George Kern designed a new intermittent alarm clock for the Western Clock Mfg. Co. The clock had a bell enveloping the entire case back, and prototypes were available in early 1908. Advertising manager Gaston LeRoy recognized the clock as something special, proposed a national advertising campaign, and suggested the clock be named BIG BEN. LeRoy proposed a price of $1.50 for Big Ben and outlined an advertising campaign for the second half of 1908, with the first national advertising to be in the September 26, 1908 Saturday Evening Post.
This campaign is proposed in "A Plan For a National Advertising Campaign of Alarm Clocks", dated March 16, 1908. The original is not signed, but we believe that LeRoy is the author. The original is typewritten, double-spaced and 35 pages long. It is reproduced below in its entirety.
LeRoy's 1908 proposal was not the final one. What actually happened was that a small number of Big Bens were made from 1908 through 1910, and in the third quarter of 1910 the Big Ben dial was given its familiar form. Big Ben was first nationally advertised in the September 24, 1910 Saturday Evening Post, page 39, at a price of $2.50. LeRoy must have been an advertising genius, for his BIG BEN campaign was a complete success.
Attributed to Gaston A. LeRoy
In connection with the production of our new intermittent Alarm, I wish to lay before the Board of Directors the plan of an advertising campaign for this clock, i.e. a plan to control the distribution and sale of this clock through the help of printed matter and publicity.
There are at the present time about 12 million clocks made annually in the United States, besides a large quantity of German and French clocks imported yearly and, we estimate that at least 8 million represent alarm clocks. Strange to say, while in almost every other line of manufacture, ranging from foodstuffs to clothes and house furnishing goods, the name of one article is always linked with that of a particular manufacturer and known to the public by the advertising he has done, no clock company has attempted to get in direct touch with the consumer by making the name and quality of their product known outside of the trade.
There are today eight concerns engaged in the manufacture of alarm clocks on a large scale and it is doubtful whether, outside of the dealers and assistants any of them is known to the buying public to any extent and can depend solely on its merits to sell its goods. But all of them are more or less dependent on their salesman and the jobbers, the jobbers' salesman and the retail dealers, more or less on their selling price.
In a similar line, that of low-priced watches, Ingersoll has achieved a success that is due solely to advertising, built through advertising and kept alive through advertising, simply because they were the first in that line to place their product before the public. - In a totally different industry, the National Biscuit Co. has rendered competition on a large scale impossible by advertising their trade mark "Uneeda" to every home - while more recently a safety razor manufacturer, the Gillette Co., has with an article slightly different from the old style, in less than a year's time revolutionized by its advertising the razor industry and although copied by several other firms in its product and its advertising campaign, managed by striking first to secure a lead which no other brand seems to have overcome by publicity or by price cutting, even though the Gillette costs $5.00. and competitive articles are today offered for $1.00. - It would cost another manufacturer probably twice as much as Ingersoll's yearly advertising expense to even begin to affect the latter and it is doubtful whether he could make any permanent impression on the trade. Many other instances of this kind could be given whether in silverware or pickles, in kitchenware or in condensed milk.
To quote from a recent article on advertising possibilities "There are a great many clocks to be sold by the man who has the nerve to make one at a price and then tell the public about "it". In other words, there is a splendid opportunity for the first manufacturer who will produce a clock that can be easily identified - set a fixed selling price to the consumer - advertise it - and have the public ask for it in the same way as it specifies today an Elgin or a Waltham movement. This manufacturer will be able to obtain more for his goods and to have the public believe in them, for the mere advertising of an article gives it a certain prestige; he will insure his business against combinations, price cutting and trade manipulations, will take his product out of the control of the jewelers and place it within the hands of the man who buys, the consumer.
Of all clocks, the alarm is the most simple, the lowest in price and the most in demand. It is not a fad, a novelty, something that serves one season and dies out the next, but an article that sells year in and year out and at all times of the year and the clock which is the least affected by styles and changes in fashions. It is therefore particularly well adapted to advertising.
Until this year, we had no clock that could be successfully advertised in such a manner. Our AMERICA, while being a good clock, an unusual value for the cost, has no other merit but that of its low price. It is an article that a dealer can easily substitute on because it has no visible distinctive feature and its sales depend mostly on its manufacturing cost. - It sells largely to a class that will at any time buy an imported alarm or any other competitive clock if it is advertised for a few cents less. It has also the handicap of being an old product and of having a name without particular individuality, therefore hard to remember and hard to impress upon the public.
