System and Business Management

Salesmanship and Advertising

The True Creed of Advertising

HUGH CHALMERS December 1 1909
System and Business Management

Salesmanship and Advertising

The True Creed of Advertising

HUGH CHALMERS December 1 1909

Salesmanship and Advertising

System and Business Management

The True Creed of Advertising


THE relation of salesmanship to advertising is the closest relationship known — closer than friends; closer than a team under single yoke; closer than brothers; closer than a man and wife, as there can never be separation and divorce; all salesmanship is part advertising, and all advertising is part salesmanship; they are the twin screw engines that drive the ship of business; they are like a chemical compound, each contains the other and is itself the thing contained.

Nitrogen and glycerine each is a power alone, but when combined in the proper parts they make the most powerful explosive known. It takes knowledge to mix them and a spark to set off the mixture, but the results are tremendous.

So with salesmanship and advertising. Each is a power alone, but combine them and you have the greatest business-producing force known. It takes brains to create and combine them, and it takes nerve to touch them off, but the results are worth while.

Every ad. is a salesman ; every salesman is an ad. Advertising is salesmanship plus publicity. Salesmanship is advertising plus getting the order signed.

Advertising and salesmanship are alike in that in both you are trying to influence the human mind—trying to teach people to believe in you and your goods. Advertising is teaching; so is salesmanship..

The close relationship of salesmanship to advertising is most apparent, perhaps when we get clear down to bedrock and discover the real foundation of salesmanship—of doing business successfully. The whole business world rests upon a foundation of confidence. When confidence is gone, business is gone. Individual salesmanship depends upon confidence as much as any other transaction in business. If a man has confidence in you and in your goods you can sell him. You can not make many sales where confidence is lacking. If your prospect lacks confidence in you then your entire efforts must go to building up in

his mind a feeling of confidence. Now the greatest builder of confidence is publicity—advertising. Lack of confidence is usually due to ignorance. Unless you know a man well you haven’t confidence in him. Unless you know a business house well you haven’t confiedence in that house. The greatest foe of ignorance is publicity. The saying that “publicity corrects all abuses” is a true one. Advertising makes you acquainted with the public. It gives people knowledge about you and your goods, and knowledge is absolutely essential to confidence. Big advertising looks like big sales ; it makes people familiar with you ; it unconsciously creates confidence. Without a doubt, the greatest force to-day in the interest of confidence—in the interest of credit if you will—is advertising.

Advertising and salesmanship are identical in their object.

What is their object? The distribution of goods at a profit.

How can this be done? It is done by teaching. That is what advertising is—teaching. Teaching great numbers of people to believe in your goods. And that is what salesmanship is, too. But advertising conducts a public school, while salesmanship gives individual lessons.

One of the oldest chestnuts in the talk of advertising men is: “We must carry on a campaign of education.” Nearly every advertising magazine you pick up you read about some one carrying on a “campaign of education.” When an advertising agent is up against it for something to say to his client, he assures him, with great solemnity, that he must carry on a “campaign of education.” Let us get through with this old chestnut. All advertising campaigns are campaigns of education. If they are not education, they are not advertising at all.

The object of advertising is to teach people to believe in you and your goods ; to teach them to think that they have a need for your goods and to teach them to buy your goods.

And the object of a salesman when he goes into his territory is exactly the

same. Judging from some of the advertising i see, and from what I know of a great many salesmen, I am convinced that neither the advertising man, nor the salesman has plainly before him the object he is trying to accomplish. Of course, a man who does accomplish an object without knowing himself the object which he is trying to accomplish is only a fortunate victim of an accident. We all know that this kind of an accident very seldom takes place.

