Dog Day Clothing Advertising
( Originally Published 1902 )
Special sales during dog-day weather should be particularly studied. For trade languishes under warm weather influence, and the best antidote for summer business debility is strong doses of special sales and special ads.
A glance over the advertising columns of almost any daily publication shows clothing, and furnishing goods advertising of an order liable to extreme criticism. The principal criticism is this: Why do retailers insist upon advertising the staple articles of wear—such as regular suits, boys' clothing, white shirts, soft hats, etc., when there is but little demand for them-when the demand for clothing is in the direction of such summer needs as light-weight coats and vests, crash suits, straw hats, outing shirts, etc.? Why not give up the whole or part of the ad to such needs?
The other day the writer noticed the ad of a New York clothier, which was almost altogether given to regular summer suits. A short paragraph at the bottom spoke of straw hats. A visit to the store showed every department deserted except the ones given to the easy, comfortable things for summer wear, such as straw hats, Oxford shoes, negligee shirts, crash suits, etc.
This is harvest-time for such goods. The dealer need not expect to do much in suits of worsted, cheviot, clays or mixtures at present. They are likely to lie on his counters until the cool weather of waning summer suggests their use. But the manager should give a whole lot of attention towards the pushing of light-weight clothing—he should give the bulk of advertising space to a right representation of these goods.
Summer advertising should be crisp, animated and vigorous. The text should be cleverly written—not too heavy, but rather light and summery—each sentence suggestive of summer comfort in wearing togs. Cuts are great helpers to the ads; they should also be cleverly drawn, and apply with strong suggestiveness to the use of the garment advertised.
Get up one day a special sale of straw hats. Keep your straw hat ad running for a week or so with change of copy every day. Don't forget to change your copy daily, and inject life, crispness and point into every ad you pen. Change your cuts frequently. The great charm of advertising is its variety -when the bloom of freshness wears off it becomes like the antiquated summer girl, "slightly passe."
After your straw hat excitement, get up a furor on crash suits and light coats and vests. Handle this as you did your straw hat affair. Give some consideration to your outing shirts, lawn ties, low-cut shoes, light-weight hosiery and underwear. Get up a special sale on each of these. It would not be a half bad idea to come out strong with a half-page ad on all the above goods, and give the entire ad a summer flavor. This, can be done by a suitable general heading and a suitable cut to accompany same.
Before you write an ad give a few minutes' hard consideration to your subject. Don't sit down and pen the first thing that comes uppermost in your brain. Advertising is nothing more nor less than an intelligent exposition of your store news and demands just as much hard, sensible thought as you would apply to the purchase of a lot of suits or worsteds.
Lots of merchants "just jot down" an ad because they fancy that they have not the time to give the ad the consideration it deserves. This is a very grievous error—one that switches many good dollars from the pockets of store proprietors. When you are preparing advertising, prepare it right. Advertising is to-day to business what fuel is to a boiler—it keeps the steam up and the wheels working.
As to Summer Schemes.—I have seen the worth of a ten per cent, distribution, and in point of a great success never saw anything like it. This, in brief, is how it was worked:
With every sale of clothing and furnishings a ticket good for ten per cent. of the sale was given the purchaser. This ticket was good for its face value in any department. Thus: If a ten dollar suit was sold a ticket good for one dollar was given, which ticket could get a dollar's worth of groceries, a dollar's worth of dress goods, a dollar's worth of small wares or a dollar's worth of anything in the store.
In a boys' clothing department a Mid-Summer excitement can be created by giving with each suit a ticket entitling the bearer to a photograph of himself in his new suit, by giving him tickets to the circus or summer opera, balance- of-season ticket to the baseball grounds, or an excursion ticket to a nearby summer resort. These matters can be arranged easier than is generally supposed, and when put in vigorous operation are surprising successes.
Years ago, while looking in J. B. Barnaby's clothing window in Boston, I saw where a beautiful Columbia bicycle would be given the boy buying a suit of clothes; who would guess nearest the exact number of seeds in a big pumpkin. I needed a new suit that July about as much as a dog needs two tails, but I was suffering for that bicycle. So I joined the immense crowds of boys who were buying suits. That pumpkin idea, which is closely related to the corn-cob plan and seed- in-the-jar idea, can still be worked where the lottery law is not too strongly enforced.
Band concerts from the balcony are given by some enter-prising clothiers and furnishers during the summer season. Saturday night is the most favorable night for a store that caters to the masses, as on that evening Tom, Dick and Harry gets paid off, to be naturally attracted to the store from whence the music wells.
The value of cooling breezes, whether operated by an electric fan or by the simple process of opening the front and back doors, with a few windows, cannot be over-estimated. A judicious use of the sprinkling pot and a few palm-leaf fans within easy reach help to cool the store and incidentally the customer. Give people the idea your store is cool, and you give them a splendid summer advertising argument. In every ad should appear some reference to the cool, comfortable store, as well as the cool, comfortable wearables to be had within.
Among the out-of-the-ordinary methods of advertising that some advanced advertisers do in summer may be mentioned:
(1) Giving away huge umbrellas (with ads on same) to drivers of truck teams, etc.
(2) Giving away Japanese fans (with ads on both sides) to everybody who calls for them.
But, after all, the real advertising is the newspaper advertising. Just now it is graceful, yet forcible with the worth of its story—light and easy, yet pointed and convincing—a reflex of the hot summer season, yet telling its tale of bargains in a straightforward and convincing manner.