In our new alarm, we have a clock that is on the contrary susceptible of being very successfully advertised, i.e., sold through advertising, through the public instead of the dealer. It is distinctive, new and attractive in appearance; therefore it will secure attention and be easily recognized and hard to substitute on. It is built on a good principle - The movement is all enclosed within the bell and the bell has a larger surface than any other clock, therefore the movement is better protected and the alarm more effective. It has on this account excellent talking points and selling points. It can be made at a relatively low cost, therefore sold either at a lower price than others, either with a larger margin of profit for the wholesaler and the retailer than the other makes and we can afford to put it up in an attractive manner in a good cardboard box and in a good shipping case, always a matter of great importance with the consumer. It is an absolutely new clock, one which has never been placed on the market and on which a special campaign of distribution and sales can be planned without having to tear down or change any previous policy and it is a clock that is important enough to justify a campaign for itself. It is a clock that will particularly appeal to the watchmakers because it can be easily taken apart and repaired and because it can be kept out of department stores, therefore one through which we can secure the jewelry trade, which is still keeping away from our goods and it is an article that will appeal to a higher class of consumers, the one that is the least affected by the cost of the goods, therefore a clock without the reach of the German peril.
The first step is to give the clock a good name that will at the same time be used as a trade mark. This matter is of extreme importance: a name has often made the success of an advertising campaign and frequently caused its failure.
A name must be "different", euphonious and if possible suggestive of the goods, but it must first of all be so distinctive that it will be easily memorized by the public and convey to the minds of the consumer the image and merits of the clock whenever it is mentioned.
"Sapolio", "Uneeda", "Ostermoor" are characteristic names - "Yankee", "Standard", "Peerless", etc. are names that are too general and meaningless and have cost their owners much more to establish then if they had selected one of the first class in the first place. The latter have been applied indifferently to any class of goods, bath tubs, watches, tiling, so that the same name is often used for two entirely different articles. A good name is a valuable asset. It has been said for instance that if all the plants of the National Biscuit Co. were to burn down over night, the word "Uneeda" would be their best asset the following morning.
A name can be coined, i.e. created, for instance "Sapolio", or made up from the initials of the manufacturers, for instance, B.V.D.(Underwear) or be that of the inventor like "Burroughs" (Adding Machines) or taken from the name of the city in which the article is made like "Kalamazoo" (Stoves). The latter however cannot be copyrighted and can be used by any other manufacturer in the same city.
In my opinion a proper name, like "Gillette", "Ingersoll" is preferable because the American Public is interested in personalities and always curious to know by whom and where an article is made. Our firm style "The Western Clock Mfg. Co." is one that could not be used practically. It is too long, too indefinite and hard to remember correctly. There are WESTERN Tube, Telephone, Implement, Merchandise, Watch Case, etc. Companies. The new trade mark law would not protect the names of LA SALLE or PERU. It will therefore be necessary to sidetrack our firm style and these names entirely and to coin a name or make use of a proper name already existing, in history or sciences or art, etc.
I would for lack of better names, suggest the name "Big-Ben". Big Ben is the name of a very well known Tower Clock in London, therefore appropriate for an alarm clock, it is a proper name, it is a distinctive name, it is a "jolly" name, short, pleasant to hear and pleasant to see in print. I shall therefore refer to this clock as the Big Ben in the balance of this report. Should we get out a small 2 inch alarm of the same style, we could call it "Bennie" or "Little Ben" and thus give it the benefit of any advertising we have done for the bigger clock.
The present trade mark could hardly be used on the BIG-BEN, because it already appears on the AMERICA which goes to a cheap trade and it would be bad policy to have on a $1.50 or $2.00 clock the same mark that appears on the 75¢ or 69¢ alarm. The name BIG-BEN would therefore be the trade mark. It would be mentioned conspicuously on every ad, placed on every dial, on every box and every case leaving our shipping room. It would be made so well known that the very same clock without the word BIG-BEN could not be sold for as high a price as those with the trade mark on. It might also be advisable to leave our name entirely off the dial of the clock because it already appears on the AMERICA and other low priced clocks.
The next question is that of the box. Alarm clocks are usually piled on the dealers' shelves in full view of the public, therefore the boxes should be attractive and neat so that they do not spoil the appearance of the dealer's store and so that, on the contrary, he will be pleased to put them in a prominent place where they will favorably impress the consumers. The Box should be made strong so that it will stand shipment without damages. For the BIG-BEN I would not suggest a folding box, but a finished one, made of strong cardboard and with telescopic top. If necessary, I would suggest a stamped cardboard back to be placed inside the box, that will take in the bell so that the clock lies dial-side-up and I would recommend a special color of cover paper which in the large quantities we will require, will be made specially and exclusively for us by the paper mill like the sample I herewith attach. Each box would have the words BIG-BEN on the end label in one or two colors.
