AOH :: !SCIENTI.TXT|
By Claude Hopkins
How Advertising Laws Are Established
The time has come when advertising has in some hands reached
the status of a science. It is based on fixed principles and is
reasonably exact. The causes and effects have been analyzed
until they are well understood. The correct method of procedure
have been proved and established. We know what is most
effective, and we act on basic law.
Advertising, once a gamble, has thus become, under able
direction, one of the safest business ventures. Certainly no
other enterprise with comparable possibilities need involve so
Therefore, this book deals, not with theories and opinions, but
with well-proved principles and facts. It is written as a text
book for students and a safe guide for advertisers. Every
statement has been weighed. The book is confined to establish
fundamentals. If we enter any realms of uncertainty we shall
carefully denote them.
The present status of advertising is due to many reasons. Much
national advertising has long been handled by large
organizations known as advertising agencies. Some of these
agencies, in their hundreds of campaigns, have tested and
compared the thousands of plans and ideas. The results have been
watched and recorded, so no lessons have been lost.
Such agencies employ a high grade of talent. None but able and
experienced men can meet the requirements in national
advertising. Working in co-operation, learning from each other
and from each new undertaking, some of these men develop into
Individuals may come and go, but they leave their records and
ideas behind them. These become a part of the organization's
equipment, and a guide to all who follow. Thus, in the course of
decades, such agencies become storehouses of advertising
experiences, proved principles, and methods.
The larger agencies also come into intimate contact with experts
in every department of business. Their clients are usually
dominating concerns. So they see the results of countless
methods and polices. They become a clearing house for every
thing pertaining to merchandising. Nearly every selling question
which arises in business is accurately answered by many
Under these conditions, where they long exist, advertising and
merchandising become exact sciences. Every course is charted.
The compass of accurate knowledge directs the shortest, safest,
cheapest course to any destination.
We learn the principles and prove them by repeated tests. This
is done through keyed advertising, by traced returns, largely by
the use of coupons. We compare one way with many others,
backward and forward, and record the results. When one method
invariably proves best, that method becomes a fixed principle.
Mail order advertising is traced down to the fraction of a
penny. The cost per reply and cost per dollar of sale show up
with utter exactness.
One ad is compared with another, one method with another.
Headlines, settings, sizes, arguments and pictures are compared.
To reduce the cost of results even one per cent means much in
some mail order advertising. So no guesswork is permitted. One
must know what is best. Thus mail order advertising first
established many of our basic laws.
In lines where direct returns are impossible we compare one town
with another. Scores of methods may be compared in this way,
measured by cost of sales.
But the most common way is by use of the coupon. We offer a
sample, a book, a free package, or something to induce direct
replies. Thus we learn the amount of action which each ad
But those figures are not final. One ad may bring too many
worthless replies, another replies that are valuable. So our
final conclusions are always based on cost per customer or cost
per dollar of sale.
These coupon plans are dealt with further in the chapter on
"Test Campaigns." Here we explain only how we employ them to
discover advertising principles.
In a large ad agency coupon returns are watched and recorded on
hundreds of different lines. In a single line they are sometimes
recorded on thousands of separate ads. Thus we test everything
pertaining to advertising. We answer nearly every possible
question by multitudinous traced returns.
Some things we learn in this way apply only to particular lines.
But even those supply basic principles for analogous
Others apply to all lines. They become fundamentals for
advertising in general. They are universally applied. No wise
advertiser will ever depart from those unvarying laws.
We propose in this book to deal with those fundamentals, those
universal principles. To teach only established techniques.
There is that technique in advertising, as in all art, science
and mechanics. And it is, as in all lines, a basic essential.
The lack of those fundamentals has been the main trouble with
advertising of the past. Each worker was a law unto himself. All
previous knowledge, all progress in the line, was a closed book
to him. It was like a man trying to build a modern locomotive
without first ascertaining what others had done. It was like a
Columbus starting out to find an undiscovered land.
Men were guided by whims and fancies - vagrant, changing
breezes. They rarely arrived at their port. When they did, quite
by accident, it was by a long roundabout course.
Each early mariner in this sea mapped his own separate course.
There were no charts to guide him. Not a lighthouse marked a
harbor, not a buoy showed a reef. The wrecks were unrecorded, so
countless ventures came to grief on the same rocks and shoals.
Advertising was a gamble, a speculation of the rashest sort. One
man's guess on the proper course was as likely to be as good as
another's. There were no safe pilots, because few sailed the
same course twice.
The condition has been corrected. Now the only uncertainties
pertain to people and to products, not to methods. It is hard to
measure human idiosyncrasies, the preferences and prejudices,
the likes and dislikes that exist. We cannot say that an article
will be popular, but we know how to sell it in the most
Ventures may fail, but the failures are not disasters. Losses,
when they occur, are but trifling. And the causes are factors
which has nothing to do with the advertising.
Advertising has flourished under these new conditions. It has
multiplied in volume, in prestige and respect. The perils have
increased many fold. Just because the gamble has become a
science, the speculation a very conservative business.
These facts should be recognized by all. This is no proper field
for sophistry or theory, or for any other will-o'-the-wisp. The
blind leading the blind is ridiculous. It is pitiful in a field
with such vast possibilities. Success is a rarity, a maximum
success an impossibility, unless one is guided by laws as
immutable as the law of gravitation.
So our main purpose here is to set down those laws, and to tell
you how to prove them for yourself. After them come a myriad of
variations. No two advertising campaigns are ever conducted on
lines that are identical. Individuality is an essential.
Imitation is a reproach. But those variable things which depend
on ingenuity have no place in a text book on advertising. This
is for groundwork only.
Our hope is to foster advertising through a better
understanding. To place it on a business basis. To have it
recognized as among the safest, surest ventures which lead to
Thousand of conspicuous successes show its possibilities. Their
variety points out its almost unlimited scope. Yet thousands who
need it, who can never attain their deserts without it, still
look upon its accomplishments as somewhat accidental.
That was so, but it is not so now. We hope that this book will
throw some new lights on the subject.
To properly understand advertising or to learn even its
rudiments one must start with the right conception. Advertising
is salesmanship. Its principles are the principles of
salesmanship. Successes and failures in both lines are due to
like causes. Thus every advertising question should be answered
by the salesman's standards.
Let us emphasize that point. The only purpose of advertising is
to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its
It is not for general effect. It is not to keep your name before
the people. It is not primarily to aid your other salesmen.
Treat it as a salesman. Force it to justify itself. Compare it
with other salesmen. Figure its cost and result. Accept no
excuses which good salesmen do not make. Then you will not go
The difference is only in degree. Advertising is multiplied
salesmanship. It may appeal to thousands while the salesman
talks to one. It involves a corresponding cost. Some people
spend $10 per word on an average advertisement. Therefore every
ad should be a super-salesman.
A salesman's mistake may cost little. An advertisers mistake may
cost a thousand times that much. Be more cautious, more
A mediocre salesman may affect a small part of your trade.
Mediocre advertising affects all of your trade.
Many think of advertising as ad-writing. Literary qualifications
have no more to do with it than oratory has with salesmanship.
One must be able to express himself briefly, clearly and
convincingly, just as a salesman must. But fine writing is a
distinct disadvantage. So is unique literary style. They take
attention from the subject. They reveal the hook. Any studies
done that attempt to sell, if apparent, creates corresponding
That is so in personal salesmanship as in salesmanship-in-print.
Fine talkers are rarely good salesmen. They inspire buyers with
the fear of over-influence. They create the suspicion that an
effort is made to sell them on other lines than merit.
Successful salesmen are rarely good speech makers. They have few
oratorical graces. They are plain and sincere men who know their
customers and know their lines. So it is in ad writing.
Many of the ablest men in advertising are graduate salesmen. The
best we know have been house-to-house canvassers. They may know
little of grammar, nothing of rhetoric, but they know how to use
words that convince.
There is one simple way to answer many advertising questions.
Ask yourself, "Would it help a salesman sell the goods?" "Would
it help me sell them if I met a buyer in person?"
A fair answer to those questions avoids countless mistakes. But
when one tries to show off, or does things merely to please
himself, he is little likely to strike a chord which leads
people to spend money.
Some argue for slogans, some like clever conceits. Would you use
them in personal salesmanship? Can you imagine a customer whom
such things would impress? If not, don't rely on them for
selling in print.
Some say "Be very brief. People will read for little." Would you
say that to a salesman? With a prospect standing before him,
would you confine him to any certain number of words? That would
be an unthinkable handicap.
So in advertising. The only readers we get are people whom our
subject interests. No one reads ads for amusements, long or
short. Consider them as prospects standing before you, seeking
for information. Give them enough to get action.
Some advocate large type and big headlines. Yet they do not
admire salesmen who talk in loud voices. People read all they
care to read in 8-point type. Our magazines and newspapers are
printed in that type. Folks are accustomed to it. Anything
louder is like loud conversation. It gains no attention
worthwhile. It may not be offensive, but it is useless and
wasteful. It multiplies the cost of your story. And to many it
seems loud and blatant.
Others look for something queer and unusual. They want ads
distinctive in style or illustration. Would you want that in a
salesman? Do not men who act and dress in normal ways make a far
Some insist on dressy ads. That is all right to a certain
degree, but is quite important. Some poorly-dressed men, prove
to be excellent salesmen. Over dress in either is a fault.
So with countless questions. Measure them by salesmen's
standards, not by amusement standards. Ads are not written to
entertain. When they do, those entertainment seekers are little
likely to be the people whom you want.
That is one of the greatest advertising faults. Ad writers
abandon their parts. They forget they are salesmen and try to be
performers. Instead of sales, they seek applause.
When you plan or prepare an advertisement, keep before you a
typical buyer. Your subject, your headline has gained his or her
attention. Then in everything be guided by what you would do if
you met the buyer face-to-face. If you are a normal man and a
good salesman you will then do your level best.
Don't think of people in the mass. That gives you a blurred
view. Think of a typical individual, man or woman, who is likely
to want what you sell. Don't try to be amusing. Money spending
is a serious matter. Don't boast, for all people resent it.
Don't try to show off. Do just what you think a good salesman
should do with a half-sold person before him.
Some advertising men go out in person and sell to people before
they plan to write an ad. One of the ablest of them has spent
weeks on one article, selling from house to house. In this way
they learn the reactions from different forms of argument and
approach. They learn what possible buyers want and the factors
which don't appeal. It is quite customary to interview hundreds
of possible customers.
Others send out questionnaires to learn the attitude of the
buyers. In some way all must learn how to strike responsive
chords. Guesswork is very expensive.
The maker of an advertised article knows the manufacturing side
and probably the dealer's side. But this very knowledge often
leads him astray in respect to customers. His interests are not
in their interests.
The advertising man studies the consumer. He tries to place
himself in the position of the buyer. His success largely
depends on doing that to the exclusion of everything else.
This book will contain no more important chapter than this one
on salesmanship. The reason for most of the non-successes in
advertising is trying to sell people what they do not want. But
next to that comes lack of true salesmanship.
Ads are planned and written with some utterly wrong conception.
