Advertising - Pushing Winter Business
( Originally Published 1902 )
Winter a dull season?
Not at all!
The great wheel of winter business can be made to revolve rapidly upon the hub of special sales—the whole attached to the electric dynamo of good advertising.
Keep it whirling—keep it going and you centre upon it public interest and draw to it the public's dollars. First it is one special sale—then another and still another until the first thing we know spring goods with spring announcements and openings come along to claim a hearing.
Throughout January there is the special sale of holiday goods—the special sale previous to stock taking the special sale after stock taking—the special sale of muslin underwear-the special sale of winter underwear—the special sale of men's and boy's shirts-the special markdown sale for January—the special sale of dress goods and silks and special sales enough to keep the entire establishment busy.
Throughout February there are more special sales, every one of which has a good excuse for its existence, as the public the feminine public in particular—know full well that prices are sadly broken on all lines of fall and winter goods, and that manufacturers are willing to turn their stocks into cash at sacrifice prices, for is not spring with spring assortments near at hand?
There are two ways of doing a thing—one is the right way and the other is the wrong way—and while one is carrying on a special sale he might as well do it the right way as not.
I know some merchants and heads of departments who start a special sale in a sort of a-flash-in-the-pan system, that is, they make a fuss, but nothing comes of it, for there was little or no thought given to the general scheme.
A special sale does not consist in simply advertising it—it consists in First, ingetting all the goods advertised. Second, in making judicious displays of these goods on counters and in windows. Third, in being ready to supply goods whenever stocks run short. Fourth, in having plenty of price tickets and display cards. Fifth, in getting the entire force to appreciate the importance of this sale. Sixth, in advertising it properly.
The advertising, above all other details, should be thought out well in advance. There are such details as arranging for certain spaces and write-ups in the local papers, the printing of circulars or circular letters, the securing of cuts, etc., etc., and when all this is thrown upon the advertising man at the last moment, the result is anything but satisfactory.
And the window dresser? He is a very important man around special sale time and he should not be rushed. He ought to be given time to clear out his windows and get dummies, fixtures and whatever his artistic and business-like conceptions of the window displays demand.
He and the advertising man usually work in harmony-in many establishments the advertising manager has control of the window dressing as well as of the advertising and printing.
When the head of the house, the advertising man, the window dresser, the buyers and all concerned get their heads together and work in absolute harmony to make a special sale a success, what is to prevent its being a great success? Echo answers with much reverberation: "what?"
Speed the Parting—Welcome the Coming.
Zero prices on winter goods—clear decks for the incoming spring stocks-such in brief is the March text of the progressive retailer.
In spite of blizzards and impassable streets there is a touch of spring. Back of the white garment of winter we can see the beauty and verdure of the next season and if nothing else the incoming new stocks are evidences enough.
Weeks ago clever buyers in the great markets bought the goods which are now trooping in and the only bother is, the laggards in winter merchandise which stand in the way of the proper disposition of the new arrivals.
Where is the remedy? What will make winter stocks go at this present moment? Is there not some power that will push old goods into the hands of purchasers?
There is a power that never fails—the power of PRICE. Alone it is mighty but backed by Good Advertising it is irresistible. Like an Alpine avalanche sweeping everything before its path the power of PRICE backed by Good Advertising will move stocks mountains high.
The trouble is that many retailers are afraid to use it. They are squeamish on the point of a present small loss, but if they took a broad view of the situation they would find that a small loss now taken is better by far than the inevitable big loss later on that comes from shop-worn goods, disgruntled customers and a damaged reputation.
John Wanamaker, Henry Siegel, Marshall Field, Ebon Jordan-all merchant princes, who rose by sheer force of ability —never hesitated to take the bull by the horns and sweep out slow sellers with prices cut to the core.
Many retailers have recently written me about the heavy stocks such as cloaks and suits for feminine wear and overcoats and winter suits for men. These stocks are hard to move. Cut prices—advertise—cut prices—advertise—cut prices—advertise—keep at it everlastingly. This is the only thing to do. If the season has been anyway decent you have reaped a fair profit from the heavy winter wearables, so you can afford to be satisfied with a less profit to quickly move the balance. Yes! if you are a merchant of nerve and judgment you will be satisfied with no profit at all on some lines, for you have made a profit of what you already sold this winter—you see a fair profit in sight on the spring goods and you add another strong link in the chain that binds customers to your store by giving them values that throw competition completely in the shade.
How to advertise? Advertise forcibly—directly—pointedly —like a man telling something that should be. heard by every man, woman and child within reaching distance. Use cuts to illustrate your story but remember that the telling is the great point. Display, position and tricks of type are minor considerations compared with what you say.
As to space? Well, that is a matter of individual judgment. Generally speaking, I would advise liberal spaces at present, as you have something exceptional in the bargain line to talk about. There are no cut and dried rules about using advertising space. About all the advice on this subject can be said in the following paragraph:
Use space according to your offerings and weather condiditions. The best copy is the latest of the best store news. When you have something to say, say it; when you have nothing to say, do not use up space in saying it.
If there is only a weekly in your town do not hesitate to supplement the newspaper advertising with good circulars or poster advertising. Circular advertising in country towns is by no means the poor advertising it is in cities, and good mercantile poster advertising is yet a novelty in many localities.
Window displays and interior exhibits are vital features! Use plenty of price cards and from the front door to the back yard try and give an air of intense earnestness on your part to say a quick good-bye to the slow moving winter merchandise.