"Without even risking a cent you can use the Wilbur on your farm free for 30 days. We will ship it to you, freight prepaid, with the plain understanding that, should the Wilbur not come up to every claim we make for it, we will take it off your hands, for we don't want anyone to keep the Wilbur when he is not satisfied with it. Thus, we agree to pay ALL charges and take ALL risk while you are testing and trying the Wilbur for one whole month.
"You see, we have a great deal of confidence in the Wilbur or we could not afford to make you this square and generous offer, which leaves it entirely to you to say whether or not the Wilbur Fanning Mill is a practical and money-making success. Since the 30 days' free trial proposition puts you to no risk whatever, you should take advantage of this opportunity and have a Wilbur shipped right away on the free trial basis.
"To prove it, all you have to do is to fill in, sign and mail this card. After 30 days you CAN return the machine if you are willing."
* * * * *
Not a word about price. All about the free trial and the fact that you are to be the judge of the machine's value.
And not only the free trial but the absolute guarantee is emphasized. "Your money back if not satisfactory" is the slogan of every successful mail-order house. Frequently a facsimile of the guarantee accompanies the letter; always it is emphasized.
SCHEME 9—THE "YOUR MONEY BACK" OFFER
A manufacturer of certain machines for shop use wastes little time in describing the machine or telling what all it will do. The broad assertion is made that after a month's use it would not be sold at the price paid for it, and instead of arguing the case and endeavoring to prove the statement, the company strives to make it easy to place a trial order. Here are two of the three paragraphs that make up one of its letters:
"To prove it, all you have to do is to fill in, sign and mail this card. After 30 days you MAY return the machine if you want to.
"Try it out. Never mind what we might SAY about the uses your shop men would be getting out of it—FIND OUT. It is easy. Just send the card."
* * * * *
This is simplicity itself. The writer does not put us on the defensive by trying to argue with us. We are to be the judge and he compliments us by the inference that we "don't need to be told" but can judge for ourselves as to whether it is worth keeping. The price is held in the background and the actual ordering is nothing more than to sign a post card. There is no reason at all why we should delay; we could hardly turn the letter over to be filed without feeling that we were blind to our best interest in not replying.
SCHEME 10—THE DISCOUNT FOR CASH
Publishers of a magazine angle for renewals without boldly snatching for a man's pocketbook, by this presentation:
"Simply tell us NOW to continue your subscription. Remit at your convenience. Better still, wrap a $1.00 bill in this post card—and mail to us today. We will send not only the twelve issues paid for, but will—as a cash discount—extend your subscription an extra two months."
* * * * *
Here the cost is brought in almost as an afterthought, yet in a way that actually brings the cash with the renewal.
"Fill out the enclosed order and the goods will be shipped at once and billed in the regular way."
* * * * *
The payment is not in sight—it hasn't yet turned the corner. "Billed in the regular way" catches our order where we would postpone action if it meant reaching down into our pockets and buying a money order or writing out a check. The payment looks afar off—and it will not seem so much if the account is paid along with the rest of the bills at the first of the month.
SCHEME 11—THE FIRST INSTALLMENT AS A "DEPOSIT"
Where goods are sold on "easy terms" and a first payment required, many correspondents refer to the remittance as a "deposit." In the strong guarantee it is expressly stated that in case of dissatisfaction, the "deposit" will be returned.
Even the deferring of the payment a few days helps to pull an order. It is not that a man is niggardly or that he does not want the article but it is the desire, rooted deep in human nature, to hold onto money after it has been hard earned.
"To facilitate your prompt action, I am enclosing a convenient postal card order. Our shipping department has had instructions to honor this as readily as they would your check. There is no need to send the customary initial payment in advance. Simply sign and mail the enclosed card; when the file comes, pay the expressman the first payment of $2.00."
* * * * *
Here the payment was very small and it was deferred only a few days, but long enough to make it seem easier, and the orders were much larger than when cash was required with the order.
SCHEME 12—SENDING GOODS FOR INSPECTION
"Take no risk" is the reassuring line in many advertisements and letters. "Send no money—take no risk. We do not even ask you to make a deposit until you are satisfied that you need the Verbest in your business. Simply send the coupon today and the Verbest goes forward at our risk."
Such offers pull best when simply worded and contain some such phrase as "Without obligation on my part, you may send me." It gives reassurance that there is no catch and inspires the confidence that is the basis of the mail-order business.
Then there is the argument that the device or equipment will pay for itself—a powerful leverage when rightly applied.
Here is the way the manufacturer of a certain machine keeps the cost in the shadow:
"There is no red tape to go through. Simply sign the enclosed blank and forward to-day with the first payment of $3.00. The Challenge will go forward promptly. And the balance you can pay as the machine pays for itself—at the rate of seventeen cents a day."
* * * * *
Simple, isn't it? You forget all about the cost. The paragraph is a cleverly worded "Do it now" appeal and the cost is kept entirely in the background.
SCHEME 13—THE EXPENSE VERSUS THE INVESTMENT ARGUMENT
A companion argument is that the device is not an expense but an investment. Here there is no attempt to put the cost price in the background but to justify the outlay as a sound investment—a business proposition that is to be tested by the investment standard. This is a strong argument with the shrewd business man who figures the value of things not on the initial cost, but upon the profits they will earn and the dividends they will pay.
The whole proposition must be shaped in such a way that it is easy for the prospect to buy. He must want to buy—and the experienced correspondent realizes that every word and phrase must be avoided that is capable of being misconstrued. There are no details so small that they do not have a bearing on the success of a campaign.
SCHEME 14—THE RETURN POSTAL FILLED IN FOR MAILING
And now that you have made clear your proposition and shown your proof, now that you have led your prospect to the buying point, the next step is to make him send you the order. And the only way to do this is to follow the example of the good salesman: put the pen in his hand, your finger on the dotted line, and slip the order blank before him. The salesman does these things because he knows that he might lose the sale if he asked his prospect to hunt up a pen, a letterhead and some ink. He knows the value of making it easy to buy. And in selling by mail you must do the same. Don't guide him on to a decision to order and then leave him at sea as to how to do it. Show him exactly what to do. It is easy enough simply to say, "Write me a letter," or, "send me $2.00." The very man you want most to sell may not know how to write a clearly worded order. Even if he does, the fact that you ask him to go to the trouble of getting his writing materials may serve to postpone the act and lose him the desire to buy. So give him the order ready to sign, with as few changes as possible required. And give him an addressed return envelope to send it in. If no money is to be sent with the order, put it on a post card. "Sign and mail the card" borders on the extreme of simplicity in buying.
You cannot be too simple in your method of soliciting orders. If your proposition will admit of saying, "Pin a dollar bill to this letter and mail," say it. If more details are needed, make them as simple as possible.
* * * * *
JOHNSON DYE ORDER AND COIN CARD (BE SURE TO ADDRESS YOUR ENVELOPE VERY PLAINLY)
JOHNSON DYE COMPANY BOSTON, MASS.
SEND ME _ PACKAGES OF JOHNSON DYES, AT TEN CENTS EACH, AS MARKED IN THE ORDER BLANK BELOW. I ENCLOSE IN THIS COIN ENVELOPE BELOW, TOTAL
SIGN VERY PLAINLY CENTS
NAME_______ ADDRESS__NUMBER, STREET, OR BOX, POST OFFICE, COUNTY, STATE ————————————————————————————————— DON'T FAIL TO FILL OUT THIS [words behind HAS HE (ANY) JOHNSON drawing of DYES FOR WOOL?__ MY DEALER'S NAME__ envelope] HAS HE (ANY) JOHNSON DYES FOR COTTON?_ ADDRESS___ HAS HE THE JOHNSON DYE COLORS ORDERED WRITE PLAINLY BELOW? __ ————————————- —————————— JOHNSON DYES JOHNSON DYES FOR WOOL FOR COTTON
LIGHT BLUE LIGHT BLUE DARK BLUE [Envelope: PUT DARK BLUE NAVY BLUE YOUR MONEY, COIN NAVY BLUE BROWN OR BILL IN HERE] BROWN SEAL BROWN SEAL BROWN GREEN GREEN DARK GREEN DARK GREEN PINK PINK SCARLET SCARLET CRIMSON CRIMSON CARDINAL RED CARDINAL RED TURKEY RED TURKEY RED GARNET GARNET BLACK BLACK PURPLE PURPLE YELLOW YELLOW ORANGE ORANGE GRAY GRAY
* * * * *
A manila enclosure that contains a small envelope suitable for sending coins or bills. The directions not only cover all points on the order but give the company information for its follow-up
* * * * *
SCHEME 15—THE MONEY ORDER READY FOR SIGNATURE
If you want him to send a money order, help him to get it by enclosing a money order application filled in except for his name.