They are written to please the seller. The interest of the buyer
are forgotten. One can never sell goods profitably, in person or
in print, when that attitude exists.
Remember the people you address are selfish, as we all are. They
care nothing about your interests or profit. They seek service
for themselves. Ignoring this fact is a common mistake and a
costly mistake in advertising. Ads say in effect, "Buy my brand.
Give me the trade you give to others. Let me have the money."
That is not a popular appeal.
The best ads ask no one to buy. That is useless. Often they do
not quote a price. They do not say that dealers handle the
The ads are based entirely on service. They offer wanted
information. They site advantages to users. Perhaps they offer a
sample, or to buy the first package, or to send something on
approval, so the customer may prove the claims without any cost
Some of these ads seem altruistic. But they are based on the
knowledge of human nature. The writers know how people are led
Here again is salesmanship. The good salesman does not merely
cry a name. He doesn't say, "Buy my article." He pictures the
customer's side of his service until the natural result is to
A brush maker has some 2,000 canvassers who sells brushes from
house to house. He is enormously successful in a line which
would seem very difficult. And it would be for his men if they
asked the housewives to buy.
But they don't. They go to the door and say, "I was sent here to
give you a brush. I have samples here and I want you to take
The housewife is all smiles and attention. In picking out one
brush she sees several she wants. She is also anxious to
reciprocate the gift. So the salesman gets an order.
Another concern sells coffee, etc., by wagons in some 500
cities. The man drops in with a half-pound of coffee and says,
"Accept this package and try it. I'll come back in a few days to
ask how you liked it."
Even when he comes back he doesn't ask for an order. He explains
that he wants the women to have a fine kitchen utensil. It isn't
free, but if she likes the coffee he will credit five cents on
each pound she buys until she has paid for the article. Always
The maker of the electric sewing machine motor found advertising
difficult. So, on good advice, he ceased soliciting a purchase.
He offered to send to any home, through any dealer, a motor for
one week's use. With it would come a man to show how to operate
it. "Let us help you for a week without cost or obligation,"
said the ad. Such an offer was resistless, and about nine in ten
of the trials led to sales.
So in many, many lines. Cigar makers send out boxes to anyone
and say, "Smoke ten, then keep them or return them, as you
Makers of books, typewriters, washing machines, kitchen
cabinets, vacuum sweepers, etc., send out their products without
any prepayment. They say, "Use them a week, then do as you
wish." Practically all merchandise sold by mail is sent subject
These are all common principles of salesmanship. The most
ignorant peddler applies them. Yet the salesman-in-print very
often forgets them. He talks about his interest. He blazons a
name, as though that was of importance. His phrase is, "Drive
people to the stores," and that is his attitude in everything he
People can be coaxed but not driven. Whatever they do they do to
please themselves. Many fewer mistakes would be made in
advertising if these facts were never forgotten.
Mail Order Advertising - What It Teaches
The severest test of an advertising man is in selling goods by
mail. But that is a school from which he must graduate before he
can hope for success. There cost and result are immediately
apparent. False theories melt away like snowflakes in the sun.
The advertising is profitable or it is not, clearly on the face
of returns. Figures which do not lie tell one at once the merits
of an ad.
This puts men on their mettle. All guesswork is eliminated.
Every mistake is conspicuous. One quickly loses his conceit by
learning how often his judgement errs - often nine times in ten.
There one learns that advertising must be done on a scientific
basis to have any fair chance of success. And he learns that
every wasted dollar adds to the cost of results.
Here is a tough efficiency and economy under a master who can't
be fooled. Then, and only then, is he apt to apply the same
principles and keys to all advertising.
A man was selling a five-dollar article. The replies from his ad
cost him 85 cents. Another man submitted an ad which he thought
better. The replies cost $14.20 each. Another man submitted an
ad which for two years brought replies at an average of 41 cents
Consider the difference on 250,000 replies per year. Think how
valuable was the man who cut the cost in two. Think what it
would have meant to continue that $14.20 ad without any key on
Yet there are thousands of advertisers who do just that. They
spend large sums on a guess. And they are doing what that man
did - paying for sales from 2 to 35 times what they need cost.
A study of mail order advertising reveals many things worth
learning. It is a prime subject for study. In the first place,
if continued, you know what pays. It is therefore good
advertising as applied to that line.
The probability is that the ad has resulted from many traced
comparisons. It is therefore the best advertising, not
theoretical. It will not deceive you. The lessons it teaches are
principles which wise men apply to all advertising.
Mail order advertising is always set in small type. It is
usually set in smaller type than ordinary print. That economy of
space is universal. So it proves conclusively that larger type
does not pay.
Remember that when you double your space by doubling the size of
your type. The ad may still be profitable. But traced returns
have proved that you paying a double price for sales.
In mail order advertising there is no waste space. Every line is
utilized. Borders are rarely used. Remember that when you are
tempted to leave valuable space unoccupied.
In mail order advertising there is no palaver. There is no
boasting, save of super-service. There is no useless talk. There
is no attempt at entertainment. There is nothing to amuse.
Mail order advertising usually contains a coupon. That is there
to cut out as a reminder of something the reader has decided to
Mail order advertisers know that readers forget. They are
reading a magazine of interest. They may be absorbed in a story.
A large percentage of people who read an ad and decide to act
will forget that decision in five minutes. The mail order
advertisers that waste by tests, and he does not propose to
accept it. So he inserts that reminder to be cut out, and it
turns when the reader is ready to act.
In mail order advertising the pictures are always to the point.
They are salesmen in themselves. They earn space they occupy.
The size is gauged by their importance. The picture of a dress
one is trying to sell may occupy much space. Less important
things get smaller spaces.
Pictures in ordinary advertising may teach little. They probably
result in whims. But pictures in mail order advertising may form
half the cost of selling. And you may be sure that everything
about them has been decided by many comparative tests.
Before you use useless pictures, merely to decorate or interest,
look over some mail order ads. Mark what their verdict is.
A man advertised an incubator to be sold by mail. Type ads with
right headlines brought excellent returns. But he conceived the
idea that a striking picture would increase those returns. So he
increased his space 50 percent to add a row of chickens in
It did make a striking ad, but his cost per reply was increased
by exactly that 50 percent. The new ad, costing one-half more
for every insertion, brought not one added sale.
The man learned that incubator buyers were practical people.
They were looking for attractive offers, not for pictures.
Think of the countless untraced campaigns where a whim of that
kind costs half the advertising money without a penny in return.
And it may go on year after year.
Mail order advertising tells a complete story if the purpose is
to make an immediate sale. You see no limitations there are on
amount of copy.
The motto there is, "The more you tell the more you sell." And
it has never failed to prove out so in any test we know.
Sometimes the advertiser uses small ads, sometimes large ads.
None are to small to tell a reasonable story. But an ad twice
larger brings twice the returns. A four times larger ad brings
four times the returns, and usually some in addition.
But this occurs only when the larger space is utilized as well
as the small space. Set half-page copy in a page space and you
double the cost in returns. We have seen many a test prove that.
Look at an ad of the Mead Cycle Company - a typical mail order
ad. These have been running for many years. The ads are
unchanging. Mr. Mead told the writer that not for $10,000 would
he change a single word in his ads.
For many years he compared one ad with the other. And the ads
you see today are the final results of all those experiments.
Note the picture he uses, the headlines, the economy of space,
the small type. Those ads are as near perfect for their purpose
as an ad can be.
So with any other mail order ad which has long continued. Every
feature, every word and picture teaches advertising at its best.
You may not like them. You may say they are unattractive,
crowded, hard to read - anything you will. But the test of
results has proved those ads the best salesman those lines have
yet discovered. And they certainly pay.
Mail order advertising is the court of least resort. You may get
the same instruction, if you will, by keying other ads. But mail
order ads are models. They are selling goods profitably in a
difficult way. It is far harder to get mail order than to send
buyers to the stores. It is hard to sell goods which can't be
seen. Ads which do that are excellent examples of what
advertising should be.
We cannot often follow all the principle of mail order
advertising, though we know we should. The advertiser forces a
compromise. Perhaps pride in our ads has an influence. But every
departure from those principles adds to our selling cost.
Therefore it is always a question of what we are willing to pay
for our frivolities.
We can at least know what we pay. We can make keyed comparisons,
one ad with another. Whenever we do we invariably find that the
nearer we get to proved mail order copy the more customers we
get for our money.
This is another important chapter. Think it over. What real
difference is there between inducing a customer to order by mail
or order from his dealer? Why should the methods of salesmanship
They should not. When they do, it is for one of two reasons.
Either the advertiser does not know what the mail order
advertiser knows. He is advertising blindly. Or he deliberately
sacrifices a percentage of his returns to gratify some desire.
There is some apology for that, just as there is for fine
offices and buildings. Most of us can afford to do something for
pride and opinion. But let us know what we are doing. Let us
know the cost of our pride. Then, if our advertising fails to
bring us the wanted returns, let us go back to our model - a
good mail order ad - and eliminate some of our waste.
The difference between advertising and personal salesmanship
lies largely in personal contact. The salesman is there to
demand attention. He cannot be ignored. The advertisement can be
But the salesman wastes much of his time on prospects whom he
can never hope to interest. He cannot pick them out. The
advertisement is read only by interested people who, by their
own volition, study what we have to say.
The purpose of a headline is to pick out people you can
interest. You wish to talk to someone in a crowd. So the first
thing you say is, "Hey there, Bill Jones" to get the right
So it is in an advertisement. What you have will interest
certain people only, and for certain reasons. You care only for
those people. Then create a headline which will hail those
Perhaps a blind headline or some clever conceit will attract
many times as many. But they may consist of mostly impossible
subjects for what you have to offer. And the people you are
after may never realize that the ad refers to something they may
Headlines on ads are like headlines on news items. Nobody reads
a whole newspaper. One is interested in financial news, one in
political, one in society, one in cookery, one in sports, etc.
There are whole pages in any newspaper which we may never scan
at all. Yet other people might turn directly to those pages.
We pick out what we wish to read by headlines, and we don't want
those headlines misleading. The writing of headlines is one of
the greatest journalistic arts. They either conceal or reveal an
Suppose a newspaper article stated that a certain woman was the
most beautiful in the city. That article would be of intense
interest to that woman and her friends. But neither she nor her
friends would ever read it if the headline was "Egyptian
So in advertising. It is commonly said that people do not read
advertisements. That is silly, of course. We who spend millions
in advertising and watch the returns marvel at the readers we
get. Again and again we see 20 percent of all the readers of a
newspaper cut out a certain coupon.
But people do not read ads for amusement. They don't read ads
which, at a glance, seem to offer nothing interesting. A
double-page ad on women's dresses will not gain a glance from a
man. Nor will a shaving cream ad from a woman.
Always bear these facts in mind. People are hurried. The average
person worth cultivating has too much to read. They skip
three-fourths of the reading matter which they pay to get. They
are not going to read your business talk unless you make it
worth their while and let the headline show it.
People will not be bored in print. They may listen politely at a
dinner table to boasts and personalities, life history, etc. But
in print they choose their own companions, their own subjects.
