Advertising - January Markdown Sale
( Originally Published 1902 )
A thousand or more department stores throughout America make preparations for " The Great January Mark-Down Sale." In many respects this big annual sale is the most important merchandise movement of the year, as it means, when success-fully carried out, the riddance of several months' accumulations of stocks and the clearing of the decks for the incoming spring stocks. It also means a very important addition to the ex-chequer of the firm who can, at the close, look about and see " where it is at
Profits must in a very great measure be lost sight of during this sale. People have been educated to look for genuine bar-gains at this particular sale, and they should not be disappointed in securing values of the strongest order. In fact, " The Great January Mark-Down Sale " means the acme of bargain giving.
Usually the first announcement of the sale is made through the Sunday papers in the shape of a page or more of items and prices under glaring headlines. While this time-honored method is generally effective, I might here suggest a few ideas which experience has taught me can add to the effectiveness of the sale.
Monday is usually the opening day of the sale. Sunday, as a rule, is the day when the story is first told. This is too short a notice. A space of a hundred or a couple of hundred lines should be taken in your local papers on Friday, referring solely to the important event which begins the following Mon-day. Hundreds of families in your territory—shrewd matrons, economically inclined young ladies, and even thrifty husbands and fathers—will thus be given three days in which to plan the best disposal of their week's earnings.
Friday's announcement may run thus :
Set this card boldly and run a border about it. Speaking about borders, a very good rule to follow is : In all announcements in which prices do not appear use borders. Such announcements are not more than two half columns deep, and frequently not more than one hundred lines single column, and to make them stand out on a page wherein a mass of other ads appear, borders are of great assistance. Borders can be used to advantage in all sorts of ads, but especially so with announcements.
Now, in regard to the main ad itself. Take a good size space—do not be squeamish on this point, as this is the most important sale of the year, and it pays to come out good and strong upon this occasion. On general principles it pays a live concern to come out with a page or a couple of pages three or four times a year, as it impresses the public not only with the wealth and vitality of the house, but it also demonstrates the fact that there is a tremendous stock of bargains in which the bargain seeker can mouse and rummage to her heart's content. Bigness and generosity always attract humankind, especially when that humankind is womankind.
Well, let us suppose you take a page ad. Of course the great point is to impress the fact upon your constituency that this is your Great January Mark-Down Sale, which all the ladies have been waiting for so many weeks, and that you are amply prepared to meet their most sanguine expectations. Have plenty of items, prices and illustrations. They are to the heading what the passenger train is to the engine—the engine makes a lot of noise and smoke and swings the train into the station, but the train is full of treasure in the shape of friends and valuables that you come to meet. The heading might start in thus:
Run a small square on each side of the heading. One square may contain the information that
" We have secured for this sale extra salespeople and delivery wagons, so that customers will experience no delay in being waited upon."
The other square might say:
" Mall orders will be carefully and promptly attended to. Out-of-.town customers can participate in this sale as well as their city cousins."
Here's an idea for the department sub-headings
A suitable cut could with much advantage be run in with every introductory talk under the department headings. By so doing the eye could be centered more quickly on the subject in hand and the page be made more symmetrical. Of course a lot of small cuts ought to be run with the items and prices.
In most papers there are seven columns to the page, and the best typographical arrangement of this space is a constant puzzle to the ad constructor. Here's a type arrangement which I have frequently used with satisfaction:
Let the first column (under the heading, which should run across top of page) start off with a story on handkerchiefs or embroideries, or one of the unimportant departments. Let the second and third be made into a double column arrangement of colored and black dress goods, the fourth singly to hosiery, the fifth and sixth double column to the suit and cloak department, and the seventh to rugs and carpets. It is possible by a nice calculation of items, clipping one here and adding another there, with the assistance of the department head, to have the first top series of squares the same depth.
Having secured the uniformity of the first series of squares, start in on the second series, giving the first and second columns to a double column affair on domestics, the third column singly to buttons, the fourth singly to dress trimmings, the fifth singly to veilings, and the last two columns to a double column ad on men's furnishings.
The third series could be made up after the style of the first, the fourth in the style of the second, and the total result, provided you have a good printer, an intelligent type display, a liberal use of cuts and clever arguments, would be an advertisement attractive to the eye and satisfactory in results.
In regard to display type. I have a weakness for De Vinne, Howland, Hammond and Jensen—the first preferred. It is clean-cut, artistic and legible, and every printer should have a supply. For items and prices, small pica answers very well.
" The Great January Mark-Down Sale " can. be kept up for three weeks. A constant hammering away with ads should be kept up all this time, and when the sale is concluded, much room for the display of spring goods and advertising space for the exploiting of the same will be in order.
In connection with this big sale other minor special events, such as The Semi-Annual Sale of Muslin Underwear," "Our Great Linen Sale," and "The Annual Sale of Men's Furnishings," can be well exploited.