Prices In Retail Advertising
( Originally Published 1902 )
It is wonderful what a loud noise a dollar makes these days.
Even the humble dime makes itself heard in no uncertain tones.
Cash speaks with a tone so eloquent that when it speaks all other orators take a back seat.
In all retail advertising it is very necessary to give prices. They speak right to the pocketbook, and whatever speaks to that adjunct of any member of the great human family will get a hearing.
When you give a price in your retail ad you give its most vital element.
And the price should be supplemented with a clear and concise detail about the article thus priced.
Most retailers understand this—yet many do not. This afternoon, while glancing over several copies of daily and weekly out-of-town publications, I was struck with the fact that quite a few retailers were satisfied with mere talk in their ads—they forgot the necessity of prices.
A good, bright talk is all right—it is a very necessary feature of the ad, but talk alone, without the prices to back it, is much like faith without good works. We can safely divide the aforesaid great human family into two divisions:
Let us analyze them a bit in their relation to ads. Man, as a rule, is a logical being. When he wishes to invest in any article he wants to know its price. That's a very important item with him. You may arouse in him a desire for your offerings; after this desire is aroused in him the next consideration with him is price. If the price is not in your ad, how is he to learn about this price?
By going to your store?
Yes, but that entails some little effort, and the chances are that he does not think that effort necessary. There may be other ads in the paper on similar goods which quote prices which seem satisfactory to him. These printed prices answer his questions—he has the information desired and the concern that prints prices makes the sale. You surely should not put your readers to any trouble whatever in giving them information about your goods. Do business " on the lines of the least resistance.''
If you are advertising a pair of patent leathers—a straw hat —a smoking outfit or anything else that appeals to a man, give him the details of your article in the easiest and quickest manner possible and never, never forget to give the price every time.
Now let us discuss woman and her relation to advertising.
She buys the greater percentage of household supplies—all her personal needs—the personal needs of the younger members of the family and in a great many instances no little portion of her liege lord and master's individual needs.
Now she has a certain amount of money daily or weekly-as the case may be—which amount as a rule is carefully portioned out as to where it will do the most execution. The ad helps her in this. Daily and weekly she scans with an eager eye the ads of various concerns to learn about the most recent happenings in dress-goods, silks, household supplies and what not. With a very material eye she looks for prices in every instance. They strike right home to her pocket-book. In most instances prices represent the first, last and greatest consideration. When no prices are given she is quite at sea and turns for relief to the ads that give facts and figures.
With prices she can make mental or notebook memorandum as to how far her dollars and dimes can travel—which memorandum is a great satisfaction in itself. Woman on a shopping expedition becomes a practical individual and the more practical she becomes the more she demands goods and prices.
A score or more years ago very few stores gave printed prices either in store placards or advertisement in any form. This gave an opportunity to practice a sliding scale of prices, to charge whatever figure they thought the customer could stand. A. T. Stewart and John Wanamaker were pioneers in the matter of making one price—and that undeviated from-toall customers. Then this one fair price idea became accentuated by store price cards and newspaper ads calling attention to these fair prices until now almost every retail house advertises prices.
It looks more business-like in a retail ad to give the price. The presence of the figures in type is the next best thing to the actual clink of the money itself. It is a type argument that stands out impregnable against all counter argument. When you see a price in print your mind is set at rest on the point of cost. The great question, " How much? " is answered to your complete satisfaction.
When you do not find the price in print you lay aside the paper with a feeling of dissatisfaction, unless you are so rich or careless that price is no object with you. But in these times, when price is a greater object than it ever was before, almost everybody looks out for the cost of things. And if John Smith & Co. do not give any items and prices in their otherwise clever ad you are very likely to swing your trade in the direction of John Jones & Co., who answer all your very natural questions about the quality, variety and prices of their offering in a manner complete, easy and satisfactory.
A retail ad without prices is like a tale half told. No drummer can sell goods without dilating upon his easy terms no huckster thinks of selling bananas from his cart unless he shouts the price hard and loud.
Giving prices is the most vital element in selling. Do not think that a general review of your stocks in a bright ad is sufficient without goods and prices, for it is not. Always be specific with one or more articles—give full descriptions of them-and again I repeat, never fail to give the prices.