They want to be amused or benefited. They want economy, beauty,
labor savings, good things to eat and wear. There may be
products which interest them more than anything else in the
magazine. But they will never know it unless the headline or
picture tells them.
The writer of this chapter spends far more time on headlines
than on writing. He often spends hours on a single headline.
Often scores of headlines are discarded before the right one is
selected. For the entire return from an ad depends on attracting
the right sort of readers. The best of salesmanship has no
chance whatever unless we get a hearing.
The vast difference in headlines is shown by keyed returns which
this book advocates. The identical ad run with various headlines
differs tremendously in its returns. It is not uncommon for a
change in headlines to multiply returns from five or ten times
So we compare headlines until we know what sort of appeal pays
best. That differs in every line, of course.
The writer has before him keyed returns on nearly two thousand
headlines used on a single product. The story in these ads are
nearly identical. But the returns vary enormously, due to the
headlines. So with every keyed return in our record appears the
headlines that we used.
Thus we learn what type of headline has the most widespread
appeal. The product has many uses. It fosters beauty. It
prevents disease. It aides daintiness and cleanliness. We learn
to exactness which quality most of our readers seek.
This does not mean we neglect the others. One sort of appeal may
bring half the returns of another, yet be important enough to be
profitable. We overlook no field that pays. But we know what
proportion of our ads should, in the headline, attract any
For this same reason we employ a vast variety of ads. If we are
using twenty magazines we may use twenty separate ads. This
because circulations overlap, and because a considerable
percentage of people are attracted by each of several forms of
approach. We wish to reach them all.
On a soap, for instance, the headline "Keep Clean" might attract
a very small percentage. It is to commonplace. So might the
headline, "No animal fat." People may not care much about that.
The headline, "It floats" might prove interesting. But a
headline referring to beauty or complexion might attract many
times as many.
An automobile ad might refer in the headline to a good universal
joint. It might fall flat, because so few buyers think of
universal joints. The same ad with a headline, "The Sportiest of
Sport Bodies," might out pull the other fifty to one.
This is enough to suggest the importance of headlines. Anyone
who keys ads will be amazed at the difference. The appeals we
like best will rarely prove best, because we do not know enough
people to average up their desires. So we learn on each line by
But back of all lie fixed principles. You are presenting an ad
to millions. Among them is a percentage, small or large, whom
you hope to interest. Go after that percentage and try to strike
the chord that responds. If you are advertising corsets, men and
children don't interest you. If you are advertising cigars, you
have no use for non-smokers. Razors won't attract women, rouge
will not interest men.
Don't think that those millions will read your ads to find out
if your product interests. They will decide at a glance - by
your headline or your pictures. Address the people you seek, and
The competent advertising man must understand psychology. The
more he knows about it the better. He must learn that certain
effects lead to certain reactions, and use that knowledge to
increase results and avoid mistakes.
Human nature is perpetual. In most respects it is the same today
as in the time of Caesar. So the principles of psychology are
fixed and enduring. You will never need to unlearn what you
learn about them.
We learn, for instance, that curiosity is one of the strongest
human incentives. We employ it whenever we can. Puffed Wheat and
Puffed Rice were made successful largely through curiosity.
"Grains puffed to 8 times the normal size." "Foods shot from
guns." "125 million steam explosions caused in every kernel."
These foods were failures before that factor was discovered.
We learn that cheapness is not a strong appeal. Americans are
extravagant. They want bargains but not cheapness. They want to
feel that they can afford to eat and have and wear the best.
Treat them as if they could not and they resent your attitude.
We learn that people judge largely by price. They are not
experts. In the British National Gallery is a painting which is
announced in a catalog to have cost $750,000. Most people at
first pass it by at a glance. Then later they get farther on in
the catalog and learn what the painting cost. They return then
and surround it.
A department store advertised at one Easter time a $1,000 hat,
and the floor could not hold the women who came to see it.
We often employ this factor in psychology. Perhaps we are
advertising a valuable formula. To merely say that would not be
impressive. So we state - as a fact - that we paid $100,000 for
that formula. That statement when tried has won a wealth of
Many articles are sold under guarantee - so commonly sold that
guarantees have ceased to be impressive. But one concern made a
fortune by offering a dealer's signed warrant. The dealer to
whom one paid his money agreed in writing to pay it back if
asked. Instead of a far-away stranger, a neighbor gave the
warrant. The results have led many to try that plan, and it has
always proved effective.
Many have advertised, "Try it for a week. If you don't like it
we'll return your money." Then someone conceived the idea of
sending goods without any money down, and saying, "Pay in a week
if you like them." That proved many times more impressive.
One great advertising man stated the difference this way: "Two
men came to me, each offering me a horse. Both made equal
claims. They were good horses, kind and gentle. A child could
drive them. One man said, "Try the horse for a week. If my
claims are not true, come back for your money." The other man
also said, "Try the horse for a week." But he added, "Come and
pay me then." I naturally bought the second man's horse."
Now countless things - cigars, typewriters, washing machines,
books, etc - are sent out in this way on approval. And we find
that people are honest. The losses are very small.
An advertiser offered a set of books to business men. The
advertising was unprofitable, so he consulted another expert.
The ads were impressive. The offer seemed attractive, "But,"
said the second man, "let us add one little touch which I have
found effective. Let us offer to put the buyer's name in gilt
lettering on each book." That was done, and with scarcely
another change in the ads they sold some hundreds of thousands
Through some peculiar kink in human psychology it was found that
names in gilt gave much added value to the books.
Many send out small gifts, like memorandum books, to customers
and prospects. They get very small results. One man sent out a
letter to the effect that he had a leather-covered book with a
man's name on it. It was waiting on him and would be sent on
request. The form of request was enclosed, and it also asked for
certain information. That information indicated lines on which a
man might be sold.
Nearly all men, it was found, filled out that request and
supplied the information. When a man knows that something
belongs to them - something with his name on - he will make an
effort to get it, even though the thing is a trifle.
In the same way it is found that an offer limited to a certain
class of people is far more effective than a general offer. For
instance, an offer limited to veterans of the war. Or to members
of a lodge or sect. Or to executives. Those who are entitled to
any seeming advantage will go a long way not to lose that
An advertiser suffered much from substitution. He said, "Look
out for substitutes," "Be sure you get this brand," etc., with
no effect. Those were selfish appeals.
Then he said, "Try our rivals' too" - said it in his headlines.
He invited comparisons and showed that he did not feat them.
That corrected the situation. Buyers were careful to get the
brand so conspicuously superior that its maker could court a
trial of the rest.
Two advertisers offered food products nearly identical. Both
offered a full-size package as an introduction. But one gave his
package free. The other bought the package. A coupon was good at
any store for a package, for which the maker paid retail price.
The first advertiser failed and the second succeeded. The first
even lost a large part of the trade he had. He cheapened his
product by giving a 15-cent package away. It is hard to pay for
an article which has once been free. It is like paying railroad
fare after traveling on a pass.
The other gained added respect for his article by paying retail
price to let the user try it. An article good enough for the
maker to buy is good enough for the user to buy. It is vastly
different to pay 15 cents to let you try an article than to
simply say "It's free."
So with sampling. Hand an unwanted product to a housewife and
she pays it slight respect. She is no mood to see its virtues.
But get her to ask for a sample after reading your story, and
she is in a very different position. She knows your claims. She
is interested in them, else she would not act. And she expects
to find the qualities you told.
There is a great deal in mental impression. Submit five articles
exactly alike and five people may choose one of them. But point
out in one some qualities to notice and everyone will find them.
The five people then will all choose the same article.
If people can be made sick or well by mental impressions, they
can be made to favor a certain brand in that way. And that, on
some lines, is the only way to win them.
Two concerns, side by side, sold women's clothing on
installments. The appeal, of course, was to poor girls who
desire to dress better. One treated them like poor girls and
made the bare business offer.
The other put a woman in charge - a motherly, dignified, capable
woman. They did business in her name. They used her picture. She
signed all ads and letters. She wrote to these girls like a
friend. She knew herself what it meant to a girl not to be able
to dress her best. She had long sought a chance to supply women
good clothes and give them all season to pay. Now she was able
to do so, with the aid of men behind her.
There was no comparison in those two appeals. It was not long
before this woman's long established next door rival had to
The backers of this business sold house furnishings on
installments. Sending out catalogs promiscuously did not pay.
Offering long-time credit often seems like a reflection.
But when a married woman bought garments from Mrs. _, and paid
as agreed, they wrote to her something like this: "Mrs. _, whom
we know, tells us that you are one of her good customers. She
has dealt with you, she says, and you do just as you agree. So
we have opened with you a credit account on our books, good any
time you wish. When you want anything in furnishings, just order
it. Pay nothing in advance. We are very glad to send it without
any investigation to a person recommended as you are."
That was flattering. Naturally those people, when they wanted
some furniture, would order from that house.
There are endless phases to psychology. Some people know them by
instinct. Many of them are taught by experience. But we learn
most of them from others. When we see one winning method we note
it down for use when occasion offers.
These things are very important. An identical offer made in a
different way may bring multiplied returns. Somewhere in the
mines of business experience we must find the best method
Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding
like water from a duck. They leave no impression whatever. To
say, "Best in the world," "Lowest price in existence," etc. are
at best simply claiming the expected. But superlatives of that
sort are usually damaging. They suggest looseness of expression,
a tendency to exaggerate, a careless truth. They lead readers to
discount all the statements that you make.
People recognize a certain license in selling talk as they do
poetry. A man may say, "Supreme in quality" without seeming a
liar, though one may know that the other brands are equally as
good. One expects a salesman to put his best foot forward and
excuses some exaggeration born of enthusiasm. But just for that
reason general statements count for little. And a man inclined
to superlatives must expect that his every statement will be
taken with some caution.
But a man who makes a specific claim is either telling the truth
or a lie. People do not expect an advertiser to lie. They know
that he can't lie in the best mediums. The growing respect in
advertising has largely come through a growing regard for its
So a definite statement is usually accepted. Actual figures are
not generally discounted. Specific facts, when stated, have
their full weight and effect.
This is very important to consider in written or personal
salesmanship. The weight of an argument may often be multiplied
by making it specific. Say that a tungsten lamp gives more light
than a carbon and you leave some doubt. Say it gives three and
one-third times the light and people realize that you have made
tests and comparisons.
A dealer may say, "Our prices have been reduced" without
creating any marked impression. But when he says "Our prices
have been reduced 25 percent" he gets the full value of his
A mail order advertiser sold women's clothing to people of the
poorer classes. For years he used the slogan, "Lowest prices in
America." His rivals all copied that. Then he guaranteed to
undersell any other dealer. His rivals did likewise. Soon those
claims became common to every advertiser in his line, and they
Then under able advice, he changed his statement to "Our net
profit is 3 percent." That was a definite statement and it
proved very impressive. With their volume of business it was
evident that their prices must be minimum. No one could be
expected to do business on less than 3 percent. The next year
their business made a sensational increase.