The next step in the campaign is to establish a scale of prices to consumer, retailer and jobber. It is out of the question to sell the BIG-BEN so that it can be retailed to the consumer for $1.00. The TATTOO (New Haven Intermittent), the SPASMODIC (Waterbury Intermittent) and the REPEATER (Ansonia Intermittent) are selling today to the consumer for not less than $1.50. This price seems to me the proper one. A $1.50 clock should cost the retailer not more than $1.00 in dozen lots and 95¢ in case lots and, to secure the jobbers' good will, we should allow him a good profit, so that he pushes the BIG-BEN with his trade and cooperates with us in establishing it. The majority of the jewelers are too poorly rated to be sold by us direct and as a number of small towns have not a single well rated jeweler, it is necessary that we should have the jobbers' help and willingness to carry these accounts. If there is enough profit in it, the jobber will accept orders we refer to him for poorly rated jewelers, but he will not do so on a margin of 5¢ or 10¢ a piece and as the jeweler usually insists on buying his goods on credit, we would be unable to secure his trade, were it not for the jobber. I believe that a wholesale price of 80¢, netting the jobber 15¢ in case lots and 20¢ in dozen lots would be desirable for us and very satisfactory to the wholesalers.
The appropriation we would have to devote for such a campaign depends naturally on its extent. A number of plans can be made up ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 a year according to the scope of the advertising.
It is generally understood that the "Sapolio" campaign costs $1000.00 a day, the "Uneeda" campaign $2000.00 a day. I should think that Ingersoll has spent as high as $75,000 or $80,000 a year and that his campaign is now running at the rate of $50,000 a year.
With a carefully planned campaign, every dollar we invest ought to sell a corresponding amount of goods, so that it is really a matter of deciding how much we want to start with. We ought to sell 1000 BIG-Ben a day, after three months, if not before and increase to 2000 within a year. If we allow 10¢ per clock for advertising, this would enable us to devote $30,000 a year to introduce the BIG-BEN to the public. This is about the minimum amount of money that should be spent to make a successful campaign; I do not believe that it would pay to undertake anything for less and it would be perhaps advisable to risk more at the beginning, for the opening announcements are the ones which will be mostly responsible for the results that will follow. Afterwards, it will be mainly a matter of sustaining the interest.
I believe that such an investment should be considered in the same light as a machine costing $30,000 yearly that would add at least $50,000 a year to the net profits of our business and I do not doubt that such a thing is possible.
There are various ways of advertising the BIG-BEN to the public:
1. Magazines Magazines are the backbone of any advertising campaign of national importance (by national we mean a campaign covering the entire United States instead of one district). They are also the best and cheapest mediums. There is a very large number of such publications in existence today, but relatively few of prominence. A great many of the magazines seen on the news stands have a small circulation, while about half a dozen are read so extensively that by limiting our advertisements to these, we would be sure of reaching the largest proportion of readers, while advertisements placed in the other magazines would only duplicate the impression already made, the same advertisement being run in every magazine of the same week or month. It is safe to say that at least one woman member of every family takes the Ladies' Home Journal, the Woman's Home Companion or the Delineator (monthlies) while at least one man will read the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's (weeklies) or Everybody's (monthly), so that by limiting our advertisements to these periodicals we would reach practically the greatest portion of readers. Running the same advertisement in another periodical would be telling the same thing to the same man twice, which is unprofitable.
It is the general opinion that the actual readers of the magazines average 5 persons per copy, so that by taking space in the above periodicals which have a circulation of about 5 million readers, we should reach 25 million people. If we sent advertising matter to every subscriber of these magazines ourselves, instead of using their advertising pages, the postage alone regardless of the cost of printing and paper would be $50,000 for 5 million readers for every issue instead of about $25,000 for the same number of readers for at least 12 issues. By advertising in the magazine we get the benefit of the pooling of other manufacturers' ads in one volume and of a lower mailing rate than we can secure (second instead of third class). Of course advertisements printed together with those of other manufacturers have not the same force as though they were alone on one circular, but a mailing list of 5 million people would require an enormous expense for clerks, addressing plates, etc. and be almost impossible to keep correct and up to date.
The advertising rates of the magazines are based both on the circulation and the class of people which they reach. Those I mentioned above are supposed to have circulations varying between 500,000 and 1 million readers. They go to the best class of consumers for our article, the middle class, which is supposed to be the most easily influenced by advertising. Such magazines as the Ladies' Home Journal charge $4000.00 for one full page of one only of their twelve monthly issues, but it is also supposed to be the very best medium for women, who have always a good deal to say in buying household goods such as alarm clocks. The Delineator charges $1900.00 for full page per month, the Saturday Evening Post, the most influential man's paper $4800.00 per page per month. The Ladies' Home Journal and Saturday Evening Post should, I think, be considered before any other magazines because they have the most prestige with the dealers, i.e. advertisements carried in this magazine will have more influence in making the dealer put the BIG-BEN in stock then if they were carried in any other medium.
