This is another phase of advertising which all of us have to consider. It enters or should enter, into all campaigns. Every businessman receives a large number of circular letters. Most of them go directly to the waste basket. But he acts on others, and others are filed for reference.
Analyze those letters. The ones you act on or the ones you keep have a headline that attracted your interest. At a glance, they offer something that you want, something you may wish to know.
Remember that point in all advertising.
A certain buyer spends $50,000,000 per year. Every letter, every circular which comes to his desk gets its deserved attention. He wants information on the lines he buys.
But we have often watched him. In one minute a score of letters may drop into the waste basket. Then one is laid aside. That is something to consider at once. Another is filed under the heading “Varnish.” And later when he buys varnish that letter will turn up.
That buyer won several prizes for articles on good buying. His articles were based on information. Yet the great masses of matter which came to him never got more than a glance.
The same principles apply to all advertising. Letter writers overlook them just as advertisers do. They fail to get the right attention. They fail to tell what buyers wish to know.
One magazine sends out millions of letters annually. Some to get subscriptions, some to sell books. Before the publisher sends out five million letters he tests a few thousand. He may try twenty-five letters, each with a thousand prospects. He learns what results will cost. Perhaps the plan is abandoned because it appears unprofitable. If not, the letter which pays best is the letter that he uses.
Just as men are doing now in all scientific advertising.
Mail-order advertisers do likewise. They test their letters as they test their ads. A general letter is never used until it proves itself best among many actual returns.
Letter writing has much to do with advertising. Letters to inquirers, follow-up letters. Wherever possible they should be tested. Where that is not possible, they should be based on knowledge gained by tests.
We find the same difference in letters as in ads. Some get action, some do not. Some complete a sale, and some forfeit the impression gained. These are letters, going usually to half-made converts, that are tremendously important. Experience generally shows that a two-cent letter gets no more attention than a one-cent letter. Fine stationery no more than poor stationery. The whole appeal lies in the matter.
A letter that goes to an inquirer is like a salesman going to an interested prospect. You know what created that interest. Then follow it up along that line, not on some different argument. Complete the impression already created. Don’t undertake another guess.
Do something if possible to get immediate action. Offer some inducement for it. Or tell what delay may cost.
Note how many successful selling letters place a limit on an offer. It expires on a certain date. That is all done to get a prompt decision, to overcome the tendency to delay.
A mail-order advertiser offered a catalog. The inquirer might send for three or four similar catalogs. He had that competition in making a sale.
So he wrote a letter when he sent his catalog, and enclosed a personal card. He said, “You are a new customer, and we want to make you welcome. So when you send your order please enclose this card. The writer wants to see that you get a gift with your order – something you can keep.”
With an old customer, he gave some other reason for the gift. The offer aroused curiosity. It gave preference to his catalog. Without some compelling reason for ordering elsewhere, the woman sent the order to him. The gift paid for itself several times over by bringing larger sales per catalog.
There are many ways for getting action. Rarely can one way be applied to two lines. But the principles are universal. Strike while the iron is hot. Get a decision then. Have it followed by prompt action when you can.
You can afford to pay for prompt action rather than lose by delay. One advertiser induced hundreds of thousands of women to buy six packages of his product and send him the trademarks, to secure a premium offer good only for one week.
Written in 1923, Scientific Advertising is published here as 21 blog posts – one for each chapter.