( Originally Published 1902 )
The spring and summer styles of footwear are now in every shoe store from ocean to ocean, and thousands of retailers are giving huge chunks of thought as to how the shoe advertising can best be done.
Of course, there are varieties of ways, as there are in all lines of business. Some shoe dealers come out once a week with a double half column splurge on shoes, with a dozen or twenty items. Some think the daily presentation of a leader, illustrated with an exact cut of the shoe and with a full descrip tion of its merits and price, is about the proper caper. Some advertise tri-weekly, some bi-weekly, some weekly after this idea, and then come out strong four or five times a year with a good-sized ad covering several lines.
In my experience I have found that the idea of advertising a single drive in shoes is an excellent one. The average shoe store cannot afford to advertise heavily as do bigger stores in other lines; but there is no reason why its advertising cannot be continual and profitable. A daily space in the local paper of about four inches is not an extravagant outlay for some shoe concerns where shoe competition is pretty keen and the town's population fairly good-sized. The ad should be changed constantly—each successive story should tell of a new shoe bargain in an interesting manner, or of an old shoe value dished up in a new form.
In Sunday's ad take, say, men's patent leather shoes of the hand-sewed variety. Get a cut, write a catch-line or two, then sail in on your description of this particular shoe. Display the name of the shoe and its price—let the rest of the body be in Pica or Nonpareil lower case. Have a paragraph at the bottom, about an inch deep, set in Agate, speaking in general about the completeness of your stock, the universal lowness in price, etc.
On Monday come out with another story on another shoe. Let us suppose it is a woman's Dongola patent leather tipped button shoe. Let the same idea on set-up and general arrangement prevail here as in yesterday's ad. Tuesday you can speak of men's bicycle shoes, and so on all through the week, giving your readers fresh ads on fresh subjects daily. If you cannot catch a buyer on Monday's ad, you may with Thursday's attempt. At any rate by a succession of ads on every shoe subject, you are likely in the course of the week to cover almost every shoe desire, and this sort of advertising, if intelligently and persistently followed, with occasional splurges at " clearance sale " times, will bring you in lots of trade.
If you think you cannot afford to come out daily, then come out bi-weekly or tri-weekly—only when you do advertise, do so in a clear-cut and definite manner as outlined above.
I am moved to make these remarks by an examination this afternoon of a dozen small town papers from a dozen points in the Union. There wasn't a good shoe ad in the whole dozen papers. Strange, but true. I remarked so to an Illinois merchant who happened to be in my office.
"Oh, well," he said, " these shoe dealers don't seem to care. They've advertising contracts with their local papers which they must live up to some way or other, and if the spaces are filled with any sort of advertising—as long as it's advertising —that's all that's necessary in their estimation."
He further thought that much of this advertising was sup-posed to be done by the bookkeepers or clerks, who were kept busy enough with other duties, and who naturally did not give the advertising the attention it deserved.
There are sinners in this respect in every branch of the business, and if they fall at the trade wayside, one of the great reasons—if not the greatest—will be the very poor advertising they put forth.
I noted one space in particular, it occupied six inches altogether, and imparted the startling information that Dash, Dash & Co.'s stock of shoes was the best in the town, and their prices were way down. Rather a vague and hazy way of shoe advertising—to put it mildly. To put it more justly, it was an idiotic waste of good space. It sprawled all over six valuable inches and said nothing.
As advertising manager for various concerns, I found the plan of advertising a single shoe value at a time very good. Charles A. Estes, of Denver, was a very intelligent advertiser. In writing his shoe ads I followed the single idea every day
Then on the other hand, such successful shoe concerns as the Massachusetts Shoe Co., of Boston, come out with a broad-side of twenty or thirty items very frequently. It pays them, because they have been doing it for years. And it does not necessarily follow that a daily sale ad on a special shoe value would not pay them also. Alfred J. Cammeyer, of New York, is certainly a good shoe advertiser, and his advertising can well be studied by shoe concerns everywhere.
Mr. Shoe Dealer, here's a paragraph that I suggest you paste in your hat
As long as you have an advertising contract with a paper see that your advertising space is filled with the best sort of advertising.
It's a plain, simple sentence, but it means much to your bank account. It is not the amount of space you use that counts -it is rather what you say, and how you say it. And if you do not feel that you can do your advertising justice, get somebody who can.