I once learned a valuable lesson from a School of Expression in Boston. I went there because they said they could teach any one to talk in public. I do not know that I learned much about speaking in public, but I learned this one thing, which has been worth a whole lot to me ever since. The first thing that this teacher told me was that I had to have an object in mind when I was addressing an audience. He said, “Now, what is your object? What do you want to tell these people ? Why are you going to talk to them? Get the object first fixed in your mind, and then talk about it, but if you get up to talk and haven’t any particular object in mind, you won’t make much of an impression.” Now this “object” business is not only good for public speaking, but in everything we do every day. If you are going to write an advertisement, what is the object of it? If you are going to hold a meeting of 6 or 7 of your people, what is the object? If you are going to print a paper for salesmen, what is the object of it? You can see from these applications what a great point that is.

I have been in the manufacturing business nearly all my life and I have found that it is much easier to make things than it is to sell them. It took me some time to figure this out. It finally dawned on me that the difference is caused through the fact that in one case you deal mostly with machinery and metals, while in the other you deal entirely with the human mind.

Machinery is a fixed quantity. You

know exactly what a machine can do and exactly what it will do under given conditions. It is very often automatic and requires little attention from anyone. It is nearly always the same. It never changes its mind. It is very seldom influenced by outside conditions. Nearly every one who has some money can start a factory and manufacture things, but it doesn’t follow that any one can sell things after manufacturing.

WTen you get on the other side of it and try to deal with humanity, you face very difl'erent problems. Humanity thinks. It has feelings. It has sensations, decisions, prejudices. It changes its mind. It is influenced by environment and the conditions surrounding it.

Here is a peculiar thing about humanity. It has always wanted and it wants now, teachers, leaders. People are willing to be taught. The man who makes a great success, I don’t care whether he is a business man, a lawyer, a politician, or an advertiser, is the one who goes into the teaching business.

Advertising and salesmanship form the connecting link between invention and the use of any article. All the best inventions of the world would have fallen flat had it not been for advertising and salesmanship—had it not been for teaching people the use of new things. Therefore, I think I will not be stating the case too strongly to say that advertising and salesmanship have done more to push the world ahead than anything else. Through advertising and salesmanship, men have been brought to see and appreciate the blessings which the world affords.

What is salesmanship? Salesmanship is nothing more nor less than making the other fellow feel as you do about what you have to sell. A sale does not take place in a man’s pocket, or in his pocket-book, or his check book, but it first takes place in his mind. In order to make a sale you must convince a man’s mind. When you go in to see him he feels that he

does, not want to buy your goods. You feel that he should have them and would buy them if he knew as much about the goods as you do. Now, in order to sell him you must change his mind and bring it around to agree with vour mind. So that when we once put salesmanship on this broad plane of convincing the other man’s mind, it doesn’t make any difference whether we are tr>;ng to sell a house and lot or a paper of pins.

Advertising is a process of salesmanship. It is a means toward making the other fellow feel as you do. Most frequently we hear that “advertising is salesmanship on paper.” This is not untrue, and yet it is not wholly true. Advertising is more than salesmanship. It is an insurance on the continuance of trade. It is salesmanship plus publicity.

To show the value of teaching salesmen what to say to prospective purchasers—suppose you were a manufacturer and could call all of your prospective purchasers together in one large tent, and you would have them there for the purpose of telling them about your goods. What would you do? First of all you would be mighty careful about the . man or men you picked out to talk to these people. You would pick out the man who could make the best ta1k, the man who, in the time he had to speak, could teach these people the most about your goods. You would want to know beforehand just what he was going to say before you would let him go on the platform. Now, what is the difference between talking to them one at a time? Then why not train your salesmen how to talk to each individual, since you would consider it so important to know what would be said to all of them at one time?

I believe if advertisers could get all of their readers together in one large tent, and would be able to say to these readers what they are saying to them in print, that nine-tenths of them would change their copy. If we were going to say things to people that we print, we would certainly be

more careful. Yet, there are more “bad breaks” being made to-day in advertising than in most anything else. Some advertisers seem to say everything but the right thing to their prospective customers. They would not think of talking about these same things if they were talking to these people.

