Claude Hopkins, 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 – Information
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 comes up.
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 coffees 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 toothpaste 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 toothpaste 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. There-to-fore 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 measured up. 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 mans desk. 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 circulation. 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 advertisement. 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 mans field.
Scientific Advertising – Strategy
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 Soap, etc. That may be a great advantage. The name is usually conspicuously displayed. Many a name has proved to be the greatest factor in an articles 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 stories 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 ones 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 selling.
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 consumption. 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 fight. Such fields are being constantly invaded. But it is done through some convincing advantage, or through very superior salesmanship-in-print.
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 long-established favor.
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 ones trade. This must be considered in ones original plan. One must have foresight to see all eventualities, and the wisdom to establish his defenses in advance.
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 Horlicks 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 chapter. 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 direction.
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.
Scientific Advertising- 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 records. 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 of space.
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 soon forget. 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 test. You say that is expensive. So is it expensive to gain a prospects 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 check.
Again samples enable you to refer customers where they can be supplied. This is important before you attain general distribution.
Many advertisers lose much by being penny-wise. 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,” in your ads. And that 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 number.
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 store.
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 local store.
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 checking.
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 bought up.
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 stunned.
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.
Scientific Advertising — Getting distribution
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 like this.
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.
There you have it. The secrets to successful marketing and advertising
Check back soon as we reveal chapters 15 – 20