Avoid the possibility of giving the order blank a legal appearance. Simply have the order say, "Send me ——" and as little more as is necessary. Show the prospect that there are no strings or jokers in your blank. Make it so simple that there is no possibility of misunderstanding its terms.
If the article is one that is sold in much th same way to every purchaser, it is best to print the entire order, leaving only the date line and the signature line blank. If the purchaser has to choose between two styles of the article or between two quantities, the order blank may be printed, so that the quantity not wanted may be crossed out.
SCHEME 16—ORDERING BY MARKS
In dealing with an unlettered class of people, it is well to put a footnote in very small type under optional lines or words and to instruct the purchaser to "Cross out the style you do not want" or "Put an X opposite the quantity ordered."
In case of articles that are sold for cash and also on the easy payment plan, it is better to have two separate order blanks printed on different colors of paper, one plainly headed "Cash Order Blank," and the other "Easy Payment Order Blank." Avoid the "Instalment Plan." The name has lost standing of late; the wording "Easy Payment Plan" is better and more suggestive.
SCHEME 17—THE COIN CARD
The coin-card method is a winner for sales under a dollar. The card, with its open holes inviting the quarter or the fifty-cent piece, and the order blank printed conveniently on the flap—captures much loose money.
The post office department will furnish money order applications with the name of the advertiser printed in the proper spaces. These printed applications should be sent for the prospect's convenience in cases where a money order is likely to be used. They insure that the advertiser's name will come before postmaster's written in the preferred form, and they also relieve much of the hesitancy and embarrassment of the people that do not know how to make out an application.
SCHEME 18—SENDING MONEY AT THE OTHER FELLOW'S RISK
One of the best schemes for easy ordering invited the reader to fold a dollar bill in the letter "right now" and mail the letter at the risk of the firm. That effective closing removed the tendency to delay until a check or a money order could be secured. It took away the fear of loss in the mails. It largely increased the returns of the letter.
It is sometimes an excellent plan to suggest that the reader sign and mail at once a postal card that is enclosed. If there is an inch or two of space at the bottom of the letter, a blank order or request may be written there that needs only a signature to make it complete. In the closing paragraph, direct the reader to sign and return the slip.
An addressed envelope should always be enclosed. It will not always be used, but it will be used by most people, and it assures the correct address and facilitates the handling of incoming mail.
How To Write Letters That Appeal To WOMEN
PART VI—THE APPEAL TO DIFFERENT CLASSES—CHAPTER 22
The two-page letter which a man would toss into the waste basket unread may be read by a woman with increasing interest at each paragraph. The average woman does not have a large correspondence; her mail is not so heavy but what she FINDS TIME TO READ EVERY LETTER THAT APPEALS TO HER EVEN SLIGHTLY. The printed heading may show a letter to be from a cloak company. She doesn't really need a new coat—and anyhow she could hardly afford it this fall—but she would just like to see what the styles are going to be like—and it doesn't cost anything to send for samples. Yet if the writer of the letter is skilled and understands the subtle workings of a woman's mind, THE CLOAK IS HALF SOLD BY THE TIME SHE FILLS OUT THE POSTAL CARD. This chapter tells why
* * * * *
The more personal a letter is made the more successful it will prove. Several large mail-order houses, handling thousands of letters every day, are gradually abandoning the use of form letters, making every communication personal. The additional expense is of course great but the increased business apparently justifies the new policy.
The carelessness that sends out to women form letters beginning "Dear Sir" has squandered many an advertising appropriation. A man might not notice such a mistake or he might charitably blame it onto a stupid mailing clerk, but a woman—never.
The mail-order houses with progressive methods not only guard against inexcusable blunders and tactless letters but they are studying the classes and the individuals with whom they are dealing. A mail may bring in two letters—one, from a farmer, laboriously scrawled on a bit of wrapping paper; the other, from a lady in town, written on the finest stationery. Both may request catalogues and the same printed matter will be sent to each, but only the amateur correspondent would use the same form letter in reply.
The book agent who rattles off to every prospect the set speech which the house furnished him with his prospectus either throws up the work as a "poor proposition" or changes his tactics, and the form letter that tries to wing all classes of individuals is most likely to miss all.
In making an appeal to women, the first thing to be considered is the stationery. Good quality of paper is a sound investment. Saving money by use of cheap stationery is not economy for it prejudices the individual against the sender before the letter is ever opened.
Firms that cater to women of the better class follow out the current styles in writing paper. The "proper" size and shape of sheet and envelope immediately make a favorable impression. Various tints may be used to good effect and, instead of a flaring lithographed letterhead, the firm's monogram may be stamped in the upper left-hand corner. The return card on the envelope should not be printed on the face but on the reverse flap. Such a letter is suggestive of social atmosphere; it is complimentary to the lady.
In beginning the letter it should strike at some vulnerable spot in feminine nature—but it must be so skillfully expressed that the motive is not apparent. If the line is anything that can be shown by sample, manage to work into the very beginning of the letter the fact that samples will be mailed free upon request. Women never tire of looking at samples; they pull thousands of orders that could never have been landed with printed descriptions or illustrations. A most successful house selling suits and cloaks has proved conclusively that nothing will catch the attention of a woman so quickly as an offer of free samples or some reference to style and economy in woman's dress. It urges upon its correspondents the desirability of getting in this appeal in the very first sentence.
Letters from this house begin with some pointed reference: "Becoming styles, we know, are what you want, together with quality and the greatest economy." Or, "You know we guarantee you a perfect-fitting suit, of the prettiest materials in the market—whatever you may select."
This letter has the personal signature of the sales manager:
I have been intending to write you ever since you sent for your REPUBLIC Style Book, but I have been so busy in connection with our new building as to hardly find time.
But you are no doubt now wondering just why, out of the many, many thousand requests for the REPUBLIC Style Book, I should be so particularly interested in yours. And so I am going to tell you frankly my reason.
It is this: In your community there is only a very small number of all the ladies who wear REPUBLIC Suits, and they ALL should wear them—and WOULD wear them if they could but be made to know the real beauty of our suits. I want to show them just how beautiful a REPUBLIC Suit can be.
So I ask you, would you like to have made for you this season, the most beautiful suit you ever had?
Would you like now, a suit more stylish, better fitting, more becoming, better made—MORE PERFECT—than any other suit you have had?
If this interests you at all, then I am ready personally to see to it for you.
A suit that is different from the ones worn by your acquaintances is what I am now speaking of; not different because made of some unusual material, or in some over-stylish design, but different because BETTER. It is the difference of QUALITY, of genius in its cutting, that I want your friends and neighbors to see and admire in your suit.
Now I am going to say to you very frankly that I have a reason for wanting to make your suit attract the admiration of your friends. I wish your suit to convince THEM that they, too, should have their suits made by the REPUBLIC.
Would you care to have me tell you just how I propose to put this unusual grace and style into your suit? First, everything depends upon the LINES of a suit—if its lines are beautiful, the suit is beautiful. Now we have at the REPUBLIC a chief designer, who is a genius in putting the greatest beauty and grace into the lines of his models.
We say he is a genius, because a man can be a genius in designing just as a musician or any exceptionally skillful man may be said to be a genius. And when a highly trained cutter and an expert tailor make up one of this man's designs, the result is a suit that stands apart from all others, by reason of the attractiveness there always is in grace and style and beauty.
Such is the suit I offer to have made for you.
But there is to be no increased cost to you for this special service. The price of every REPUBLIC Made-to-Measure Suit is plainly stated under its description in our Style Book. That is all you'll have to pay.
