What Kind of Advertisements Pay—“Don’t Fail to See the Blizzard Saturday Night”—The Keynote of a $20,000,000 Sale—Selling Goods by the Mile—Watches for Bait—How to Get Five-Year Customers—“Trade With Me and Get a House and Lot”—Why Trade at Push and Pluck’s?—Bargains in Buttons Often Means High Prices in Broadcloth.
Thousands fail in business every year when an idea put into practical operation would have tided them over the trouble and opened the road to a competence. This chapter will tell you how to succeed. No man with common ability and industry who puts the half or even the quarter of these ideas into practice can possibly fail. The great thing is to make people buy your goods. But to induce them to purchase you must first of all call attention to what you have to sell. Here are a few of the ways in which this is to be done. The following methods will fairly compel the people to trade with you, but you must bear in mind that as soon as the influence of one device begins to flag it must be immediately succeeded by another.
The Interlined Advertisement.—Advertisements are not read unless persons are looking for something in that line. This is because they are all placed by themselves. Your bid for patronage must be put in the midst of the reading matter if it is to attract general attention. Many publishers will not do this, but your chief and only point in appearing in the paper is to have your advertisement read, and it pays better to insert it in a journal with 5,000 readers who will all see it than in one having 100,000 subscribers, hardly 100 of whom will glance at the advertisement. You can afford to pay handsomely if the publisher will give you a line of black-faced type to eight or ten lines of news. The Picturesque Name.—Have a name for your store such as will easily fit everybody’s mouth. “The Beehive,” “The Blizzard,” “The Buttercup,” or “The Bonanza,” are suggestive titles. Many customers are attracted by the talk of their acquaintances, and it is much easier to tell a friend that you bought an article at “The Hub,” or “The Sun,” than to attempt the unpronounceable name of a proprietor, or to give a forgotten number. Successful men in several lines of business assert that they owe much of their good fortune to the happy hit of a popular name.
The Pictorial Wreck.—A writer with the gift of a lively imagination can write something interesting in the way of a fanciful battle between customers and goods. Head lines, “Great Slaughter in —— (the taking name of your store),” “Wreck of Old Conservatism,” “Smash of High Prices,” “Ruined by the Rush.” Then would follow a graphic description of the charge of customers upon wares in which the store was almost wrecked by the enormous number of people who took advantage of the under-cost prices. People enjoy this kind of pleasantry, and the impulse to follow the crowd is almost irresistible. A certain New York house grew from a small to a great one by this method of advertising. Red Letter Day.—Have a day in which you offer special bargains to the people of a certain town, village or hamlet. Put up flaming posters, announcing “Squashville day,” “Jonesboro Day,” “Bloomington day.”
Class Discount.—You may draw numbers of men to your place by this means. Secret fraternities, workingmen’s orders, church societies, wheelmen’s leagues, will be attracted to you if they know you specially favor them. Fortunes have been made by close attention to these great organizations.
The Honest Flaw.—Strictly instruct your clerks to tell your customers the precise nature of every article; if the quality is inferior, make them to understand exactly what they are getting for their money; and if there be a flaw, let them be careful to point it out. By such means thousands of people who cannot trust their own judgment in these matters, will be attracted to a place where they are certain to be treated fairly. A. T. Stewart, who began business in a modest store, and who, in the latter part of his life sold $20,000,000 worth of goods every year, declared that this plan was the keynote of his success. The Premium Clerk.—You need clerks who can induce acquaintances to visit your store, cajole visitors into customers, and coax customers to become larger buyers. If you have a number of clerks and your business will admit of it, offer a monthly premium to the one who brings into the store the largest number of new buyers or into the cash-drawer the heaviest receipts. There are certain kinds of business where this plan will work, and will be provocative of such competition as greatly to increase trade.
The Railroad Mileage.—Arrange, if possible, with some railroad company to issue mileage tickets as premiums to those who will trade with you. At two cents a mile you could afford to give two miles of travel for every one dollar’s worth of goods. At that rate $500 worth of goods would buy a $20 mileage ticket.
The Dial Dollars.—How many figures on the dial of your watch? Twenty-eight, counting the number VI, which is generally either omitted or only partly indicated. Fix a big dial two feet or more in diameter in some prominent part of your store, and announce that when a customer has traded an amount equal to the total figures on the dial you will present him with a watch. Of course, the timepiece would be a very cheap one, but many a parent will trade with you for the sake of getting a watch for his child. First Customer Package.—In some periods of the day you will have more custom than you can well attend to, while at other times you will have nothing to do. The following plan will perhaps help to equalize trade, and also give you additional buyers: Suspend a package in some conspicuous part of your store with the announcement thereon that it will be given free to the first customer in the morning.
The Carpet Coupon.—By a system of large-sized coupons—we will say a foot square—you can put into practice a unique system that will appeal to the heart of every housewife. Publish that you will give a free carpet of a certain size and grade when a fixed amount has been traded. A square foot of a coupon represents a sum of money spent in the store—perhaps one dollar. Every woman by measuring her room can learn how many dollars’ worth of goods she must buy before she can have a free carpet.
The House Lot Coupon.—This is an extension of carpet coupon. A certain amount of purchased goods entitles one to a building lot, which, if in the country, need not be of great cost. Have the particular lots selected and advertised. Another plan is to offer the lot to the largest purchaser within a certain time—possibly five years. This is a good way to hold on to customers.
Price-Time Grade.—If you have the credit system, have also a gradation of prices so as to encourage people to pay at the earliest possible time. A system like this would do—forty days full price; thirty days, two per cent. off; twenty days, three per cent. off; ten days, four per cent. off; cash, five per cent. off. Sales Bulletin.—People like to buy where others buy. Success brings success. If you are doing well, you may do better. Have a large bulletin board in front of your store, or near it, announcing your sales for the past week. Newspapers boom themselves in like manner by publishing their enormous circulation.
Best Reason Prize.—Offer a prize to the one who will give the best reason for trading at Push & Pluck’s, and then insert in the form of an advertisement in a leading paper a list of the best reasons. Six months before Christmas offer presents to all who will trade a certain amount before that holiday.
Birthday Calendar.—A calendar with the birthdays of your customers (age of course omitted), would attract attention, and the offer to give a present to any one trading a certain amount before his birthday would certainly add to your receipts.
Conspicuous Price-List.—Buyers are caught like fish. Display in your window a list of cut prices. Passers-by who cannot resist the opportunity of a bargain will come in, and often be induced to purchase the goods which are not reduced.
The Early Discount.—In order to equalize the trade of the day announce that you will give a slight discount to persons trading during the dull hours.
The Money-Space Counter.—Determine that every portion of your store shall pay. Have every lineal foot of your counters calculated at a certain rate of profit. If you find a department that does not pay, change methods or your goods, and if still unsuccessful drop it. Many large dealers fail because they keep departments where the expenses are more than the profits. But if every foot of room pays only a little, the entire store must pay handsomely.
It will be seen in the foregoing how every leading impulse in human nature is appealed to—curiosity and cupidity, honesty and economy, personal flattery and local pride. If, in addition to these powerful inducements to patronage, you combine shrewdness in buying and cautiousness in trusting, if your goods are excellent in quality and generous in quantity, if your place of business is neat and attractive, and your service marked by promptness and politeness; then it is impossible to fail; you have all the elements of prosperity, and are certain to be a great and successful merchant.