At one time in the automobile business there was a general
impression that profits were excessive. One well-advised
advertiser came out with this statement, "Our profit is 9
percent." Then he cited actual costs on the hidden costs of a
$1,500 car. They amounted to $735, without including anything
one could easily see. This advertiser made a great success along
those lines at that time.
Shaving soaps have long been advertised "Abundant lather," "Does
not dry on the face," "Acts quickly," etc. One advertiser had as
good a chance as the other to impress those claims.
Then a new maker came into the field. It was a tremendously
difficult field, for every customer had to taken from someone
else. He stated specific facts. He said, "Softens the beard in
one minute." "Maintains its creamy fullness for tens minutes on
the face." "The final result of testing and comparing 130
formulas." Perhaps never in advertising has there been a quicker
and greater success in an equally difficult field.
Makers of safety razors have long advertised quick shaves. One
maker advertised a 78-second shave. That was definite. It
indicated actual tests. That man at once made a sensational
advance in his sales.
In the old days all beers were advertised as "Pure." The claim
made no impression. The bigger the type used, the bigger the
folly. After millions had been spent to impress a platitude, one
brewer pictured a plate glass where beer was cooled in filtered
air. He pictured a filter of white wood pulp through which every
drop was cleared. He told how bottles were washed four times by
machinery. How he went down 4,000 feet for pure water. How 1,018
experiments had been made to attain years to give beer that
matchless flavor. And how all the yeast was forever made from
that adopted mother cell.
All claims were such as any brewer might have made. They were
mere essentials in ordinary brewing. But he was the first to
tell the people about them, while others cried merely "pure
beer." He made the greatest success that was ever made in beer
"Used the world over" is a very elastic claim. Then one
advertiser said, "Used by the peoples of 52 nations," and many
One statement may take as much room as another, yet a definite
statement may be many times as effective. The difference is
vast. If a claim is worth making, make it in the most impressive
All these effects must be studied. Salesmanship-in-print is very
expensive. A salesman's loose talk matters little. But when you
are talking to millions at enormous cost, the weight of your
claims is important.
No generality has any weight whatever. It is like saying "How do
you do?" When you have no intention of inquiring about one's
health. But specific claims when made in print are taken at
Tell Your Full Story
Whatever claim you use to gain attention, the advertisement
should tell a story reasonably complete. If you watch returns,
you will find that certain claims appeal far more than others.
But in usual lines a number of claims appeal to a large
percentage. Then present those claims in every ad for their
effect on that percentage.
Some advertisers, for sake of brevity, present one claim at a
time. Or they write a serial ad, continued in another issue.
There is no greater folly. Those serials almost never connect.
When you once get a person's attention, then is the time to
accomplish all you can ever hope with him. Bring all your good
arguments to bear. Cover every phase of your subject. One fact
appeals to some, one to another. Omit any one and a certain
percentage will lose the fact which might convince.
People are not apt to read successive advertisements on any
single line. No more than you read a news item twice, or a
story. In one reading of an advertisement one decides for or
against a proposition. And that operates against a second
reading. So present to the reader, when once you get him, every
important claim you have.
The best advertisers do that. They learn their appealing claims
by tests - by comparing results from various headlines.
Gradually they accumulate a list of claims important enough to
use. All those claims appear in every ad thereafter.
The advertisements seem monotonous to the men who read them all.
A complete story is always the same. But one must consider that
the average reader is only once a reader, probably. And what you
fail to tell him in that ad is something he may never know.
Some advertisers go so far as to never change their ads. Single
mail order ads often run year after year without diminishing
returns. So with some general ads. They are perfected ads,
embodying in the best way known all that one has to say.
Advertisers do not expect a second reading. Their constant
returns come from getting new readers.
In every ad consider only new customers. People using your
product are not going to read your ads. They have already read
and decided. You might advertise month after month to present
users that the product they use is poison, and they would never
know it. So never waste one line of your space to say something
to present users, unless you can say it in your headlines. Bear
in mind always that you can address an unconverted prospect.
Any reader of your ad is interested, else he would not be a
reader. You are dealing with someone willing to listen. Then do
your level best. That reader, if you lose him now, may never
again be a reader.
You are like a salesman in a busy man's office. He may have
tried again and again to get entree. He may never be admitted
again. This is his one chance to get action, and he must employ
it to the full.
This brings up the question of brevity. The most common
expression you hear about advertising is that people will not
read much. Yet a vast amount of the best paying advertising
shows that people do read much. Then they write for a book,
perhaps - for added information.
There is a fixed rule on this subject of brevity. One sentence
may tell a complete story on a line like chewing gum. It may on
an article like Cream of Wheat. But, whether long or short, an
advertising story should be reasonably complete.
A certain man desired a personal car. He cared little about the
price. He wanted a car to take pride in, else he felt he would
never drive it. But, being a good business man, he wanted value
for his money.
His inclination was towards a Rolls-Royce. He also considered a
Pierce-Arrow, a Locomobile and others. But these famous cars
offered no information. Their advertisements were very short.
Evidently the makers considered it undignified to argue
The Marmon, on the contrary, told a complete story. He read
columns and books about it. So he bought a Marmon, and was never
sorry. But he afterwards learned facts about another car at
nearly three times the price which would have sold him the car
had he known them.
What folly it is to cry a name in a line like that, plus a few
brief generalities. A car may be a lifetime investment. It
involves an important expenditure. A man interested enough to
buy a car will read a volume about it if the volume is
So with everything. You may be simply trying to change a woman
from one breakfast food to another, one tooth paste, or one
soap. She is wedded to what she is using. Perhaps she has used
it for years.
You have a hard proposition. If you do not believe it, go to her
in person and try to make the change. Not to merely buy a first
package to please you, but to adopt your brand. A man who once
does that at a woman's door won't argue for brief
advertisements. He will never again say, "A sentence will do,"
or a name claim or a boast.
Nor will the man who traces his results. Note that brief ads are
never keyed. Note that every traced ad tells a complete story,
though it takes columns to tell.
Never be guided in any way by ads which are untraced. Never do
anything because some uninformed advertiser considers that
something right. Never be led in new paths by the blind. Apply
to your advertising ordinary common sense. Take the opinion of
nobody, whom know nothing about his returns.
Art In Advertising
Pictures in advertising are very expensive. Not in cost of good
art work alone, but in the cost of space. From one-third to
one-half of an advertising campaign is often staked on the power
of the pictures.
Anything expensive must be effective, else it involves much
waste. So art in advertising is a study of paramount importance.
Pictures should not be used merely because they are interesting.
Or to attract attention. Or to decorate an ad. We have covered
these points elsewhere. Ads are not written to interest, please
or amuse. You are not writing to please the hoi-polloi. You are
writing on a serious subject - the subject of money spending.
And you address a restricted minority.
Use pictures only to attract those who may profit you. Use them
only when they form a better selling argument than the same
amount of space set in type.
Mail order advertisers, as we have said, have pictures down to a
science. Some use large pictures, some small, some omit pictures
entirely. A noticeable fact is that none of them uses expensive
art work. Be sure that all these things are done for reasons
made apparent by results.
Any other advertiser should apply the same principles. Or, if
none exist to apply to his line, he should work out his own by
tests. It is certainly unwise to spend large sums on a dubious
Pictures in many lines form a major factor. Omitting the lines
where the article itself should be pictured. In some lines, like
Arrow Collars and most in clothing advertising, pictures have
proved most convincing. Not only in picturing the collar or the
clothes, but in picturing men whom others envy, in surroundings
which others covet. The pictures subtly suggest that these
articles of apparel will aid men to those desired positions.
So with correspondence schools. Theirs is traced advertising.
Picturing men in high positions of taking upward steps forms a
very convincing argument.
So with beauty articles. Picturing beautiful women, admired and
attractive, is a supreme inducement. But there is a great
advantage in including a fascinated man. Women desire beauty
largely because of men. Then show them using their beauty, as
women do use it, to gain maximum effect.
Advertising pictures should not be eccentric. Don't treat your
subject lightly. Don't lessen respect for your self or your
article by any attempt at frivolity. People do not patronize a
clown. There are two things about which men should not joke. One
is business, one is home.
An eccentric picture may do you serious damage. One may gain
attention by wearing a fool's cap. But he would ruin his selling
Then a picture which is eccentric or unique takes attention from
your subject. You cannot afford to do that. Your main appeal
lies in headline. Over-shadow that and you kill it. Don't, to
gain general and useless attention, sacrifice the attention that
Don't be like a salesman who wears conspicuous clothes. The
small percentage he appeals to are not usually good buyers. The
great majority of the sane and thrifty heartily despise him. Be
normal in everything you do when you are seeking confidence and
Generalities cannot be applied to art. There are seeming
exceptions to most statements. Each line must be studied by
But the picture must help sell the goods. It should help more
than anything else could do in like space, else use that
Many pictures tell a story better than type can do. In
advertising of Puffed Grains the picture of the grains were
found to be most effective. They awake curiosity. No figure
drawing in that case compare in results with these grains.
Other pictures form a total loss. We have cited cases of that
kind. The only way to know, as is with most other questions, is
by compared results.
There are disputed questions in art work which we will cite
without expressing opinions. They seem to be answered both ways,
according to the line which is advertised.
Does it pay better to use fine art work or ordinary? Some
advertisers pay up to $2,000 per drawing. They figure that the
space is expensive. The art cost is small in comparison. So they
consider the best worth its cost.
Others argue that few people have art education. They bring out
their ideas, and bring them out well, at a fraction of the cost.
Mail order advertisers are generally in this class.
The question is one of small moment. Certainly good art pays as
well as mediocre. And the cost of preparing ads is very small
compared with the cost of insertion.
Should every ad have a new picture? Or may a picture be
repeated? Both viewpoints have many supporters. The probability
is that repetition is an economy. We are after new customers
always. It is not probably that they remember a picture we have
used before. If they do, repetition does not detract.
Do color pictures pay better than black and white? Not
generally, according to the evidence we have gathered to date.
Yet there are exceptions. Certain food dishes look far better in
colors. Tests on lines like oranges, desserts, etc. show that
color pays. Color comes close to placing the products in actual
But color used to amuse or to gain attention is like anything
else that we use for that purpose. It may attract many times as
many people, yet not secure a hearing from as many whom we want.
The general rule applies. Do nothing to merely interest, amuse,
or attract. That is not your province. Do only that which wins
the people you are after in the cheapest possible way.
But these are minor questions. They are mere economies, not
largely affecting the results of a campaign.
Some things you do may cut all your results in two. Other things
can be done which multiply those results. Minor costs are
insignificant when compared with basic principles. One man may
do business in a shed, another in a palace. That is immaterial.
The great question is, one's power to get the maximum results.
