The Clock that Had no Hands Part 1

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The Clock that Had no Hands.

by Herbert Kaufman.

Newspaper advertising is to business, what hands are to a clock. It is a direct and _certain_ means of letting the public know _what you are doing_. In these days of intense and vigilant commercial contest, a dealer who does not advertise is like _a clock that has no hands_. He has no way of recording his movements. He can no more expect a twentieth century success with nineteenth century methods, than he can wear the same sized shoes as a _man_, which fitted him in his _boyhood_.

His father and mother were content with neighborhood shops and bobtail cars; nothing better could be had in their day. They were accustomed to _seek_ the merchant instead of being sought _by_ him. They dealt "around the corner" in one-story shops which depended upon the _immediate friends_ of the dealer for support. So long as the city was made up of such neighborhood units, each with a full outfit of butchers, bakers, clothiers, jewelers, furniture dealers and shoemakers, it was possible for the proprietors of these little establishments to exist and make a profit.

But as population increased, transit facilities spread, sections became specialized, block after block was entirely devoted to stores, and mile after mile became solely occupied by homes.

The purchaser and the storekeeper _grew farther and farther apart_. It was _necessary_ for the merchant to find a _subst.i.tute_ for his direct personality, which _no longer served_ to draw customers to his door. _He had to have a bond between the commercial center and the home center._ Rapid transit eliminated distance but advertising was necessary to inform people _where_ he was located and _what he had to sell_. It was a natural outgrowth of changed conditions--the beginning of _a new era_ in trade which no longer relied upon personal acquaintance for success.

Something more wonderful than the fabled philosopher's stone came into being, and the beginnings of _fortunes which would pa.s.s the hundred million mark and place tradesmen's daughters_ upon _Oriental thrones_ grew from this new force. Within fifty years it has become as vital to industry as _steam_ to _commerce_.

Advertising is _not_ a _luxury_ nor a _debatable policy_. _It has proven its case._ Its record is traced in the skylines of cities where a hundred towering buildings stand as a lesson of reproach to the men who had the _opportunity_ but _not_ the _foresight_, and furnish a constant inspiration to the _young merchant_ at the _threshold_ of his career.

The Cannon that Modernized j.a.pan

Business is no longer a man to man contact, in which the seller and the buyer establish a _personal_ bond, any more than battle is a hand-to-hand grapple wherein bone and muscle and sinew decide the outcome. _Trade_ as well as _war_ has changed aspect--_both are now fought at long range_.

Just as a present day army of heroes would have no opportunity to display the _individual_ valor of its members, just so a merchant who counts upon his direct acquaintanceship for success, is a relic of the past--_a business dodo_.

j.a.pan changed her policy of exclusion to foreigners, after a fleet of warships battered down the Satsuma fortifications. The Samurai, who had hitherto considered their blades and bows efficient, discovered that one cannon was mightier than all the swords in creation--_if they could not get near enough to use them_. j.a.pan profited by the lesson. She did not wait until _further_ ramparts were pounded to pieces but was satisfied with her _one_ experience and proceeded to modernize her methods.

The merchant who doesn't advertise is pretty much in the same position as that in which j.a.pan stood when her eyes were opened to the fact that _times had changed_. The long range publicity of a compet.i.tor will as surely destroy his business as the cannon of the foreigners crumbled the walls of Satsuma. Unless you take the lesson to heart, unless you _realize_ the importance of advertising, not only as a means of _extending_ your business but for _defending_ it as well, you must be prepared to face the consequences of a folly as great as that of a duelist who expects to survive in a contest in which his _adversary_ bears a _sword twice the length of his own_.

Don't think that it's _too late_ to begin because there are so many stores which have had the advantage of years of c.u.mulative advertising.

The city is growing. It will grow even more next year. It needs _increased trading facilities_ just as it's hungry for new neighborhoods.

_But it will never again support neighborhood stores._ Newspaper advertising has reduced the value of being _locally prominent_, and five cent street car fares have cut out the advantage of being "_around the corner_." A store five miles away, can reach out through the columns of the daily newspaper and draw your next door neighbor to its aisles, while you sit by and see the people on your own block enticed away, without your being able to retaliate or secure _new_ customers to take their place.

It is not a question of your ability to _stand the cost_ of advertising but of being able to _survive without it_. The thing you have to consider is not only an _extension_ of your business but of holding _what you already have_.

