”Perhaps the most brilliant marketing mind to ever walk the planet. He took the principles we all use to catapult our businesses to new heights. The difference is we are using technology, while he used the pen and paper. He was a mastermind marketer and one of the world’s most savvy advertisers. Everyone can learn a million lessons from reading and re-reading Scientific Advertising.
Scientific Advertising – Psychology
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 respect.
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 dealers 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 mans 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 buyers name in gilt lettering on each book.” That was done, and with scarcely another change in the ads they sold some hundreds of thousands of books. 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 mans 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 advantage.
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 womans’ long established next door rival had to quit.
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 somehow.
Scientific Advertising -Being specific
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 truth. 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 announcement.
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 became commonplace. 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 advertising. “Used the world over” is a very elastic claim. Then one advertiser said, “Used by the peoples of 52 nations,” and many others followed.
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 way. 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 ones health. But specific claims when made in print are taken at their value.
Scientific Advertising -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 persons 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 again 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 businessman, 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 comparative merits.
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 interesting.
So with everything. You may be simply trying to change a woman from one breakfast food to another, one toothpaste, 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, the verdict of nobody, whom knows nothing about his returns.
Scientific Advertising – 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 artwork. 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 adventure.
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 yourself 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 fools cap. But he would ruin his selling prospects.
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 you want.
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 conviction. Generalities cannot be applied to art. There are seeming exceptions to most statements. Each line must be studied by itself.
But the picture must help sell the goods. It should help more than anything else could do in like space, else use that something else.
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 artwork 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 probable 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 exhibition.
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, ones power to get the maximum results.
Scientific Advertising – 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 result.
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 unknown.
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 already converted.
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 toothbrush. 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 expenditure.
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 yeast’s, 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 $2.50 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 toothpaste 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 toothpaste 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 profit. 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.
There you have it. The secrets to successful marketing and advertising
Check back soon as we reveal chapters 11-14