harping upon good work, good stock, prompt deliveries and moderate prices.
On my desk at this moment is a good piece of advertising from a New York printer in the shape of a leaflet:
Let Us Do Your Printing.
Give us one trial—simply one order, just to show you what we can do and how cheap we can do it—and the chances are that you will STAY WITH US.
Our prices are cheap but not our work. It is work that you would expect to pay much more for, but as we get a lot of it WE SAVE PRICES. When we promise to deliver work at a certain time it is delivered AT THAT TIME. When we promise certain type, certain stock and certain effects OUR PROMISES ARE FULFILLED.
For we are printers that from long and earnest study KNOW OUR BUSINESS.
Some printers send out " type cards'' or "type books," which show the various type styles and sizes carried. This is also a good idea, as it makes an impression as to the resourcefulness of the printer.
There is no advertising so potent as good work, once it is known, but more often than not the knowledge on this subject is not as widely diffused as it should be. Here is where advertising should step in to make known far and wide the merits of good printing.
Almost every printer can so express himself on paper that he can produce fairly good ads. If he cannot he should find somebody inside or outside his establishment who can write snappy business-like ads.
At any rate a printer should give all the advertising in the shape of cards, circulars, etc., the right typographical appearance which, in itself, is most important in making an advertising impression. With such the business man can tell at a glance whether or not the printer shows judgment with artistic sense.