Advertising is an _investment_, the cost of which is in the same proportion to its _returns_ as _seeds_ are to the _harvest_. And it is just as preposterous for you to consider publicity as an expense, as it would be for a farmer to hesitate over purchasing a _fertilizer_, if he discovered that he could _profitably increase_ his crops by _employing_ it.

The Tailor who Paid too Much

I was buying a cigar last week when a man dropped into the shop and after making a purchase told the proprietor that he had started a clothes shop around the corner and quoted him prices, with the a.s.surance of best garments and terms.

After he left the cigar man turned to me and said:

"Enterprising fellow, that, he'll get along."

"But he _won't_," I replied, "and, furthermore, I'll wager you that he hasn't the sort of clothes shop that will _enable_ him to."

"What made you think that?" queried the man behind the counter.

"His theories are wrong," I explained; "he's relying upon word of mouth publicity to build up his business and he can't _interview enough individuals_ to compete with a merchant, who has sense enough to say the _same_ things he told you, to a _hundred thousand_ men, while he is telling it to _one_. Besides, his method of advertising is _too expensive_. Suppose he sees a _hundred_ persons every day. First of all, he is robbing his business of its necessary direction and besides, he is spending too much to reach every man he solicits."

"I don't quite follow you."

"Well, as the proprietor of a clothes shop his own time is so valuable that I am very conservative in my estimate when I put the cost of his soliciting at five cents a head.

"Now, if he were _really_ able and clever he would discover that he can talk to hundreds of thousands of people at a tenth of a cent per individual. There is not a newspaper in town the advertising rate of which is $1.00 per thousand circulation, for a s.p.a.ce big enough in which to _display what he said to you_."

"I never looked at it _that_ way," said the cigar man.

It's only "_the man who hasn't looked at it that way_," who hesitates for an instant over the advisability and profitableness of newspaper publicity.

Newspaper advertising is the cheapest channel of communication ever established by man. A thousand letters with one-cent stamps, will easily cost fifteen dollars and not one envelope in ten will be opened because _the very postage_ is an invitation to the wastebasket.

If there were anything _cheaper_ rest a.s.sured that the greatest merchants in America would not spend individual sums ranging up to _half a million dollars a year and over_, upon this form of attracting trade.

The Man who Retreats before His Defeat

Advertising _isn't_ magic. There is no element of the black art about it. In its best and highest form it is _plain_ talk, _sane_ talk--_selling_ talk. Its results are in proportion to the _merit_ of the subject advertised and the _ability_ with which the advertising is done.

There are two great obstacles to advertising profit, and both of them arise from ignorance of the _real_ functions and workings of publicity.

The first is to advertise _promises_ which will not be _fulfilled_,--because all that advertising can do when it _accomplishes most_, is to influence the reader to _investigate_ your claims.

_If you promise the earth and deliver the moon, advertising will not pay you._

If you bring men and women to your store on _pretense_ and fail to _make good_, advertising will have _harmed_ you, because it has only drawn attention to the fact that you are to be _avoided_.

It is as _unjust_ to charge advertising with _failure_ under these conditions, as it would be for your _neighbor_ to rob a bank and make you responsible for _his_ misdeed. In brief, _advertised_ dishonesty is _even more profitless_ than _unexploited_ deception.

The other great error in advertising is to expect more _out_ of advertising than there is _in_ it.

_Advertising is seed which a merchant plants in the confidence of the community._ He must allow time for it to _grow_. Every successful advertiser has to be _patient_. The time that it takes to arrive at results rests entirely with the ability and determination devoted to the work. But you cannot turn back when you have traveled half way and declare that the _path_ is wrong.

You can't advertise for a _week_, and because your store isn't crowded, say it hasn't _paid_ you. It takes a certain period to attract the attention of readers. Everybody doesn't see what you print the _first_ time it appears. More will notice your copy the _second day_, _a great many more_ at the end of a month.

You cannot expect to win the confidence of the community to the same degree that other men have obtained it, without taking pretty much the same length of time that _they_ did. But you _can_ cut short the period between your introduction to your reader and his introduction to your _counters_, by spending _more_ effort in preparing your _copy_ and displaying a greater amount of convincingness.

You mustn't act like the little girl who sowed a garden and came out the _next day_ expecting to find it in _full bloom_. Her father had to explain to her that plants require _roots_ and that, although she could not _see_ what was going on, _the seeds were doing their most important work just before the flowers showed above ground_.

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The Clock that Had no Hands Part 1 summary

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