The Salesman And The Ad
( Originally Published 1902 )
When you hire a salesman you flatter yourself you have a pretty good idea as to his capabilities. You have thoroughly satisfied yourself in your own mind as to whether or not he was a competent and reliable man for the position you had to fill. You have looked into his references, you have talked with the man, you have studied his record, with a view of becoming thoroughly satisfied that he was qualified to impress your patrons and sell them your goods. Perhaps you pride yourself upon your ability to pick out the right sort of man for the right place —do you not?
Has it ever occurred to you that your ad is a salesman—one that should always be sleeplessly energetic, active and loyal to your interests? Have you ever subjected your advertising to a merciless, logical analysis as to its good and bad points? Have you ever tried to divorce yourself from yourself as the author of your ads and stand in the attitude of the everyday newspaper reader?
You know—we all know—how hard it is to do this. We live in a little world of our own, we have in our little circle of friends, who by reason of their being our friends say only the kindest words regarding our advertising attempts. "That heading in your last week's ad was remarkably clever and original," they smilingly say, and they pat you on the back and approve of the advance proof of your next effusion. Man is only human, and you are no exception to this rule. This constant " jollying" puts you in immense conceit with yourself and you " jolly" yourself along with the idea that your advertising is all right.
But does your advertising pay as it should? Sit down some day where you will not be disturbed and ask yourself this question seriously, honestly, coldly.
That is the only end of advertising. It is a cold business proposition. Advertising is for no other purpose than to swing trade your way. It is not to gratify the moment's idle vanity of yourself or your friend who may be lost in ecstacy over a saying more or less clever or a witticism that you may have evolved from your brain.
Let the same thoughts that actuate you in employing sales-men actuate you in preparing advertising. Your salesmen should be well dressed and make a good impression. So should your advertising. It should be well dressed in typographical arrangement, in illustrations, in borders. Your salesmen should be alert for business, and ready with the right word in the right place. He should be gentlemanly and intelligent. He should be logical, sensible and convincing. So should your advertising. The text should be patterned on the lines followed by the successful salesman. It should be logical, sensible and convincing.
The good salesman is adaptable. He can adapt himself to all sorts and conditions of men and women without effacing his personality. So should your advertising. It ought to have individuality to distinguish it from the great mass of advertising, but also ought to be framed to appeal to all sorts and conditions of people.
The good salesman aims to go through his daily duties to the greatest profit of his employer in an intelligent, courteous and sensible manner. He secures the customer's attention and holds it by the qualities above mentioned, while he shows and speaks of the goods. So should the advertising. Its end is to call attention to your offerings and retain this attention until the story is told. This attention is best secured by the most direct and simple language aided by the accessories of type display and illustrations.