Advertising Salesmanship

Chapter Two:

Just Salesmanship

     To properly understand advertising or to learn even its 
rudiments one must start with the right conception.  Advertising is 
salesmanship.  Its principles are the principles of salesmanship.  
Successes and failures in both lines are due to like causes.  Thus 
every advertising question should be answered by the salesman's 
     Let us emphasize that point.  The only purpose of advertising 
is to make sales.  It is profitable or unprofitable according to 
its actual sales.  
     It is not for general effect.  It is not to keep your name 
before the people.  It is not primarily to aid your other salesmen.
     Treat it as a salesman.  Force it to justify itself.  Compare 
it with other salesmen.  Figure its cost and result.  Accept no 
excuses which good salesmen do not make.  Then you will not go far 
     The difference is only in degree.  Advertising is multiplied 
salesmanship.  It may appeal to thousands while the salesman talks 
to one.  It involves a corresponding cost.  Some people spend $10 
per word on an average advertisement.  Therefore every ad should 
be a super - salesman.
     A salesman's mistake may cost little.  An advertisers mistake 
may cost a thousand times that much.  Be more cautious, more 
exacting, therefore.
     A mediocre salesman may affect a small part of your trade.  
Mediocre advertising affects all of your trade.
     Many think of advertising as ad-writing.  Literary 
qualifications have no more to do with it than oratory has with 
     One must be able to express himself briefly, clearly and 
convincingly, just as a salesman must.  But fine writing is a 
distinct disadvantage.  So is unique literary style.  They take 
attention from the subject.  They reveal the hook.  Any studies d 
attempt to sell, if apparent, creates corresponding resistance.
     That is so in personal salesmanship as in 
salesmanship-in-print.  Fine talkers are rarely good salesman.  
They inspire buyers with the fear of over-influence.  They create 
the suspicion that an effort is made to sell them on other lines 
than merit.
     Successful salesmen are rarely good speech makers.  They have 
few oratorical graces.  They are plain and sincere men who know 
their customers and know their lines.  So it is in ad-writing.

     Many of the ablest men in advertising are graduate salesmen.  
The best we know have been house-to-house canvassers.  They may 
know little of grammar, nothing of rhetoric, but they know how to 
use words that convince.  
     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 conceits.  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 for 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.
     Some advocate large type and big headlines.  Yet they do not 
admire salesmen who talk in loud voices.  People read all they care 
to read in 8-point type.  Our magazines and newspapers are printed 
in that type.  Folks are accustomed to it.  Anything  louder  is 
like loud conversation.  It gains no attention worth while.  It may 
not be offensive, but it is useless and wasteful.  It multiplies 
the cost of your story.  And to many it seems loud and blatant.
     Others look for something queer and unusual.  They want ads 
distinctive in style or illustration.  Would you want that in a 
salesman? Do not men who act and dress in normal ways make a far 
better impression?
     Some insist in dressy ads.  That is all right to a certain 
degree, but is quite important.  Some poorly-dressed men, prove to 
be excellent salesmen.  Over dress in either is a fault.
     So with countless questions.  Measure them by salesmen's 
standards, not by amusement standards.  Ads are not written to 
entertain.  When they do, those entertainment seekers are little 
likely to be the people whom you want.
     That is one of the greatest advertising faults.  Ad writers 
abandon their parts.  They forget they are salesmen and try to be 
performers.  Instead of sales, they seek applause.  
     When you plan or prepare an advertisement, keep before you a 
typical buyer.  Your subject, your headline has gained his or her 
attention.  Then in everything be guided by what you would do if 
you met the buyer face-to-face.  If you are a normal man and a good 
salesman you will then do your level best.
     Don't think of people in the mass.  That gives you a blurred 
view.  Think of a typical individual, man or women, who is likely 
to want what you sell.  Don't try to be amusing.  Money spending is 
a serious matter.  Don't boast, for all people resent it.  Don't 
try to show off.  Do just what you think a good salesman should do 
with a half-sold person before him.
     Some advertising men go out in person and sell to people 
before they plan to write an ad.  One of the ablest of them has 
spent weeks on one article, selling from house to house.  In this 
way they learn the reactions from different forms of argument and 
approach.  They learn what possible buyers want and the factors 
which don't appeal.   It is quite customary to interview hundreds 
of possible customers.
     Others send out questionnaires to learn the attitude of the 
buyers.  In some way all must learn how to strike responsive 
chords.  Guesswork is very expensive.
     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.
     This book will contain no more important chapter than this one 
on salesmanship.  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 profitable, 
in person or in print, when that attitude exists.
Return to Book Intro and Chapter Index:  Scientific Advertising
Continue to next Chapter: Advertising Service


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