It is, after all, all teaching, whether it is selling goods orally or selling them through printed matter. I am not foolish enough not to know that there are exceptions to this rule. I realize that there are certain well-established concerns who print very little about their goods and merely keep thfeir names before the public, but alñy one else who wishes to go into the same line ¡ of business will fail absolutely by following these same methods. The only way that any concern can hope to take away a share of the patronage of another well-established concern in the same line is to adopt different advertising and selling methods. It is necessary for the new concern to give a reason why people should change their place of trading. If a man wants to start in the hardware business, the shoe business, or any other business, it is not enough merely to put an advertisement in the paper saying that you are in the shoe business or hardware business and expect people who are buying elsewhere, and are fairly well satisfied, to change their place of trading, but in addition to stating that you are in the shoe business or the hardware business, you must give reasons why people should buy shoes or hardware from you.

I think more copy writers and advertisers take it for granted that the buying public knows a great deal about their goods ; at least, some of the copy would make you think so. They use all kinds of technical expressions and big words. I once heard it said that a man with big ideas uses little words to express himself, while the man with little ideas is always using big words to try to impress the people with the greatness of the little idea. Small words are more important in

advertising than in anything else. No one ever buys until they are convinced. You can’t convince them until they understand. They won’t understand unless you express yourself clearly, and the only way to express yourself clearly is to use small words that any one can understand. Most advertisers shoot over the heads of nine-tenths of the people they want to reach. They don’t understand the art of merely talking common-sense to these people —the same kind of talk they would use if they were trying to sell them orally.

Next to the .importance of what you say, is the way in which you say it. It is so in talking—it is so in advertising. The set-up of an advertisement is like the dress of a salesman. Suppose a salesman would go into a store to sell goods and would have on a hat of one color, a coat of another color, a vest of another, and green trousers. He might attract atention, but he would not make much of an impression. "Hie set-ups of some advertisements remind me very much of such wearing apparel on a salesman. Of course, this is exaggerated, but nevertheless you see the point. In my opinion an advertisement must be just as simple in form as the dress of a salesman. Some people write an advertisement and then put a lot of red lines or heavy black lines around it, or all kinds of curly-cues, so that the most important thing about the “ad” is the big red lines, or the fancy type or the fancy border, when, as a matter of fact, that is the very thing they want to subdue. Everything must be so arranged and the type so set that the attention is called to the most important thing and that is the statements you are making in the copy about the goods you want to sell. Everything must be subordinated to that.

Another thing in connection with copy: I think that all self-evident

things should be omitted, such as “Are you in business to make money?” “Are you satisfied with what you made last year?”—and a number of similar clauses, all of which are foolish, and

it is foolish to waste time talking about things that are self-evident. Of course the man is in business to make money and of course he is not satisfied with what he made last year if he can make more this year. Don’t waste time on non-essential things.

1 have always claimed that all you can hope to do is to get a man to read the first five or six lines of your copy, and if the first five or six lines are not interesting enough to cause him to read the balance, the fault is yours. He gave you the chance but you did not take advantage of it. To prove this—one time we sent <?ut one thousand circular letters, and they were all mailed under a one-cent stamp, and to show you that nearly all of these people opened the letter and read the first few lines, would sav that this circular was asking for prices on the goods which the man handled, and out of the 1.000 letters mailed out, nearly 900 people replied by giving prices, which showed that nearly ninetenths of these people received the letter under the one-cent stamp, opened it and read the first few lines of it, because nearly 900 of them quoted prices. This convinced me that much depends on the opening lines of anv copy. It is the same thing in a personal interview. You are impressed by what the man tells you at the start. Let’s eliminate all the “by-the-ways” in advertising. Talk straight business.

I once went in to see an old business man and wanted to borrow $500. I went in and said : “I want to borrow $500. and will give you my note for 60 days and I will pay you at the end of 60 days.” He turned to the cashier and said: “Write Mr. Chalmers a

cheque for $500.” He then said to me : \oung man, let me tell you something—you could not have gotten that money had it not been for the straightforward way you asked for it. Most men come in here and waste a lot of time by saying. ‘Good morning, how are you this morning? Nice weather we have been having the last few days. How i> the familv? And. bv

the way, 1 am a little short of money and would like to borrow $500 for a couple of months.’ “But,” he said, “I was impressed by the way you asked for it. You came in and asked me for the money right off. so I am going to let you have it.” So, gentlemen, in this time and generation, let’s eliminate all the “by-the-ways” and get down to straight business. It pays.

