Advertising Psychology




Chapter Six


     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 when ever we can.  Puffed Wheat and 
Puffed Rice were made successful largely trough 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 $1.00 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 
     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 dealer's 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 
     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.

     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 week.' But he added, 'Come and pay me then.' I naturally 
bought the second man's 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 buyer's 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 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 
man's 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 that 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 fear 
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 that
 to simply say "It's free."
     So with sampling.  Hand an unwanted product to a housewife and 
she pays  it slight respect.  She is in 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 you r 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 woman's 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 o 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.
Return to Book Intro and Chapter Index:  Scientific Advertising
Continue to next Chapter: Advertising Specific


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