If you wish you can have a dressmaker take your measurements and we will pay her for her trouble, as explained on the enclosed Dressmaker's Certificate. Please read this certificate.
"Now, what am I to do?" you ask. Simply send your order to me personally. Just say, "Make my suit as you agree in your letter."
Now if you wish other samples or information, write to me personally and I will take care of it for you. But, the sooner you get yojir order to me the better.
Please consider that we, at the REPUBLIC, will always be glad to be of service to you. I, especially, will be pleased to have the opportunity of making you a suit of which you can be proud and of which we will be glad to have you say, "This is a REPUBLIC Suit."
Shall I hear from you soon?
Yours very respectfully, [Signature: G. L. Lawrence]
* * * * *
This letter was sent out on very tasty tinted stationery. It was written by someone who understood the subtle processes of the feminine mind. In the first place the lady is flattered because the sales manager himself writes to her and offers to give her order his personal attention. Surely an opportunity to secure the very best suit the house can turn out!
"It is the difference of QUALITY, of genius in its cutting, that I want your friends and neighbors to see and admire in your suit." No fulsome flattery here; it is so delicately introduced that it appears entirely incidental, but the shaft strikes home. There is just enough left unsaid to stir the imagination. The logic and the matter-of-fact argument that would appeal to the man gives way to suggestion and persuasion and the necessity for prompt action is tactfully inserted at the proper place.
In another letter from the same house the prospect was impressed by the great care used in making up garments:
"In order that your measurements may be taken exactly right, we send you with this letter a 'Republic' Tape Measure. This is the same kind that our cutters use and it is entirely accurate.
"We send this tape measure to you because we want to avoid the least possibility of variation in your measurements. We want to make your suit perfect, and we will personally see to every detail of its making."
* * * * *
No battery of arguments and proofs could make the same appeal to the woman as the tape line sent in this way. The suggestion is more powerful with a woman when skillfully handled than statements, assertions and arguments. Compare the subtle appeal in the above to the paragraphs taken from a letter sent out by a house that was trying to enter the mail-order field:
"We want you to read our booklet carefully for it explains our methods of doing business fully. We are very particular about filling orders and know you will be pleased with any suit you may buy from us.
"Our financial standing should convince you that if anything is not right we will make it so. We guarantee satisfaction and solicit a trial order."
* * * * *
In the first place, the average woman would know nothing about the financial standing of the house. It is evident that the man who wrote the letter had been handling the correspondence with dealers and firms that necessarily keep posted on the rating of manufacturers. And the way the proposition is stated that "if anything is not right we will make it so" suggests that possibly the suit might not be satisfactory.
But while women are susceptible to flattery there is danger of bungling, of making the effort so conscious that it is offensive. "Your natural beauty will be enhanced by one of our suits for our cutter understands how to set off a woman's form and features so she is admired wherever she goes." The average woman is disgusted and reads no further.
* * * * *
HOW DIFFERENT ARGUMENTS APPEAL TO WOMEN
Style Foremost consideration Price Secondary consideration Quality Slight Exclusiveness Valuable Service Minor importance Sentiment Effective Flattery Expedient Testimonials Impressive Reputation Desirable
* * * * *
Mere cleverness in expression will fall wide of the mark and facetiousness should be strictly avoided. It is better to depend on a very ordinary letter which will have little effect on the reader one way or the other than to offend her by too obvious flattery or an apparent attempt to make capital from a feminine weakness.
Arouse her curiosity—the curiosity of woman is proverbial, and a general store at Nettleton, Mississippi, found a "Cousin Elsie" letter, mailed at Atlanta, Georgia, to be the most effective advertising it ever sent out, for it aroused the greatest curiosity among the women of Nettleton. Here is a letter just as it was sent out, the name of the recipient filled in on the typewriter:
My Dear Cousin:—
I know you will be surprised to get this letter. I spent such a delightful Winter in California and wished so often that my dear Nettleton kin could be with me.
On my return trip, I met the Wilson Piano Co's Manager. He told me the Nettleton Supply Co. was giving away one of its $400.00 pianos this year in advertising. I do hope that some of my ambitious Cousins will get to work and get it. It will certainly be worth working for.
Then what do you think? The first thing when I came to the office this morning, I made an invoice of the Millinery that the Nettleton Supply Co's buyer had bought of our house and I was certainly surprised to know that such beautiful stuff is sold in a small town like Nettleton. Our salesman said that this is one of the nicest bills that he has sold this season.
I met the buyer and talked with her about all of you and promised to attend the Spring opening. I know it will be one of the best the house has had, as it will have so much pretty stuff to show.
I will have only a day or two and I want to ask you and all my Cousins to meet me at this opening. I am anxious to see you and this will be a good opportunity for us to meet. Don't fail to meet me.
I have lots of work to do and must bring this letter to a close. With a heart full of love for all the dear old Nettleton folks and an extra lot for you, from,
Your Cousin, Elsie.
P.S.—Don't fail to come to the opening. I will be there if possible. Miss Smiley will let you know when to come. Buy a pair of Peters' shoes this Spring; you will never regret it.
* * * * *
Such letters could not be used very often but occasionally they are immensely effective. "Mrs. Elliott's troubles and how they were cured" have become famous in some parts of the country. Written in long hand, they bore every resemblance to a social letter from a lady to some old neighbor and told how many of her housekeeping troubles had been ended by using a certain kind of furniture polish. The letters were written in such a chatty style that they were read through and passed around to other members of the family.
I know you will be surprised to hear from me and I may as well confess that I am not altogether disinterested in writing you at this time but I am glad to say that the duty imposed upon me is a pleasure as well.
You know some time ago after I had painted my floors, I wrote the company whose paint I used and they put my experiences in the form of a little booklet entitled "Mrs. Elliot's Troubles."
* * * * *
This is the first page of a facsimile hand-written letter that proved highly successful as it appealed to feminine curiosity and insured careful reading
* * * * *
The appeal to women must hover around her love of style and her desire for economy. Bring in either subject deftly at the beginning of a letter and she will be an interested reader of all the sales talk that follows.
Several mail-order houses have trained women to handle this part of their correspondence for they are more apt in the use of feminine expressions. Let a man try to describe some article as "perfectly splendid," or "really sweet" and he will stumble over it before he gets to the end of the sentence. Yet when these same hackneyed phrases are brought in naturally by a woman who "feels just that way" about the garment she is describing, they will take hold of the reader in a way that is beyond the understanding of the masculine mind.
In the appeal to women there is more in this tinge of off-hand refinement, the atmosphere, the enthusiasm shown and in the little personal touches, than in formidable arguments and logical reasons. What is triviality to a man is frequently the clinching statement with a woman. And so a fixed set of rules can not be formulated for writing letters to women. Instead of a hard and fast rule, the correspondent must have in mind the ideas and the features that naturally appeal to the feminine mind and use them judiciously.
This mail is bringing to you a copy of our new catalogue, describing our complete line of Hawkeye Kitchen Cabinets.
The catalogue will tell you how you can do your kitchen work in half the usual time.
It will tell you how to save your strength, time, and energy—how to relieve yourself of the burden of kitchen drudgery.
Aren't these things worth looking into?
Just try counting the unnecessary steps you take in preparing your next meal. Calculate the time you lose in looking for articles that should be at your fingers' ends but are not.
Imagine, if you can, what it would save you if you could do away with your pantry, kitchen table, and cupboard and get all the articles needed in the preparation of a meal in one complete well-ordered piece of furniture that could be placed between the range and sink, so you could reach almost from one to the other. Think of the steps it would save you.
Imagine a piece of furniture containing special places for everything—from the egg beater to the largest kitchen utensil—a piece of furniture that would arrange your provisions and utensils in such a systematic way that you could (in the dark) find almost anything you wanted.
If you can draw in your mind a picture of such a piece of furniture, you will have some idea of what a Buckeye Kitchen Cabinet is like.
How, don't you want one of these automatic servants? Don't you think you need it?
If so, send for one NOW. Don't put it off a single day. You have been without it too long already.
