Advertising A New Store
( Originally Published 1902 )
This talk, I fancy, will appeal not only to those who contemplate opening a new store, but to others who have just completed improvements-added a new wing or given their store a new front or something like that—to which they wish to give prominence through publicity's column.
First impressions are valuable impressions. The man about to open a new store ought to keep that fact uppermost in his brain. If he makes a good first impression and then lives up to that good first impression in the matter of qualities, varieties, prices and advertising, he does all that can be reason-ably expected, and if there is any possibility of winning success he will surely win it.
In this I will only speak of the advertising end. For the past two months I have been doing the advertising for a clothing concern which opened six weeks ago down in the Old Bay State. The opening was a great success, despite a stormy night of opening, and the concern, judging by the letters sent me by the principal, seems to be swimming along all right in the sea of success. The points to be considered, is the method employed.
I prepared three initial ads which simply spoke of the opening on a certain date. It was a factory town and the clothing and other retail stores of that place drew their chief support from the working people. So I did not hesitate to infuse considerable ginger into the announcements—more than I would were I writing the opening advertising for a Boston or New York store. (You must study your people, you know.)
There were two quarter-page ads and one half-page ad previous to the announcement. They all spoke of what the new store's methods were to be and gave a little thought to the goods and prices. (After the store is opened then it is time enough to quote on items and prices.)
The papers were fairly liberal in the matter of reading notices.
Souvenirs were to be given out on the opening night. Of course, no goods were to be sold—everybody was invited to call, criticise and look about to his or her heart's content, and take away a souvenir.
Despite the rainy, unpleasant evening of the opening, a great crowd was in attendance and the opening was pronounced a decided success.
The three ads above spoken of, the reading notices, the souvenirs and the novelty of the new store did the business as far as the opening was concerned.
Of course, the papers on the day following the opening had very flattering notices regarding the attendance, the store appointments, the affability of the clerks and the many varieties of goods, which were plainly tagged with very little prices.
All that sort of thing counted up.
Then the ads started in on items and prices—not too heavy at first—but just enough to whet the public desire for values in a new clothing store. Half-page and quarter-page ads were used every second or third day, and with each successive ad the range of items and prices were enlarged. The other stores began to sneer and poke fun at the newcomer. The principal of the new concern wanted to talk back "real sassy" to the old timers, but I advised him to ignore them—to advertise his good values with good ads as though his was the only store in town. Which is the only plan to pursue. It never pays to indulge in personalities that only advertise your competitors and does not add to your dignity and standing. The other fellows shut up after a while, because they noticed their criticisms had no effect upon the new man. He has now settled down to a quarter-page space about three times a week, and each ad speaks of some particular line, such as boys' clothing, men's summer suits, men's furnishings, etc. It is poor policy for the average clothing store to jumble up several lines in an ad—better to have one good ad on one good sale in one department and do it right before you take up another sale.
To the man about to open a new store I would say:—Make all your advertising arrangements several weeks in advance of your opening. Do not wait till the last minute, as many do. Get the best rates from your local papers, study their circulations, be unmoved by personal representations from anyone on this, but go about it just as cold and business-like as though you were buying a lot of overcoats. Get the best newspaper space at the lowest price and have it understood in the contract that you are entitled to a certain number of lines of reading matter.
Have a single column good line cut of your store made. Have electros for each paper. Lay in your stock of cuts before-hand and have your ads well prepared in advance. Try and have the newspaper "boys" around your store on the opening night and give them particular courtesy. They will appreciate a typewritten " story" of the affair, and even if they will not use exactly the "story" thus prepared, they will get the points they want from it to dish up in their own language. Save them the bother of taking notes.
Have a cut made of the concern's name. A good catch phrase, if stuck to, is all right. In your opening ad dilate more upon your accessibility and modern methods, rather than upon your prices. Items and prices will follow in due time after the opening.
If you put in a new show front or add a new wing to your store, you are entitled to raise a disturbance about it in your local advertising columns. You ought to be able to get a picture of your improved establishment and quite a bit of reading matter about your enterprise and success. If your local paper does not enthuse about the cut and the reading notice—and it is surprising how cold and distant some become on such occasions—tell its publisher you will have a nice single column cut of your new establishment made by a city cut concern and you will be satisfied if he run the cut with a few sticks of reading matter, and he surely would not object to that. A new cut of one of the town's establishments is nearly always welcomed by the local publisher, as it shows the growth of the town—something in which he naturally takes pride.
You could use that cut in your ads, circulars, stationery and other advertising matter afterwards. You could get up a sale on the strength of your new improvements. The increased room gives you further opportunity to display goods and consequently you have laid in a new stock, etc., etc.
There are some concerns which, if they were putting in a dumb waiter would raise a hullabaloo about a "Great Rebuilding Sale," but I know that none of the readers of this would be guilty of anything so foolish. Eh?