It would be necessary to take at least half pages and perhaps a full page to start a campaign, for the best plan is to attract as much attention as possible at the beginning and it always requires a certain amount of extra effort to start the ball rolling. After it is started, the momentum carries it. For the first few weeks, our advertising will not show results, but on the other hand it will show results for months after it has been stopped. The amount of space and its distribution in the magazines is however a matter that should be decided in conjunction with the advertising agency which I shall mention later.
2. Newspapers Newspapers are more expensive than magazines and I hardly believe that they can be used for an article lasting as long as an alarm clock and selling at as low a price, while they are particularly good for foodstuffs,groceries, etc., which are bought and rebought by the same person or for announcements of temporary importance, such as special sales for department stores, etc. They really supplement the magazine campaign when an extra effort is necessary in a particular town, newspapers having, in general, little circulation outside of their immediate vicinity.
3. Street Cars Another very effective medium is the street car. It is claimed by many that it is the quickest acting medium of all. It is certainly effective because "he who rides reads" but it has two great drawbacks:
(a) It only reaches the parts of the country along the street car lines or elevated roads and the interurban lines.
(b) It is impossible to describe an article on a street car card on account of the small size of the sign and of the large size of the type necessary to make the words legible, so that practically the best a street car advertisement can do is to put the name of an article before the public with perhaps the name of the nearest dealer handling it and it does not permit describing any of the distinctive points of the goods.
On these accounts street cars like newspapers are best used in a small campaign to back up magazine advertising when a special effort is needed in a certain town or for a strictly local campaign such as a bakery or a laundry might wish to undertake, for instance on the Illinois Valley Tractor Co.'s line.
Street cars cost on average 50¢ per card per month, as low as 40¢ and 35¢ on special contracts for the largest campaigns. To cover the country thoroughly in a national campaign, it would require 45,000 cards and cost from $12,000 to $15,000 per month not including the cost of the cards and the printing. For instance, the State of Illinois with the City of Chicago has the second largest number of street cars and elevated cars in the United States, i.e. about 4000 (New York State and New York City ranking first with about 7000) and an Illinois campaign would mean an expense of about $1400.00 per month without the cost of the cards and printing, if we use one card on every car every day in the year.
I merely submit these figures because they give a good idea of the cost of extensive advertising although they will not be of any particular use in our case, at least for the present.
4. Bill Boards Bill boards (Posters) have the same drawbacks as street cars, only "more so". They are really only good to keep before the public trade marks or articles that are well established. I do not think that we need to consider them until the BIG-BEN is well known. Ingersoll is using Posters extensively at present, especially along the railroad lines in the vicinity of the large cities such as for instance between New York and Philadelphia.
5. Advertising Matter In addition to any advertising we may place through any of the above mediums, we will have to supply a certain quantity of advertising matter as follows:
Special booklet to be sent in reply to inquiries from consumers and to be distributed by dealers to their customers.
Show cards and Poster signs for store advertising by the dealers.
Electrotypes of the BIG-BEN and of ready made advertisements to be inserted by the local dealer in local paper at his expense, with spaces left blank for the insertion of his name and address.
Circulars to the trade before the campaign to the consumer is actually opened and while it is in progress.
The advertising space in magazines, newspapers, street cars and bill boards can only be bought through an agency. If we went to the magazine publishers ourselves, we could not buy the space any cheaper than from an agent, while street car companies would refer us to the contractor who has exclusive advertising rights on his line and the owner of bill boards to the bill posters union. These different agencies act towards the advertiser very much the same as the stockbroker towards an investor.
These agencies receive from the publishers an average commission of 15% and as already stated, if advertisements are placed directly with the magazine, the publisher keeps the 15% for himself and allows no lower rate. There are only a certain number of agencies recognized by the publishing companies. As could be expected, some of these agencies endeavor to secure accounts by dividing their commission with the advertiser, but they do so at their own risk; while some weak publications shut their eyes to get the business, the good periodicals like Saturday Evening Post and the Ladies' Home Journal which are published by the same company, the Curtis Publishing Co. of Philadelphia, make the agencies sign a rigid contract in regard to upholding the rates and any firm found guilty of dividing its commission with the advertiser is cut off the agencies' list.