It doesn't cost much to get a Hawkeye. If you don't care to pay cash, you can buy on such easy payments that you will never miss the money—only five cents a day for a few months. You would think nothing of paying five cents a day street-car fare to keep from walking a few blocks in the pure air and sunshine, yet you are walking miles in your kitchen when one streetcar fare a day for a few months would do away with it.
Send your order right along and use the Cabinet thirty days. If it doesn't do what we say it will, or if you do not consider that it is more than worth the money, send it back at our expense and we will refund whatever you have paid. That's fair, isn't it?
We pay freight on all-cash orders
Yours truly, [Signature: Adams & Adams]
* * * * *
This letter is written in an easy, natural style, which is aided by the short paragraphs. The appeal to the imagination is skillful, and the homely illustration of the car-fare well chosen. The closing is in keeping with the general quality of the letter and was undoubtedly effective. This letter is a longer one than the man would read about a kitchen cabinet, but there are not too many details for women readers
* * * * *
All women, for instance, are influenced by what other women do, and there is no other touch more productive of sales than the reference to what some other customer has ordered, or what comments she has made. Both in educational campaigns and in writing to regular customers on some specific proposition it is a good policy to work in some reference to a recent sale:
"One of our very good customers from your neighborhood writes us that her new suit (Style 3587) has caused her more perfectly delightful compliments than she ever had before."
* * * * *
Such testimonials are to be found in every mail-order house that has attained even a moderate success, for women who are pleased are given to writing letters profuse in their expressions of appreciation.
At times it is desirable to quote a whole letter, withholding, of course, the name of the writer. The most convincing letters to use are those that tell about first orders, or how some friend induced the writer to send in a trial order, or how she came to be a customer of the mail-order house. These personalities add a touch of human interest, they create an atmosphere that is real, they mean much to a woman.
Quoted letters are especially effective in getting a first order after a woman has become sufficiently interested to write in for a catalogue. Here is one lifted from a letter sent out by the general manager of a suit house:
Dear Mr. Wardwell:
You ask me to tell you how I came to send you my first order.
I think I had written for your Style Book three seasons. Each time I found many garments I liked. I found waists and dresses and skirts that were much prettier than the ones I could get elsewhere. And yet, some way or other, while I longed for these very garments, I did not order them. I think it was simply because I never had ordered by mail.
One day when looking through your Style Book the thought came to me: "If you want this dress, why don't you stop hesitating and wondering and sit down right now and order it?"
And I did—and ever since I have bought my suits, dresses, waists, almost everything, from you.
* * * * *
Testimonial letters from prominent women, wives of distinguished men and others whose names are widely known, are always effective. A number of years ago Mrs. Frances Cleveland, wife of the ex-president, wrote to a furniture factory for a cedar chest. The order was in Mrs. Cleveland's own handwriting and the letter was at once photographed and a facsimile enclosed with all the letters and advertising matter sent out by the furniture house. Such things have an influence on the feminine mind that the skilled correspondent never overlooks.
The reason that so many letters fail to pull is because the correspondents are not salesmen; they are unable to put actual selling talk into a letter. For after you have aroused a woman's curiosity and appealed to her love of style and her desire to economize, there has got to be some genuine, strong selling talk to get the order.
The difference is brought out by a large Chicago mail-order house which cites the customer who inquired about a certain ready made skirt in a 34-inch length which could not be supplied as the regular measurements run from 37 to 43. A correspondent thinking only of the number of letters that can be answered in a day simply wrote, "We are very sorry we cannot supply the skirt you mention in the length you desire, because this garment is not made regularly in shorter lengths than 37 inches. Regretting our inability to serve you," and so forth.
The letter inspector threw out the letter and dictated another:
"We cannot furnish skirt, catalogue number H4982, in a 34-inch length, but we can supply it in a 37-inch length; this is the shortest length in which it is regularly made. You can have it altered to a 34-inch length at a small expense, and as the skirt is an unusually pretty style and of exceptionally good value, the price being only $7.65, we trust you will favor us with your order."
* * * * *
This is letter-writing plus salesmanship. The correspondent did not spill over in his eagerness to get the order; he did not describe the skirt as the finest to be had nor insist that it was the most wonderful bargain in the catalogue. Rather he told her it was an "unusually pretty style and of exceptionally good value." It was so simply told and so naturally that it carried conviction. It refers to style and to economy—two things that appeal to every woman.
Letters personally signed by the "Expert Corsetiere" of a large wholesale house were mailed to a selected list of lady customers in cities where the Diana corsets were handled:
Here's an incident that proves how important corsets are in wearing the new straight, hipless gowns.
Mrs. Thompson, who is stouter than the new styles require, tried on a princess gown in a department store. The gown itself was beautiful, but it was most unbecoming and did not fit at all, tho it was the right size for her.
Mrs. Thompson was about to give up in despair saying, "I can't wear the new styles"—when a saleswoman suggested that she be fitted with a Diana Corset in the model made for stout figures.
The result was that the princess gown took the lines of the corset and fitted Mrs. Thompson perfectly. In fact the original lines of the gown were brought out to better advantage.
This only goes to prove that with a good corset any gown will drape right and take the lines of the corset.
You'll find it easy to wear the new long straight style gowns if you wear a Diana corset in the model made for your style of figure.
The Dianas are made after the same models as the most expensive French corsets costing $10 to $25. Yet $1 to $5 buys a Diana.
The Diana is not heavy and uncomfortable as so many of the new corsets are this year. The fabrics from which they are made are light and comfortable. At the same time, so closely meshed and firmly woven that with reasonable wear every Diana corset is guaranteed to keep its good shape and style or you will receive a new corset without charge.
The Diana dealer, whose card is enclosed, invites you to call and see these new corsets.
Will you go in to see the Diana today?
Very truly yours, [Signature: Grace La Fountain]
* * * * *
The letter is in a chatty style that assures its being read. It does not say, "We have just the corset for you stout women"—but that is what it means. It interests and appeals especially to the stout women without reminding them offensively that they are too heavy to wear the styles in vogue.
The National Cloak Company has studied the methods that take firm hold on the women and finds it necessary to bear down heavily on the guarantee of satisfaction. Many women are inclined to be skeptical and hesitate long before sending money to an unknown house. So the National uses a guarantee tag insuring customers against dissatisfaction, sending these tags out with the goods. It assures the return of money if the order is not all right in every way and further agrees to pay all the express charges. Free reference is made to this tag in the company's letters and it gives a certain concreteness to the guarantee feature. This tag makes its own argument, proves its own case.
Business men generally take it for granted that satisfaction goes with the goods; their experience enables them to size up a proposition quickly and if there is any flaw in the advertisements or the company's methods, they pass it by. But women, not so familiar with business affairs, must be approached from a different angle. Little points must be explained and guarantees must be strongly emphasized. The formal letter which appeals to a man by going straight to the point would, by its very conciseness, offend the vanity of a woman.
The successful correspondent never overlooks the susceptibility of a woman to flattery—but it must be the suggestion of flattery, the implied compliment, rather than the too obvious compliment.
"The handsomest gown money will buy can't make you look well unless your corset is the correct shape."
* * * * *
This is the opening sentence in a letter advertising a particular corset. The lady is gracefully complimented by the intimation that she wears handsome gowns, yet there is not the slightest suggestion that the reference was dragged in as a part of the selling scheme.
Instead of insinuating that she must buy cheaply, let it be hinted that she is actuated by the very laudable motive of economy. "You would scarcely believe that such delicious coffee could be sold at 20 cents—unless you happen to know that the flavor of coffee depends largely upon the blending." Here the low price is emphasized but there is no hint of forced economy; rather it suggests that the best quality can be obtained without paying a high price.
"You can offer your most particular guest a cup of Regal coffee and know she has never tasted a more delicious flavor and fragrance."
* * * * *
This is the beginning of a letter that successfully introduced a new coffee. Here is a tactful compliment—the taking for granted that the recipient entertains guests of some importance—guests who are particular and will notice her coffee. There are few things that the average woman is more concerned about than that her guests will be pleased with her refreshments. The suggestion that she herself would enjoy or even that her family would enjoy this coffee does not make such direct appeal to a woman as this assurance that it will please her particular guests.