Now there is a lesson in that for advertisers, too. This is a busy world and getting busier all the time. Even those who have lots of time to read like to read direct statements. So get down to talking your business in the opening paragraphs of your copy.

I have had a great deal to do with salesmen. I was a salesman myself for a great many years, and I have employed and supervised the work if hundreds of others. There is an old adage which says “Salesmen are born and not made.” I don’t believe that. I believe that salesmen are made as well as born, and teaching will do a great deal to make a salesman. However, there are ten qualities which a man must possess to be a successful salesman, and as far as my experience goes, I should say that these principal qualities are Health, Honesty. Ability, Initiative, Knowledge of the Business, Tact, Sincerity, Industry, Open-mindedness, and Enthusiasm. I think these same qualities may be applied to advertising men, or, as a matter of fact, to any man, because, when you get right down to the facts, we are all salesmen. Every man is trying to sell his personality to some other man. He is trving to impress the people he meets. He wants people to think well of him; consequently he is a salesman, because he is trying to sell his good qualities to other people. A man may not have all ten of these qualities, but in proportion as he has them will he succeed.

Now. when I say that he should have health. I do not mean that you want to go to the extreme of interfering with a man’s private life* and tell him what he should eat or drink, or anvthing of that kind, but T believe

that in the selection of men the question of health should enter largely, because, in my own experience, a healthy mind is better nourished in a healthy body than otherwise. The man who has health of body is surer to have a healthy mind than the one who hasn’t bodily health. On the question of the health of a salesman enter those things he shouldn’t do. There is hardly a salesman in the country today but isn’t doing one or two things that are injuring him. The greatest thing that bothers us all is our habits. I refer particularly to the subject of eating, drinking and smoking too much.

A salesman’s mind should be on the qui vive all the time. Just like a race horse, he should be ready to go when the bell sounds. Now, every man knows that he is better off if he doesn’t drink at all. I don’t think that drinking ever benefited any man, and the same thing applies to smoking, but there are some of us that can do these things temperately and who are not much harmed by it. But if a man wants to take a drink or two, he should not do it in the day-time. A business man particularly should not take a drink until after six o’clock in the evening. We see very much less drinking in the day-time now than ten years ago, and I am very glad to see it, because, as business men, we have no right to do that thing in the middle of the business day which will in any way interfere with our efficiency for our afternoon’s work. I know of nothing that will so unfit a man for business as a drink or two in the middle of the day, because at two or three o’clock in the afternoon he is lazy and heavy and unfit for work, and a salesman, above all others, if he feels he must drink, should not take a drink until after six o’clock at night. The man who will stick to this rule will have more dollars in the bank at the end of the year than the man who does not. I speak from experience, like the man who says, “It pays to be honest, because T have tried both wavs.’’

in speaking of honesty, I don’t refer to it in its basest sense, because a man is nothing short of a fool nowadays who is not absolutely honest. But honesty goes further than just what a man does. Honesty means what a man thinks as well as what he does. After all, gentlemen, there is only one man in the world who knows whether a man is honest, and that is himself. Our wives think that we are honest, and whether we are or not it is a good thing to keep them thinking that way, but they could not prove it to save their souls, but I give it to you as good sense and business logic that honesty in all things must be the rule of all men if they are going to succeed. I will tell you that it is a good thing that some men are dishonest, because if they were honest, coupled with their natural ability, you and I wouldn't have much of a chance.

In regard to ability ; I have found in my limited experience that most men have two arms, two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth, and considering their height, they weigh about the same. Now what makes the difference between one man and another? Nothing but brain power. That’s all. One man has developed his brains further than another. If all men were created equal in brain power they would not remain that way. You remember the parable of the talents? Some of us are so afraid that what we have will get away from us that we wrap it up in a napkin and keep it, and we have that talent always, but we never add to it.