The advertising agencies can be divided into two classes:
1. Those who are little more than brokers in space, relieve the advertiser of the details in correspondence with magazines, of adjusting rates, of bookkeeping, checking and billing magazine as well as incidental expenses.
Such agencies are not in position to earn the maximum commission and realizing this, are willing to share their commission with the advertiser whenever possible. Some who do not even attend to the checking of advertising and correspondence, make it a business of placing advertisements at a cut price and work on a commission of 5% and even less, specially in rural paper advertising such as done by the patent medicine companies.
2. The agency to whom the brokerage or space is merely incidental to the professional side of the campaign, i.e. who, in exchange for the commission which they receive from the magazines, will give the advertiser their advice and assistance on the planning of the campaign itself, the preparation of "copy" (the wording of the advertisements and the drawings that illustrate them), the follow-up system, etc. and if desired will place one of their men in charge of the entire campaign except the manufacturing and billing of the goods.
Such agencies furnishing effective plans, striking designs, good copy, competent advice and thorough system are in the same relation with the advertiser as a lawyer toward his client.
I think that it is best to insure ourselves against failures by selecting an agency of the last type. It is better to pay the extra 5% than to take any chances with as good an article as the BIG-BEN. While we have now a certain experience and knowledge in advertising to the trade and can undoubtedly do this more successfully and more satisfactorily than the agency, because we know our goods better and understand the likes and dislikes of the trade better than outsiders, on the other hand there is always an amount of uncertainty in such a campaign to the consumer as the one we have planned, which such agencies can eliminate better than the beginner.
No man can tell today how much a dollar invested in advertising will return, but a man who has had an active part in the successes of other advertisers, such as the agencies have on their staff, and who has had an opportunity to study the causes of these successes with the idea of applying them to the advertising of other articles and other markets - this man will eliminate as far as possible the uncertainty, the waste and non-essentials that may exist:
These agencies can themselves be subdivided into two classes:
(a) The large agency that takes care of a large number of accounts have a large staff of clerks and managers (In this case are firms like Lord & Thomas of Chicago.)
(b) The smaller agency that consists usually of one or two partners that devote all their time to a few picked accounts. (In this class are firms like John O. Powers of Philadelphia, the advertising manager of the Macbeth Lamp Chimney campaign and Murphy Varnish or Arnold & Dyer also of Philadelphia and the advertising manager of the Howard Watch campaign.
I would recommend the smaller agency, because I believe that they can give us better service and that, with our own organization we can obtain better results by constant touch with a man who has a few problems in his head than by dealing with a subaltern of a firm which has a hundred cases to attend to. The selection of the proper agency will therefore be one of the most important decisions we will have to take.
The nature and scope of the campaign would have to be discussed at length with the agency, but the general plan will be as follows:
Supposing that we adopt the magazines which I believe are the first mediums to be considered: After our agent has reserved the space in the different publications and secured the exact dates for each advertisement, the copy has to be prepared and the printing plates made. The character of the copy, its style, the nature of the illustrations, the size of the space are all matters in which the agent's experience will be of great help. Personally I would not recommend any so called "clever" advertising or humorous copy such as we have had to do from time to time with the trade or for instance like the Sunny Jim campaign of the Force Breakfast Food Co. but a purely educational campaign, describing the BIG-BEN, pointing out its different advantages over others and laying special stress on the consumer's price, which until further notice I shall suppose to be $1.50. It is better to fix and advertise the price to the consumer, because when any one reads an ad all his thoughts about this article are built up around the conception of the price and once he knows it, he can think about the article much more definitely.
It also prevents the trade from cutting prices and hurting us and it gives more confidence to the consumer because he knows that he is not overcharged when he is asked to pay $1.50.
The advertisements would very likely have to contain a picture of the clock so as to make its appearance familiar and prevent substitution on the part of the dealer. The name BIG-BEN would be very prominent in all the advertisements and the copy.
In getting up these different advertisements their appearance has to be considered as much as their wording. If an advertisement is attractively gotten up it will be read, while if it is unattractive, it will not be glanced at, no matter how strong the copy. The eye conveys the first impression to the mind and the thoughts are always created first by the sight. We have always paid particular attention to this in our advertising matter and I think it is one of the main reasons why our advertising has in such a short time attracted such attention.
