Advertising Strategy



Chapter Twelve:


Advertising is much like war, minus the venom. Or much, if you prefer, like a game of chess. We are usually out to capture others' citadels or garner others' trade.
     We must have skill and knowledge.  We must have training and 
experience, also right equipment.  We must have proper ammunition, 
and enough.  We dare not underestimate opponents.  Our intelligence 
department is a vital factor, as told in the previous chapter.  We 
need alliances with dealers, as another chapter tells.  We also 
need strategy of the ablest sort, to multiply the value of our 
     Sometimes in new campaigns comes the question of a name.  That 
may be most important.  Often the right name is an advertisement in 
itself.  It may tell a fairly complete story, like Shredded Wheat, 
Cream of Wheat, Puffed Rice, Spearmint Gum, Palmolive Soap, etc.
     That may be a great advantage.  The name is usually 
conspicuously displayed.  Many a name has proved to be the greatest 
factor in an article's success.  Other names prove a distinct 
disadvantage - Toasted Corn Flakes, for instance.  Too many others 
may share a demand with the man who builds it up.
     Many coined names without meaning have succeeded.  Kodak, Karo 
etc., are examples.  They are exclusive.  The advertiser who gives 
them meaning never needs to share his advantage.  But a significant 
name which helps to impress a dominant claim is certainly a good 
advantage. Names that tell stories have been worth millions of
dollars. So a great deal of research often precedes the selection
of a name.
     Sometimes a price must be decided.  A high price creates 
resistance.  It tends to limit one's field.  The cost of getting an 
added profit may be more than the profit.  
     It is a well-known fact that the greatest profits are made on 
great volume at small profit.  Campbell's Soups, Palmolive Soap, 
Karo Syrup and Ford cars are conspicuous examples.  A price which 
appeals only to - say 10 percent - multiplies the cost of 
     But on other lines high price is unimportant.  High profit is 
essential.  The line may have small sale per customer.  One hardly 
cares what he pays for a corn remedy because he uses little.  The 
maker must have a large margin because of small consumption.
     On other lines a higher price may even be an inducement.  Such 
lines are judged largely by price.  A product which costs more than 
the ordinary is considered above the ordinary.  So the price 
question is always a very big factor in strategy.

     Competition must be considered.  What are the forces against 
you? What have they in price or quality or claims to weigh against 
your appeal? What have you to win trade against them? What have you 
to hold trade against them when you get it?
     How strongly are your rivals entrenched? There are some fields 
which are almost impregnable.  They are usually lines which create 
a new habit or custom and which typify that custom with consumers.  
They so dominate a field that one can hardly hope to invade it.  
They have volume, the profit to make a tremendous fight.
     Such fields are being constantly invaded.  But it is done 
through some convincing advantage, or through very superior 
     Other lines are only less difficult.  A new shaving soap, as 
an example.  About every possible customer is using a rival soap.  
Most of them are satisfied with it.  Many are wedded to it.  The 
appeal  must be strong enough to win those people from 
long-established favor.
     Such things are not accomplished by haphazard efforts.  Not by 
considering people in the mass and making blind stabs for their 
favors.  We must consider individuals, typical people who are using 
rival brands.  A man on a Pullman, for instance, using his 
favorite soap.  What could you say to him in person to get him to 
change to yours?  We cannot go after thousands of men until we 
learn how to win one.
     The maker may say that he has no distinctions.  He is making a 
good product, but much like others.  He deserves a good share of 
the trade, but he has nothing exclusive to offer.  However, there 
is nearly always something impressive which others have not told.  
We must discover it.  We must have a seeming advantage.  People 
don't quit habits without reason.
     There is the problem of substitution and how to head it off.  
That often steals much of one's trade.  This must be considered in 
one's original plan.  One must have foresight to see all 
eventualities, and the wisdom to establish his defenses in advance.
     Many pioneers in the line establish large demands.  Then, 
through some fault in their foundations, lose a large share of the 
harvest.  Theirs is a mere brand, for instance, where it might have 
stood for an exclusive product.
     Vaseline is an example.  That product established a new 
demand, then almost monopolized that demand  through wisdom at the 
start.  To have called it some different brand of petroleum jelly 
might have made a difference of millions in results.
     Jell-O, Postum, Victrola, Kodak, etc., established coined 
names which came to typify a product.  Some such names have been 
admitted to the dictionary.  They have become common names, though 
coined and exclusive.
     Royal Baking Powder and Toasted Corn Flakes, on the other 
hand, when they pioneered their fields, left the way open to 
perpetual substitution.  So did Horlick's Malted Milk.
     The attitude of dealers must be considered.  There is a 
growing inclination to limit lines, to avoid duplicate lines, to 
lesson inventories.  If this applies to your line, how will dealers 
receive it? If there is opposition, how can we circumvent it?
     The problems of distribution are important and enormous.  To 
advertise something that few dealers supply is a waste of 
ammunition.  Those problems will be considered in another chapter.
     These are samples of the problems which advertising men must 
solve.  These are some of the reasons why vast experience is 
necessary.  One oversight may cost the client millions in the end.  
One wrong piece of strategy may prohibit success.  Things done in 
one way may be twice as easy, half as costly, as when done another 
     Advertising without this preparation is like a waterfall going 
to waste.  The power might be there, but it is not made effective.  
We must center the force and direct it in a practical direction.
     Advertising often looks very simple.  Thousands of men claim 
ability to do it.   And there is still is a wide impression that 
many men can.  As a result, much advertising goes by favor.  But 
the men who know realize that the problems are as many
and as important as the problems in building a skyscraper.  And 
many of them lie in the foundations.
Return to Book Intro and Chapter Index:  Scientific Advertising

Continue to the next Chapter: Advertising Samples


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