Chapter 4



Success of the “Imitation Cigar”—The Dealer’s Seeds of Gold are Black—Barnum’s Belief in Humbugs—Tricks for Trade—Politics for the Men, Novels for the Women—How the Remington Typewriter was Boomed—A Business Man’s Experience in Advertising.

New articles in all lines of trade are constantly appearing. Inventors of mechanical appliances, authors of books, proprietors of patent medicines, introducers of something novel in groceries, and promoters of new departures in dry and fancy goods, are all anxious to have the public take their products and pay them in cash. The problem is how to introduce the article. However meritorious it may be, it is useless unless the people find it out. The following are believed to be unique methods of advertising:

  1. The Puzzle.—Buy some patented puzzle which can be manufactured cheap and scattered broadcast over the land. There is no better way to advertise. If men do not solve the puzzle, they will remember what is stamped on it. The “Get-off-the-earth-Chinese puzzle” enormously advertised its purchasers.
  2. The Toy Imitation.—Wooden nutmegs and shoe-peg oats have duly advertised the shrewd ways of the people of Connecticut. A man recently made a hit by the “imitation cigar,” which is only a piece of wood of the shape and color of a cigar. Every boy wants one. As an advertising medium it was an immense success. Think of something as common and cheap as a cigar, get up an imitation for the children, have your enterprise stamped upon it, and it will go from one end of the land to the other.
  3. The Cartoon.—A caricature of some political person or situation is always taking. Hit off some social craze, or give a witty representation of some matter of passing interest. Drops of ink in this way are seeds of gold, and the harvest will be golden.
  4. The Conjurer.—This is a good way to advertise when the article is a cheap affair which can be shown in the street. There are few things so attractive to the masses as the tricks of the sleight-of-hand performer. Mr. P. T. Barnum uttered at least an half-truth when he said the people liked to be humbugged. For a few dollars you can get an equipment, and in a few days’ practice you can acquire enough of the art for your purpose. You can draw a crowd wherever there are people. When you have performed a few tricks, your climax should be a shrewd advertisement which can be worked into the last performance.
  5. The Striking Figure.—If your goods are on sale in some prominent store, this device is sure to draw attention. Make a figure of some animal or vegetable or other form, if your article will lend itself to such a work. The figure could be some prominent man, or represent an historic scene, or illustrate some popular movement. A dealer in confectionery had in his window a bicycle made all of candy.
  6. The Advertising Story.—Offer a prize to the one who will write the best story about the merits of your article. The latter must be brought deftly into the story, and the award should be based upon the merits of the literary production and the skill in the use of the advertisement. Every competitor should be required to buy a small number of the articles, and the story should be published.
  7. The Word-Builder.—Another prize might be offered to the one who could compose the greatest number of words from the name of your article or invention. The name ought to include at least a dozen letters, and there should be a set of rules for building words. Every contestant must buy your invention from whose title he is to build words.
  8. The Popular Pun.—This is an expensive way of advertising, but an immensely paying one. You make a pun upon some fad of the day, a hit upon some general craze, a piercing of some passing bubble, a political quib. Something of this nature printed several times in the issue of the daily papers would make your venture known to everybody.
  9. The Political Guesser.—If your, enterprise admits of the coupon system, offer a prize to the one who will guess the successful candidate at the next election, and come the nearest to the figures of his plurality. The contestant must purchase one of your articles, and in this way hundreds of thousands may be sold. Every presidential election is the occasion of the floating of many things by this scheme.
  10. The Geometrical Group.—Some wares, such as fancy soaps and canned goods, admit of a grouping which is very attractive to the eye. Pyramids, cones, circles, and towers, always draw attention. Some mechanical device whereby motion is produced will be sure to draw a crowd to your show window.
  11. The Pictorial Comparison.—If you are sure of your ground, draw a diagram or other figure, comparing your staple with those of others in the market. In this way the Royal Baking Powder Company pushed to the front, comparing with heavy black lines its product with the outputs of other companies.
  12. The Open Challenge.—And if you are still further confident that you have the best thing of its kind, you may issue a challenge to your competitors. Make it apparent that you are anxious, even clamorous, for a trial of your product against others. By this means you will establish yourself in the confidence of the public. The Remington Typewriter was boomed in this way.
  13. The Book Gift.—Try the religious field. Issue leaflets or tiny books with paper covers, costing not more than two or three dollars a thousand, and offer them as gifts to Sunday-schools or other children’s organization. Most Sunday-school superintendents would be glad to give away booklets of this kind if they could be obtained free of charge. The books should contain a bright story, a few pictures, and, of course, a taking presentation of your wares.
  14. Sunday-school Supplies.—In some cases, you might even be warranted in issuing the supplies of a Sunday school, at least for a portion of the year. The books in the last number might not in every case be read, but the picture papers, lesson leaves, and other helps, are all looked over, even if not studied. You could in many cases present them, reserving large advertising space for yourself so as to net a good profit. The class of customers thus obtained would be the very best. Do not hope for large returns unless you are willing to spend money. Money is the manure that creates crops, the blood that makes fatness, the wind that fans fortune, the sap that runs into golden fruit. Money is the bread on the waters that “returneth after many days.” It seems like the sheerest folly to spend so much in advertising, but you cannot reap bountifully unless you sow bountifully. “For every dollar spent in advertising,” declares a successful merchant, “I have reaped five.”

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