The copy and drawings being decided on for at least six consecutive issues (It is better to have the six prepared together because they will follow the same train of thought and each one will link with the previous ad and lead to the following), the plates are made of the same ad in different sizes for the different papers, each one with a special "key", i.e. some form of address is used which can be varied with each magazine, for instance, the Saturday Evening Post ad would be keyed "Western Clock Co., La Salle, Ill., Dept.A", the Ladies' Home Journal advertisements would read "Dept.B" and as the inquirer answering the ad in a given magazine usually copies the address just as it appears therein, the envelopes can be sorted in our office and we can determine which magazine pays us best so that we can cut out any that does not bring any replies. A number of inquiries will also mention the magazine in which the advertisements has been noticed. - Every advertisement would also contain a "hook", i.e. an offer to send a free booklet describing the BIG-BEN to any inquirer, so as to tempt them to write to us. When the printing plates are finished the first part of the campaign is completed.
The second part consists in getting the trade in line so that the dealers have the goods in stock and displayed in their stores and windows at the same time as the first advertisement is published in the magazines. If we published full page ads in all the magazines and the consumer could not find the goods anywhere, he would soon get tired of inquiring from store to store and the best advertisements could not interest him enough to wait until the BIG-BEN is for sale in his town. We will therefore have to work so that the goods are displayed in as many towns and as elaborately as possible, simultaneously with the opening of the magazine campaign and here is where our work and that of the salesmen will come in. I estimate that it would take from 5 to 6 months to do this right, although with special efforts we might do it in 3. For instance, if we decide to advertise the BIG-BEN in the magazines on October 1, the opening of the alarm clock season to the public, we ought to begin work on the trade not later than May 1.
I cannot insist too much on the necessity of having the dealers' opening display take place simultaneously with the opening of the magazine campaign, for one of the secrets of advertising is that it is cumulative; impression is added to impression until the desire to buy is created and if the impressions are made too far apart, one is forgotten when the other is evoked.
It is a well known fact that advertising to the consumer has really more influence on the dealer than on the consumer for whom it is intended. This is very natural because a jeweler who, for instance, handles half a dozen lines of goods, such as watches, clocks, cut glass, jewelry, pays more attention to these articles and to the new things that are placed on the market than the consumer with a thousand of different lines to think of. By constantly calling his attention to the advertising which we intend to do and are doing to the consumer, he will believe that we are doing a great deal more advertising than we really are and will then begin to help us out in the hope of getting some of its benefit.
It is therefore advisable to play on this sentiment of the dealer as much as possible. This is a campaign in itself which will be done by this department with the help of our printing office and on which the salesmen must put special efforts. In fact it may be necessary to put out some extra salesmen on the road to specially approach the dealer in regard to displaying the goods at the proper time. I would lay out this campaign as follows, basing it on a very human weakness, curiosity:
May 1. We send our first card to every jeweler announcing that a new alarm of a different and unique type that bids fair to make a sensation on the clock market will be offered to the trade next Fall -In this first card we make public the name of the clock, BIG-BEN, but we do not print our name or address, give no information whatever to the dealer as to who manufactures it and to prevent their finding out through the postal mark that the clock is made by us, we ship the cards from some distant point for instance Baltimore, where we have an agent who will be glad to help us out.
May 15. In our second card to the trade, we announce that the BIG-BEN has such advantages over other alarms, that we have decided to advertise it extensively to the consumer through the magazines by one of the most effective campaigns ever planned. We mail this card for instance from Louisville.
June 1. We announce that the BIG-BEN will retail for $1.50 and will cost the retailer $1.00 in dozen lots, netting him 50%. We mail the card from Denver.
June 15. We announce that to prevent any illegitimate competition and price cutting, the BIG-BEN will be sold to jewelers only. We mail the card from St. Paul.
July 1. We announce that the name of the maker of the BIG-BEN will be made public in two weeks. We mail the card from Chicago.
July 15. We announce that the BIG-BEN is made by The Western Clock Mfg. Co., La Salle, Ill. and that a description of the clock will be mailed to every interested party on the first of August. We mail the card from La Salle.
August 1. We send out a large circular of the size of the Missouri circular, but if necessary with 8 pages instead of 4 and containing a minute description of the clock, showing it in different positions with the photograph of the movement and its position in the case and with advance proofs of all the advertisements placed with the magazines just as they will look when published and urging the dealer to get his order in as soon as possible.
August 15. We repeat the same circular in a slightly different form with illustrations of the advertising matter which we have ready for the dealer to assist him in selling the goods and urging him again to avail himself of the opportunity we are offering him by displaying the goods in time for the opening announcement.
Sept. 1. We mail a personal letter to every jeweler by first class mail summarizing our previous circulars, giving him the list of the jobbers who carry the BIG-BEN in stock and give him some advance testimonials of dealers who have seen the clock.
Sept. 20. We release the machinery. Our large advertisements come out in the magazines published on that date for the October issues. The Saturday Evening Post advertisement comes out on the 26th, the inquiries begin to come in from the consumer, they are referred to the nearest dealer by a plan that will be explained further on, the campaign is practically done and all we have to do is to keep it alive.