The house that uses the same kind of letter on men and women will never score such big results as the firm that understands the different processes of thinking and the different methods of making the appeal. With the man it is reason, logic, argument; with the woman it is suggestion, flattery, persuasion. The correspondent who aims to establish a large mail-order trade with women must study their whims, their prejudices, their weaknesses and their characteristics before he can make an appeal that brings in the orders and makes permanent customers of trial buyers.
It is the little things—this subtle insight into feminine nature that marks the successful selling letter to the woman. They are not things that can be set down and numbered in a text book; they are qualities of mind that must be understood and delicately handled. Rightly used they are more powerful than irrefutable arguments and indisputable facts.
How To Write Letters That Appeal to MEN
PART VI—THE APPEAL TO DIFFERENT CLASSES—CHAPTER 23
ONE-HALF of the form letters sent out to men are thrown away unread. A bare ONE-THIRD are partly read before discarded, while only ONE-SIXTH of them—approximately 15 per cent—are read through. The reason why such a large proportion is ineffective is this: the letter-writer, through ignorance or carelessness, does not strike the notes that appeal to every man. Here are some of the subtle ways by which correspondents have forced the attention of MEN by appealing to traits distinctly masculine
* * * * *
If you received a dozen letters in your mail this morning it is probable that there were just twelve different angles to the appeals that were made. For most correspondents are not thinking about the man they are writing to but are concerned solely with thoughts about the propositions they have in hand—and that is why the great bulk of the letters that are opened in the morning pause at the desk only momentarily before continuing their way to the furnace room. It is the exceptional correspondent who stops to analyze his letters, looking at them from every viewpoint, and then tests out his conclusions, trying one appeal after another until he evolves certain principles that pull letter writing out of the class of uncertainties and enable him to depend upon definite returns.
For there are appeals that are practically universal. Appeal to a man's ambition and you have his interest: larger income, better position, some honor or recognition—touch these and no matter how busy, he will find time to read your message.
You've got to have more money.
Your salary, without income, is not enough. The man who depends upon salary alone to make him rich—well-to-do—or even comfortable, is making the mistake of his life. For the minute you stop working, the money stops coming in. Lose a day and you lose a day's pay—while expenses go right on.
Don't you think it's time you got Nature to work for you? A dollar put into a peach orchard will work for you days, nights and Sundays. It never stops to sleep or eat but keeps on growing—growing— from the very minute you put your money in.
Think of the difference between a dollar invested with us and increasing and yielding day by day and the dollar which you use to purchase a few moments idle diversion or pleasure. The latter is lost forever—the dollar put to earning with us earns forever.
* * * * *
"More money." That appeal strikes home. One glance at the letter and a man is interested. He may not have money to invest but the other letters will remain unopened until he finds out whether there is not some plan or scheme that will actually mean more money to him.
The correspondence schools recognized the force of this appeal and developed it so systematically that it might be called the standard correspondence school argument.
Here is one of the best pulling arguments:
Pay-day—what does it mean to you?
Does your money "go 'round?" Or does it fail to stop all the gaps made by last week's or month's bills?
Last week—according to actual, certified reports on file in our office—A. B. C. men got their salary raised as a direct result of becoming more proficient from studying A. B. C. courses.
Don't you think it's time that salary raise was coming your way?
* * * * *
The same product—a correspondence course—may use the line of appeal peculiarly appropriate to men—that of responsibility. Such a letter leads out:
If your expenses were doubled tomorrow could you meet them—without running heavily in debt?
If you had to have more money on which to live—to support those dependent upon you—could you make it?
You could if you had the training afforded by our course; it has doubled other men's salaries, it can do the same for you.
* * * * *
Next to the appeal to ambition in strength is this appeal to responsibility. This is the burden of the arguments used by insurance companies, savings banks and various investment companies.
An insurance company marketing a particularly strong investment policy, and which follows the plan of writing to the prospect direct from the home office, finds that such a letter as this pulls:
Our Agent, Mr. Blank, no doubt has presented to you a majority of the many advantages of a —— policy in the ——. But we want you to have in writing, and signed by an officer of the company, what we regard as the main reason you should be with us.
No civilized man can evade responsibility. Should anything happen to you, you are responsible for that loss—to your business—your family—your friends. Is your responsibility great enough—without the protection of the Regal Company—to "make good" your own loss?
* * * * *
But the kind of appeal to make is only one phase of the problem. Of equal importance is the manner of making that appeal.
On first glance it would be thought that the products which appeal specifically and exclusively to men would be marketed by talking points which have specifically and exclusively the masculine appeal. But such is not the case. Men's clothes, as an instance, are marketed on the talking points, "need for suitable dress," "quality," "style," and similar arguments. These arguments are not the ones appealing merely to men; women are just as much interested in need of suitable dress and the quality and style of the garment worn as are the members of the opposite sex. But the general talking point may be extended, or rather restricted, so as to make an appeal to men along the lines of their exclusive experience:
Clothes are the outward index of the inner man.
The business man who dresses so as to show his inherent neatness and orderliness has just that much advantage over his less careful competitors.
The employee who meets the responsibilities and niceties of good business dress shows to his sharp-eyed employer that he is a man who is liable to meet the niceties and responsibilities of a better position.
More than once has both business and advancement hinged on appearance. And good appearance never handicaps—never holds a man back.
* * * * *
HOW DIFFERENT ARGUMENTS APPEAL TO MEN
Price Foremost Sentiment Useless Style Slight Quality Important Flattery Doubtful Exclusiveness Seldom Testimonials Effective Reputation Reassuring Service Essential
* * * * *
This presentation is good "man copy" for it is based on that universal attribute—the desire to "get on" in business and as an employee. This letter has the right kind of appeal, rightly presented. Compare that letter with the one sent out by a tailor to the professional men of his city:
I hope you will excuse the liberty I am taking in addressing you personally, but as it is on a matter that affects you very much and also your profession, I hope you will overlook the familiarity.
As a physician you realize the importance of having good clothes and also of having them kept in good order, both from a social as well as a professional standpoint.
Being situated in your immediate neighborhood and having my store open a greater part of the day, I am sure the proximity will be a great convenience to you.
I have had twenty-seven years' experience in making clothes and cleaning, pressing and repairing them. I do not think you need question my ability to do your work satisfactorily as I have made clothes for some of the most fastidious and aristocratic people in the world.
Sixteen years in London, England, making clothes for Lords, Dukes and other titled people should entitle me to your consideration.
Perhaps you may have some lady friends who need garments remodelled, cleaned, pressed or repaired, who would be glad to know of my shop.
I assure you I will attend to all orders promptly and do your work as you want it.
Yours very truly. [Signature: M. B. Andrews]
* * * * *
This letter begins with an apology and there is no inducement to patronize the tailor except his unbacked assertion that he made clothes for "titled people" for sixteen years
* * * * *
He starts out with an apology and his sentences are involved. His boast about the work he has done for titled nobility abroad indicates that he is a snob—the whole letter lacks conviction.
Sometimes a man-to-man appeal may have the heart interest that strikes a responsive chord.
Dear Mr. Smith:
[Sidenote: A statement that every man agrees with. Good description.]
An extra pair of dressy, well-made trousers is something every man can use—no matter how many suits he has. Here is an opportunity to get a pair at exceedingly moderate cost.
[Sidenote: Effective method of dealing with a real bargain.]
You know how we make trousers—what substantial, well-selected patterns we carry; how carefully we cut, so as to get perfect fit in the crotch and around the waist; how we whip in a piece of silk around the upper edge of the waist; put in a strip to protect against wear at the front and back of the leg at the bottom; and sew on buttons so that they won't pull off.
[Sidenote: Sending of samples greatly increases power of letter.]
Our season is winding up with a lot of patterns on hand containing just enough for one pair or two pairs of "Burnham-made" trousers. See the enclosed sample. There's a good variety in dark patterns and a few light patterns, not a one sold regularly at less than $6.50 and some sold as high as $7.50.
[Sidenote: This consideration for the old customer is sure to have a good effect.]
