Advertising Cost


Chapter Ten:

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.  Test 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 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 b e done 
on new things which some popular fashion or widespread influence is 
bring 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 than 42.50 each.  It is reasonable to suppose that 
sales made through dealers on like articles ill 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 cu re 
trouble, but people in general will do little to prevent it.  This 
has been proved by 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 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 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 
     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.
Return to Book Intro and Chapter Index:  Scientific Advertising
Continue to the next Chapter: Advertising Information


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