The goods having to be shipped to many retailers through the wholesalers, we have to get the wholesaler ahead of the retailer, and with them the campaign will be slightly different. Instead of sending them cards we send them a series of personal letters on a plain letter head without our name or address on the same plan as the cards to the retailers, but a little closer together so that we can let them know by July 1 that we make the BIG-BEN and can approach them with our proposition to carry the goods in stock for distribution to the retailer. There are about 350 wholesale jewelers all told, handling clocks, so that if necessary these letters can be made more frequent and absolutely personal. We would send our salesmen out on a flying trip on July 1 in the West, as well as the East to call on the wholesale jewelers and get them in line. The salesman will have with him the advance proofs of our advertising campaign in the magazines, the first samples of the clock and copies of advertising matter which we can supply to the wholesaler to be sent to his trade.
This plan is entirely original as far as I know and if it can be executed as outlined, I am convinced that it will be a tremendous success. It is based on a human impulse, curiosity, and on the prestige which magazine advertising has on the dealer rather than on the consumer. In my opinion this plan is more important than the advertisements to the consumers. It will have the advantage of being executed in the dullest time of the year, in Summer, therefore interfere very little with the office work and it will be also more noticed by the trade for the very fact that the trade is so dull at that particular time.
The plan of handling the inquiries referred to above is as follows: We ask the wholesalers to let us know whenever they ship BIG-BENS to the retailer, so that we can refer the inquiry to the nearest dealer. To that effect we supply them with printed blanks which they can fill in and send us for filing and also put some of these blanks in the shipping cases so that if the wholesaler forgets to notify us, the retailer can write us and give us a double checking on our list. Whenever we sell BIG-BENS to a retail jeweler direct, we add his name to our files.
Let us suppose that all these arrangements have been taken for the distribution of the BIG-BEN, that the first announcement has been made in the magazines, that the campaign is formally opened, the inquiries begin to come in, keyed as stated on page 22: they can be divided as follows:
Class "A" The inquiry is from John Bardell, Oskaloosa, Iowa where we have a jeweler carrying the clock in stock, C.W. Bollinger. We refer Mr. Bardell to Bollinger, send him with our reply a small booklet printed on thin paper, describing at full length the BIG-BEN and its merits and on the same day notify Bollinger that we have referred to him Bardell's inquiry for one BIG-BEN alarm. The sale is half made, it is only up to Bollinger to close it.
Class "B" Inquiry received from Will Law in Henry, Ill. where there is no jeweler carrying the BIG-BEN. As requested in the advertisement, he sends us the name of his dealer who does not carry the clock. This dealer, Frank Baer, has been reached twice a month by our circulars, but not yet been brought to the point of becoming a regular dealer. We write him another letter calling his attention to the fact that he lost a sale by not having the BIG-BEN in stock. This may be the last argument necessary to wring from him his first order. If he fails to do so we mail one BIG-BEN direct to Will Law upon receipt of $1.50. When the next inquiry comes from the same town, if we still have no dealer in Henry, we refer the inquiry again to Baer and so on until he is forced to carry it in stock. No inquiry is neglected for it means considerably more to us than the sale of one BIG-BEN; it may mean an account with a good dealer that will exist as long as he and we stay in business.
Thus the campaign goes on, coaxing replies from the consumers whose names are used to influence dealers. The advertising is direct only to the extent of getting these inquiries and co-operating with the display made by the local jeweler. Its real purpose is to influence the reluctant dealer until he begins to help us out, first by buying the BIG-BEN, next by promoting its sale. We endeavor to make of this dealer a larger dealer, thus increasing the consumption of BIG-BENS. We offer him the show cards, the electros, ready made advertisements to be inserted in his local paper with his name at his expense, window display by which the BIG-BEN can be shown in the most attractive way, street car cards for the local trolley line with his name on, etc. This plan is practically the same as we are carrying out at present with the AMERICA alarm but in a new dress and on a larger scale, the consumer being made to play a part in the BIG-BEN campaign, while he is ignored in the distribution of the AMERICA. - Without the help of the magazines, of the cards, of local advertising and with a smaller campaign we have forced to handle our goods a number of jobbers who refused to carry them in stock before we began to advertise. Other wholesalers are pushing the clock more liberally than before; they are upholding our prices more strictly and when we receive inquiries from poorly rated jewelers, we frequently succeed in making the wholesaler carry the account. It may be suggested that what we have done with the AMERICA is good enough for the BIG-BEN, but to this we will reply that while, if the goods are on the dealers' shelves they are apt to be shown to the consumer, it greatly simplifies matters if the customers ask for them. It prevents substitutions and establishes our good will. This is why general advertising works both ways: it induces the dealer to sell the goods and induces the customer to ask for them. It simplifies and shortens the whole buying and selling process.