Things Too Costly
Many things are possible in advertising which are too costly to
attempt. That is another reason why every project and method
should be weighed and determined by a known scale of cost and
Changing people's habits is very expensive. A project which
involves that must be seriously considered. To sell shaving soap
to the peasants of Russia one would first need to change their
beard wearing habits. The cost would be excessive. Yet countless
advertisers try to do things almost as impossible. Just because
questions are not ably considered, and results are traced but
For instance, the advertiser of a dentifrice may spend much
space and money to educate people to brush their teeth. Tests
which we know of have indicated that the cost of such converts
may run from $20 to $25 each. Not only because of the
difficulty, but because much of the advertising goes to people
Such a cost, of course, is unthinkable. One might not in a
lifetime get it back in sales. The maker who learned these facts
by tests make no attempt to educate people to the tooth brush
habit. What cannot be done on a large scale profitably can not
be done on a small scale. So not one line in any ad is devoted
to this object. This maker, who is constantly guided in
everything by keying every ad, has made remarkable success.
Another dentifrice maker spends much money to make converts to
the tooth brush. The object is commendable, but altruistic. The
new business he creates is shared by his rivals. He is wondering
why his sales increase is in no way commensurate with his
An advertiser at one time spent much money to educate people to
the use of oatmeal. The results were too small to discover. All
people know of oatmeal. As a food for children it has age-old
fame. Doctors have advised it for many generations. People who
don't serve oatmeal are therefore difficult to start. Perhaps
their objections are insurmountable. Anyway, the cost proved to
be beyond all possible return.
There are many advertisers who know facts like these and concede
them. They would not think of devoting a whole campaign to any
such impossible object. Yet they devote a share of their space
to that object. That is only the same folly on a smaller scale.
It is not good business.
No one orange grower or raisin grower could attempt to increase
the consumption of those fruits. The cost might be a thousand
times his share of the returns. But thousands of growers
combined have done it on those and many other lines. There lies
one of the great possibilities of advertising development. The
general consumption of scores of foods can be profitably
increased. But it must be done on wide co-operation.
No advertiser could afford to educate people on vitamins or
germicides. Such things are done by authorities, through
countless columns of unpaid-for space. But great successes have
been made by going to people already educated and satisfying
their created wants.
It is a very shrewd thing to watch the development of a popular
trend, the creation of new desires. Then at the right time offer
to satisfy those desires. That was done on yeasts, for instance,
and on numerous antiseptics. It can every year be done on new
things which some popular fashion or widespread influence is
brought into vogue. But it is a very different thing to create
that fashion, taste or influence for all in your field to share.
There are some things we know of which might possibly be sold to
half the homes in the country. A Dakin-fluid germicide, for
instance. But the consumption would be very small. A small
bottle might last for years. Customers might cost $1.50 each.
And the revenue per customer might not in ten years repay the
cost of getting. Mail order sales on single articles, however
popular, rarely cost less that $42.50 each. It is reasonable to
suppose that sales made through dealers on like articles will
cost approximately as much. Those facts must be considered on
any one-sale article. Possibly one user will win others. But
traced returns as in mail order advertising would prohibit much
advertising which is now being done.
Costly mistakes are made by blindly following some ill-conceived
idea. An article, for instance, may have many uses, one of which
is to prevent disease. Prevention is not a popular subject,
however much it should be. People will do much to cure trouble,
but people in general will do little to prevent it. This has
been proved my many disappointments.
One may spend much money in arguing prevention when the same
money spent on another claim would bring many times the sales. A
heading which asserts one claim may bring ten times the results
of a heading which asserted another. An advertiser may go far
astray unless he finds out.
A tooth paste may tend to prevent decay. It may also beautify
teeth. Tests will probably find that the latter appeal is many
times as strong as the former. The most successful tooth paste
advertiser never features tooth troubles in his headlines. Tests
have proved them unappealing. Other advertisers in this line
center on those troubles. That is often because results are not
known and compared.
A soap may tend to cure eczema. It may at the same time improve
complexion. The eczema claim may appeal to one in a hundred
while the beauty claims would appeal to nearly all. To even
mention the eczema claims might destroy the beauty claims.
A man has a relief for asthma. It has done so much for him he
considers it a great advertising possibility. We have no
statistics on this subject. We do not know the percentage of
people who suffer from asthma. A canvass might show it to be one
in a hundred. If so, he would need to cover a hundred useless
readers to reach one he wants. His cost of result might be
twenty times as high as on another article which appeals to one
in five. That excessive cost would probably mean disaster. For
reasons like these every new advertiser should seek for wise
advice. No one with the interests of advertising at heart will
advise any dubious venture.
Some claims not popular enough to feature in the main are still
popular enough to consider. They influence a certain number of
people - say one-fourth of your possible customers. Such claims
may be featured to advantage in a certain percentage of
headlines. It should probably be included in every
advertisement. But those are not things to guess at. They should
be decided by actual knowledge, usually by traced returns.
This chapter, like every chapter, points out a very important
reason for knowing your results. Scientific advertising is
impossible without that. So is safe advertising. So is maximum
Groping in the dark in this field has probably cost enough money
to pay the national debt. That is what has filled the
advertising graveyards. That is what has discouraged thousands
who could profit in this field. And the dawn of knowledge is
what is bringing a new day in the advertising world.
An ad-writer, to have a chance at success, must gain full
information on his subject. The library of an ad agency should
have books on every line that calls for research. A painstaking
advertising man will often read for weeks on some problem which
Perhaps in many volumes he will find few facts to use. But some
one fact may be the keystone of success.
This writer has just completed an enormous amount of reading,
medical and otherwise, on coffee. This is to advertise a coffee
without caffeine. One scientific article out of a thousand
perused gave the keynote for that campaign. It was the fact that
caffeine stimulation comes two hours after drinking. So the
immediate bracing effects which people seek from coffee do not
come from the caffeine. Removing caffeine does not remove the
kick. It does not modify coffee's delights, for caffeine is
tasteless and odorless.
Caffeineless coffee has been advertised for years. People
regarded it like near-beer. Only through weeks of reading did we
find a way to put it in another light.
To advertise a tooth paste this writer has also ready many
volumes of scientific matter dry as dust. But in the middle of
one volume he found the idea which has helped make millions for
that tooth paste maker. And has made this campaign one of the
sensations of advertising.
Genius is the art of taking pains. The advertising man who
spares the midnight oil will never get very far.
Before advertising a food product, 130 men were employed for
weeks to interview all classes of consumers.
On another line, letters were sent to 12,000 physicians.
Questionnaires are often mailed to tens of thousands of men and
women to get the viewpoint of consumers.
A $25,000-a-year man, before advertising outfits for acetylene
gas, spent weeks in going from farm to farm. Another man did
that on a tractor.
Before advertising a shaving cream, one thousand men were asked
to state what they most desired in a shaving soap.
Called on to advertise pork and beans, a canvass was made of
some thousand of homes. Theretofore all pork and bean
advertising has been based on "Buy my brand." That canvass
showed that only 4 percent of the people used any canned pork
and beans. Ninety-six percent baked their beans at home. The
problem was not to sell a particular brand. Any such attempt
appealed to only four percent. The right appeal was to win the
people away from home-baked beans. The advertising, which
without knowledge must have failed, proved a great success.
A canvas made, not only of homes, but of dealers. Competition is
Every advertiser of a similar product is written for his
literature and claims. Thus we start with exact information on
all that our rivals are doing.
Clipping bureaus are patronized, so that everything printed on
our subject comes to the man who writes ads.
Every comment that comes from consumers or dealers goes to this
It is often necessary in a line to learn the total expenditure.
We must learn what a user spends a year, else we shall not know
if users are worth the cost of getting.
We must learn the total consumption, else we may overspend.
We must learn the percentage of readers to whom our product
appeals. We must often gather this data on classes. The
percentage may differ on farms and in cities. The cost of
advertising largely depends on the percentage of waste
Thus an advertising campaign is usually preceded by a very large
volume of data. Even an experimental campaign, for effective
experiments cost a great deal of work and time.
Often chemists are employed to prove or disprove doubtful
claims. An advertiser, in all good faith, makes an impressive
assertion. If it is true, it will form a big factor in
advertising. If untrue, it may prove a boomerang. And it may bar
our ads from good mediums. It is remarkable how often a maker
proves wrong on assertions he had made for years.
Impressive claims are made far more impressive by making them
exact. So, many experiments are made to get the actual figures.
For instance, a certain drink is known to have a large food
value. That simple assertion is not very convincing. So we send
the drink to the laboratory and find that its food value is 425
calories per pint. One pint is equal to six eggs in calories of
nutriment. That claim makes a great impression.
In every line involving scientific details a censor is
appointed. The ad-writer, however well informed, may draw wrong
inferences from facts. So an authority passes on every
The uninformed would be staggered to know the amount of work
involved in a single ad. Weeks of work sometimes. The ad seems
so simple, and it must be simple to appeal to simple people. But
back of that ad may lie reams of data, volumes of information,
months of research.
So this is no lazy man's field.
Advertising is much like war, minus the venom. Or much, if you
prefer, like a game of chess. We are usually out to capture
others' citadels or garner others' trade.
We must have skill and knowledge. We must have training and
experience, also right equipment. We must have proper
ammunition, and enough. We dare not underestimate opponents. Our
intelligence department is a vital factor, as told in the
previous chapter. We need alliances with dealers, as another
chapter tells. We also need strategy of the ablest sort, to
multiply the value of our forces.
Sometimes in new campaigns comes the question of a name. That
may be most important. Often the right name is an advertisement
in itself. It may tell a fairly complete story, like Shredded
Wheat, Cream of Wheat, Puffed Rice, Spearmint Gum, Palmolive
That may be a great advantage. The name is usually conspicuously
displayed. Many a name has proved to be the greatest factor in
an article's success. Other names prove a distinct disadvantage
- Toasted Corn Flakes, for instance. Too many others may share a
demand with the man who builds it up.
Many coined names without meaning have succeeded. Kodak, Karo
etc., are examples. They are exclusive. The advertiser who gives
them meaning never needs to share his advantage. But a
significant name which helps to impress a dominant claim is
certainly a good advantage. Names that tell stores have been
worth millions of dollars. So a great deal of research often
precedes the selection of a name.
Sometimes a price must be decided. A high price creates
resistance. It tends to limit one's field. The cost of getting
an added profit may be more than the profit.
It is a well-known fact that the greatest profits are made on
great volume at small profit. Campbell's Soups, Palmolive Soap,
Karo Syrup and Ford cars are conspicuous examples. A price which
appeals only to - say 10 percent - multiplies the cost of
But on other lines high price is unimportant. High profit is
essential. The line may have a small sale per customer. One
hardly cares what he pays for a corn remedy because he uses
little. The maker must have a large margin because of small
On other lines a higher price may even be an inducement. Such
lines are judged largely by price. A product which costs more
than the ordinary is considered above the ordinary. So the price
question is always a very big factor in strategy.
Competition must be considered. What are the forces against you?
What have they in price or quality or claims to weigh against
your appeal? What have you to win trade against them? What have
you to hold trade against them when you get it?
How strongly are your rivals entrenched? There are some fields
which are almost impregnable. They are usually lines which
create a new habit or custom and which typify that custom with
consumers. They so dominate a field that one can hardly hope to
invade it. They have volume, the profit to make a tremendous
Such fields are being constantly invaded. But it is done through
some convincing advantage, or through very superior
Other lines are only less difficult. A new shaving soap, as an
example. About every possible customer is using a rival soap.