It has been my experience that there are but three kinds of men in the world—the kind you have to tell once to do a thing, and you can bet your Ufe it will be done; the second is the kind that you have to tell three or four times, and the third is that great business-producing, creative lot of men who don’t have to be told. They know what to do and they go ahead and do it. Dewey had initiative when he cut the cable at M’anila, because he was on the ground and knew better what to rio than the men at Washing-

ton did. What we call skill in a surgeon is initiative in a business man. If a surgeon had you on a table and had operated on you for appendicitis, and found he had made a mistake, and some other condition existed, he hasn’t time to go and take a book from a shelf and say, “I will read up on this subject.’’ No, he has to go ahead and finish the job, whether it is your finish or his finish. They call that skill in a surgeon, but it is initiative in a business man, because he must face critical situations, he must face*untried problems and must solve them for himself. He must do something. I am more thankful every day that I live in a country where men have an equal chance, where poverty is no barrier to progress, but. in many, many cases, is a positive help, because it is only by learning to overcome the obstacles of our youth that we are taught to do things and know things, and are taught the value of a dollar, that we learn to overcome our troubles in business and. are able to solve the knotty problems that confront every business man.

On the question of knowledge of the business, I have always noticed that the lawyer who reads the most law books and keeps up to date on law, is, as a rule, the best lawyer. I know the statement that “salesmanship is a profession” is worn threadbare, but it is true, nevertheless. A man ought to have all the knowledge of his business that he can possess, keeping in mind the old saying that “knowledge is power.”

I remember once of being in Germany, at a salesmen’s convention, and there was one man there who had been banner agent for three years in succession. In awarding him the prize at this convention I asked him to tell the other agents why he had led all the rest for three years. He could not have answered better if he had talked a day, and yet, he answered in practically one sentence, when he said: “I defy anybody in all Germany to ask me a question about my business that 100

I cannot answer.” That was the great secret of his success.

Tact is that rare quality which enables a man to know how to deal with his fellow men. Tact is something it is pretty hard to give a man. He must cultivate it himself. Some people mistake tact for “jolly.” A man who can “jolly" you into something isn’t always tactful ; he is merely expedient. He has done the most expedient thing at the time, perhaps, but he probably hasn’t been honest with you. So don’t mistake the thing. Tact would not jump out of a window unless he saw a soft pillow at the bottom. It is pretty hard to describe it, but we all know that tact is a great quality to possess.

Sincerity is that rare quality which not only makes friends, ' but holds them. You can tell from the way men talk whether they are sincere or not. Men are affected by everything you say and do. You know that throwing thoughts at a man is nothing more or less than throwing something tangible at him. Now, gentlemen, I claim it is impossible to throw insincere thoughts at a man and have him catch sincere thoughts. I say it is just as impossible to do this as it is impossible for me to throw a cup at a man and have him catch a saucer. If he catches anything he will catch the cup, and I say that men are unconsciously affected by the sincerity or insincerity of the man they are dealing with ; so I believe in being sincere in all things. Insincerity has taken a few orders, but insincerity never held a job long. I admire a sincere man, and so do you. I hate the jollier. It is your friend who criticizes you and your enemy who flatters you. Your friend is sincere, wants you to improve and tells you where you are wrong, and the man who tells you that you are the best fellow on earth when you are doing wrong, isn't your friend, because he is encouraging you to do things that are not right. Therefore, accept criticism that way* because it is your friend. "•

As regards industry, I think the man who coined that sentence “always

on the job” did a good day’s work, because industry is a great thing. Keep busy ! Keep doing your work right !

