( Originally Published 1902 )
When a man invents something useful or ornamental or both which he wishes to place in hundreds of thousands of homes he gives first consideration, of course, to its advertising.
When a wholesaler desires to push certain lines of goods before the public eye he spends considerable of his and his friends' time in considering the best method of doing the same.
Let us suppose you are the manufacturer of say a pen. You want to impress upon the mind of every man, woman and child who pushes a pen the superiority of yours to all other makes of pens.
First and foremost get right down to natural laws. One of nature's laws is that very few people can think of more than one idea at a time. Some people can think of several things at once, but this class is not numerous.
One good idea about your pen is enough to give them at one time. You can give them several ideas at one gulp. Maybe they will study over your ad long enough to digest all the various good features of your pen at one sitting, but nowadays, when so much advertising is brought before the public, the one idea plan is the best.
Spend a lot of time analyzing the good points of your pen. Get your associates to express themselves freely about your pen. Remember their observations. If they drop a good point about your pen make a mental memorandum of it. Advertising is a keen analysis of the good points of the article you advertise with the presentation of these good points in the right language, right dress of type and right mediums.
Well I you discover that your pen does not corrode as other pens.
That's a good point.
No writer likes a pen that corrodes easily—he prefers the other sort.
Make up a short two-inch, four-inch, or whatever space ad you have decided to use, and let that ad speak of the fact that your pen does not corrode. You may add a short footnote at the bottom which says your pen possesses all the other pen virtues.
Then you discover your pen is strong and durable.
That's as a point.
Writers abhor the weak, scratchy, thin pen that occasionally comes in their way and drives printers to drink and lunatic asylums. A poor pen can spoil the best thought ever conceived. Give another ad that will harp upon the strength and wear of your pens. Bring out this point in easy, natural language, and, if you want to, give a small paragraph, as before, speaking of the many other excellencies of your pen. But the main part of the ad-yes, nine-tenths of it should speak of its ability to stand good service.
It writes easily—smoothly.
That's a good point.
There is not a bookkeeper or a writer in the land who does not appreciate the pen that glides pleasantly and smoothly along the paper in obedience to his thoughts.
When you have prepared a half dozen good ads exhausting the half dozen good points of your pen, prepare another half dozen bringing out the same ideas in different language. Keep pounding away on this style and my word on it you will reap more benefit from your advertising than if you started in to give all the good points of your pen in one ad.
One good idea easily digested in the brain of the reader is worth a dozen ideas imperfectly understood.
That is demonstrated in everyday life. A man who attempts to speak to you of a half dozen subjects in the same breath would be set down as a lunatic. The salesman who utters one good idea perfectly expressed and then lets his other ideas follow in easy sequence is the successfal salesman—not the fellow who fires point blank at you several partially expressed convictions regarding his goods.
The age of saying that your pen, penholder, overcoat, leather seat, or whatever it may be, is the best because it is the best, is passing away. Simple reiteration of a statement cannot begin to approach in advertising force the power of logic. Simply saying a thing is best does not m4lke it so in the minds of your readers. Such an assertion does not stand analysis. If the reader is a prospective customer he would like a little more meaty information as to why your article is the best. He naturally analyzes the merits of your goods and if you give him no information to analyze he is at sea.
From my advertising experience, were I the manufacturer of a carriage, bicycle, bicycle seat, hat, glove or any specialty that I wished to popularize, I would first of all analyze my articles' good qualities, then present these good qualities in an easy, chatty way, with one good point at a time, and that good point well put—then let the other good points follow in due course.
Of course, with a good-sized ad several good features could be given, because when you take a good-sized space the presumption is you have a lot to say and you have room enough to speak of several good features.
But for the average ad one good idea at a time properly presented-to be followed next issue by another good idea properly put—will in the course of time make a clear, effective impression on your customer, so that when he stops to consider about your specialty, he will have a recollection of several very pointed details cleverly put which somehow or other sticks in his memory.