Most of them are satisfied with it. Many are wedded to it. The
appeal must be strong enough to win those people from
Such things are not accomplished by haphazard efforts. Not by
considering people in the mass and making blind stabs for their
favors. We must consider individuals, typical people who are
using rival brands. A man on a Pullman, for instance, using his
favorite soap. What could you say to him in person to get him to
change to yours? We cannot go after thousands of men until we
learn how to win one.
The maker may say that he has no distinctions. He is making a
good product, but much like others. He deserves a good share of
the trade, but he has nothing exclusive to offer. However, there
is nearly always something impressive which others have not
told. We must discover it. We must have a seeming advantage.
People don't quit habits without reason.
There is the problem of substitution and how to head it off.
That often steals much of one's trade. This must be considered
in one's original plan. One must have foresight to see all
eventualities, and the wisdom to establish his defenses in
Many pioneers in the line establish large demands. Then through
some fault in their foundations, lose a large share of the
harvest. Theirs is a mere brand, for instance, where it might
have stood for an exclusive product.
Vaseline is an example. That product established a new demand,
then almost monopolized that demand through wisdom at the start.
To have called it some different brand of petroleum jelly might
have made a difference of millions in results.
Jell-O, Postum, Victrola, Kodak, etc., established coined names
which came to typify a product. Some such names have been
admitted to the dictionary. They have become common names,
though coined and exclusive.
Royal Baking Powder and Toasted Corn Flakes, on the other hand,
when they pioneered their fields, left the way open to perpetual
substitution. So did Horlick's Malted Milk.
The attitude of dealers must be considered. There is a growing
inclination to limit lines, to avoid duplicate lines, to lesson
inventories. If this applies to your line, how will dealers
receive it? If there is opposition, how can we circumvent it?
The problems of distribution are important and enormous. To
advertise something that few dealers supply is a waste of
ammunition. Those problems will be considered in another
These are samples of the problems which advertising men must
solve. These are some of the reasons why vast experience is
necessary. One oversight may cost the client millions in the
end. One wrong piece of strategy may prohibit success. Things
done in one way may be twice as easy, half as costly, as when
done another way.
Advertising without this preparation is like a waterfall going
to waste. The power might be there, but it is not made
effective. We must center the force and direct it in a practical
Advertising often looks very simple. Thousands of men claim
ability to do it. And there is still a wide impression that many
men can. As a result, much advertising goes by favor. But the
men who know realize that the problems are as many and as
important as the problems in building a skyscraper. And many of
them lie in the foundations.
Use Of Samples
The product itself should be its own best salesman. Not the
product alone, but the product plus a mental impression, and
atmosphere, which you place around it. That being so, samples
are of prime importance. However expensive, they usually form
the cheapest selling method. A salesman might as well go out
without his sample case as an advertiser.
Sampling does not apply to little things alone, like foods or
proprietaries. It can be applied in some way to almost every
thing. We have sampled clothing. We are now sampling phonograph
Samples serve numerous valuable purposes. They enable one to use
the word "Free" in ads. That often multiplies readers. Most
people want to learn about any offered gift. Tests often show
that samples pay for themselves - perhaps several times over -
in multiplying the readers of your ads without additional cost
A sample gets action. The reader of your ad may not be convinced
to the point of buying. But he is ready to learn more about the
product that you offer. So he cuts out a coupon, lays it aside,
and later mails it or presents it. Without that coupon he would
Then you have the name and address of an interested prospect.
You can start him using your product. You can give him fuller
information. You can follow him up.
That reader might not again read one of your ads in six months.
Your impression would be lost. But when he writes you, you have
a chance to complete with that prospect all that can be done. In
that saving of waste the sample pays for itself.
Sometimes a small sample is not a fair test. Then we may send an
order on the dealer for a full-size package. Or we may make the
coupon good for a package at the store. Thus we get a longer
You say that is expensive. So is it expensive to gain a
prospect's interest. It may cost you 50 cents to get the person
to the point of writing for a sample. Don't stop at 15 cents
additional to make that interest valuable.
Another way in which samples pay is by keying your
advertisements. They register the interest you create. Thus you
can compare one with another ad, headline, plan and method.
That means in any line an enormous savings. The wisest, most
experienced man cannot tell what will most appeal in any line of
copy. With a key to guide you, your returns are very apt to cost
you twice what they need cost. And we know that some ads on the
same product will cost ten times what others cost. A sample may
pay for itself several times over by giving you an accurate
Again samples enable you to refer customers where they can be
supplied. This is important before you attain general
Many advertisers lose much by being pennywise. They are afraid
of imposition, or they try to save pennies. That is why they ask
ten cents for a sample, or a stamp or two. Getting that dime may
cost them from 40 cents to $1. That is, it may add that to the
cost of replies. But it is remarkable how many will pay that
addition rather than offer a sample free.
Putting a price on a sample greatly retards replies. Then it
prohibits you from using the word "Free," as we have stated,
will generally more than pay for your samples.
For the same reason some advertisers say, "You buy one package,
we will buy the other." Or they make a coupon good for part of
the purchase price. Any keyed returns will clearly prove that
such offers do not pay. Before a prospect is converted, it is
approximately as hard to get half price for your article as to
get the full price for it.
Bear in mind that you are the seller. You are the one courting
interest. Then don't make it difficult to exhibit that interest.
Don't ask your prospects to pay for your selling efforts. Three
in four will refuse to pay - perhaps nine in ten.
Cost of requests for samples differ in every line. It depends on
your breadth of appeal. Some things appeal to everybody, some to
a small percentage. One issue of the papers in Greater New York
brought 1,460,000 requests for a can of evaporated milk. On a
chocolate drink, one-fifth the coupons published are presented.
Another line not widely used may bring a fraction of that
But the cost of inquiries is usually enough to be important.
Then don't neglect them. Don't stint your efforts with those you
have half sold. An inquiry means that a prospect has read your
story and is interested. He or she would like to try your
product and learn more about it. Do what you would do if that
prospect stood before you.
Cost of inquiries depends largely on how they come. Asking
people to mail the coupon brings minimum returns. Often four
times as many will present that coupon for a sample at the
On a line before the writer now, sample inquiries obtained by
mail average 70 cents each. The same ads bring inquiries at from
18 cents to 22 cents each when the coupons are presented at a
Most people write few letters. Writing is an effort. Perhaps
they have no stamps in the house. Most people will pay carfare
to get a sample rather than two cents postage. Therefore, it is
always best, where possible, to have samples delivered locally.
On one line three methods were offered. The woman could write
for a sample, or telephone, or call at a store. Seventy percent
of the inquiries came by telephone. The use of the telephone is
more common and convenient than the use of stamps.
Sometimes it is not possible to supply all dealers with samples.
Then we refer people to some central stores. These stores are
glad to have many people come there. And other dealers do not
generally object so long as they share in the sales.
It is important to have these dealers send you the coupons
promptly. Then you can follow up the inquiries while their
interest is fresh.
It is said that sample users repeat. They do to some extent. But
repeaters form a small percentage. Figure it in your cost.
Say to the woman, "Only one sample to a home" and few women will
try to get more of them. And the few who cheat you are not
generally the people who would buy. So you are not losing
purchasers, but the samples only.
On numerous lines we have for long offered full-sized packages
free. The packages were priced at from 10 cents to 50 cents
each. In certain territories for a time we have checked up on
repeaters. And we found the loss much less than the cost of
In some lines samples would be wasted on children, and they are
most apt to get them. Then say in your coupon "adults only."
Children will not present such coupons, and they will rarely
mail them in.
But one must be careful about publishing coupons good for a
full-size package at any store. Some people, and even dealers,
may buy up many papers. We do not announce the date of such
offers. And we insert them in Sunday papers, not so easily
But we do not advocate samples given out promiscuously. Samples
distributed to homes, like waifs on the doorsteps, probably
never pay. Many of them never reach the house or the housewife.
When they do, there is no prediction for them. The product is
cheapened. It is not introduced in a favorable way.
So with demonstrations in stores. There is always a way to get
the same results at a fraction of the cost.
Many advertisers do not understand this. They supply thousands
of samples to dealers to be handed out as they will. Could a
trace be placed on the cost of returns, the advertiser would be
Give samples to interested people only. Give them only to people
who exhibit that interest by some effort. Give them only to
people whom you have told your story. First create an atmosphere
of respect, a desire, an expectation. When people are in that
mood, your sample will usually confirm the qualities you claim.
Here again comes the advantage of figuring cost per customer.
That is the only way to gauge advertising. Samples sometimes
seem to double advertising cost. They often cost more than the
advertising. Yet, rightly used, they almost invariably form the
cheapest way to get customers. And that is what you want.
The argument against samples are usually biased. They may come
from advertising agents who like to see all the advertising
money spent in print. Answer such arguments by tests. Try some
towns with them, some without. Where samples are effectively
employed, we rarely find a line where they do not lessen the
cost per customer.
Most advertisers are confronted with the problem of getting
distribution. National advertising is unthinkable without that.
A venture cannot be profitable if nine in ten of the converts
fail to find the goods.
To force dealers to stock by bringing repeated demands may be
enormously expensive. To cover the country with a selling force
is usually impossible. To get dealers to stock an unknown line
on promise of advertising is not easy. They have seen to many
efforts fail, too many promises rescinded.
We cannot discuss all plans for getting distribution. There are
scores of ways employed, according to the enterprise. Some start
by soliciting direct sales - mail orders - until the volume of
demand forces dealers to supply.
Some get into touch with prospects by a sample or other offer,
then refer them to certain dealers who are stocked.
Some well-known lines can get a large percentage of dealers to
stock in advance under guarantee of sale. Some consign goods to
jobbers so dealers can easily order. Some name certain dealers
in their ads until dealers in general stock.
The problems in this line are numberless. The successful methods
are many. But most of them apply to lines too few to be worthy
of discussion in a book like this.
We shall deal here with articles of wide appeal and repeated
sales, like foods or proprietary articles.
We usually start with local advertising, even though magazine
advertising is best adapted to the article. We get our
distribution town by town, then change to national advertising.
Sometimes we name the dealers who are stocked. As others stock,
we add their names. When a local campaign is proposed, naming
certain dealers, the average dealer wants to be included. It is
often possible to get most of them by offering to name them in
the first few ads.
Whether you advertise few or many dealers, the others will stock
in very short order if the advertising is successful. Then the
trade is referred to all dealers.
The sample plans dealt with in the previous chapter aid quick
distribution. They often pay for themselves in this way alone.
If the samples are distributed locally, the coupon names the
store. The prospects who go there to get the samples know that
those stores are supplied, if a nearer dealer is not. Thus
little trade is lost.
When sample inquiries come to the advertiser, inquiries are
referred to certain dealers at the start. Enough demand is
centered there to force those dealers to supply it.
Sometimes most stores are supplied with samples, but on the
requirement of a certain purchase. You supply a dozen samples
with a dozen packages, for instance. Then inquiries for samples
are referred to all stores. This quickly forces general
distribution. Dealers don't like to have their customers go to
competitors even for a sample.
