"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." Page 8
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 concepts. 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 very 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 amusement, long or short. Consider them as prospects standing before you, seeking for information. Give them enough to get action.
Think from the customer's point of view when you write copy:
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.
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 your 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. Gime 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 product.
The ads are based entirely on service. They offer wanted information. They cite 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 or risks. Some of these ads seems altruistic. But they are based on the knowledge of human nature. The writers know ho people are led to buy.
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 buy.
How can one find what ads are worth learning from? Ones that track direct sales. This no longer is just mail order, but affiliate and online display ads.
The severest test of an advertising man is 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.
"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 that it pays." Page 18
Mail order advertising usually contains a coupon. That is there to cut out as a reminder of something the reader has decided to do. 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 [sic] tests, and he does not propose to accept it. So he inserts that reminder to be cut out, and [is returned] when the reader is ready to act.
The purpose of the headline is to pick out the people you can interest. You wish to talk to someone in the crowd. So the first thing you say is, "Hey there, Bill Jones" to get the right person's attention.
So in an advertisement. What you hace will interest certain people only, and for certain reasons. You care only for those people. Then create a headline which will hail those people only.
People only will consume what interests them:
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 benefitted. They want economy, beauty, labor saving, 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.
On finding the right approach (or approaches)
The writer has before him keyed returns on nearly two thousand headlines used on a single product. The story in these ards are nearly identical. But the returns vary enormously due to the headlines. So with every keyed retun in our record appears the headlines that we used.
Thus we learn what type of headline has the most wide-spread 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.
That does not mean we neglect the others. One sort of appeal may bring half the retuns of another, yet be important enough to be profitable. We overllok no field that pays. But we know what proportion of our ads should, in the headline, attract any certain class.
For this same reason we employ a vast variety of ads. If we are using twnty magazines we may use twenty separate ads. This because circulation's overlap, and because a considerable percantage of people are attracted by each of several forms of approach. We wish to reach them all.
Don't think that those millions wll read your ads to find our if your product interests. They will decide by a glance - by your headline or your pictures. Address the people you seek, and them only.
What actually motivates people? These following, at least:
We learn, for instance, that curiosity is one of the strongest human incentives. We employ it whenver we can. Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice were made successful largely through curiousity. "Grains puffed to 8 times the normal size." "Food 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. American are extravagent. 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 750,00. 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 and then surround it.
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 impressive.
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 verans 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.
Speaking in generalities, of any sort, erodes credibility. Speaking in specifics adds credibility to claims.
Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a duck. They leave no imoression whatever. To say, "Best in the world," "Lowest price in existance," 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 you make.
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 respecet in advertising has largely come through a growing regard for its truth. So a definite statement is usally 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 arugument may often be multipled 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.
No generality has any weight whatsoever. 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 their value.
WHen you once get a person's attention, then is the time to accomplish all you 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. Page 38
There is a fixed rule on this subject of brevity. One sentence may tell a complete story on a line (product category) like chewing gum. It may on an article like Cream of Wheat. But, whether long or short, an advertising story should be reasonibly complete. Page 40
Never be guided by any way by ads that are untraced (tested). Never do anyhthing because some uninformed advertiser considers that something is right. Never be led in new paths by the blind. Apply to your advertising ordinary common sense. Take the opinion of nobody, whom knows nothing about his returns. Page 41
Pictures in advertising are very expensive. Not in the 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. Page 42
Pictures in may [categories] form a major factor. Omitting the lines where the article itself should be pictured. In some lines, like Arrow Collars and in most clothing advertisings, pictures have proved most convincing. Not only 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 these desired positions. Page 43
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 compares 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. Page 44
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 counteless advertisers try to do thigns almost as impossible just because questions are not ably considered, and results are traced but unknown.
Another toothpaste manufacturer 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 in no way commesurate with his expenditure.
No advertiser could afford to educate people on vitamins or germacides. 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.
Prevention vs. Cure
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 by many dissappointments.
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. Test will probably show that the latter appeal is many times strong as the former. The most successful tooth paste advertisers never feature tooth troubles in his headlines. Test have proven them unappealing. Other advertisers in this line center on those troubles. That is often because results are not known an compared.