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 stream 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 other 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 per cent of their cost when they
might get 150 per cent. And the facts could be easily proved.
We see wasted space, frivolity, clever conceits,
entertainment. Costly pages filled with palaver which, if employed
by salesman, would reflect on his sanity. But those ads are always
un-keyed. 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 are being
spent without knowledge of results. Such a policy applied to all
factors in a business would bring ruin 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 best.
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 fate.
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 trend."
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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