I believe that with such a campaign we should have the BIG-BEN well established in 6 months provided of course we can supply the quantity and keep up the quality, for, while the first advertisement appears in the magazines, the second must be the BIG-BEN itself. It would be disastrous if we should have trouble with the click spring or the barrel hook or any other part of the movement.
One of the greatest advantages of selling through advertising is that it has a tendency to make the manufacturer paramount and the jobber and the retailer mere distributors. Such a campaign as we planned for the BIG-BEN would render us independent of the salesmen, of their personality and following in the trade, of the jobber and his salesmen, of the retailer and his clerks and protect us against trade combinations, price cutting, be an effective shield against boycott such as the Eastern companies have vaguely threatened against us in the past, do away with the tendency of the jewelers to criticize our goods. Instead of having to sell our clocks through the following steps, agencies and salesmen, commission men, jobbers' buyer, jobbers' salesmen, retailer and retailer's clerk, we are in direct touch with the man that buys the goods and has the most to say about their selection, the consumer. This short cut can be best illustrated by the following drawing:
Instead of spending our efforts on our men and wasting some of our energy and enthusiasm at every link of this distributing chain, we put all our force on the public and as the ripples caused by a stone thrown into a pool constantly increase in diameter until they reach the edge, thus the public reacts on the retailer, the retailer on the jobber's salesman, the jobber's salesman on his department buyer, while at the same time our own salesman and our campaign to the trade have weakened these different links so that they give the least resistance. In addition to this we are creating an important asset in the name and trade mark of our goods, an asset, invested in publicity and constantly growing in value, which is beyond the reach of fires, unfair competition, cheap foreign labor and which no influence of drummer or retailer can take away from us.
No matter how clever, insinuating, a salesman may be, how wide his acquaintance, how persistent his efforts, I do not believe that he can accomplish as much as advertising can. His efforts are bound to be uneven, be subject to fatigue, mood, outside influences, personal preoccupations; his tone is less convincing a times than others, he loses a certain amount of his enthusiasm when too long away from headquarters, does not always remember all his argument, all his points, or put them as forcibly as an ad, every word of which has been studied, weighed in view of the effect it will have on the man who will read it and the appearance of which has been made so attractive that it pleases at first glance. It makes no blunders, no misstatements, we are with it wherever it goes, at a thousand different places every day and stay there overtime without additional expense. It can make a thousand calls where a drummer is making one and can keep working away, every hour, day after day, week after week, for six months or a year without interruption, with the same amount of enthusiasm at the end of a long campaign as at the beginning and strange to say, carries with itself more prestige than any representative in flesh and bone. If done properly, advertising wins the dealer against his will and without his knowledge, and lodges permanently in his mind the merits of the goods and the conviction that the public wants them.
"Advertising, writes a well known author, is a great though almost unknown force made up of a hundred different elements, each one too intangible to be defined. It is not the mere printed announcement of the merits of an article or of an institution, but a high and unusual power of impressing a great number of people with a given idea. - It is based on salesmanship, the law of supply and demand, a great deal of human nature and the best methods of appealing to it, on the sense of the power of repeated impression and the knowledge of the force of striking display, whether expressed in color, or in black and white and in type, in magazines or newspapers, in posters or street car cards."
"It has not yet reached a place as an exact science, but it is constantly approaching a state of greater exactness. The best advertisers have their advertising campaign so well in hand that they are almost sure to produce certain results. To obtain this knowledge they have spent fortunes in money and years in experiment..." (at the expense of the firms they represented.)
I believe that if we secure the co-operation of one of these experts, we can make of this campaign a wonderful success. I believe that I am equipped to successfully take care of our end of it for I have called on the trade and know its likes and dislikes, am familiar with the clock industry and its conditions today, can write convincing copy to the dealers and have the knowledge of type and the eye for color and line that are indispensable. I know that if we make connections with the proper advertising agency, one that has had extensive experience with the consumer, knows the pulling value of the different mediums, one that can act as a safety valve and tell us when to stop or when to change our plans, I know that we can make with the BIG-BEN a success that will place this company at the head of all the others and I also know from our previous efforts without the help of advertising that, if we plan the campaign through the salesman alone, we will only obtain infinitesimal results that will be unworthy of the clock you have invented.
La Salle, Illinois
We thank Ellworth R. Danz of LaSalle, Illinois for making LeRoy's document available.