These remnants won't go into the windows until Saturday morning. We are notifying you, as a regular customer, that as long as these remnants last you can get a pair of trousers from any piece for $5.50, or two pairs at the same time from the same measure for $10—workmanship just the same as if you paid the regular price.
[Sidenote: The last half of the closing sentence has much subtle power.]
This is a REAL bargain, and we hope to see you before the best of the patterns are picked out.
Truly yours, THE BURNHAM COMPANY
* * * * *
Here is a letter sent out by a rival tailor. It grips attention in the first sentence and carries conviction. It prompts immediate action and every sentence carries an appeal. Unlike the preceding letter, it does not talk about the writer but about the goods he has for sale—the bargains he offers
* * * * *
The manager and owner of a business which was in immediate need of money had tried out different sales letters with but fair success. His product sold to men; it would stand up under trial; the difficulty lay entirely in awakening interest in a highly competitive product.
As there seemed scarcely a chance that the business might be made to live, the manager decided to take the public into his confidence—partly, perhaps, as extenuation for the failure he saw ahead. So he led out with a sales letter beginning with this appeal:
Suppose you had put every cent of money—every bit of your wide experience—every ounce of energy—into a business wouldn't you want to see it go—live?
And if you knew—positively knew—that you had the test product of its kind in the world—wouldn't it spur you to still greater efforts—if you knew that there was danger of failure simply because the public was not prompt enough in responding?
You, like hundreds and thousands of others, have had it in mind to buy of me sometime. It is vital to the life of my business that you make that sometime NOW!
* * * * *
The pulling power of this letter was phenomenal; not only did thirty-five per cent of the list order, but twelve per cent in addition answered, stating that their orders could be depended upon later. In addition, there were scattering letters of encouragement and comment, making the total result a marker in the era of solicitation by mail.
What made this particular letter pull, when dozens of other letters, written by the same man to the same list on the same proposition, had attained only mediocre results?
The last letter made a distinctive appeal—to men—and particularly to men in business. For, since the time of "playing store," every man has met, in its many varied guises, the wolf of Failure—and once a fellow business man is in the same plight, the man who loves fairness will do his part to help out.
That these talking points that appeal to men are efficient is proved by such cases as just cited; once the man-to-man appeal is actually brought out, the response is immediate.
While such appeals occasionally make a ten-strike, the average correspondent must rely upon logic and "reasons why" in making his appeal to men.
The ability to reason from cause to effect, omitting none of the intermediate or connecting steps, has long been held to be a substantial part of the masculine mind. Orators have found that logic—conviction—may have little or no effect on a feminine audience and yet prove the surest means of convincing an audience of men. School teachers early note that the feminine portion of the school lean towards grammar—which is imitative and illogical—while the boys are generally best in mathematics, which is a hard and fast "rule" study.
Similarly in business, the average man is used to "working with his pencil," and will follow a logical demonstration to the close, where a woman would not give it a passing glance.
One of the latest selling campaigns, marketing town lots in various new towns between St. Paul and the Pacific Coast, appeals to the logical note in the masculine mind, and grants a concession in a follow-up, even before it is asked for. This makes a particularly strong appeal to the man who has begun to think about the proposition and who senses that, somehow, it is not quite logical.
We have a letter from a man who, like you, read our advertisement and sent for more information, including a copy of our contract, and he wrote as follows:
"I don't like the forfeiture clause in your contract. Under it, if a man paid you $950, and then lost his job and couldn't pay any more, you would have the right to gobble up all of his money and keep the lots too. You wouldn't dare to make a contract with me under which as soon as I had paid you $300 you would deed to me the first lot mentioned in my contract—the lot at ——-,—and then with each $100 paid in on the contract, deed me the next lot named in my contract. If you would do this, I would take your contract in a minute, because I would have some land for my money I paid in, if I had to quit before I paid you the full $1,000."
We took this man at his word, and have since thought that possibly there were others who regarded our contract as being too severe.
If this was the reason that you did not invest with us, we ask you to examine the enclosed proof sheet, from the printer, of our new contract, and write us not only if it suits you, but if you can think of any other way to make it any more fair and equitable.
* * * * *
The illustration given is particularly good because it is anticipatory—nips an objection that may be just forming in the mind of the prospect.
We sent you a sample of our Royal Mixture tobacco in response to your request some time ago. We are anxious to know what you think about it.
This is the best tobacco on the market today at the price, and as we know you would not have asked for a free sample unless you intended to buy more if you liked the sample, we hope to receive your order by return mail.
Very truly, [Signature: Morton and Morton]
* * * * *
A flat, insipid letter entirely without order-pulling force. The attempt to, twist the request for a free sample into an obligation to place an order strokes a man's intentions the wrong way
* * * * *
Well, how did you find the tobacco?
I'm anxious to learn your opinion of Boyal Mixture, now that you've burned a bit of it in your pipe.
I believe in this tobacco, and back it up with a guarantee that removes all risk so far as the customer is concerned. I refund money without argument if you are not satisfied.
Royal Mixture is not intended for smokers who are satisfied with any old stuff that will burn and give off smoke. It is used by people who want nothing but the best and know it when they get it. It's the perfection of pipe tobacco.
Men who smoke my Mixture for a month can't come down to common mixtures again. It spoils the taste for cheap tobacco. Smoke a dozen pipes of it and you'll wonder how you ever got any comfort out of ordinary smoking tobacco.
Royal Mixture is skillfully blended from clean, ripe leaves of the very best tobacco grown. It is neither too strong nor too mild—it is precisely what a knowing pipe smoker likes: fragrant, satisfying, delightful to nerves, nostrils and palate.
There's a glorious, natural aroma about Royal Mixture which appeals to a gentleman's nostrils most favorably. Particular pipe smokers praise it in the highest terms, and prove the sincerity of their praise by ordering it from month to month.
Shall I number you among the "regulars?" Remember, you can't buy Royal Mixture from the retail shops. It goes direct from packer to purchaser and reaches you in perfect condition.
The cost is so small, and as you take not a particle of risk but can secure full refund of money if dissatisfied, why hesitate to order? The responsibility is entirely upon me.
Every day you delay ordering means a distinct loss to you of greater pipe pleasure than you have ever experienced.
Won't you sit down now, while the matter is right before you, fill enclosed blank and mail me your order TODAY—THIS MINUTE?
Yours very truly, [Signature: L. W. Hamilton]
* * * * *
Here is the letter rewritten, explaining why this tobacco is superior. The appeal is cleverly worded to flatter the recipient into believing he is one of those who know and demand something a little better than common. The cost is kept in the background by the guarantee of satisfaction and the clincher prompts immediate action
* * * * *
Appeals to men can be peppered with technical description and still interest and get results. The sales manager of a house selling cameras by mail says, in speaking of this principle:
"We found it necessary to use an entirely different series of letters in selling our cameras to men and to women. Generally speaking, men are interested in technical descriptions of the parts of the camera; women look at a camera from the esthetic side—as a means to an end.
"In writing a sales letter to a man, I take up, for instance, the lens. This I describe in semi-technical terms, stating why this particular lens or combination of lenses will do the best work. Then follows a description of the shutter—and so on through the principal parts until, if the prospect be seriously interested, I have demonstrated, first, that the camera will do the best work, and, second, that it is good value for the money.
"In writing a letter, under the same conditions, to a woman, I put all technical description in an enclosure or accompanying folder and write a personal note playing up the fact that in after years it will be very pleasant to have pictures of self, family, baby, and friends.
"These two appeals are the opposite poles of selling—the one logic and conviction, the other sentiment and persuasion."
Logic and conviction, in fact, are the keynotes to selling men by mail. Men fear being "worked." On those occasions when they have been "worked," it has generally been through sentiment—through the arts of persuasion rather than a clearly-demonstrated conviction that the proposition was right. As a consequence, persuasion alone, without a mass of figures and solid arguments, does not convince a man.
A land company uses a novel method of conviction along this line, aiming to get the prospect to furnish his own figures. The idea is, that these figures, prepared by the prospect himself, and the accuracy of which he himself vouches, will work conviction.
