Advertising Samples



Chapter Thirteen:    

Use of Samples

The product itself should be its own best salesman. Not the product alone, but the product plus a mental impression, and atmosphere, which you place around it. That being so, samples of prime importance. However expensive, they usually form the cheapest selling method. A salesman might as well go out without his sample case as an advertiser.
     Sampling does not apply to little things alone, like foods or 
proprietaries.  It can be applied in some way to almost every 
thing.  We have sampled clothing.  We are  now sampling phonograph 
     Samples serve numerous valuable purposes.  They enable one to 
use the word "Free" in ads.  That often multiplies readers.  Most 
people want to learn about an offered gift.  Test often show that 
samples pay for themselves - perhaps several times over - in 
multiplying the readers of your ads without  additional cost of 
     A sample gets action.  The reader of your ad may not be 
convinced to the point of buying.  But he is ready to learn more about 
the product that you offer.  So he cuts out a coupon, lays it 
aside, and later mails it or presents it.  Without that coupon he 
would soon forget.
     Then you have the name and address of an interested prospect.  
You can start him using your product.  You can give him fuller 
information.  You can follow him up.
     That reader might not again read one of your ads in six 
months.  Your impression would be lost.  But when he writes you, 
you have a chance to complete with that prospect all that can be 
done.  In that saving of waste the sample pays for itself.
     Sometimes a small sample is not a fair test.  Then we may send 
an order on the dealer for a full-size package.  Or we may make the 
coupon good for a package at the store.  Thus we get a longer test.
     You say that is expensive.   So is it expensive to gain a 
prospect's interest.  It may cost you 50 cents to get the person to 
the point of writing for a sample.  Don't stop at 15 cents 
additional to make that interest valuable.
     Another  way in which samples pay is by keying your 
advertisements.  They register the interest you create.  Thus you 
can compare one with the another ad, headline, plan and method.
     That means in any line an enormous savings.  The wisest, most 
experienced man cannot tell what will most appeal in any line of 
copy.  Without a key to guide you, your returns are very apt to 
cost you twice  what they need cost.  And we know that
some ads on the same product will cost ten times what others 
cost.  A sample may pay for itself several times over by giving you 
an accurate check.
     Again samples enable you to refer customers where they can be 
supplied.  This is important before you attain general distribution.

     Many advertisers lose much by being pennywise.  They are 
afraid of imposition, or they try to save pennies.  That is why 
they ask ten cents for a sample,  or a stamp or two.  Getting that 
dime may cost them from 40 cents to $1.  That is, it may add that 
to the cost of replies.  But it is remarkable how many will pay 
that addition rather than offer a sample free.
     Putting a price on a sample greatly retards replies.  Then it 
prohibits you from using the word "Free," as we have stated, will 
generally more than pay for your samples.
     For the same reason some advertisers say, "You buy one 
package, we will buy the other."  Or they make a coupon good for 
part of the purchase price.  Any keyed returns will clearly prove 
that such offers do not pay.  Before a prospect is converted, it 
is approximately as hard to get half price for your article as to 
get the full price for it.
     Bear in mind that you are the seller.  You are the one 
courting interest.  Then don't make it difficult to exhibit that 
interest.  Don't ask your prospects to pay for your selling 
efforts.  Three in four will refuse to pay - perhaps nine in ten.
     Cost of requests for samples differ in every line.  It depends 
on your breadth of appeal.  Some things appeal to everybody, some 
to a small percentage.  One issue of the papers in Greater New York 
brought 1,460,000 request for a can of evaporate d milk.  On a 
chocolate drink, one-fifth the coupons published are presented.  
Another line not widely used may bring a fraction of that number.
     But the cost of inquiries is usually enough to be important.  
Then don't neglect them.  Don't stint your efforts with those you 
have half sold.  An inquiry means that a prospect has read your 
story and is interested.  He or she would like to try
 your product and learn more about it.  Do what you would do if 
that prospect stood before you.
     Cost of inquiries depends largely on how they come.  Asking 
people to mail the coupon brings minimum returns.  Often four times 
as many will present that coupon for a sample at the store.
     On a line before the writer now, sample inquiries obtained by 
mail average 70 cents each.  The same ads bring inquiries at from 
18 cents to 22 cents each when the coupons are presented at a local 
     Most people write few letters.  Writing is an effort.  Perhaps 
they have no stamps in the house.  Most people will pay carfare to 
get a sample rather than two cents postage.  Therefore, it is 
always best, where possible, to have samples delivered locally.
     On one line three methods were offered.  The woman could write 
for a sample, or telephone, or call at a store.  Seventy per cent 
of the inquiries came by telephone.  The use of the telephone is 
more common and convenient than the use of stamps.
     Sometimes it is not possible to supply all dealers with 
samples.  Then we refer people to some central stores.  These 
stores are glad to have many people come there.  And other dealers 
do not generally object so long as they share in the sales.
     It is important to have these dealers send you the coupons 
promptly.  Then you can follow up the inquiries while their 
interest is fresh.
     It is said that sample users repeat.  They do to some extent.  
But repeaters form a small percentage.  Figure it in your cost.
     Say to the woman, "Only one sample to a home" and few women 
will try to get more of them.  And the few who cheat you are not 
generally the people who would buy.  So you are not losing 
purchasers, but the samples only.
     On numerous lines we have for long offered full-sized packages 
free.  The packages were priced at from 10 cents to 50 cents each.  
In certain territories for a time we have checked up on repeaters.  
And we found the loss much less than the cost of checking
     In some lines samples would be wasted on children, and they 
are most apt to get them.  Then say in your coupon "adults only."  
Children will not present such coupons, and they will rarely mail 
them in.
     But one must be careful about publishing coupons good for a 
full-size package at any store.  Some people, and even dealers, may 
buy up many papers.  We do not announce the date of such offers.  
And we insert them in Sunday papers, not so easily bought up.
     But we do not advocate samples given out promiscuously.  
Samples distributed to homes, like waifs on the doorsteps, probably 
never pay.  Many of them never reach the house the housewife.  When 
they do, there is no prediction for them.  The product is 
cheapened.  It is not introduced in a favorable way.
     So with demonstrations in stores.  There is always a way to 
get the same results at a fraction of the cost.
     Many advertisers do not understand this.  They supply 
thousands of samples to dealers to be handed out as they will.  
Could a trace be placed on the cost of returns, the advertiser 
would be stunned.
     Give samples to interested people only.  Give them only to 
people who exhibit that interest by some effort.  Give them only to 
people whom you have told your story.  First create an atmosphere 
of respect, a desire, an expectation.  When people are in that 
mood, your sample will usually confirm the qualities you claim.
     Here again comes the advantage of figuring cost per customer.  
That is the only way to gauge advertising.  Samples sometimes seem 
to double advertising cost.  They often cost more than the 
advertising.  Yet, rightly used,  they almost invariably
 form the cheapest way to get customers.  And that is what you want.
     The argument against samples are usually biased.  They may 
come from advertising agents who like to see all the advertising 
money spent in print.  Answer such arguments by tests.  Try some 
towns with them, some without.  Where samples are effectively 
employed, we rarely find a line where they do not lesson the cost 
per customer.
Return to Book Intro and Chapter Index:  Scientific Advertising
Continue to the next Chapter: Advertising Distribution



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