Where a coupon is used, good at any store for a full-size
package, the problem of distribution becomes simple. Mail to
dealers proofs of the ad which will contain a coupon. Point out
to each that many of his customers are bound to present that
coupon. Each coupon represents a cash sale at full profit. No
average dealer will let those coupon customers go elsewhere.
Such a free-package offer often pays for itself in this way. It
forms the cheapest way of getting general distribution.
Some of the most successful advertisers have done this in a
national way. They have inserted coupon ads in magazines, each
coupon good at any store for a full-size package. A proof of the
ad is sent to dealers in advance, with a list of the magazines
to be used, and their circulation.
In this way, in one week sometimes, makers attain a reasonable
national distribution. And the coupon ad, when it appears,
completes it. Here again the free packages cost less than other
ways of forcing distribution. And they start thousands of users
besides. Palmolive Soap and Puffed Grains are among the products
which attain their distribution in that way.
Half the circulation of a newspaper may go to outside towns.
That half may be wasted if you offer a sample at local stores.
Say in your coupon that outside people should write you for a
sample. When they write, do not mail the sample. Send the
samples to a local store, and refer inquiries to that store.
Mailing a sample may make a convert who cannot be supplied. But
the store which supplies the sample will usually supply demand.
In these ways, many advertisers get national distribution
without employing a single salesman. They get it immediately.
And they get it at far lower cost than by any other method.
There are advertisers who, in starting, send every dealer a few
packages as a gift. That is better, perhaps, than losing
customers created. But it is very expensive. Those free packages
must be sold by advertising. Figure their cost at your selling
price, and you will see that you are paying a high cost per
dealer. A salesman might sell these small stocks at a lower
cost. And other methods might be vastly cheaper.
Sending stocks on consignment to retailers is not widely
favored. Many dealers resent it. Collections are difficult. And
non-businesslike methods do not win dealer respect.
The plans advocated here are the best plans yet discovered for
the lines to which they apply. Other lines require different
methods. The ramifications are too many to discuss in a book
But don't start advertising without distribution. Don't get
distribution by methods too expensive. Or by slow, old-fashioned
methods. The loss of time may cost you enormously in sales. And
it may enable energetic rivals to get ahead of you.
Go to men who know by countless experiences the best plan to
apply to your line.
Almost any questions can be answered, cheaply, quickly and
finally, by a test campaign. And that's the way to answer them -
not by arguments around a table. Go to the court of last resort
- the buyers of your product.
On every new project there comes up the question of selling that
article profitably. You and your friends may like it, but the
majority may not. Some rival product may be better liked or
cheaper. It may be strongly entrenched. The users won away from
it may cost too much to get.
People may buy and not repeat. The article may last too long. It
may appeal to a small percentage, so most of your advertising
goes to waste.
There are many surprises in advertising. A project you will
laugh at may make a great success. A project you are sure of may
fall down. All because tastes differ so. None of us know enough
people's desires to get an average viewpoint.
In the old days, advertisers ventured on their own opinions. The
few guess right, the many wrong. Those were the times of
advertising disaster. Even those who succeeded came close to the
verge before the time is turned. They did not know their cost
per customer or their sale per customer. The cost of selling
might take a long time to come back. Often it never came back.
Now we let the thousands decide what the millions will do. We
make a small venture, and watch cost and result. When we learn
what a thousand customers cost, we know almost exactly what a
million will cost. When we learn what they buy, we know what a
million will buy.
We establish averages on a small scale, and those averages
always hold. We know our cost, we know our sale, we know our
profit and loss. We know how soon our cost comes back. Before we
spread out, we prove our undertaking absolutely safe. So there
are today no advertising disasters piloted by men who know.
Perhaps we try out our project in four or five towns. We may use
a sample offer or a free package to get users started quickly.
Then we wait and see if users buy those samples. If they do,
will they continue? How much will they buy? How long does it
take for the profit to return our cost of selling?
A test like this may cost $3,000 to $5,000. It is not all lost,
even when the product proves unpopular. Some sales are made.
Nearly every test will in time bring back the entire cost.
Sometimes we find that the cost of the advertising comes back
before the bills are due. That means that the product can be
advertised without investment. Many a great advertiser has been
built up without any cost whatever beyond immediate receipts.
That is an ideal situation.
On another product it may take three months to bring back the
cost with a profit. But one is sure of his profit in that time.
When he spreads out he must finance accordingly.
Think what this means. A man has what he considers an
advertising possibility. But national advertising looks so big
and expensive that he dare not undertake it.
Now he presents it in a few average towns, at a very moderate
cost. With almost no risk whatever. From the few thousand he
learns what the millions will do. Then he acts accordingly. If
he then branches he knows to a certainty just what his results
He is playing on the safe side of a hundred to one shot. If the
article is successful, it may make him millions. If he is
mistaken about it, the loss is a trifle.
These are facts we desire to emphasize and spread. All our
largest accounts are now built in this way, from very small
beginnings. When business men realize that this can be done,
hundreds of others will do it. For countless fortune-earners now
The largest advertiser in the world makes a business of starting
such projects. One by one he finds out winners. Now he has
twenty-six, and together they earn many millions yearly.
These test campaigns have other purposes. They answer countless
questions which arise in business.
A large food advertiser felt that his product would be more
popular in another form. He and all his advisers were certain
about it. They were willing to act on this supposition without
consulting the consumers, but wiser advice prevailed.
He inserted an ad in a few towns with a coupon, good at any
store for a package of the new-style product. Then he wrote to
the users about it. They were almost unanimous in their
Later the same product was suggested in still another form. The
previous verdict made the change look dubious. The advertiser
hardly thought a test to be worth while. But he submitted the
question to a few thousand women in a similar way and 91 percent
voted for lit. Now he has a unique product which promises to
largely increase his sales.
These tests cost about $1,000 each. The first one saved him a
very costly mistake. The second will probably bring him large
Then we try test campaigns to try out new methods on advertising
already successful. Thus we constantly seek for better methods,
without interrupting plans already proved out.
In five years for one food advertiser we tried out over fifty
separate plans. Every little while we found an improvement, so
the results of our advertising constantly grew. At the end of
five years we found the best plan of all. It reduced our cost of
selling by 75 percent. That is, it was four times more effective
than the best plan used before.
That is what mail order advertisers do - try out plan after plan
to constantly reduce the cost. Why should any general advertiser
be less business-like and careful?
Another service of the test campaign is this:
An advertiser is doing mediocre advertising. A skilled
advertising agent feels that he can greatly increase results.
The advertiser is doubtful. He is doing fairly well. He has
alliances which he hesitates to break. So he is inclined to let
well enough alone.
Now the question can be submitted to the verdict of a test. The
new agent may take a few towns, without interfering with the
general campaign. Then compare his results with the general
results and prove his greater skill.
Plausible arguments are easy in this line. One man after another
comes to an advertiser to claim superior knowledge or ability.
It is hard to decide, and decisions may be wrong.
Now actual figures gained at a small cost can settle the
question definitely. The advertiser makes no commitment. It is
like saying to a salesman, "Go out for a week and prove." A
large percentage of all the advertising done would change hands
if this method were applied.
Again we come back to scientific advertising. Suppose a chemist
would say in an arbitrary way that this compound was best, or
that better. You would little respect his opinion. He makes
tests - sometimes hundreds of tests - to actually know which is
best. He will never state a supposition before he has proved it.
How long before advertisers in general will apply that exactness
Leaning On Dealers
We cannot depend much in most lines on the active help of
jobbers or of dealers. They are busy. They have many lines to
consider. The profit on advertised lines is not generally large.
And an advertised article is apt to be sold at cut prices.
The average dealer does what you would do. He exerts himself on
brands of his own, if at all. Not on another man's brand.
The dealers will often try to make you think otherwise. He will
ask some aid or concession on the ground of extra effort.
Advertisers often give extra discounts. Or they make loading
offers - perhaps one case free in ten - in the belief that
loaded dealers will make extra efforts.
This may be so in rare lines, but not generally. And the efforts
if made do not usually increase the total sales. They merely
swing trade from one store to another.
On most lines, making a sale without making a convert does not
count for much. Sales made by conviction - by advertising - are
likely to bring permanent customers. People who buy through
casual recommendations do not often stick. Next time someone
else gives other advice.
Revenue which belongs to the advertiser is often given away
without adequate return. These discounts and gifts could be far
better spent in securing new customers.
Free goods must be sold, and by your efforts usually. One extra
case with ten means that advertising must sell ten percent more
to bring you the same return. The dealer would probably buy just
as much if you let him buy as convenient.
Much money is often frittered away on other forms of dealer
help. Perhaps on window or store displays. A window display,
acting as a reminder, may bring to one dealer a lion's share of
the trade. Yet it may not increase your total sales at all.
Those are facts to find out. Try one town in one way, one in
another. Compare total sales in those towns. In many lines such
tests will show that costly displays are worthless. A growing
number of experienced advertisers spend no money on displays.
This is all in line of general publicity, so popular long ago.
Casting bread upon the waters and hoping for its return. Most
advertising was of that sort twenty years ago.
Now we put things to the test. We compare cost and result on
every form of expenditure. It is very easily done. Very many
costly wastes are eliminated by this modern process.
Scientific advertising has altered many old plans and
conceptions. It has proved many long established methods to be
folly. And why should we not apply to these things the same
criterion we apply to other forms of selling? Or to
Your object in all advertising is to buy new customers at a
price which pays a profit. You have no interest in garnering
trade at any particular store. Learn what your consumers cost
and what they buy. If they cost you one dollar each, figure that
every wasted dollar costs you a possible customer.
Your business will be built in that way, not by dealer help. You
must do your own selling, make your own success. Be content if
dealers fill the orders that you bring. Eliminate your wastes.
Spend all your ammunition where it counts for most.
A person who desires to make an impression must stand out in
some way. Being eccentric, being abnormal is not distinction to
covet. But doing admirable things in a different way gives one a
So with salesmen, in person or in print. There is uniqueness
which belittles and arouses resentment. There is refreshing
uniqueness which enhances, which we welcome and remember.
Fortunate is the salesman who has it.
We try to give each advertiser a becoming style. We make him
distinctive, perhaps not in appearance, but in manner and in
tone. He is given an individuality best suited to the people he
One man appears rugged and honest in a line where rugged honesty
counts. One may be a good fellow where choice is a matter of
favor. In other lines the man stands out by impressing himself
as an authority.
We have already cited a case where a woman made a great success
in selling clothing to girls, solely through a created
personality which won.
That's why we have signed ads sometimes - to give them a
personal authority. A man is talking - a man who takes pride in
his accomplishments - not a "soulless corporation." Whenever
possible we introduce a personality into our ads. By making a
man famous we make his product famous. When we claim an
improvement, naming the man who made it adds effect.
Then we take care not to change an individuality which has
proved appealing. Before a man writes a new ad on that line, he
gets into the spirit adopted by the advertiser. He plays a part
as an actor plays it.