The letter reads in part:
Suppose, ten years ago, you had paid down, say $10 on a piece of cheap land.
Then from time to time you had paid in say $10 per month on the same land. Had you been able to buy then as you can buy from us now, your land would have been secured to you on your first payment.
Now figure out what you would have paid in at $10 per month in ten years. Now, remembering that well-selected land doubles in value once, at least, every five years, what would you be worth now, from your $10-a-month investment?
* * * * *
The letter proved the best puller of a series of try-outs sent to professional men and men on salaries.
Every man has, as a by-product of his every-day experience, certain more or less clearly defined impressions. With some men these are still in a sort of hazy formation; with others these vague ideas are almost a cult. The letter-writer who can tap one of these lines of thought gets results in a flash. Such letter takes a basis of facts common to most men, blends them in the letter written, so as to form fixedly from the prospect's own ideas and experiences, a firm conviction that what the writer is saying is absolute truth. A single sentence that does not ring true to a man's experience is an obstacle over which the message will not carry.
A company selling land in the west, sent out a five-page letter— enough to smother whatever interest might have been attracted by the advertisement. Here is the third paragraph from the letter:
"As you were attracted by this investment opportunity after reading the straight facts regarding it, I have come to believe in your judgment as a careful and prudent person who recognizes the value of a good, permanent, promising investment."
* * * * *
That's enough! It is barely possible that the first few paragraphs might arouse the reader's interest enough to glance through the five pages, but this crude attempt to flatter him is such palpable "bunk" that he is convinced there is not the sincerity back of the letter to make it worth his while—and five pages more are headed for the car-wheel plant.
The "man appeal" is one that draws strongly from man experience. Ambition, responsibility, logical arguments, reasons why—these are the things that the correspondent keeps constantly before him. They all have root in experiences, habits of thought and customs which distinguish men; they are more exclusively masculine attributes that play an important part in the make-up of letters that rivet the attention of busy business men.
How To Write Letters That Appeal to FARMERS
PART VI—THE APPEAL TO DIFFERENT CLASSES—CHAPTER 24
The farmer is a producer of necessities, hence he is a shrewd judge of what necessities are. More, he has always in mind a list of necessities that he intends to purchase—when he "can afford it." For this reason the letter that sells goods to him must either stimulate him to an immediate purchase of an article on his "want list," or to displace a necessity that is already there with something MORE necessary. So the letter that sells goods to him must appeal to his needs—and give him detailed specifications to think about
* * * * *
"Does it appeal to the farmer's need," is the overhead question which is back of all advertising directed at the man living on a farm. It is not necessary to go into proofs; the reasons are apparent.
"All other things being equal," says the chief correspondent for one of the big mail-order houses, "the surest sale is the item that the farmer patron feels he must have. Even after making money enough to be classed well-to-do, the farmer persists in his acquired mental habit—he tests every 'offer' put up to him by his need for it—or rather whether he can get along without it. This predisposition on the part of the audience to which the letter is addressed is to be borne in mind constantly—that the farmer thinks in terms of necessities."
So the mail-order firm shapes its appeal to the farmer, emphasizing the need of the merchandise it is offering, and at the same time it bears down heavily on the advantages of buying direct.
And while the easiest way to reach the farmer's purse is by appealing to his needs—the practical value of the article or goods advertised—the correspondent must keep constantly in mind the particular manner in which the appeal can best be made. The brief, concise statement that wins the approval of the busy business man would slide off the farmer's mind without arousing the slightest interest. The farmer has more time to think over a proposition—as he milks or hitches up, as he plows or drives to town, there is opportunity to turn a plan over and over in his mind. Give him plenty to think about.
The farmer's mail is not so heavy but what he has time to read a long letter if it interests him, and so the successful correspondent fills two or three pages, sometimes five or six, and gives the recipient arguments and reasons to ponder over during his long hours in the field. One of the most successful men in the mail-order business sometimes sends out a seven-page letter, filled with talking points. "It will save you money"—"I want you to compare the Challenge with other machines"—"Shafting of high carbon steel"—"Gearings set in phosphorus bronze bushings"—"Thirty days' free trial"—"Try it with your money in your own pocket"—"$25,000 guaranty bond"—point after point like these are brought out and frequently repeated for emphasis.
The head of the English department in the university would be pained at the lack of literary quality, but it is a farmer's letter and it follows the grooves of the brain in the man who is going to read its seven pages. And after all, the writer is not conducting a correspondence course in rhetoric; he is selling implements and is not going to chance losing an order because his proposition is not made perfectly clear—because it shoots over the head of the reader. And the correspondent not only tries to make his proposition clear but he tries to get up close to the recipient in a friendly way. The farmer is awed by formalities and so the writer who really appeals to him talks about "You and Me." "You do that and I will do this— then we will both be satisfied." One successful letter-salesman seldom fails to ask some direct question about the weather, the crops, the general outlook, but he knows how to put it so that it does not sound perfunctory and frequently the farmer will reply to this question without even referring to the goods that the house had written about. Never mind! This letter is answered as promptly and carefully as if it had been an inquiry forecasting a large order.
* * * * *
HOW DIFFERENT ARGUMENTS APPEAL TO FARMERS
Price Paramount Quality Essential Style Unimportant Sentiment Lacking Flattery Useless Exclusiveness Ineffective Testimonials Reassuring Reputation Valuable Utility Vital Service Appreciated
* * * * *
Such attention helps to win the confidence of the farmer and the knowing correspondent never loses sight of the fact that the farmer is, from bitter experience, suspicious especially of propositions emanating from concerns that are new to him. After one or two satisfactory dealings with a house he places absolute faith in it but every legitimate mail-order concern is handicapped by the fact that unscrupulous firms are continually lying in wait for the unwary: the man with the county rights for a patent churn and his brother who leaves a fanning mill with a farmer to demonstrate and takes a receipt which turns up at the bank as a promissory note are teaching the farmers to be guarded. Many of them can spot a gold brick scheme as soon as it is presented. Therefore the correspondent has to keep before him the fact that the farmer is always wary; his letters must be so worded that no obscure phrase will arouse suspicion; no proposition will admit of two interpretations.
So the guarantee and the free trial offer are essential features in letters that sell the farmer. In hundreds of letters from manufacturers of goods that are sold by mail to the farmer, nearly every one throws into prominence the guarantee and the free trial offer with money refunded if the purchase does not prove satisfactory.
A manufacturer of farm implements puts this guarantee into the first person effectively.
Such a letter carries conviction; you are impressed by the fact that 40,000 farmers consider this spreader the best; the offer of comparison and demonstration seems conclusive that a comparison is not necessary; you feel that the man who bought a different kind of spreader must have acted hastily without investigating the merits of this particular machine.
The farmer is usually open to conviction but he has to be "shown." After he has had successful dealings with a house for several years he readily accepts its assurance that something is just as good at a less price than what he would buy of a retailer, but he can most easily be won over by strong "why" copy. An educational campaign is almost always necessary for the farmer who has never bought goods by mail; to pull him out of the rut of established custom it is necessary to present facts and figures to convince him that the direct-to-the-consumer method is to his advantage.
To get this to the eye and mind in a striking way is the first requisite.
A Cincinnati firm selling buggies uses a comparative table at the bottom of the first sheet of the first follow-up, as follows:
* * * * *
COST OF RETAIL PLAN COST OF OUR PLAN
Actual factory cost of buggy.. $43.00 Factory cost..... $43.00 Factory selling expense....... 4.00 Selling expense.. 4.00 Salesmen's expense............ 4.50 Our profit....... 6.75 Factory profit................ 7.00 OUR SELLING ——- Retailer's selling expense.... 5.00 PRICE............ $53.75 Retailer's profit............. 15.00 ——- DEALER'S SELLING PRICE $78.50
* * * * *
This makes the prospect stop and think if not stop and figure.
