Advertising - Mid Winter Advertising
( Originally Published 1902 )
January and February are months when the advertising pen is kept moving in double-quick order. The desire on the part of the department managers to clean out accumulated stocks is accentuated by the head of the house, and the advertising manager finds it necessary to keep his mental machinery moving at a lively gait, in order to devise all sorts of sales to move merchandise.
Immediately after the holidays comes the " Clearing-Out Sale of Holiday Remnants," which usually lasts one week. This is frequently followed by a " Before Stock-Taking Sale." After these sales are disposed of comes " The Great January Mark-Down Sale," which is supposed by the outside world—by the feminine portion, at least—to represent the climax of bargain-giving. During this sale the cold, calculating matron, who, as the late Bill Nye once put it, "comes down-town on a street car, mentally figuring how she can chisel some dry-goods emporium out of $I.97 worth of dress goods," generally carries out her pet ideas on the chiselling question. During " The Great January Mark-Down Sale" the bargain-seeker can rummage to her heart's content in the big department store, knowing full well that a yard of wool serges with mohair figures can be secured for 49c. that ordinarily costs 99C.; that a serviceable jacket can be bought for $7.77 that usually would require $14.08, and other interesting and attractive data.
"The Great January Mark-Down Sale" can be stretched along for three weeks. With it-in a sort of double or triple harness, as it were—can be run " The Annual Linen Sale" and "The Semi-Annual Muslin Underwear Sale," and some houses make a big lot of noise about this time on " The Big Sale of Men's Furnishings."
All of the above sales fill out the month of January, and if they are well pushed and rightly written up there is no reason why they cannot make January a fairly lively month in business.
February, of course, should not be devoid of " Great Sales." It's a pity that the word "great" is abused so much in the retail world. Same way with "bargain." Yet both are good words—so good, so expressive, so excellent—that the brightest advertising writers have not been able to displace them with better words. And, in all probability, for ages to come will the word "great " stare you from the headlines of nearly every retail ad, and the word " bargain " appear a score of times in the arguments of the same.
February—to return to the point left a moment ago should have its "Great Sales," and the greatest of all February sales is "The Great Mid-Winter Sale." This sale can be made, by skillful advertising work, to last three or four weeks. As it begins to wane, talk—and very interesting talk, too—could be introduced about incoming spring stocks and minor special sales in the store. In fact all the advertising stories of the retail concern for the year's first two months could be made mighty interesting to the feminine readers of the daily press. Of course, we all know that men read ads, but the great audience is women.
Some people speak harshly of "Great Sales " and " Special Sales." They say such sales are fakes—that they are not what they seem, that they are merely names given to the regular order of business for a week or two, and—well, they say a whole lot of things neither charitable nor complimentary about these sales. While such criticism may be partly right in some instances, yet it is an undeniable fact that the great majority of department stores issue rigid orders to their various buyers to have the "bargains " correspond with the ads—to make honest attempts to bring prices down to the lowest points possible during certain sales—and where this harmony exists between the buyers and the advertising department increased business is the result.
In the newspaper world it is necessary to have a fresh lot of interesting news sensational headlines, daily. Without such, newspapers would soon pall. Just so with the advertising of a dry-goods house. It's news—it's live, readable, money-saving news that the concern daily puts before its constituents. And that concern is pleasing the public and doing itself a service when it dishes this news in the most readable and attractive form daily. When the news of the store's doings is daily spread before the public gaze under the title of " Great January Sales," " Great Mid-Winter Sales," " The Annual Linen Sale," or whatever name it may be, and the same clearly presented with the twin attractions of typographical beauty and brilliant text—as well as the goods and prices to back the printed talk—it stands to reason that such special sales are an advantage.
They stimulate trade, they provoke discussions among the store's patrons, they increase the flow of shekels to the firm's exchequer. With the great department stores of Gotham, the Quaker City, the Hub and the Woolly West you will always see special sales of all sorts being indulged in, and although some concerns overdo it, yet the majority proceed on a systematic, clear-headed basis by having "A Great" some kind of sale on tap and so keeping the ball of business rolling.