In successful advertising great pains are taken to never change
our tone. That which won so many is probably the best way to win
others. Then people come to know us. We build on that
acquaintance rather than introduce a stranger in guise. People
do not know us by name alone, but by looks and mannerisms.
Appearing different every time we meet never builds up
Then we don't want people to think that salesmanship is made to
order. That our appeals are created, studied, artificial. They
must seem to come from the heart, and the same heart always,
save where a wrong tack forces a complete change.
There are winning personalities in ads as well as people. To
some we are glad to listen, others bore us. Some are refreshing,
some commonplace. Some inspire confidence, some caution.
To create the right individuality is a supreme accomplishment.
Then an advertiser's growing reputation on that line brings him
ever-increasing prestige. Never weary of that part. Remember
that a change in our characteristics would compel our best
friends to get acquainted all over.
To attack a rival is never good advertising. Don't point out
others' faults. It is not permitted in the best mediums. It is
never good policy. The selfish purpose is apparent. It looks
unfair, not sporty. If you abhor knockers, always appear a good
Show a bright side, the happy and attractive side, not the dark
and uninviting side of things. Show beauty, not homeliness;
health, not sickness. Don't show the wrinkles you propose to
remove, but the face as it will appear. Your customers know all
In advertising a dentifrice, show pretty teeth, not bad teeth.
Talk of coming good conditions, not conditions which exist. In
advertising clothes, picture well-dressed people, not the
shabby. Picture successful men, not failures, when you advertise
a business course. Picture what others wish to be, not what they
may be now.
We are attracted by sunshine, beauty, happiness, health,
success. Then point the way to them, not the way out of the
Picture envied people, not the envious.
Tell people what to do, not what to avoid.
Make your every ad breath good cheer. We always dodge a
Assume that people will do what you ask. Say, "Send now for this
sample." Don't say, "Why do you neglect this offer?" That
suggests that people are neglecting. Invite them to follow the
Compare the results of two ads, one negative, one positive. One
presenting the dark side, one the bright side. One warning, the
other inviting. You will be surprised. You will find that the
positive ad out pulls the other four to one, if you have our
The "Before and after taking" ads are follies of the past. They
never had a place save with the afflicted. Never let their
memory lead you to picture the gloomy side of things.
This another phase of advertising which all of us have to
consider. It enters, or should enter, into all campaigns. Every
business man receives a large number of circular letters. Most
of them go direct to the waste basket. But he acts on others,
and others are filed for reference.
Analyze those letters. The ones you act on or the ones you keep
have a headline which attracted your interest. At a glance they
offer something that you want, something you may wish to know.
Remember that point in all advertising.
A certain buyer spends $50,000,000 per year. Every letter, every
circular which comes to his desk gets its deserved attention. He
wants information on the lines he buys.
But we have often watched him. In one minute a score of letters
may drop into the waste basket. Then one is laid aside. That is
something to consider at once. Another is field under the
heading "Varnish." And later when he buys varnish that letter
will turn up.
That buyer won several prizes by articles on good buying. His
articles were based on information. Yet the great masses of
matter which came to him never got more than a glance.
The same principles apply to all advertising. Letter writers
overlook them just as advertisers do. They fail to get the right
attention. They fail to tell what buyers wish to know.
One magazine sends out millions of letters annually. Some to get
subscriptions, some to sell books. Before the publisher sends
out five million letters he puts a few thousands to test. He may
try twenty-five letters, each with a thousand prospects. He
learns what results will cost. Perhaps the plan is abandoned
because it appears unprofitable. If not, the letter which pays
best is the letter that he uses.
Just as men are doing now in all scientific advertising.
Mail order advertisers do likewise. They test their letters as
they test their ads. A general letter is never used until it
proves itself best among many actual returns.
Letter writing has much to do with advertising. Letters to
inquirers, follow-up letters. Wherever possible they should be
tested. Where that is not possible, they should be based on
knowledge gained by tests.
We find the same difference in letters as in ads. Some get
action, some do not. Some complete a sale, some forfeit the
impression gained. These are letters, going usually to half-made
converts, that are tremendously important.
Experience generally shows that a two-cent letter gets no more
attention than a one-cent letter. Fine stationery no more than
poor stationery. The whole appeal lies in the matter.
A letter which goes to an inquirer is like a salesman going to
an interested prospect. You know what created that interest.
Then follow it up along that line, not on some different
argument. Complete the impression already created. Don't
undertake another guess.
Do something if possible to get immediate action. Offer some
inducement for it. Or tell what delay may cost. Note how many
successful selling letters place a limit on an offer. It expires
on a certain date. That is all done to get prompt decision, to
overcome the tendency to delay.
A mail order advertiser offered a catalog. The inquirer might
send for three or four similar catalogs. He had that competition
in making a sale.
So he wrote a letter when he sent his catalog, and enclosed a
personal card. He said, "You are a new customer, and we want to
make you welcome. So when you send your order please enclose
this card. The writer wants to see that you get a gift with
order - something you can keep."
With an old customer he gave some other reason for the gift. The
offer aroused curiosity. It gave preference to his catalog.
Without some compelling reason for ordering elsewhere, the woman
sent the order to him. The gift paid for itself several times
over by bringing larger sales per catalog.
The ways for getting action are many. Rarely can one way be
applied to two lines. But the principles are universal. Strike
while the iron is hot. Get a decision then. Have it followed by
prompt action when you can.
You can afford to pay for prompt action rather than lose by
delay. One advertiser induced hundreds of thousands of women to
buy six packages of his product and send him the trademarks, to
secure a premium offer good only for one week.
A Name That Helps
There is great advantage in a name that tells a story. The name
is usually prominently displayed. To justify the space it
occupies, it should aid the advertising. Some such names are
almost complete advertisements in themselves. May Breath is such
a name. Cream of Wheat is another. That name alone has been
worth a fortune. Other examples are Dutch Cleanser, Cuticura,
Dynashine, Minute Tapioca, 3-in-one Oil, Holeproof, Alcorub,
Such names may be protected, yet the name itself describes the
product, so it makes a valuable display.
Other coined names are meaningless. Some examples are Kodak,
Karo, Sapolio, Vaseline, Kotex, Lux, Postum, etc. They can be
protected, and long-continued advertising may give them a
meaning. When this is accomplished they become very valuable.
But the great majority of them never attain status.
Such names do not aid the advertising. It is very doubtful that
they justify display. The service of the product, not the name,
is the important thing in advertising. A vast amount of space is
wasted in displaying names and pictures which tell no selling
story. The tendency of modern advertising is to eliminate waste.
Other coined names signify ingredients which anyone may use.
Examples are Syrup of Figs, Coconut Oil Shampoo, Tar Soap,
Palmolive Soap, etc.
Such products may dominate a market if the price is reasonable,
but they must to a degree meet competition. They invite
substitution. They are naturally classified with other products
which have like ingredients, so the price must remain in that
Toasted Corn Flakes and Malted Milk are examples of unfortunate
names. In each of those cases one advertiser created a new
demand. When the demand was created, others shared it because
they could use the name. The originators depended only on a
brand. It is interesting to speculate on how much more
profitable a coined name might have been.
On a patented product it must be remembered that the right to a
name expires with that patent. Names like Castoria, Aspirin,
Shredded Wheat Biscuit, etc., have become common property.
This is a very serious point to consider. It often makes a
patent an undesirable protection.
Another serious fault in coined names is frivolity. In seeking
uniqueness one gets something trivial. And that is a fatal
handicap in a serious product. It almost prohibits respect.
When a product must be called by a common name, the best
auxiliary name is a man's name. It is much better than a coined
name, for it shows that some man is proud of his creation.
Thus the question of a name is of serious importance in laying
the foundations of a new undertaking. Some names have become the
chief factors in success. Some have lost for their originators
four-fifths of the trade they developed.
Chapter Twenty One
A rapid stream ran by the writer's boyhood home. The stream
turned a wooden wheel and the wheel ran a mill. Under that
primitive method, all but a fraction of the stream's
potentiality went to waste.
Then someone applied scientific methods to that stream - put in
a turbine and dynamos. Now, with no more water, no more power,
it runs a large manufacturing plant.
We think of that steam when we see wasted advertising power. And
we see it everywhere - hundreds of examples. Enormous
potentialities - millions of circulation - used to turn a mill
wheel. While others use that same power with manifold effect.
We see countless ads running year after year which we know to be
unprofitable. Men spending five dollars to do what one dollar
might do. Men getting back 30 percent of their cost when they
might get 150 percent. And the facts could be easily proved.
We see wasted space, frivolity, clever conceits, entertainment.
Costly pages filled with palaver which, if employed by a
salesman, would reflect on his sanity. But those ads are always
unkeyed. The money is spent blindly, merely to satisfy some
Not new advertisers only. Many an old advertiser has little or
no idea of his advertising results. The business is growing
through many efforts combined, and advertising is given its
share of the credit.
An advertiser of many years' standing, spending as high as
$700,000 per year, told the writer he did not know whether his
advertising was worth anything or not. Sometimes he thought that
his business would be just as large without it.
The writer replied, "I do know. Your advertising is utterly
unprofitable, and I could prove it to you next week. End an ad
with an offer to pay five dollars to anyone who writes you that
he read the ad through. The scarcity of replies will amaze you.
Think what a confession - that millions of dollars being spent
without knowledge of results. Such a policy applied to all
factors in a business would bring ruin in short order.
You see other ads which you may not like as well. They may seem
crowded or verbose. They are not attractive to you, for you are
seeking something to admire, something to entertain. But you
will note that those ads are keyed. The probability is that out
of scores of traced ads the type which you see has paid the
Many other ads which are not keyed now were keyed at the
beginning. They are based on known statistics. They won on a
small scale before they ever ran on large scale. Those
advertisers are utilizing their enormous powers in full.
Advertising is prima facie evidence that the man who pays
believes that advertising is good. It has brought great results
to others, it must be good for him. So he takes it like some
secret tonic which others have endorsed. If the business
thrives, the tonic gets credit. Otherwise, the failure is due to
That seems almost unbelievable. Even a storekeeper who inserts a
twenty-dollar ad knows whether it pays or not. Every line of a
big store's ad is charged to the proper department. And every
inch used must the next day justify its cost.
Yet most national advertising is done without justification. It
is merely presumed to pay. A little test might show a way to
Such methods, still so prevalent, are not very far from their
end. The advertising men who practice them see the writing on
the wall. The time is fast coming when men who spend money are
going to know what they get. Good business and efficiency will
be applied to advertising. Men and methods will be measured by
the known returns, and only competent men can survive.
Only one hour ago an old advertising man said to the writer,
"The day for our type is done. Bunk has lost its power.
Sophistry is being displaced by actuality. And I tremble at the
So do hundreds tremble. Enormous advertising is being done along
scientific lines. Its success is common knowledge. Advertisers
along other lines will not much longer be content.
We who can meet the test welcome these changed conditions.
Advertisers will multiply when they see that advertising can be
safe and sure. Small expenditures made on a guess will grow to
big ones on a certainty. Our line of business will be finer,
cleaner, when the gamble is removed. And we shall be prouder of
it when we are judged on merit.
*** The End ***
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