Another carriage manufacturing company uses a somewhat similar method of comparison but introduces it at a different point. Between the first and second pages of a three-page follow-up, a sheet in facsimile handwriting is introduced forming a marked comparison, mechanically, to the typewriting preceding and following it:
* * * * * * Problems of Dollars and Cents saving easily solved. Retail Dealer's plan of figuring selling price. Actual factory cost of buggy.................... $46.25 Expense and salary, traveling salesman, about 10% 4.50 Jobber's profit—at least 15% .................. 7.00 Retail dealer's profit (figured very low)....... 20.00 Losses from bad debts........................... 2.50 ——- RETAIL DEALER'S SELLING PRICE................... $80.25
My Plan of Figuring Selling Price. Actual factory cost of buggy.................... $46.25 Expense and salary of traveling salesman........ nothing Jobber's profit................................. nothing Retail dealer's profit.......................... nothing Losses from bad debts........................... nothing My one small gross profit................ 8.50 ——- MY SELLING PRICE................................ $54.75 * * * * *
This "saving sheet" can not fail to attract greater attention by means of its form and place of introduction than though it were typewritten and in regular order.
Right-out-from-the-shoulder arguments and facts may also be used to good advantage in handling competition. What the farmer wants is to know whether the other goods are as represented; whether the proposition has any holes in it. If the seller can give him facts that prove his product better than others, honestly and fairly, it does not boost the competitor but helps to sell his own goods.
A cream separator manufacturer claiming a simple machine now presents in his catalogue illustrations of the parts of other machines used in the actual separation of the cream from the milk. This comparison shows that his machine has fewer parts and consequently will stay in repair longer and clean easier—two important talking points.
Where a competing firm enters the field with a cheap quality of goods that would react against the trade, it is sometimes policy to put the facts before the prospective buyers.
This was done by a Winnipeg manufacturer of metal culverts after the following plan:
"Last May a firm manufacturing metal goods attempted to enter the culvert field in Western Canada. We sent out a letter to every Councilor in Manitoba and Saskatchewan showing the weakness of its culverts. It looks as though our letter settled all chance of selling the kind of culvert it was making, for it immediately quit the campaign for business. We do not think a single culvert was sold.
"The same company is again making an effort to enter the field, and we would be pleased to see it get a nice business If it sold a good culvert, but as long as it sells anything like the one now advertised we shall most vigorously oppose it beoause we are certain the culverts will not give satisfaction, and that will mean purchasers will be very much disappointed, and will have a tendency, as a result, to be opposed to all metal culverts; their disappointment will be so great that it will react against our company.
"Look at the illustration in the magazines of the nestable culvert—a man is pinching the metal on the lower section of the culvert back upon itself. There are very few machine shops in the country in which the heavy metal we use could be bent. At any rate, to bend back our metal, you would require a machine shop wherever you were doing your road work. Take a sledge hammer the next time you see one of our culverts and prove to yourself the task that would be before you to bend our culverts. You simply could not do it."
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The farmer who receives such a letter, if not entirely convinced, is at least reasonably certain to make an investigation before placing an order with the firm selling culverts that can be bent by hand. And it is probably a good thing for the mail-order business that such efforts are being made to protect the public against inferior goods.
Experience has shown that while offers to the farmer must be clear cut, the chances of pulling an order are increased if he is given a number of options as to price, plan of payment and different kinds of items open to purchase. He does not like to be restricted to one particular item, or one arbitrary form of payment. This fact was long ago recognized by the large catalogue houses, for they aim to offer several kinds and sizes under every item listed. It has been found that where both the number of items and options in a line is doubled or otherwise substantially increased, that the percentage of sales immediately increases.
A company in Canton, Ohio, putting out a line of sprayers, offers on the back of its order sheet four sprayers of different prices and four forms of making payment for each sprayer. This gives the prospect sixteen options—one of which will look best to him, when he sends in his order.
This information is printed on the back of the order sheet, where it can not get separated from it and where it will have a "last appeal."
The mail-order houses have been vieing with each other in trying to find unique appeals to the farmer. To this end profit-sharing plans and various premium schemes have been introduced, in some cases with phenomenal results.
While the farmer is no different from the ordinary public in wanting to get his money's worth he is open to conviction through smaller devices than is his city brother. And the "novelty device" appeals to him strongly.
An Ohio company putting out buggies as a main product, adds an insurance policy as a clincher. The purchaser is himself insured for one hundred dollars payable to his heirs in case of his death; the buggy carries an indemnity—not to exceed fifty dollars—covering accidents along the line of breakage or damage in accidents or smash-ups. This insurance, under the policy given, is kept in force a year.
This extra not only acts as a sales argument but a basis for a talk like this:
"The S. & W. pleasure vehicles have been tested by insurance company officials. They have been proved practically unbreakable, the material and durability surprising the insurance officials. Insurance is not issued on sickly persons, weak buildings nor on inferior vehicles. It is because our vehicles are so well made that insurance is permitted."
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This makes a convincing talking point, particularly to the man who is not familiar with accident indemnity, and to the young man who is about to buy a "rig" in which he may attempt to demonstrate that no other man can pass him on the road.
When it comes to framing up a campaign there are many points, minor in themselves, but each having its significance, that it is well to consider. It frequently happens that not enough attention is paid to the stationery that is used for farmers, but all these things have their influence in prejudicing the recipient for or against a new house.
"It is a good rule in writing the farmer to diversify your stationery," says a mail-order man who has sold a wide range of specialties. "The reason for this lies in the fact that when a farmer has been drummed about so much he may grow resentful at the persistence. We aim, not only to present the proposition very differently each time, but we use different size envelopes, different letterheads and markedly different enclosures in each follow-up.
"Particularly along rural routes, where the men folks are in the field when the carrier comes, I aim to change envelopes and letterheads. I never want the housewife to be able to say to the man of the house when he asks what mail came, that 'There's another letter from the firm that's trying to sell you a cream separator'."
To make ordering easier and to get the farmer to "act now" a coupon or an enclosed postal card, good for a limited number of days is widely used. This makes it easier to send for catalogue or a free trial or whatever is advertised. It is a spur to action and results in adding to the mailing list, names of many persons who might never respond if they had to wait until they found pen or pencil and paper—and a convenient opportunity.
A rebate check is another popular scheme for inducing the customer to order. An old mail-order house calls attention in the first form letter sent out with a catalogue to the fact that accompanying it is a check for one dollar to apply on the first order.
This order is made out in the form of a personal check, filled in with the prospect's name. It is, to all intents and purposes, a personal check, only payable in goods instead of cash.
Similar use of the check method of exciting interest is also used by a Detroit incubator manufacturer, who finds that many who have resisted other appeals answer to the chance to convert a check into a saving.
This same firm also adds as a clincher an offer to pay the freight on certain lines of goods, so that the catalogue price becomes actual cost instead of cost plus freight charges. Such inducements come home to the farmer; anything on the "something-for-nothing" order appeals to him.
Aside from the nature of the proposition and the way it is presented, there is the all-important element of seasonableness. The man who has always lived in the city might understand the general principles of mail-order selling and have a good proposition, but his success would be indifferent unless he understood the meaning of timeliness in reaching the farmer. If your letter or advertisement catches the eye of the farmer he will in all probability put it away in the shoe box back of the chimney until ready to buy; it would be almost impossible to train enough guns on him during the rush season to force his interest. It is a common experience with mail-order houses to receive replies to letters or advertisements six months or a year after they are sent out—sometimes years afterwards. The message was timely; it wormed its way into the farmer's "mental want list" and blossomed forth when he felt that he could afford the article.
Only a carefully kept record-of-returns sheet or book will show when sales can best be made on a particular item, and the shrewd manager will test out different items at different seasons before launching a big campaign which may be ill-timed.
"The winter months are the best time for comprehensive information to soak in—but the letter generally is not the place for this. Put personality in the letter—specifications in the circular." This is the advice of an experienced correspondent whose length of service enables him to speak authoritatively.
"A winter letter may be long, verbose and full of interesting information; the farmer will read it carefully. This is the time to get in specifications, estimates, complicated diagrams and long arguments which require study. Letters for the work months need to be short and snappy, both to insure reading and to act on a tired mind."
And then finally the proposition must be made so plain that there is no possibility of its being misinterpreted. What a city man who is a wide reader gets at a glance, the ordinary farm owner or farmer's boy—often with only a rudimentary knowledge of English—must study over.