Advertising - The Completion
( Originally Published 1902 )
Merchandise and Audience.-There is a very thin line between knowing too much and knowing too little about the merchandise to be advertised. The right kind of an advertising writer by reason of his viewpoint alone is very valuable to the advertiser.
He sees the goods through the eyes of the public. Seeing the goods thus he speaks the arguments best calculated to influence the public.
The advertiser, saturated with technical information, is liable to make his advertising so full of information that the reader finds it heavy—indigestible,—repellent. The writer who knows too little about the goods will also make his advertising unattractive, for the reader wants information. The point is to give this information in such form that it will win the reader's attention, then hold it until the story is told.
All of which goes to show that the advertising writer is the intermediary between the business man and the public. The public may not be moved for one instant by the arguments that are irresistible to the business man. The business man may scorn to listen to arguments that are influential with the public. The point of view of the man behind the business is usually remote from the viewpoints of the minds outside the business, and the business man by reason of his too intimate knowledge of perhaps his life's work, finds it hard to get away from his atmosphere long enough to step in the atmosphere of others, i. e., to think their thoughts, to see with their eyes and to voice the logic and emotions which they have been accustomed to. It is an invisible harness, but nevertheless it is thrown around every individual, and the inability to lay aside this invisible, yet masterful harness, is undoubtedly one of the greatest barriers to success in life. To lay it aside, even for a short time, requires incessant mental activity, which shows how inexorable is nature's great law—that all must work. To illustrate this point more clearly I will instance a name that stands for a colossal success. J. Pierpont Morgan, according to a recent magazine article, was said to have a " leaping mind.' In other words, he has a mind that leaps beyond the bounds of his office, above the details of his business, and away from the consideration of men and matters in his immediate vicinity; to study out affairs in the Orient, financial fluctuations in Paris or Vienna, shipping operations across the Atlantic, transportation problems in the northwest, or to contemplate art treasures in sunny Italy. Such a mind is Shakesperian in its wide conception of human activities.
Very few minds are. The usual business man is so bound up in his business that he rarely, if ever, enters into the thoughts of others, who care as little for his ideas.
When such a man begins to advertise he will find the advertising writer indispensable. The writer will study the public to be reached, then prepare matter that will influence this public. If it is whiskey to be advertised, something on the style of "Billy Burgunday's Letters" may answer. If it is clothing, the points of fit, fashion, wear and workmanship are to be emphasized. If it is groceries, the purity, nutritive qualities and economy can be touched upon. If it is a patent medicine, the efficacy and promptness of the remedy in producing beneficial results will not be overlooked. If the ad appears in a religious paper, beware of flippancy. If the ad appears in a comic paper, do not forget that the reader picks up that paper for humor. If the ad appears in a "yellow journal," sensational headlines are not out of place If the ad appears in a high-class family paper, a clear cut logical argument is the thing. And so on.
Apart from all these considerations, the advertising man is invaluable to the business man, for the simple reason that one can write and the other cannot. One has a mind trained in writing, trained in creating copy, trained in producing arguments, trained in analyzing audiences, and trained in picking out the salient points to be advertised. The other's mind is not so trained. Which difference may not seem important at first, but time and practice-to say nothing of results-will accentuate this difference to a startling degree.