Open-mindedness is the willingness to take suggestions. The man who knows it all is standing on a banana peel placed there by the fool-killer, who is waiting just around the corner. The man who is not open-minded will get into a rut, and. after all, gentlemen, the only difference between a rut and a grave is the width and the depth. We should be all willing to receive suggesions. The day is not long past when salesmen used to resent suggestion. Most salesmen accept them nowadays. I have heard of cases where men have made suggestions to a superintendent and he has told them that that was his business and has gone so far as to “fire” them for interference. The man who is doing the work every day is the man who is best able to tell you how to improve it. I would just as soon be stopped by a janitor as by a general manager, because the chances are ten to one that the janitor knows more about the things he wants to tell me than the general manager does. So I say that if we are to progress we should solicit and gladly receive suggestions.

As to enthusiasm, a man might have honesty, health, ability, knowledge of the business, tact, sincerity, industry, and open-mindedness, and without enthusiasm he would only be a statue. Enthusiasm is the white heat that fuses all of these qualities into one effective mass. To illustrate enthusiasm. I can take a sapphire and a piece of plain blue glass, and I can rub the plain glass until it has a surface as hard as the sapphire, but when I put the two together and I look down into them. I find that the sapphire has a thousand little lights glittering out of it that you can’t get out of the blue glass if you rub a thousand years. What those little lights are to the sapphire, enthusiasm is to a man. I love to see enthusiasm. A man should be enthusiastic about that in which he is interested. I like to go to a ball

game and hear a man “root" for the home team, and it never bothers me a bit, because I know that that man has enthusiasm. He has interest. I would not give two cents for a man who works for money alone. The man who doesn’t get some comfort and some enthusiasm out of his daily work is in a bad way. Some men are almost irresistible—you know that ; it is because enthusiasm radiates from their expressions, beams from their eyes and is evident in their actions. Enthusiasm is that thing which makes a man boil over for his business, for his family, or for anything he has any interest in, for anything his heart is in. So I say, enthusiasm is one of the greatest things a man can have.

The man who handles other men will succeed just in proportion as he keeps his mind on the important things he has to do. In conclusion I want to give you a suggestion as to what I have done for many years to keep my mind on the most important things. I keep before me at all times the ten most important things, and I have these in a folder on my desk, and as the things are attended to they are marked off and my secretary keeps making a clean sheet of the ten most important things, because I only want to keep my mind on important things. Transfer to some one else the details, because we men who handle other men succeed just in proportion as we can intelligently direct their efforts. The actual work we do ourselves doesn’t amount to anything; it is what we can succeed in getting others to do that counts.

I might illustrate this by a homely story: Suppose a farmer had a 40acre corn field, and he had a helper named John, and he would say: “John, go chase the pigs out of the corn field.” John might chase pigs for a week and never know when he had got them all out, because he doesn’t know how many are in there. But suppose this farmer should say: “John, there are ten pigs in that corn field, go get them out.” After John had got out ten. he would no long-

er be chasing pigs that didn't exist. This same thing applies to us as business men. If we keep before us the ten most important things we have to do. we are sure that we are not chasing things that do not exist. Train your mind to do this. If I should ask almost any business man “What are the ten most important things you have to do?" he will have to scratch his head and think. Now, if he doesn’t know what the ten most important things in his business are how can he be sure that he is working on these emportant things?

I consider that advertising is the greatest business in the world, viewed from many standpoints. In the first place, there is perhaps more money spent on advertising to-day than on nearly anything else you can think of. and yet it requires more skill and more care in the spending of it than almost anything else connected with business. It seems to me that an advertising man has a right to feel very proud of his

profession, which calls for talent and ingenuity on the part of those who practise it, but more especially because it is the profession which is doing more than any other, I believe, to solve the world's biggest problems. The world’s biggest problem is the problem of distribution—the getting of things from where they are to where they ought to be. It is the business of the advertising man to find markets ; to create demand, and to cut down cost to the consumer or increase the profits of the manufacturer as the case may be, through lessening selling expense. Tt is really wonderful when you stop to think of the influence which an advertising man can wielc and the opportunity for service to his employer and to the public which is his ; a good salesman is permitted to talk to one person at a time, or at best a half dozen persons perhaps, but a good advertising man has the privilege of talking to millions at one time.